You might easily assume that because self-publishing is seen as a way to bypass traditional publishing and all that comes with it, including the services of proof-readers, editors, publicists and the collaborative aspect that they will give to your novel. Some authors and publishing experts have used the lack of collaboration as a means of discouraging authors from going down this route. But in truth, self-publishing authors can collaborate with a wide range of people.
Book designers, marketing agencies, fellow authors, proof-readers and editors – these can all play an important role in the production of your novel. Many writers are great at spilling out all their words onto paper, then have no idea as to what to do next. That is when reaching out to a collaborator is a great idea, but you have to be able to choose them wisely. You don’t want to be wasting time, money and effort on people who don’t care about your novel as much as you do.
There are people out there who will take pride in working with a passionate self-publishing author and will want to play a pivotal role in the process that takes your book from a Word doc to a bestseller. You just have to be able to find them, and here are a few ways to find the right collaborators for you:
Do Your Research
The most obvious part in finding collaborators is to conduct intensive research into the services you need and find out the best and most relevant collaborators for you. For example, if you are searching for a book cover designer who has experience with children’s books, you should be searching for this specifically in Google and on social media, so that you can narrow your search down and go straight to the relevant people.
Here is an example of a Google search for children’s book illustrators:
Review Their Past Work from the Perspective of a Fan
The next step in finding a collaborator who is the right fit for you and your novel is to review their portfolio and success stories from the view of a fan. For example, if you’re looking for a great book cover, try and picture your work with a cover created by the illustrator you have found. If they seem like a good fit – and have a past experience of projects in your genre – they could be the right person for you.
In the case of less visual collaborators including book editors and proof-readers, you should base your research on price (most services will have a price list or a means to contact them via their website to get hold of their pricing guide) and the quality of the work they have done in the past. Do they have testimonials on the site? Do they publicise their past work? If they were responsible for editing or proofreading a novel you know and love – or one in your chosen genre – they could be right collaborator for you.
Meet in Person Wherever Possible
When searching for collaborators, you should try a local search first. There could be freelancers or agencies who specialise in what you need living two streets away, but if you don’t search for them, you’ll never find them. If the worst case scenario happens and you get screwed over for money or the person is late with their work, you will regret not having searched locally first.
There are web directories and services for freelancers that can be narrowed down by location, and these can be used to find the likes of graphic designers, editors and proof-readers. They should definitely be checked out before you hit the likes of Google for the national and worldwide searches.
The advantage of collaborating with local people or agencies is that you can meet face-to-face before, during and after you have worked together. Working in close proximity to each other will mean that you will have constant lines of communication and you will be less likely to get wires crossed as to exactly what you want and need out of the individual.
Emails and social media contact are great, but when the success of your novel depends on you translating 100% of your vision to the page, the cover and the marketing of the novel, everything needs to be communicated properly with no room for error or confusion. Meeting in person also allows for you to share influences, likes and dislikes in person and to compare and discuss your options without waiting for replies. Even Yahoo! have banned telecommunication in a bid to increase interaction and collaboration. If it works for one of the biggest companies in the world, it can for you and your novel.
Once you are in the position that you have chosen your collaborator(s) and are working on the areas that you need to work together on, you should focus on communication and organisation. Set up regular meetings (on Skype if you can’t meet face-to-face) and chat regularly on social media, email, text or by phone, make sure that you set up some kind of progress document (Google Docs are great for organising collaborative efforts) so that you are both kept in the loop and don’t have to keep chasing things up (which becomes boring for you and annoying for the other parties before too long).
Self-publishing doesn’t have to mean ‘self’ and no one else. There are individuals and services out there that can take your novel to the realm of super professional and give it the best possible chance of being a best-seller. Doing everything as an individual is going to be fine some authors, but the vast majority are going to need a helping hand at some point. Choose your collaborators carefully and it will pay off when you finally publish that novel.