What does being an indie author really mean? Does it mean that you, the writer, do every single thing in the process of publishing your book all alone, by yourself, without any help? On the contrary. Make no bones about it, it takes a team to self-publish an indie work and achieve success.
What Should Your Team Consist Of?
Let me break it down:
- Writer (that’s YOU)
- Developmental Editor
- Beta readers
- Cover artist
- Copy Editor/Line Editor
- Street Team
(You will also need an accountant, because admit it, self-publishing is a business, although I won’t get into that in this post.)
Why Do You Need a Team?
To keep you from publishing amateurish writing that will not sell and that will further deepen the slush pile of indie publishing, thus keeping other authors’ works from being discovered and selling, as well.
Wait a minute–let me state that more positively: To help you make your work the best version of itself that it can be. To make your work stand out from the crowd of less-polished books. To help you sell more books. Getting the picture?
What’s a Slush Pile?
In traditional publishing a slush pile is exactly where you don’t want your manuscript to end up—buried beneath hundreds—even thousands—of other hopeful submissions waiting for an editor to find it. In self-publishing, it’s the thousands of terrible-to-mediocre-to-decent-to-absolutely-great self-published books that are also out there for readers to wade through.
You don’t want to be buried under there, either. Especially if your book is just mediocre.
At publishing houses, editors and their assistants have to wade through slush piles—-that’s their job. Readers, however, do not want to wade through slush piles of poorly written books filled with grammatical errors and typos. Unfortunately, that is exactly the position they are being put into in today’s era of self-publishing.
Your book needs to stand out from the crowd.
What Does Having a Team Do for You?
Well, first of all, if you are a newbie—excuse me, a writer just starting out on the road to authorship—or if you’re just venturing into a particular genre for the first time, you may need a writing coach or a developmental editor. Believe me, not everyone starts out an Ernest Hemingway or a Neil Gaiman or a Nora Roberts. Even they needed a lot of time, practice, and guidance to hone their techniques.
Beta readers are extremely well-suited for finding those areas that need a bit of fine-tuning or even a bit of an overhaul, patches where your story just doesn’t seem to flow or to make sense, places where you stray off the plot. They’re also really great at letting you know what worked.
Your copy editors and/or line editors help you check facts, grammar, pace, consistency, and spelling, among other things
The proofreader is the final member of the team to polish your story. Proofreaders are the last line of defense before you put your story out to the world. Proofreaders catch grammar or spelling issues that your other editors did not. A good proofreader can often times make the difference between a bad review and a good review.
So, you’ve enlisted the help of a developmental editor, beta-readers, a copy editor, and a proofreader. Are you ready to hit “publish”? No! Don’t forget about the visual appeal of your book! For that, you will need the services of a cover designer and a book formatter. A book formatter will make the inside of your book visually pleasing and easy to read. A cover designer makes your book attractive to potential readers.
If your cover is not professionally designed (or at least designed to professional standards), it will not help your book sales and it might even hurt your book sales. You know the saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, I’m telling you—people DO judge books by their covers!
Your book cover is the first thing your prospective reader sees and it plays a big role in their decision-making process. Our brains process imagery faster than text, you can thank millions of years of evolution for that. If your cover is emotionally appealing, matches the expectations readers have for the genre, and has attractive, well-chosen typography, it can be the deciding factor in whether they buy your book or not. Even if your book otherwise has great reviews.
Your cover conveys a lot of information about your book. Enlisting the services of a professional, experienced cover designer can help you make sure it’s conveying the right information.
Finally, we come to the super-important, but sometimes overlooked, members of the indie author team: your street team.
What’s a street team? A street team is a group of people who actively work with you to spread the word about your book. That’s it. Plain and simple. A street team could consist of family and friends who talk about your book to their other friends and family, who post your book links on their Facebook pages or blogs, or tweet about your book, or suggest your book to book clubs or libraries. You get the picture. A street team could also consist of fans of your other books, who follow you avidly and count down the days until your next book hits the shelves.
Simply put, a street team consists of your biggest advocates (mom? dad? bff?) and your biggest fans, who will “hit the streets” for you to promote your work. This is one of the most effective ways to promote your book. I mean, just think about it, when was the last time that you picked up a book that someone else suggested to you? Word of mouth works.
Putting It All Together
The takeaway message here is that successful indie authors do not (typically) achieve success all on their own.
Not only must you put in the work of writing a good book, but you must also enlist others to help you polish that book to really make it shine and stand out among the millions of other traditionally published and self-published books out there, and then enlist the aid of people to help in promotion to increase its discoverability.
I want to hear from you!
Are you an indie author going it alone? Are you an indie author who works with a team? Tell me your experiences!
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