Blog | Page 2 of 3 | Norah Deay

The Self-Publishing Writer’s Checklist 3 – Creating Your Book Cover

If you’re a writer you know your book will be judged by its cover. No pressure then. This Checklist takes you through the steps to producing an attention-getting cover.

You can copy and paste the checklist below or if you’d like the full list of 18 checklists in printable (PDF) format, just send me your email address below and you’ll have them by return. 

Otherwise, check back tomorrow for the Publishing Your Book checklist. You can catch up here on yesterday’s checklist Writing Your Book

 Project Name: ______________________________________Date:______________

Cover Planning:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Yes           No

1 Have you saved 5-12 book covers from Amazon for inspiration?

2 Have you “mapped” out or drawn your cover on plain white paper?

3 Have you sourced a designer for your book?

4 Have you decided on a cover size? (6×9 is most common)

For book cover design, don’t skimp here. We DO judge a book by its
cover. Freelancer sites like UpWork, Freelancer have great designers.

Cover Design:

1 Have you designed your cover in full (front, back and spine)?

2 Is your cover in print ready format at 300Dpi

3 Have you resized your cover and spine to fit the number of pages?

4 Have you added your book cover copy and description to the back?

5 Have you added a short bio and bio photo to the back cover?

6 Have you added your barcode to the back of the book?

7 Have you added the book title, subtitle and your name to the front?

8 Have you added your book title and your name to the spine?

9 Have you created a kindle cover version for your book?

For your back cover we recommend you state the book category at the
top, then have a headline, benefit driven description of the book, 5-7 bullet
points, a testimonial, and a short bio on you along with a photo, your
website and the book barcode. For resizing your cover, and spine to fit the
number of pages in your book and to generate a barcode for your book
we recommend you use It’s free and instant. You
simply enter your book details and hit generate.



The Self-Publishing Writer's Checklist

I’m using these lists myself and they’re absolutely chock-a-block with valuable information. Enjoy!

The Self Publishing Writer’s Checklist 2 – Writing Your Book

I hope you found the Checklist yesterday helpful. This second checklist is for when you're writing your book - something to keep in mind maybe while you're dashing out your 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo

You can copy and paste the checklist below or if you'd like the full list of 18 checklists in printable (PDF) format, just send me your email address below and you'll have them by return. 

Otherwise, check back tomorrow for the Creating Your Book Cover checklist


 Checklist 2: Writing Your Book


Project Name: _______________________________________________   Date: ________________________
                                                                                                                                                                      Yes         No
1 Have you finalised your book title and subtitle?

2 Have you got an ISBN number for your book? (you don’t need one for
Kindle – it’s automatically assigned to you)
If publishing on Amazon you can use their free ISBN service, otherwise
you can purchase your ISBN number on

3 Will you be writing the book yourself?

4 Are you hiring a ghost writer?

5 Will you repurpose your other content into a book?
If you have existing blog posts, or other content you may be able to
repurpose them into chapters or use them as bonus chapters (if they are

6 Have you blocked out the time to complete your book?
Aim for at least 1,000 words a day if you’re starting out. With some practice
you could write 1,000 words in 30-60 minutes. Remember, you need to
write at least 1666 words a day to complete NaNoWriMo

7 Have you set a manuscript completion deadline?

8 Have you sourced an editor and an editing deadline?

9 Have you written your book title and subtitle?

10 Have you split your core topic into 5-13 sub-topics?

11 Have you bullet pointed each sub-topic?

12 Have you fleshed out your sub-topics into chapters?

13 Have you written your book as if speaking to one person?

14 Have you included examples, case studies and testimonials?

15 Have you included next steps in your book (to fulfil your goal)?
When writing your book, don’t worry about layout, grammar or formatting
– that’s the editor’s job and that comes AFTER the manuscript is done.




The Productive Writer's Checklists

I'm using these lists myself and they're absolutely chock-a-block with valuable information. Enjoy!

The Only Self-Publishing Checklists You Need

 It’s October, the Christmas Eve of NaNoWriMo when thousands of writers will pit themselves against the calendar to write 50,000 words in November. In case you’re wondering, that’s 1,666 words per day.

Once the dust has settled and the words have been beaten and shaped into a book, many writers will consider self-publishing. The very idea, while tempting, is daunting for the average writer. If you have any idea about self-publishing at all, the next 18 days are going to provide a collection of checklists to make the process easier. While the checklists are slanted towards non-fiction, the concept is also perfect for fiction writers. 

You can copy and paste the checklist below or if you’d like the full list of 18 checklists in printable (PDF) format, just send me your email address below and you’ll have them by return. 

Otherwise, check back tomorrow for the Writing Your Book checklist. 

 Checklist 1: Planning Your Book


Project Name:   ____________________________________                Date: ______________________________

1  What is the goal of your book?


2  What is the core topic/idea for the book? E.G. Facebook Ads, Mental Health, Fitness, etc
(One Core Topic), or if fiction, romance, thriller, drama, etc. 



3  Write down 3-5 working titles for your book…







Tips For Coming Up With Titles

A. Look at some of the top-selling titles in your industry – model them.
B. Use ‘How to’ titles that solve your target audience’s biggest problem(s)
C. Use benefit-driven titles or titles that help your target audience avoid pain.




The Self-Publishing Writer's Checklists

I'm using these lists myself and they're absolutely chock-a-block with valuable information. Enjoy!

How do I get my book into more categories on Amazon?

If you’re a self-publishing author you’re aware that Amazon only allows us to choose two categories for our books when we’re uploading. We know the perfect category can catapult our book into the top spot and earn us a bestseller tag but how do we choose the perfect category?  We can end up in a marathon of second-guessing because we don’t know which two categories will reap the most rewards.

I have good news for you. You can choose more than the 2 categories Amazon initially gives you. It’s a combination of good detective work on your part combined with good customer service from Amazon. Read on to find out how you can take advantage of this collaboration.


The Detective work


The very first thing you must know is how a book becomes a category bestseller. You can find this out by searching for the Top 100 in the Kindle Store and choosing the book that’s the top seller.  At the bottom of the sales page, before the Bio, you will find the sales information for the book. Amazon ranks its bestsellers based on how many copies have been downloaded in a certain length of time, by comparison to all the other books for sale. The number for this is known as the Amazon Best Seller Rank or ABSR. If the number is 1600 it means that 1599 books sold more than this one but if it’s the lowest number in that category then it’s the category Bestseller. 

The information below comes from a book called Spilled Milk

.Which category?

 Now that you know how Amazon ranks the books on its shelves you can choose which category you’re likely to dominate.  

Ok? So, how do you work out which categories to choose? Wouldn’t it make sense to choose those of your best selling competitors? However, only 2 or maybe 3 categories are visible to you. How do you know which others they are selling in?

Click on the listing of one of these books and find the ASIN, or ISBN  in the case of a paperback. We’ll assume I’m looking at a Kindle publication which is a competitor for my book about getting your house ready for sale. We go over the left-hand side and click on Kindle ebooks. In this case, the main categories for my book are Business\Real Estate and Crafts, Hobbies & Home, which throws up a number of options such as Do-It-Yourself, Interior Design & How-To & Home Improvement.

Clicking on each of these, in turn, will throw up further categories that you can request from Amazon.

You’ll have to drill down in each main category until you reach the last category which is where you want to be.


Ask Amazon


This is where the good customer service from Amazon comes in. All you have to do is go to the Help Section on Author Central in your KDP account and ask for your book (quote ASIN or ISBN #) to be added to a category string, like this – Crafts, Hobbies & Home : Home Improvement & Design : How-to & Home Improvements : Cleaning, Caretaking & Relocating – you’re looking to be added to the last category in the string.

This is how writers get their books to be #1 in a category. Don’t overlook its significance.

It’s NaNoWriMo question time again!

Do I? Don’t I? Will I? Won’t I? NaNoWriMo winner


For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month where upwards of 500,000 people across the world attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That equals to 1,866 words per day.

I’ve attempted it 3 times, the first time I’d written 27,000 words when I had a tech issue and lost everything! Needless to say, I didn’t finish.

The second time I ‘won’ (you win when you hit that 50k mark) and went on to write another 25,000 words and finished the novel; a novel still to be edited!

Third time – going through some ‘stuff’ and never really got off the ground.

2017, I have to write the second in my cosy mystery series so there’s an obvious candidate but would a completely new set of characters and setting be more fun, and therefore easier to work with?

I’ve pretty much decided to go for it and am doing a course through Wesleyan college which is supposedly geared towards us NaNo-ers (not convinced of that – good marketing ploy though and it is a good course).

Hitting that 50k word count was one of the highlights of my writing life so far – I’d actually done it and as most writers know, ‘doing’ it is the hardest part of all – believe it or not, writers find that writing is the most difficult thing to do.

So, are any of my writer friends doing it? Considering it?


For all my writer friends – KindleSPY

I haven’t written anything for myself for weeks now and yesterday I found out I won’t be writing my book for real estate agents either! Has anyone heard of KindleSpy? Basically it’s a reverse engineering process to find out what is selling on Kindle and more importantly, what is NOT. So, turns out real estate agents love to download free books but won’t (actually for most of them it will be can’t) buy any books. Sales are so pathetic it’s just not worth it for me to put in all the work and angst writing a book that won’t sell very well right now. I’m not writing it off completely (pardon the pun) but it’s something for another time.

What is really good about KindleSpy is that it shows you what is selling in a niche which will then help you decide which niche to go for. It shows you how popular that niche is, what the potential is for you to make money out of it and how competitive it is (it also shows what money a particular author is making). So, my niche is Paranormal mystery which is popular and has potential but also has a high rate of competition. It’s up to me to write something good enough to topple the competition 🙂 but also I can investigate which keywords work best for them and use them for my own.

For provenance, I signed up for a webinar from C.S. Lakin (Live, Write ,Thrive) who I follow more than any other site and she was pushing KDSpy. It took her years to discover that the broader your audience the less chance you have to develop a fan base i.e. get paid for your books. I can totally relate to this as I’m sure many of you can.

I was so blown away by the program I’ve become an affiliate. This is my link below if anyone would like to click on it to find out more.


Too busy reading about writing to actually write?

Information overload?

I haven’t posted a blog for a while because I’ve been too busy writing paying stuff. Good but not good because I miss my own fiction writing.  I love writing and because I love it I can’t resist websites about writing which of course means signing up to receive updates. I then become inundated with emails from loads of wraithwonderful sites that I don’t have time to read and I’m now at the stage where I have to cull. For fans of Stargate Atlantis that has horrible connotations – the Wraith regularly perform ‘culls’ and you wouldn’t want to meet up with this guy on a dark night. I believe I’m  not alone. Writers are procrastinators first and foremost and how many times have you sat down to write and been sidetracked by an email with a link to an article about writing that you just have to read. I’m making a list of the sites that are truly helpful to me right now. I’m happy to add your favourite if it’s not here but I’m setting a limit of 10 really good sites that can be flexible over time. You can do a search for the top 100 best websites but what’s top right now doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best. They just got more votes on the day. I believe these sites are all anyone would need to be a writing writer. As opposed to a procrastinating writer.  Yes, there are loads more that could be added and you may already have your top picks but if you know everything that’s to be known on these sites then you’re going to be a pretty good writer. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave me a comment below. Writing Craft C.S. Lakin – Live Write Thrive – The best writing craft site I know The Write Practice – – just what it says on the tin – lots of opportunities to practice Write to Done –  The spiel says their articles are unmissable – they’re definitely helpful and interesting Writer Unboxed – I joined this site initially because of the Logo – an old-fashioned typewriter – but I’ve followed it for a couple of years now and it’s always relevant Brain Pickings – – for the thinkers A little bit more The Write Life – – publishing, marketing, freelancing resources The Self-Publishing School – If your ultimate aim is to publish a book this is where you’ll do it. Copyblogger – – how to grow your blogging business About Freelance Writing –  You want to get paid to write, right? Start here. Build Book Buzz – – there are so many book marketing sites it’s easy to get lost. This provides all the info you need. Books [table id=3 /]  

NOW is the perfect time

Folks I’m so excited I can’t keep still. For years I’ve dreamed about seeing my name on a book – not on the inside because I own it, but out there on the front cover. female-leprechaun-dancing-animated-gif-clr
In December I finally did it. I self-published a non-fiction book and on Monday the book reached Num 1 in two categories. On Tuesday I put it out free for three days. There are nearly 71,000 books in the Free category on Kindle and my little offering got to number 607.

I’m already planning my next one and I’m feeling so lucky and blessed to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do. Someone asked me earlier today what had changed to make this happen and I answered that it was really a perfect storm. 

Without giving it an awful lot of thought last year, we upped and left Auckland. It was another thing we’d talked about doing for years but it was only when we saw this house that we had the impetus to actually put our house in Auckland on the market and move to the country. Once here I created the office/library I always wanted and set myself up to write.

Then I paid a reasonable amount of money to join SPS – the Self Publishing School – which was founded by a young guy who is so motivating and enthusiastic that you can’t help but be carried along on the crest of the waves he makes.

Then, I actually wrote. This is the hardest part for the majority of writers – getting your bum on your seat and words on paper/screen.

The more I did, the more I did. We all know that activity creates its own momentum but how many of us ignore that and wait for the perfect time to do things? I did for years. I used to say I’d write “when I settled down”. Hah! As if that’s ever going to happen! I’d never have written a word if I’d waited for that. NOW is always the perfect time.

I’ve also prioritised what’s important to me. It’ll be no surprise to my sister Lucy that I’ve decided that housework is not one of those things. I lost my way for a few years and was never happy if the house was untidy. Now, I’d rather be happy and busy doing what I love. Of course, if anyone says they’re visiting, a great spurt of housework will be undertaken.

Don’t wait for your life to come to you. Get out there and grab it and shake every bit of enjoyment you can out of it. It’s the only one you’ve got!



It’s a dog’s life – and that’s a good thing

doggiesHead over heels. Besotted. Smitten. All words to describe how I feel about our two rescue puppies, Ruby and Barney. They are literally my reason to get up in the morning, as we go for a 6am walk every day. For years I would say “I’d love to have a dog” but location dictated otherwise. However, when we moved here to Matamata and had a decent, fenced garden at last, having a dog was almost the first thing we did.

Ruby came first. She was abondoned outside a pound at 3 months and I’ll never understand why. She is the sweetest natured, most gorgeous girl ever. I sometimes call her “Lolloping Lil” because she has a goofy way about her. Barney, on the other hand, is the problem child. He’s supposedly half-chihuahua and I’m assuming that’s the half that likes to bark. He’s full of dognition and is far too clever for his own (and our) good. But he loves to cuddle and shadows me wherever I go. I say sometimes that he’s like one of those dogs who sit on their owners’ grave.

The Man didn’t have much experience with dogs when he was growing up but my Dad often arrived home with waifs and strays so we always had at least one. I remember a “you or the dogs” conversation once when he arrived with a sheepdog and her SIX puppies.

Our lives have been turned upside down, inside out and sideways! And I love every minute. I’m down three pairs of shoes, but two I didn’t like anyway. It’s lucky we live in New Zealand and bare feet are the norm because the Man has had to go barefoot to buy new jandals. Nothing you care anything about can be left within reach but that’s also got a silver lining – it’s a good way to keep the house tidy!

I’ve had the thought that if both of us had been clueless about dogs (as many new owners are) it would be an absolute nightmare to have two big puppies at the same time. Sure, you can lock them outside and leave them behind if you go out for the day but would you do that with your toddlers? That’s what it’s like. They are babies and as demanding as babies can be.

I work from home which is really good because they’re never on their own. I shudder to think of the damage if they had free reign of the house.  If you’re reading this and think that it wouldn’t happen with the puppies you’d own, all I say is, just wait!

The added bonus in having these awesome little creatures come into our lives is that we seem to have so much room for more. We’re talking about finding a place with more land so we can rescue more animals. Our two cats are rescues, we now have two laying hens (chooks in NZ), four goldfish and hopefully some frogs in the pond, and an aquarium that used to have 28 fish but there’s a catfish that’s looking very well fed and the smaller ones seem to have disappeared!

If you’re a dog person I have a short story on Amazon about a woman who unexpectedly has a dog come into her life – if you want to download, it’s only 99c and you can get it by clicking on the photo here.

Dogs not allowed