From having control over design and editorial changes to earning more favorable royalties, there are numerous good reasons why authors opt to publish books themselves. Professional indie authors also understand how important it is to hire a competent team if their book is going to compete on the same shelf as traditionally published volumes.
Perhaps you just recently took the plunge and hired an outfit of editors and designers, or maybe you’re halfway through production of your book. Either way, these tips will get you the best results from your team.
- Be clear about your goals. Are you determined to get your book into local bookstores? Is one of your primary goals to make a profit? With this information in hand, your production team can help set realistic expectations and inform you of actionable steps for distribution and marketing.
- Write thorough briefs. Depending on the established scope of the project, your crew may be writing your promotional copy, creating your author website, and designing the cover, interior, and logo using the information you provide as a jumping-off point. By providing clear direction from the start, you’ll help your team deliver the final copy and designs you’ve been envisioning. If you’ve hired a marketing strategist and publicist, it’s important that they’re fully briefed as well.
- Give specific and objective feedback. For example, when you’re reviewing your copyedited manuscript, clearly respond to the copyeditor’s queries with actionable edits. This might mean inputting a simple “OK” to agree with a suggested change, or choosing a proposed solution and rewriting to fit. With design, though a cover might not “feel right,” go beyond such imprecise comments. Focus on identifying what’s not working for you rather than what you think the correct solution might be. Maybe the font is too traditional, the title too big, or the red that was chosen too bright. What did you think would be different about the design you envisioned? Communicate the specific element that’s not sitting well with you and why, and then let the designer bring their expertise to bear on the best solution to that problem.
- Be open to new possibilities. Do you already have the perfect cover design in mind? Share it with your team, and get ready to review ideas both inspired by and completely independent from your own. Though your original concept is an excellent starting point, you might miss out on a well-suited design if you’re focused exclusively on your own. It’s smart to come to the creative table with a good dose of humility and appreciation for the expertise of the people you’ve hired to help you.
- Stay organized to keep your team organized. Use best practices to keep the process rolling by acting like a professional. Input your project schedule into your online calendar to ensure you stick to your deadlines. Collate your design feedback into one email as opposed to several, or use project management software to collaborate.
- Use the software specified by your production editor. You will likely need access to the latest versions of the tried-and-true publishing standbys: Adobe Reader and Microsoft Word. Reader is used to view and comment on PDFs (design files), while Word is the gold standard for editing and commenting on your manuscript. If you’re unsure how to use each program properly, ask for guidance.
- Alert your team to potential issues right away. Whether you have a schedule conflict with your proposed review time or you think Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature turned off during your copyedit review but you’re not sure, tell your team immediately. Their experience and insight can help you head off problems and keep your book on schedule.
- Come prepared to meetings. Not sure what to prep? Ask your project manager. You’ll be able to get the answers and next steps that you need if you and your team are on the same page during critical conversations.
- Have a question or concern? Raise it. Your team is there to guide you through the production process, and often asking questions right away can save you the time, effort, and potential costs that making late-in-the-game revisions might necessitate.
At the end of the day, remember that you entrusted a stellar team of experienced publishing professionals to shepherd your title from manuscript to finished book. Ask questions, do as much of your own research as you like, query and requery issues until you’re satisfied, and bring a collaborative mindset. If you do these things, your relationship with your team will be productive and your book will be the very best it can be.