As an indie author, you need to think and act like a CEO. You cannot succeed without the right relationships. And that starts with choosing a self-publishing partner.
It’s because writing and publishing a book is a business: you invest time, effort, and resources creating a product and marketing it to the right customers. It’s the quality of the relationships you attract and cultivate while on your journey that will make the difference between raging success or barely keeping your head above water.
How do you find a self-publishing partner that understands the importance of relationship? There are a few signs.
When choosing a self-publishing partner that cares about you and your book, here’s a good clue. Before they start to spout on about the advantages of them over the next guy, they will ask you questions.
Asking these questions first are all signs you’re close to choosing a self-publishing partner who wants to listen to you, learn about your journey, your goals and aspirations. Which means they are gathering the information they need in order to follow through on being thoroughly invested in the success of your project (despite not getting paid through royalties, or, if hybrid, not getting much through royalties).
Then, once you’ve told them about you and your book, they’ll ask another question. Or two, or more.
When it is time for you to hear from your potential self-publishing partner, here are a few things to listen for.
Of course they’ll help you with one or more of the tasks listed at the top of this blog, but what I’m getting at here is a little bigger picture. You can listen for these phrases in your initial conversations:
There are a lot of moving pieces that go into publishing and promoting a book. It can be a rather confusing process for first-time authors. If you’ve self-published before, you’ll know the work doesn’t end when you finish writing the final chapter. It can be an exhausting and time-consuming process for the accomplished indie author. A trusted self-publishing partner will offer to work with you from beginning to the end, to mentor or coach you, if that’s what you need, provide strategic advice and options, and help you launch or build your writing career.
The right self-publishing partner can make major contributions to the quality of your work. Remember, they have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to produce good books. Author myopia is a term I just made up, but it’s a well-known phenomenon. We cannot clearly see aspects of our own work. Partly because we’ve been looking at the same words over and over again, and our brain tells us what we want to see, rather than what is actually there. This is the number one reason it is critical to hire a professional proofreader, for example, rather than try to handle it on your own. We also get too close to our ideas to be objective. Your self-publishing partner offers an objective point of view, developed after working with many other books before yours.
This phrase speaks to a process of creating loyalty. Two-way loyalty. When you develop a meaningful relationship with your self-publishing partner, you will become more than just “another client.” You become part of the team. The editors and marketers will listen to your needs and provide you with the personalized attention a book needs to succeed. They are ready to go the extra mile for their clients because they are ready to build a successful partnership.
A successful self-publishing partnership should be mutually beneficial. If you want to get the best services from your partner, then you need to put your shoulder to the wheel too.
In other words, pay attention to what you bring to the table. Try to be consistent with your work and deliver the manuscript, notes or other important details on time. If you can’t, don’t play games: call them and let them know you will be late and when they can expect to receive the documents.
Let editors do their job. It’s often difficult for an author to remove him- or herself from their work to see the stylistic, logic, or grammatical errors. If you refuse to accept criticism and primp and prance like a prima donna you will be your own worst enemy. And the quality of your book will suffer.
Last but not least, personalize the relationship. Don’t treat the editors, designers, proofreaders or project managers like simple clerks who are beneath you on the food chain. Share your goals, motivations, and concerns with them. Listen to their advice and let them know that their input is valuable to you. And, most importantly, trust and respect them.
The number of self-publishing companies is growing at a fast pace and choosing a self-publishing partner that’s right for your unique needs and goals is becoming increasingly difficult. While most indie authors focus on the obvious aspects of choosing a self-publishing company, such as the cost, services offered, the creative rights, and the terms and conditions of the contract, most of them ignore the key factor that could make or break this partnership: building a solid and lasting relationship.
Boni is co-founder of Ingenium Books. She's author of One Million Readers: The Definitive Strategy to a Nonfiction Book Marketing Strategy that Saves Time, Money, and Sells More Books. Boni is an author coach, editor, and ghostwriter. As an award-winning former Canadian television reporter, news anchor, producer, and talk show host, working under the names Boni Fox and Boni Fox Gray (it's a long story), Boni covered politics, government, the economy, health, First Nations, and crime. She won several Canadian Association of Broadcaster (CAB) awards and a Jack Webster Award for best documentary. Boni also held senior management roles in government, leading teams responsible for editorial, issues management, media relations, and strategic communications planning. Boni is co-author of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Start, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up and, like any good author, has several books in progress.
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