Self-Publishing FAQs

A couple weeks ago we talked about myths related to self-publishing. Let’s take that discussion in a different direction today and talk about questions I am asked about a lot with regard to self-publishing.
How much does it cost?
Depending on how much you outsource, expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. It’s quite possible to publish a high-quality, professional book without breaking the bank.
Do I need a literary agent?
If you want to self-publish, no. If you want to publish traditionally, it depends on the publishing house. Some small, niche publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts, but most publishing houses require that manuscripts be submitted via a literary agent. If you decide to publish traditionally and find a literary agent, make sure the agent does not charge you. They will keep a portion of any money that you make, but reputable agents do not charge any money up-front.
Where can I find an editor?
Before you outsource editing, self-edit your manuscript. The more errors you catch and correct on your own, the better. Next, consider what type of editing you need. Developmental editing will cost you the most, and proofreading the least. Many business owners, in the interest of saving money, skip editing. I urge you not to fall into this trap. Manuscript errors are one of the ways readers can identify a self-published book. (The cover is another big one, by the way.) If nothing else, do not skip proofreading, where you’ll get one last set of professional eyes on your manuscript before it’s printed (if a printed book) or uploaded (if an ebook).
As for where to find an editor, there are many places. Ask for recommendations in Facebook groups or on Twitter, ask those you know (or know of) who edited their book, and search online. Look for someone who’s edited books similar to yours.
Where can I find a designer?
As with looking for an editor, ask for recommendations in Facebook groups you belong to or on Twitter, and also search online. Your editor probably has some good recommendations, too.
Note that some designers handle both covers and interiors, but not all do. If having one designer is important, to you, make sure you ask about that before signing a contract.
How do I know my manuscript is ready?
“Ready” is a subjective term. Most professional writers will say their book is NEVER truly ready. Only you can decide that it’s time to put your work out there for the world to see. If you’ve covered your topic well,
Can I upload it to Amazon myself, or do I need to hire/pay someone?
If your book is fairly straightforward (meaning it’s mainly text, versus text with lots of images/captions, graphics, and so on), the Amazon process is pretty straightforward, quick, and user-friendly. That said, there are people you can hire to handle this for you if you’re either not interested or yours is a book with many graphic elements.
Have I answered your question(s)? Let me know if I haven’t and I’ll be sure to include it the next time I do a FAQ post!