I took the advice of other writers and found a wonderful editor. How? I went to the webpage of Institute of Professional Editors and selected five editors who posted that they had experience in my field (science-fiction/fantasy). I then wrote a brief half-page synopsis of my book with a cover letter and the first chapter as a sample of my writing. I asked for a quote and a timeline. I emailed them all. A couple said they couldn’t do anything right now as they were already booked up and of the other three, I picked the one who came back with both an affordable quote, a timeline that met my expectations and a no-nonsense critique of my sample chapter. My editor, Simone Ford, seemed to share my approach to story-telling, too, and I have not regretted one of the dollars I spent on her services. Simone produced a copy edit that was mind-blowing in its detail. She found all my story’s inconsistencies, asked all the right questions and tightened up my language so that it flowed like warm honey.
Essentially, I took the same approach. I used links from the fabulously helpful Joanna Penn’s website to select five designers who seemed to specialise in my genre. I emailed them all asking for a quote and with a brief synopsis of the story, the title and a ‘moodboard’ of images that I had found interesting and/or attractive and/or relevant to the story. Sure enough, one or two stood out from the pack and I chose Rob Williams from ilovemycover.com because he seemed to get where I was coming from and was just a very amenable colleague. The cover for The Malign Alliance is just gorgeous and has had so much good feedback that I know it was money well spent.
This is the one step where I did it myself. As I went through the copy edit, I picked up the few typos that both Simone and I had missed earlier. So, there’s bound to be a couple we’ve missed but if you want to save a bit of money and have a keen eye for detail, then go ahead and do this for yourself. But do it! There’s nothing worse for a reader than to find typos and spelling errors. Personally, if I find more than, say, five mistakes in any book, I have a mental sneer and question the author’s aptitude. It’s like hearing a newsreader say, ‘the government have decided to…’ instead of ‘has’. So, if you have read my book and found a typo, please let me know and I promise to correct it.
Yes, I could talk about Marketing and Advertising, but these are areas where, quite frankly, you are better off employing professionals unless, of course, you have a marketing background. I have, but I still believe that you can’t often see your own wood for all the trees. You can probably write your own ad copy, but when it comes to style and layout and targeting readers, there are people who possibly understand these things better than you. Think long and hard and do your research before tackling your own marketing.
There is so much more I could say about the essentials of self-publishing, but these are the most important ones for you, the Writer. In the meantime, set aside at least one or two hours a day to just write. And keep writing, because if your book sells, your readers will want more, which is another good reason for getting on with what you do best. Good luck!