This post, by Debbie Young, originally appeared on How to Successfully Self-Publish on 3/28/13.
Horror stories of indie authors ripped off by unscrupulous assisted publishing services companies are enough to propel any author on the road to becoming a one-man self-publishing band. But in my view, you should no more let these few rogues tarnish the business of ethical service providers than allow your perception of banks to be dictated by hoaxters who email you for your pin number in order to empty your bank account.
Nor should you assume that the safest way forward is to go it alone unless you are prepared for some serious multi-tasking.
DIY self-publishers must add to their job title of writer all of the following positions of responsibility: copy-editor, proofreader, typesetter, graphic designer, cover artist, print manager, e-book formatter, legal services manager, distribution manager, delivery boy, sales-person, promoter and PR.
This demanding job description does not suit everyone, especially those who are already juggling a day-job, family responsibilities and a social life – oh, and writing their next book!
If you prefer to outsource your book’s production, you should feel free to do so — while still retaining the status of indie author. It’s just a question of choosing the right partner.
To help you do this, I’ve compiled a comprehensive checklist (below), with the help of my friend, Helen Hart. As the author of nine traditionally published YA novels, and director of my own preferred publisher, SilverWood Books, Helen completely understands the writer’s viewpoint and how important each book is to its author.
It doesn’t surprise me that her company has amassed an extensive list of clients who value her expertise, including well-known traditionally published authors who have turned indie (prize-winning author and broadcaster Sarah LeFanu, USA Today bestselling historical novelist Helen Hollick), established self-publishers of multiple books – Harvey Black and Gael Harrison, and many debut writers.
1) HIGH STANDARDS
On the shelf of a bricks-and-mortar bookshop, their books should not be stand out as self-published. Cover design, paper quality, format, blurb, internal layout – all of these features should equal those of traditionally published books. Ask to see samples of your prospective partner’s books. Touch them, hold them, read them. Download their e-books to check for layout and typos. Are they up to scratch?
2) CLEAR COMMUNICATIONS