I’ve been intentional about gathering my teams. I have several: health team, (primary care doctor, dentist, chiropractor, massager, physical therapist and mental health therapist, followed by various specialists as I’ve needed them.) I’ve got a financial team, a home maintenance team, a work team.
And I’ve been building my writing team. What a wonderful process, to have each person appear in my life just when I need them! Not that I didn’t have to look—I did—but when I needed them and asked them, they came.
When I started this journey I didn’t really know what, or whom, I needed beside a computer and a lot of time, perseverance and coffee. The roles became evident as I proceeded, and whether you self-publish or traditional publish, every writer should consider recruiting these people in this modern age of intensive manuscript development.
Here they are:
- Beta readers: the best betas represent your potential target audience. I love it when I can get another writer to be a beta-reader, but I’m also aware they often DON’T represent the audience who would buy my book. I’ve collected several wonderful beta-readers who are there for me with every book, giving me real-world reader feedback. These ladies give me the ‘straight dope’ on whether the first draft is working or not from a reader perspective. I also have a couple of writer’s groups I read with for feedback.
- Expert readers– these are your consultants, various folks with the kind of background you need to lend authenticity. I am thrilled to have some wonderful experts on my team. Recently I added Dr. Rex Couch, retired M.E. from Kaua`i to my expert team- he was the “main man” on Kaua`i for many years, and in high school gave me a tour of the morgue I never forgot. He’s a classmate’s father, and through Facebook I tracked him down and asked to read my morgue/body scenes- his expertise has been invaluable in tweaking the lingo and procedural stuff my Forensics for Dummies book just can’t cover.
- Professional editor– many writers I know try to skip this step to save money, or because they are good at reading other people’s work and think they can do theirs as well. I DISAGREE. In fact, while I can line-edit my own work, I find I cannot the eagle eye of my professional editor If you haven’t got a good editor, get one. They’re worth their weight in gold, because we’re too close to our work to really see it. (Plus, in this self-publishing era, you need someone with more expertise than a beta-reader to give the thumbs-up that gives you confidence to press the “Print” button on a new book.)
- Copyeditor: this person is ESSENTIAL even if you do without a structural editor. A good copyeditor grammar checks, fact checks, tracks timelines and so much more than mere typo checking.
- Proofreader: I have an awesome Review Team that fulfills this function. A few trusted readers, or a paid professional is another way to handle. Don't skimp on this step! Readers will let you know if reviews how little they appreciate typos. Getting one-stars for this reason just sucks and should definitely be avoided at all costs.
- Agent: whether or not you go ‘indie,' agents are still a huge asset. My agent helped me find my editor, and gave me tough editing as well. Whatever happens with deals or no deals, I’ll always be grateful for her being the cornerstone of my ‘team’ and believing in my work enough to get it ready and get it out there—all for no compensation until we sold stuff.
- Cover Designer: find an artist who can do this. There are many. KindleBoards is a good source of many solid professionals in different areas! Please, do yourself a favor: unless you went to college for graphic design, don't try to do this yourself. A good designer knows what's trending in your genre, and that can make you sales!
- Inputting, formatting/book development: Every book needs to be created. Vellum has revolutionized this process! Highly recommended. Again, Kboards is a great place to find a pro to help build your books.
- Assistant: A good personal assistant (PA) is worth their weight in gold. They can make graphics, newsletters, help with ads, run your Facebook fan group, load your Twitter with content, enter you in contests, deal with fans, and in general, help you build your business. I began with one gal for 10 hours a month; I now have a close to full-time Business Manager.
- Website team: This can be tricky. You need a solid company that can grow with you, but not one that will overcharge. Again, check KindleBoards for good references for folks who specialize in book/author websites.
- Bookkeeper/CPA: At a certain point, your author-preneureal business will grow to the point that you need others to help with the number crunching. Again, asking around for referrals is the best way to find folks who specialize in working with creatives and their needs.
- PR/Ads/Marketing: there are various companies who can manage this area for you. Personally, while I've tried several, I've had best results working with my assistant and experimenting with the various platforms vs. handing this off to others. No one will care about your ads effectiveness like you do!
Who do you have on your “team” and who can you do without? Did I forget any role group that would be helpful?
MUAH! Thank you for the mention (and the side note about design…I do so love designing covers.) 🙂
You’re awesome Noelle!
Thank you. Anytime.
Thanks so much for being part of my “team” I know your time is valuable, and so is your writing talent.
If you look at self-publishing as a “have to” situation or last resort – bad reason to self-pub, IMO. Odds are pretty good that if NY doesn’t want your books, you’ll be able to find a small press (even if digital only) to put them out. Especially with the number of small presses popping up these days. Or maybe you’d go in with friends and form a publishing collective, which is becoming more popular as well.
I have beta readers, an editor (two, actually), proofreaders and a fabulous cover artist – those pretty well comprise my writing team. I have no need for an agent – I may later for foreign/movie rights (should I be so lucky), but not yet. I will say I think marketing is over-hyped, so you probably don’t need a PR person. The best marketing you can do is to get a *ton* of books out there…there’s evidence of that all over, despite what everyone keeps ramming down our throats. Marketing will take you a little ways, but your backlist is what will really sell books – ebooks, anyways (I realize trad. print is a different animal – so maybe you do need a PR person for that).
I’ll be offering formatting services within a week or two through my Brazen Snake Books pub company (linked above)…just finalizing the details of my package offerings and waiting to see if I can contract a proofreader for my BSB publishing/services team. There are a lot of options out there, and I dare say there will be more in the coming year as e-pub and self-pub continue to grow.
If you have a well-formatted ebook…uploading takes about 5 minutes, and is the simplest thing in the world. No need to be scared of it…and when you upload yourself, you keep all the profits. Isn’t that worth 5 minutes of your time? 😉
In any case, good luck finding your perfect publisher. Sounds like you’ve got a great team to help you get it done! 🙂
First may I say I’m loving the book of yours I bought (hot scientists romance, ahoy!) and second, thanks SO MUCH for the thoughtful answer, I may well hit you up for some of the services you’re offering! The most considered answers always come from those who are already out there, doing it. Mahalo nui loa, as we say in Hawaii!
You’re most welcome. And I’m glad you’re enjoying the book – that’s what it’s all about! 🙂
How about a “It’s time for fun” team? Maybe some overlaps with the other teams for this one.
Toby, you are amazing. This is priceless info and I actually don’t have strong teams. Just great writer friends such as yourself and a nagging family. Perhaps I should develop a select group of advisors on several points.
Another fab read!
Affording a great editor starting out is tough. But something I’m looking into. I have betas and crit partners, a cover artist and a video maker.
It’s worth it, I’m telling you! I know several with reasonable rates- email me if wanting more info!
Interesting post – and the perfect picture to kick it off. 😉
Good luck on your journey towards a publishing deal. I think that’s all I need to wish you, because you seem to have everything / everyone else in place, and from what I’ve read here and your overall internet presence, you’re the kind of person whose books I’d love to read.
So keep me posted when the book deal happens. Any day now, I’m sure. 🙂
Thanks so much for the awesome compliment!
I really needed this – very helpful advice. Thank you! I’m so glad I found your blog! I’m stopping by from the A to Z challenge and I look forward to reading more from you.