Self-publishing is a misnomer or at least successful self-publishing is. A better label might be team publishing. That is, when we self-publish, we must not do it all ourselves (though we can, we shouldn’t) but instead assemble a team, a self-publishing team.
Here are the players for our self-publishing team:
Author, the Self-Publishing Team Captain
The author (us) needs to write the best possible book: not a good one, not good enough, but the best. Then look for ways to make it better. We are the captain of our self-publishing team.
Once the book is as good as it can be, tap others to preview it, but only ask those who will give honest feedback. People who won’t say what’s wrong, weak, or not working aren’t helpful and give a false sense of excellence.
Many people recommend three levels of editing or even four. I look for two and to avoid confusing industry labels, I use generic ones. First is macro-editing, which looks at the big picture: What should you add, delete, or move? Does the piece flow? How can it be improved? What writing idiosyncrasies do you need to correct?
Then, after addressing all the comments from the macro-editor, a different person needs to do the micro-editing, which addresses the details of the writing: proofreading, typos, word selection, grammar, and punctuation. Select experienced professionals for both these editors’ positions. Don’t go cheap by asking a friend who majored in English or someone who likes to read.
Hire a cover designer to make an eye-catching, powerful cover. Potential buyers judge books by their cover, often in less than a second. We have one chance to catch their attention, so don’t skimp on making the most of this opportunity.
The layout of the book must follow standard expectations. No one notices when a book is laid out according to industry conventions, but everyone can tell something’s wrong when it’s not. Pay someone to do this right.
Add these key players to build a successful self-publishing team. In addition, we need help with marketing, promotion, and distribution. It’s also important to engage fans as part of the book launch.
Taking a team approach to self-publishing greatly increases the chances of success.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.