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A Book Production Schedule for Indie Authors

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Having a book production schedule filled with the right tasks in the right order, will not only result in a professionally produced product and enough time to plan your release, but will also reduce your stress, and ensure you’re not throwing your book into the sky and hoping for the best. Breaking the process into parts makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time and get each step right without getting overwhelmed.

The below book production schedule is based on my own publishing experience and is broken into "Production Days", allowing you to begin the schedule at any time in your current calendar, and be a little bit flexible within the allowed time slots. I like to not include weekends—or any two days during the week you want to keep free—as we all need some breathing time.

Please note that this is a book production schedule and begins with the first production task, not the writing of your book. Beginning the book production process means your book is in a state where you're ready to send it out to service providers, meaning it's already been written, beta-read, revised, beta-read again, and revised again. Each step is repeated until you feel your book is as best as it can be without professional input.

Book Production Schedule

Production Day 1-90


  • During this 90-day period author revisions should also be made.
  • If this is your first book, I would advise you to allow at least six months for this development stage instead of three.
  • Book a content editor at least three months in advance of needing the job done.

Production Day 91–125

  • Prepare manuscript for copyediting.
  • Send manuscript to copyeditor.
  • Send manuscript to readers for puff quotes (short endorsements of your book written by another author or publishing professional).
  • Buy and/or assign your ISBN to both your paperback and eBook versions.
  • Have eBook cover (front) designed. 


  • Book a copyeditor and cover designer at least three months in advance of needing the job done.
  • Make sure the manuscript you send to your copyeditor is a clean document with no Track Changes visible.
  • When sending your manuscript to influencers for puff quotes, be sure to explain that it has not yet been copyedited and assure them that all errors will fixed.
  • Allow readers about one month to read and get quotes back to you.
  • You can obtain ISBNs from your respective national ISBN registration agency.

Production Day 126–140

  • Outsource manuscript to a professional proofreader.
  • Prepare proofread manuscript for typesetting.
  • Send proofread manuscript to typesetter with a clear page plan and brief.
  • Follow-up with advanced readers and gather puff quotes.


  • Typesetting is the professional arrangement of text for printing.
  • Make sure you book a typesetter and proofreader at least two months in advance.
  • A page plan is a mock-up of your page arrangement. Be sure to include enough pages for your front and end matter and brief them on what should be included, e.g., biography, dedication, Table of Contents, etc. There’s no need to estimate your entire page count, so just use a single spread to represent your main body text.

Production Day 141–155 - Formatting and Design

  • Choose a puff quote for the front cover and have your cover designer add it (optional)
  • Have your paperback cover designed
  • Proofread first round of typeset proofs
  • Prepare front and end matter (if you haven’t already).
  • Write and finalize your jacket copy (book description).
  • Send corrections to typesetter.
  • Add your book to your author website & Goodreads.


  • Now that your book is typeset you can tell your cover designer your page count. Your paperback cover can’t be designed unless you have an exact page count as the page count determines the width of the spine.
  • If you don’t have an author website yet, get one made or make one yourself with a host such as WordPress.
  • Goodreads is a very popular social network for book readers and book reviewers. If this is your first book, you won’t be able to add your book to Goodreads until it is officially published and available at online booksellers. As soon as your first book is available, make sure you apply for a Goodreads Author account. You will then be able to manually add your forthcoming books to the site before they are officially released. Instructions can be found on Goodreads. 

Production Day 156–165 

  • Check corrections were put through properly on the second round of typeset proofs.
  • Give second proofs one last proofread.
  • Send final corrections to typesetter.

Production Day 166–180


  • Use the same service provider for typesetting and eBook formatting if possible.
  • Have your eBook formatter use the finalized text from the paperback to produce your eBook to ensure all latest corrections are included.
  • You only need to request an ePub file.

Production Day 180–190

  • Check eBook for formatting errors.
  • Send corrections to formatter.


  • If any additional proofing errors have arisen during the checking of your eBook, make sure your typesetter adds the corrections to your paperback interior as well.

Production Day 195

  • Due date for the final ePub file of your eBook, the final print-ready PDF of your paperback interior, and your eBook and paperback covers, from your service providers.
  • Upload paperback and eBook files to your distributor(s).

Hopefully breaking the process into parts helps you along your publishing journey!


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Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell began her career as a graphic designer when she self-published her first book in 2011. She embarked on a self-taught design journey, 1) because she was penniless, and 2) because she’s always loved a creative challenge. Since then, she has designed hundreds of covers for indie, traditional, and hybrid authors, many of which have hit bestseller lists and won awards. A few have even graced the shelves of WH Smiths at London airports. Jessica is also the author of the bestselling Writing in a Nutshell series, the Publisher of Vine Leaves Press, and the coordinator of the Writing Day Workshops.