by Kimberly Peticolas
Throughout history, it has never been easier to share your story with the world. We are fortunate to live in a society that allows such freedom of expression. Expression that was inconceivable to the average citizen just decades ago in our own country, and that is still restricted in many other countries around the world. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are.
And yet, while there can be much joy and freedom in the ease of publishing your story today, too often I see authors get bogged down in fear. How do they navigate the process of publishing a book? How do they learn the ins and outs of the publishing industry? Will their story interest people? How do they know if their book is well written or if it looks professional? What if people don’t buy it or even see it given all the competition?
929 New Books Each Day
According to the International Publishers Association, the U.S. had 338,986 new books published in 2015 alone (IPA Annual Report 2015-2016). That averages out to almost 929 new books each day! So how do you make an impact in a field that is already so flooded with options? The key is simple (in concept, if not in practice)—build your own personal publishing team.
Wait… wait… I know what you are going to say. What if you’re not going with a traditional or even hybrid publisher that provides those services for you? What if you are self-publishing and don’t have the resources that the big publishers do? Whatever path to publishing you are planning on using, a publishing team is still a necessity and there are many options out there to choose from.
Building Your Team
When starting to build a publishing team, there are some essential people you will need, including (but not limited to) editors, designers, book printers, and more. There are companies that can provide every service you need, consultants who can help find your providers, or you can build your own team of freelancers where you have control over the options and the finished product. Whatever you choose, if you want a professionally produced book, you will need to invest in the project.
Luckily, there are a lot of affordable options out there to choose from, but you’ll need to spend some time researching the possibilities. For example, Createspace is a company that prints and distributes print-on-demand paperbacks. They also offer several free options for cover design and basic interior formatting. The question, however, is if the finished product you receive with these free services meets professional standards.
The old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover” no longer applies. People absolutely judge books by their covers first, and the quality of the writing second. Librarians won’t buy books that don’t meet their standards, reviewers won’t pick it up, and even the general public may miss it if it doesn’t have a good cover. In other words, a good designer and a good editor should always be the first two people you add to your team.
Honest Feedback, Mutual Respect, and Collaboration
However you choose to go about building your team, make sure you are gathering a group of people you can rely on to do quality work and give honest feedback for this project and all your books to come. Focus on creating long-lasting professional relationships. This is especially important if you are planning a series of books, so you can maintain continuity of design and voice.
Professional relationships require trust and respect, and the ability to take constructive criticism with grace, even if you don’t always take their advice. If you make an effort to collaborate with your team rather than just hire them for one specific task, they are more likely to contribute to your overall goals. You may hire someone for editing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t also have a lot of experience with covers. A collaborative team will give feedback beyond the scope of their individual tasks, and they will be more likely to naturally promote your book for you to their own networks. It’s good for them and good for you.
Publish with Confidence
Never forget that a good publishing team wants your book to be a success as much as you do. A good team can free you from that paralyzing fear that keeps your book in the hidden recesses of your computer. A good team will give you the confidence that you have produced a professional book worthy of the message you are sharing with the world.
Kimberly Peticolas is a freelance publishing consultant and editor. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, and the University of Leicester, where she completed a Master’s thesis focused on publishing in museums. She has worked professionally in both magazine and book publishing with an expertise in working with authors, small publishers, and small businesses helping them with editing, marketing, website, and copywriting initiatives. In addition to her professional work, she has had several articles published in museum and regional publications.
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