A Professional Team
No man is an island – John Donne
You need a professional team in your corner if you want to self-publish. Why? Because it’s really difficult to write a novel that sells? Sitting by yourself for months while working on plot and dialogue. Being distracted by an overstimulated imagination that drags you in all directions. Fighting inner demons intent on sabotaging your creative passion. So not difficult at all then.
When I started out, I was oblivious to what was ahead of me and naively thought that it was just about the writing. I knew that publishing was something that happened, but I had no idea what was involved.
Being a methodical person, who reads an enormous amount, I got a few books on ‘how to write’ and ploughed through them. The first question that had to be answered was whether to go down the traditional publishing or self-publishing route. I deal with the reasons for my decision here.
I was writing all the while, and the product was coming along nicely, oblivious to what publishing a novel entailed. Fortunately, towards the end of my first novel, CELT, I realised that I had to get help. So many of the ‘how to’ books had lists of do’s and don’ts, and I think some of the simplest ones stuck with me from early on.
The main advice that I can give folks who are starting on the same wonderful journey as me – get yourself professional help. Seek out people who will help you get your best story out into the world. It’s not your sister, mother or best friend. Yes, they might have a degree in English, but you need people in your corner who do this for a living in the competitive publishing environment.
I repeat, get yourself a professional team.
How do you do this?
- Search Twitter and Google for the service which you require.
- Get recommendations and references from other authors.
- Ask for examples of the service they offer (submit a chapter or two for them to work on)
Here is a list of the wonderful folks who are in my writing and publishing corner.
Get yourself a professional editor. This is the best bit of advice I can ever offer. The first manuscript I sent through to them was 80 000 words in length, it came back to me at a slimmed down 48 000, and yes, I was gutted. But it came back with a detailed and comprehensive editorial report (I learnt a great deal from this too). With the tracking function activated it showed all the changes my editor had made to the manuscript.
I read somewhere (I wish I could recall where): The purpose of an editor is to take the authors work and turn it into the story that the author meant to put down on the page all along. You need them. Spend good money here.
Gary Smailes from Bubblecow is editor of both the Kyle Gibbs series and now, the new Hudson Drake series.
The cover is the first thing that people see. They see it before they even they pick it up (or click on it) to read the blurb. Spend the money and get a professional to design it. Don’t scrimp on this. You may have the best novel ever written, but unless it hooks the potential reader, it will remain on the shelf.
I looked around on Google at many designer’s websites until I saw someone’s work that I thought was professional and fresh.
Stuart Polson is the man who designs all my covers.
They should be a select group of your readers (or fellow authors), who will not be scared to let you know what works and what doesn’t work with your story. Don’t simply select people who will tell you how great you or your books are. Select readers who will tell you how it really is.
As with the feedback from your editor, don’t take their observations personally. Just work through their comments and refine your manuscript. Remember, these are readers. If they say your book is no good, it’s no good. They are the last group of people who will look at the structures, characters and storyline before you press the publish button.
Whether you are writing a short story or a 300 000 word epic novel, you will go spelling blind to your work.
Having to re-work the same story, 8 or 9 times, means you will miss things. Paying for a proofreader who will work their magic on the spelling and grammar, with fresh eyes, is critical. Typos and grammar mistakes affect the reading experience.
Julia Gibbs has proofread all my work to date and has continued to work magic on all the errors that I miss.
Being a self-published author focused on the selling eBooks, the formatting of the published work is key. It is not a simple task, due to the myriad of online books stores, all promoting their eReaders (and file formats). Technically it is possible to do all the formatting yourself, but I prefer to outsource it.
I use Ebook Launch for my formatting to epub and Mobi
Note: An eBook will look very different to a printed book because it has to be scalable to work across several brands of readers. This was a shock at first and something that took a while to get used to. Accept that it will look different and move on to your next bit of work.
If you liked this article, you may like – 10 Things I learnt from writing my first novel
For more writing and publishing tips, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter and claim your sign-up gift.