Meet the experts: getting your book ready for self-publishing, part two

When you’re preparing your manuscript for self-publishing, you’ll work with a team of professionals that will help you craft the best version of your book. Today, we’re going to go over the types of experts you’ll work with and give you some tips on how to choose your team.


Be careful when you’re selecting your editor. When you think you’ve found a few candidates, don’t just select the one that gives you the lowest quote. Read—or at least skim—a book that each editor has worked on. Pay attention to the genres they are experienced in. Check references.

You’ll want to work with at least two editors. One should do large-scale, developmental editing, and possibly line editing as well. If line editing isn’t done by the first editor, the second editor should do a line edit and a copy edit in two separate stages.

If an editor that you think would be perfect for you turns you down, don’t take it personally. There may be elements of your story he’s not comfortable with (especially if you write erotica or dark fantasy), or he may feel that he doesn’t know or love your genre enough to do your book justice. Any editor worth her salt will at least let you know if she’s inexperienced with the type of book you’re doing.

Click here for a quote from a Quill Pen editor.

Cover artist

Selecting the right cover artist is nearly as important as picking the right editor. While typos or implausibilities will make readers put your book down after the first chapter, a bad cover design can mean that readers never pick your book up at all.

We talked to author Katie Cross about her experience with cover designs, and she suggested beginning work with your artist at least six months before the release of the novel, because, well, we’ll let you see for yourself. Above all, make sure you’re honest with your cover designer when you’re looking at her mock-ups. It can be hard, especially for those who are conflict-averse, to explain why you dislike someone’s creative output, but it’s critical that you end up with a cover you love, and you won’t if you don’t explain what you love and what you hate.

Web designer

I’ve seen some truly awful websites. After you’ve paid your editors and your cover artist and you’re squeaking out the last of the funds for the typesetter, you may think, “Fund one more thing? I can’t do it!” And if you’re going to skimp somewhere, this might be it, if andonly if you use a professional, aesthetically pleasing template and get a couple of your artistic friends to approve it. But the better choice is to pay a web designer to create a simple but attractive site that showcases your brand. Remember when you’re selecting your designer that it’s about more than just telling your readers about yourself and your book. You’re selling an image, and a professional web designer can help you craft that image.


The typesetter is the person who lays out the words on the page of your finalized book, makes section breaks, and ensures that your text is aesthetically pleasing. Katie suggests that it’s most efficient to wait to send your files to the typesetter until your book has gone through its very last proofread so that he doesn’t have to redo any of his work. When you’re choosing a typesetter, look over some samples of his or her work to make sure that you’re picking someone who will do justice to your book.

And last but not least, we want to give a shout out to beta readers!

While beta readers are typically unpaid—or perhaps paid a nominal fee, as recognition more than as reimbursement for their time—they are a critical part of the revision process, and they deserve acknowledgement. You guys are the best!

Did we leave anyone out? Are there other experts you’ve worked with who have helped you get your book out the door? Do you guys have any recommendations of specific professionals you’ve worked with? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!


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