Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.
Courtesy of Adirondack Editing
Hiring Professionals, Part 1
If you’re going to self-publish your book, there may be tasks that you are unable to do yourself, or tasks that you simply don’t want to take the time for. That’s when it’s time to hire a professional.
What kinds of professionals might an author need or want to hire? A book or copyeditor, a formatter, a cover designer, a trailer producer, and a marketer are typical professions that authors enlist the help of. In all cases, you can’t tell whether somebody is good based on what they charge. Why not?
Most of the time, there is no established standard rate for these services. Each freelance provider charges what they think is fair and reasonable, both to themselves and to their clients. “Fair and reasonable,” though, is not a quantifiable amount. One professional might scoff at what another considers reasonable, because everybody’s lifestyle and circumstances are different. While one professional copyeditor may charge $5 a page because they life in a high-income area and want to maintain a certain lifestyle, another professional copyeditor may charge $1 a page because they live out in the sticks, are content with a lower level of living, or maybe they have a spouse who brings in the main income and this is just a supplement to them.
Price doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse.
So if you can’t judge whether a professional is good based on their cost, how do you judge? Let’s go through them briefly and I’ll offer some tips that can help you. They’re not listed in order of use.
Do your homework. Ask for referrals from other authors, and look for formatters who have good reviews and happy clients. With Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, you can check out first-hand the books this formatter has worked on. Look for professionalism (no PartyAnimalRocksfirstname.lastname@example.org email addresses!), a good website, and quick responses. If you haven’t heard from somebody within 24 hours, choose somebody else. Whether you choose an individual or a company, be sure they provide the final copy in a format that your POD vendor can use. If your book is complicated, with tables or other graphics, make sure you proof the formatting carefully! Don’t just look at the first ten pages and assume everything is fine. After all, you’re paying the bill and you want it to be the best it can be.
Cover Designer/Graphic Artist
Your cover needs to look professional and catch the reader’s eye. Look for a cover designer that offers an entire package—wrap-around design (if you’re printing the book), banners for Facebook and your website, and a thumbnail version. It’s a good idea to have a basic plan for how you want your cover to look, and then don’t settle for something you don’t like. Back-and-forth revisions are standard, and some should automatically be included in the pricing. If you’re very picky, though, expect to pay more for a higher-than-normal amount of revisions. If you have no idea what your cover should look like, giving the designer free reign may be just the ticket to a fantastic cover. Going with a stock cover that the artist has already designed may save you some money, if one happens to strike you. Again, look for quick responses and professionalism, happy previous customers, and many samples to view.
That’s all for today! ‘Hiring Professionals, Part 2′, next week.
This series is not meant to be (nor will it be) simple static information.
I’ll be here for each post to answer questions, offer suggestions as necessary, and interact with you.
If there’s something you specifically want (or need!) to see addressed in terms of self-editing, please let me know in the comments under this, or any of the articles of the series.