Creating a Publishing Success Team

“It takes a village…” is never more true than for new and aspiring authors.  While much of the idea creation can be alone work, the physical creation of the finished product we call a book is a team effort.  When I ran a publishing company in the 1990’s the model had long been established for successful publishers.  We had editors, some who worked to acquire new book manuscripts and others who polished manuscripts we had already committed to.  We had proofreaders whose job it was to thoroughly look at a manuscript, separately with two pairs of fresh eyes before that manuscript ever went to the printer.  We had a team of typesetters and book designers who created covers and the interior layouts.  We had a marketing and publicity department.  And for each book we assigned a “production coordinator” whose job it was to make sure all the steps were followed and nothing important was missed – the ISBN was assigned, the LCCN was obtained, the bar code was created and that our important quality procedures were maintained.

Those were the good old days for publishers before discount pricing and personal computers turned all that upside down.  But let’s not throw it all out because we can do it more quickly and easily than it was done before.  Because we had no choice but to take our time, we slowed down.  We left a job overnight to finish it the next morning because we knew we would come in with fresh ideas.  And more importantly we knew that as one member of a professional team if we missed something there would be someone else to double-check and time to do it.

When you are thinking about writing and publishing a book, and particularly if you have decided that self publishing is the way to go for you, then creating a publishing success team is one of the most critical things you can do to ensure success.  If you have used the services of a life or business coach, then you know how important picking the right coach can be.  A coach in the book world is often called a “publishing strategist” or a “book coach” or “book shepherd”.  As with so many other consultants these days, there are no rules and regulations regarding who can call himself or herself a professional book coach.  Getting good recommendations for these professionals is a must, but there is more you can do.  Check out his or her website to get a sense of the publishing background.  An individual who has published one or more books, even if these books were very successful, doesn’t necessarily make a good book coach.  That person has only had his or her experience to draw from.  A book coach should be someone, in my opinion, who has been an author, but who also has had a responsible job at a publisher, preferably as an acquisitions editor.

The book coach should recognize his or her value as the quarterback of the team, but not try to play all the positions.  Each individual expert brings important skills to the whole of the book process and the team may be made up of an editor, an indexer, a proofreader, a book coach, a cover designer, a book interior designer, a copywriter, a marketing consultant, a publicist, a web designer and more.  You may also want a virtual author’s assistant who can act as your “production coordinator” and handle the administrative duties and execute some of your marketing strategies.  Get personal referrals from happy authors and check out each individual’s web site for background and viewpoint. Having a collaborative spirit from team members is essential!

There are self publishing services companies that provide these services as a package.  That doesn’t let you off the hook for checking out individual team members’ qualifications.  You have a right to know who will be editing your manuscript and if you can’t get an answer about that person’s background there should be big red flags waving in front of you.

Becoming an author is not an easy process, but there is help and support all around you.  Find the right people and the journey will be much easier.

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