As I’ve mentioned here before, one of the decisions I had to make when I decided to self-publish was how much to do myself, and how much I should outsource. Time and money were the two players on that see-saw. I knew if I took my time, I could learn to do pretty much all of the necessary tasks and I would end up with a pretty good product because I wouldn’t let the book out the door until I was satisfied. I also knew that while I was doing all that learning, I wouldn’t get much writing done, and as I wrote in my last post, each new book is your best promotion for your last one.
In light of that, I as I said here, I decided the money spent outsourcing the production work to professionals was the best investment in my business and my future.
So then I had to find the professionals to outsource to. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are lots of places to find referrals. Mark Coker at Smashwords has a list of inexpensive digital formatters and cover artists he’ll send for the asking. The kindleboards are another source of info, as are the blogs of other self-published authors like Joe Konrath.
I didn’t know how long each step of production would take so I just dove in and contacted my first choice for a cover artist, Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs. She sent a questionnaire that I filled out, and two weeks later she sent the first draft of a cover to me. I sent back some requests for changes which she quickly implemented. I wanted a few more refinements and sent those to her. Busy with attending a conference, she is still working on those revisions.
What is worth mentioning is that I felt reluctant to ask for more changes that second time. Perhaps this is a problem more common to women, but I had to remind myself that Kim had not complained or communicated a limit to the number of revisions I could ask for. I had to remind myself that this is one of the perks of self-publishing as Barry Eisler has mentioned — that I’m paying for a cover I like. I don’t have to settle for what my publisher chooses for me. (Which is not to say that all publisher-provided covers are awful, just that as the one in control, it’s up to me to choose.) As soon as I get a final cover I’ll post it here and show you what the progression was.
I think starting with the cover was a good idea, even though it will probably be done long before I finish with the edits. I know from getting the cover for VEILED MIRROR (coming out September 21st) that seeing a cover makes the book seem real. Not to mention the visual is great advertising! In fact now that I think about it, there’s no reason to wait until the book is finished. Having a cover already designed could be an inspiration to write faster!
Soon after I contacted Kim, I emailed Rochelle French at Edits that Rock. So far I’ve received their free five page edit and decided to go with their full manuscript level edit. I debated with myself for some time about whether to spend the money on a professional edit. LIGHTBRINGER had been through two different critique groups of multiply published authors, and I knew that Kris Tualla had used a series of beta readers instead of professional editing to good effect. What decided me was yet another blog urging the benefits of professional editing for self-pubbed authors, and the discount ETR offered to me as a new client. Then I saw their incredible attention to detail in the five page edit and I was sold. They do three different rounds of editing at ETR. I can’t imagine any editor at a big publisher could do better.
That allayed any lingering doubt that by self-publishing it, LIGHTBRINGER would be sub-standard.
I’ve also contacted three different digital formatters, and decided to use Lucinda Campbell. I do not yet know if I’ll hire someone to format the interior of the POD version or let Amazon’s CreateSpace manage that.
This has been a rambling post, but that’s appropriate to the subject matter because just I dove into the nuts and bolts of production without being sure what to tackle first. And that’s a good thing, because I’m further along than I would have been if I’d continued to collect even more information. At some point you have to choose: fish or cut bait.
This is a learning process for me. When I publish my next book, probably FIRSTBORN, I’ll know better how long each step takes and be able to plan better.