Integral Life Coaching

Let’s get to Business: A Checklist for How to Become an Indie Author


independent pic

Picture by Andrew Neel @andrewneel

(1121 words – 8 minute read) Independence has been the magic word through out my life. Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be independent. I’ve tried hard and succeeded in so many aspects of my life; immigration, finance, job back in Iran. But, I have been a paycheck lady ever since I came to the U.S. Every now and then I thought about becoming a freelancer again but didn’t seriously pursue it. I was not and am not ready for the financial risk. But a few years ago, I noticed an inside revolution and strong desire, demanding to create something new other than a freelance project analyst. The uprising in my heart took me home; I began writing my memoir.

Writing my memoir taught me develop more critical thinking skills, approaching the society from not one but many different viewpoints. In short, I became capable of understanding how to put things in perspective. I learned, saying it is very different than practicing it.

When I had a complete manuscript ready,  I automatically followed the norm of the community, traditional publisher hunting. For a couple of months, I stressed myself by preparing a query letter, writing a proposal, searching and making a long list of agents and small presses. I noticed one thing was happening every time I took a break from the highly competitive environment of traditional publishing. I sheltered to websites about self-publishing. It was exciting to understand that process, kinda liberating. You are going to say, “Wait, self-publishing puts you in a more competitive environment”. My answer is “NO”. Writing a book is creating a piece of art. Assessing a piece of art is subjective. All of a sudden, I didn’t want to wait for one agent or a small press to evaluate my book based on how much money it makes. All I wanted was to share my story with readers. What if I find readers myself?

I got into the mode of risk analysis. I am confident about my book and I worked hard on it. The professional editing done on this book has been a masterful job. However, this is my first book and I am no James Baldwin. There is a slim chance of finding an agent who works with big publishers. For that pixel of a chance, the time I needed to spend could be up to two years. Indie publishers and small presses don’t have a budget for marketing and publicity so I have to do it myself, and they were going to take a long time to publish my book. I had a feeling that with everything going on in America, now is the right time to publish my book and share memories of an Iranian girl. The result of my risk analysis: I became an indie author who will self-publish her own book.

I decided when I want to publish it, what the cover design and interior design would be, and I wanted to try to find my own audience who would like to know about stories of women raised in other parts of the world. Was it stressful or scary? YES! But there are different types of fear and stress and the type I chose are constructive and motivating.

It was time to learn about publishing, marketing, and PR, subjects that I had never touched before. Six months passed and I now feel good about the steps I am taking. I even feel joy and confidence walking this path. Not pursuing becoming a best seller goal, I know I will find opportunities to share my story with the right people and will connect with them heart to heart.

Here (below), I am sharing the complete list of my steps for book publishing, marketing, and promoting. This list is built over the past six months and will improve over time. I will be happy to answer questions about any step. I have many helpful websites for each step that I can share. Please reach out. It makes me happy to connect and help!

·        Finishing editing the 2500th version
·        Professional Editing
·        Permission for poems in the book
·        Research and finalize the title and subtitle
·        Write book description for Back Cover
·        Send the book to beta readers
·        Incorporate beta reader’s feed back
·        Send final manuscript to copyedit
·        Research for a creative cover design
·        Hire the cover design artist
·        Write author bio, dedication, acknowledgments
·        Review the copyedit and resolve all issues
·        Proofread the entire book one more time
·        Finalize the front cover design
·        Create a draft of the advanced reviewer request letter
·        Create a list for the advanced reviewer request
·        Sending advanced review request letters
·        Send the book to advanced readers
·        Send the book for PW Book review
·        Send the book for paid reviews (City Book Review – San Francisco)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The indie reviews)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The US Review)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The Midwest Book Reviewer)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The New York Review Books)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (Reader’s favorite)
·        Create Goodreads author webpage
·        Purchase Website domain
·        Website design
·        Making a list of authors for Endorsement request
·        Making a draft letter for author review request
·        Sending request to authors for blurbs
·        Create own publishing Company
·        Purchase ISBNs
·        Library of Congress registration (PCN)
·        Copy right for each format
·        Write the press release
·        Send final copy to interior design (For print and Digital)
·        Review designed pages; adjust/revise (For print)
·        Complete back cover design + spine (For print)
·        Create Ingram Spark Account (Amazon, Smashword, D2D, and many others…)
·        Research/determine price point for all formats (Ingram Spark helps with Pricing)
·        Research/determine sales categories
·        Research/determine keywords/tags
·        Download and learn Caliber SW for EPUB (For digital)
·        Create EPUB/MOBI files (For digital)
·        Proofread final files in all formats
·        Upload the files to Ingram Spark
·        Send a copy for test prints
·        Send a copy of the book to the Library of Congress
·        Release the book on-sale for pre-order in Ingram Spark
·        Print run for X paperback and X hardback
·        Create Kickstarted Project (Crowdfunding)
·        Audiobook Production
·        Distribution for PR (O magazine & NPR) – (Needs a list for other places) (PR)
·        Talking to a lawyer for any possible legal issues
·        PW Bookfairs (London, Sharjah, NY) (Marketing)
·        Make a list of Indie Book Stores in each city
·        Contact Bookstores as soon as first reviews come in (PR)
·        Create quotes from the book (Marketing)
·        Marketing design for goodies (Marketing)
·        Plan Launch party (PR)
·        PW Promotion with PW publication (Marketing)
·        Research for Bookbaby Support (Marketing)
·        Research for NetGalley Support (Marketing)
·        Create a short Video – Trailer (PR)
·        Contact related department at Universities (PR)
·        Sent an application for Book Festivals (PR)
·        Reach out to Radios and Podcasts to Request Interviews (PR)


Let’s celebrate life!

Editing credit: Mike Curtis

Author: Shabnam

Shabnam Curtis was born and raised in Tehran, experiencing the Iranian Revolution of 1979 firsthand. In 2004 she immigrated to the United States, where she now works as a passionate life coach and a writer. Shabnam is a certified Integral Coach with New Ventures West and International Coaching Federation. She offers one-on-one coaching sessions as well as workshops for groups. Since September of 2021, she also has been the life coach in residence for Dimension Science Bridges Non-profit organization.

24 thoughts on “Let’s get to Business: A Checklist for How to Become an Indie Author

  1. Amazing checklist. I loved reading your journey and why you chose to self publish. Thanks for sharing.

  2. what a great list! is it all in the order that you plan on doing?

  3. Reblogged this on Happiness Between Tails by da-AL and commented:
    Guest Blog Post: “Let’s get to Business: A Checklist for How to Become an Indie Author” by Shabnam Curtis

    Combining creativity with business can be challenging. Author/blogger Shabnam Curtis is one heck of an organized writer! Here she generously shares her detailed and well-researched gameplan for self-publishing success of her book, “My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian Girl”…

  4. Pingback: Guest Blog Post: “Let’s get to Business: A Checklist for How to Become an Indie Author” by Shabnam Curtis | Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

  5. happy upcoming Persian new year, Shabnam-jun! love this so much I reblogged it. hope it brings lots of readers here. would love to know who you’ve used for your cover, editing — what you’ve learned…

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! The cover painting is by artist Saya Behnam and the cover design is done by my daughter Parnian Emami. Professional editing credit all goes to my amazing editor Mathina Calliope.
      This journey has been very fulfilling. Not only the memoir writing was healing, I discovered my passion for creative writing and want to continue it for the rest of my life. The unconditional love I received through family and friends’ support opened my eyes to a wonderful aspect of life. And, now connecting with people through sharing my story is such a pleasure and fulfilling act that I feel blessed. I will try to share my story and everything I learn with others to make this journey more pleasurable not just for me but for everyone around me. I hope I can do that! Thank you so much for your interest!

  6. This was a very interesting read. I like the selfconfidence you have to do this, I also liked what you said at the beginning about writing your memoirs to enhance your writing abilities. Now a days the publishing world has changed a lot with the internet, I think is great.
    Very good helpful post.

    • Thank you Charlypriest! 🙂 It is more passion I think that moves me forward. I am glad you found it helpful. I am planning to add more blog posts about the mysterious subject of publicity as I learn more. Publicity is the more unknown part of work for an unknown indie author. Looking forward to reading more poems from you!

  7. Shabnam, thank you for a comprehensive list of tasks to be performed in order to become self-published. Of course, each task has its own learning curve and detailed objectives to be met. Your memoir sounds fascinating and I wish you well on this book and all future endeavors. BTW, I found you through Daal’s blog, Happiness Between Tails, who was inspired by your story.

    • Sharon Thank you very much! and Thank you Daal for re-blogging this post. I am glad you found it useful. I have links and I can explain more about each tasks. I will be glad to provide details. It makes me fulfilled to share what I learn with others. 😉

  8. That workload was huge! Well done achieving your goal. Thank you for sharing. I admire your dedication and wish you every success!

  9. It’s fascinating to read how you went from the first spark to writing it, doing it, growing and learning as a result. The checklist is thorough and really insightful, with a lot of aspects I wouldn’t really have thought of. I think you should be incredibly proud of everything you’ve achieved and continue to achieve, I take my hat off to you (as one of those always-wanted-to-write-a-novel-but-never-started people!)
    Caz xx

  10. Thank you so much for this post and for sharing your list of steps. Good food for thought as I write my next post. Good questions to ask myself, ‘do I have what it takes to follow through with this?’ The checklist seems daunting to me now as I am a beginner just starting out on the journey. And that’s ok. Baby steps. I have so much to learn. So I’m saving this checklist for future reference and continuing to educate myself on the process. Glad to have found you via da-AL.

    • I am glad you find this helpful. I am new too. I will share more as I learn. The writing community here is great and I am learning a lot from everyone. Nice to meet you here!

  11. Congratulations – what a milestone!
    Good luck with it all…

  12. I love your post – and must thank da-AL for leading me here. I made the same choice to self-publish for many of the same reasons you did, and I appreciate how well you articulate those reasons here. Your list is fantastic and mirrors mine when I self-published my two novels (and working on the third). If you don’t mind, I think I’ll copy YOUR list so I remember what to do with that third one. 🙂 Much luck. Keep writing. CREATE!

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