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It Takes a Village to Self-Publish a Book to Avoid Losing Your Shirt or Your Mind

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If you want to self-publish a book without losing your shirt or your mind, you need help.

Self-publishing is not a solo act.

Yes, you may write your rough draft alone in your room or closet for months with only quick breaks to refuel your stomach and sleep.

But to publish a book that stands any chance of being read, much less being profitable, you need to gather others who can help you with the less-glamorous, but essential parts of getting your book to market.

It takes a village to publish a book to avoid losing your shirt or your mind. ←Click to tweet

Who must be in your village and what is the role of each?

1. You

You must be an eager participant not just in the writing, but in the marketing of your book.

There is no “set-it-and-forget-it” in book marketing.  ←Click to tweet

No publicist, agent or company will care about your book more than you do.  Think of yourself as the contractor and the other folks in your village as subcontractors. You will select them and oversee the work they do for you.

2. Publishing coach or accountability partner

A coach or accountability partner plays an important role. You know that you could get your book written without any prodding, but if you’re like most humans you accomplish more when you have someone nudging you along.

You could build muscles and lose weight on your own too. Chances are, however, that you won’t stick to any fitness plan if you don’t have someone tracking and encouraging you on.

A publishing coach serves an even more important function when you are self-publishing.  She will help you evaluate your options in selecting the other members of your village so you aren’t scammed into overpaying for services or being lured into worthless package deals from  unscrupulous companies.

3. Editor

Did you let out a loud sigh of relief when you finished your rough draft? Perhaps you thought the hard part was over. Depending on who to you talk to, that may be true.

But I pity the fool who publishes a book without having a professional editor go through it with a fine-tooth comb.

Without a skilled editor, your book will be screaming “amateur” and will become the victim of ruthless reviews on Amazon and other online retailers. Today’s readers are not very patient with books that are riddled with errors or sound like 5th grade compositions.

Once the editor returns your manuscript you still have work to do, refining and polishing.

James Michener was not kidding when he said,
“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

4. Proofreader

While the editor was digging into content, ensuring flow, structure and consistency of style, the proofreader is looking for mistakes in spelling and grammar that can mar, alter or skew your meaning.

Proofreaders know that they can’t count on spell checkers, so they use many other means.

5. Book cover designer

Since the cover is the first thing prospective buyers see, it plays an important role. The front cover captures attention, and if it garners enough curiosity the reader goes to the back cover where the details convince the reader to plunk down his credit card.

Even though ebooks typically show only a front cover, it is nonetheless important.

Consult your coach,  fellow authors and colleagues to help you find book cover designers who can work with you to create the cover that best represents your book.

6. Interior book/layout designer

Self-publishing a book can be easy, but self-publishing a “professional” book requires skill. Chances are you don’t have all the skills required. That’s why I urge you to gather the experts you need to have in your village.

Up until this stage you may have been working with your manuscript in Microsoft Word.  When getting it properly formatting, Microsoft Word is no longer your friend.

No matter how well polished your manuscript is, you can fall into a big pothole if it is not laid out properly.  While some of the Print on Demand companies may give you instructions on doing this yourself, it’s still possible to make amateur mistakes that will diminish all the work you’ve done up to this point

 7. Printer, Fulfillment and Distribution

Once your book has received the blessings of the first six folks in your village, you’re ready to share it with the world.

Your coach or anyone of the other experts can be helpful in selecting the company that will print your book. Print on demand companies often have an option for getting your book into the hands of buyers. While you may enjoy selling your book at book signings and book release parties, chances are you don’t want to tackle the task of shipping every copy purchased online from popular retailers.

8. Marketing department

Most self-published authors have little experience with marketing.

 

A word of caution:

Beware of companies selling packages that include all of these services in one. They are too often motivated more by profits than by helping you get a professional book.

For newcomers to publishing, gathering your village will seem like a daunting task. You can count on your coach and groups of self-publishers and independent publishers to steer you toward the ethical and affordable experts. Local, national, and online groups are dedicated to helping you succeed with your book writing, publishing and marketing goals. A few of them are

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If you’re ready to gather your village or learn more about starting your book, I’ll be happy to be your traveling companion. Here are your coaching options.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. John Hancock
    Twitter:
    says:

    this blog post reminds me of almost ALL OTHER blog posts on self publishing, in that it states the obvious categories of things you need, but no details about how to do or find these things.
    For example, formatting. Just saying “do it right or will look bad” is not as helpful as “make sure chapter breaks are built in” or similar DETAILED advice.
    In other words, not to pick on you specifically, because this is all I’m finding on the web, But these posts fall under the category of “if it rains, make sure you have an umbrella”, instead of “The best type of umbrella to use is the mac-112 sold by widget corp. because it has a wider canopy”

    sorry, end rant.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. No apology needed. I don’t consider your response a rant. You are absolutely right that this post doesn’t dig into the details. For brand-new self-publishers, however, these categories are not that obvious.

      The main purpose of this brief post is to caution the first-time author to get help so they turn out a decent manucript without falling victim to the unscrupulous self publishing companies who charge exorbitant fees without delivering on their promises.

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