“Choose your team carefully. So much of your success is due to the people who you surround yourself with.” — Tom Ford (Tweet)
There are project-management firms that will handle your book or ebook from manuscript to publication (and beyond, if they include marketing services), but if one of the reasons you’re self-publishing is to make money (and of course it is!), you don’t want to over-pay before you even have a book to sell. You’ll likely be finding and hiring providers for each stage of the production process. Here’s who you need on your team:
You may need a developmental editor and you certainly need a copy editor.. This may or may not be the same person. Not sure what these editors do? Check out this post, which explains the types of editing in more detail.
Professional proofreading is the absolute bare minimum as far as editing goes. It’s just silly to skip this step, frankly. The expense is not prohibitive, and it can be the difference between your book being set aside for appearing unprofessional and being taken seriously. Your book is a tool to scale your business, right? So you definitely want a professional-looking product. Notice that I keep using the word professional. That means you should hire someone who proofreads for a living — not your aunt who used to be a middle-school grammar teacher and who is retired now (though surely she could take a look before you send it to a proofreader), and not your friend who did well in English classes.
Interior Designer (Formatter)
Some people design the book interior themselves. This certainly is an option if you aren’t looking for anything too crazy (AKA mainly text). It’s not difficult to DIY design, though I’d argue that it’s difficult to do it well. Illustrator makes this process possible for even the design-challenged, though. A word of caution: Don’t DIY the interior design if your book has lots of images, graphics, etc. Leave it to a professional. It will be cheaper in the long run than having an issue and having to pay someone a rush fee to come in at the last minute and clean up the mess you made with wonky margins, photos and captions being separated, etc. because you aren’t familiar with a design program.
You’ll likely need several types of formats from a designer:
.mobi (Kindle/Amazon ebook)
.epub (other retail platforms)
.pdf for hard copy/print layout (e.g., CreateSpace)
Try to find a designer who works regularly on books. Book design is much different from website or marketing material design.
Don’t skimp here; this is your first impression with your readers! If you’ve ever seen a bad DIY cover, you know exactly what I’m referring to here. Your cover matters almost more than the content of your book for real-life sales because readers will skip right over it if the cover isn’t appealing. Cost depends on whether you have the cover custom-designed or use a template (from a designer or not).
Most non-fiction writers use Create Space, Amazon’s print publishing platform, which is quick, easy, and user-friendly. Your designer might include uploading your files as part of their services. If not, this is something you can handle on your own (or that a VA could do).
Depending on how marketing savvy you are (or care to be), there are book publicity firms that will handle press and marketing. One of the best-known is Smith Publicity. Whether you use a book publicity firm or handle marketing yourself (or a combination of the two), you’ll want to have ideas for book marketing and promotion to bring to the table.
Internally, you might hire a VA, if you don’t have one already, to handle tasks like registering copyright and obtaining an ISBN number and the barcode, sending out advance copies and securing testimonials, securing any needed permissions, and setting up/maintaining a website for the book (or at least a page on your business site), among other tasks.
It may seem like you need to hire a lot of people to help you self-publish, but doing this step by step will ensure you aren’t overcharged for all in one services and that you maintain in control. Research who you are working with before you work with them. Ask for references or past projects so you know who you are working with and that your project is in capable hands at every turn. Remember that this is your book, your career, and your reputation. I’m sharing this quote once more to emphasize the importance of those you work with:
“Choose your team carefully. So much of your success is due to the people who you surround yourself with.” — Tom Ford
Has this post created any questions for you? Let me know in the comments below.