Saturday, April 8, 2017

Self-Publication Part 2 // How to Hire Help

Happy Saturday! If you missed Self-Publication Part 1 // What It Is & Why I Chose It, go check it out! For the second part of my self-publication series I'm here to talk about hiring people.  It's a huge part of the self-publication process so let's look at what you should hire people for and how to about doing that!
Self-publication is called self-publication because everything is on you, the author. However, that does not mean that you have to do everything alone! Chances are you are not skilled enough in writing, editing, formatting, and cover design to handle it all yourself and still have a professional look at the end of the day. I certainly wasn't!

The parts of publication I handled myself were:

  • writing 
  • applying feedback
  • making the fine print decisions
  • getting everything onto CreateSpace
  • marketing
I hired people to do my:
  • editing
  • formatting
  • cover design
And let me take a moment to emphasize that it is important to hire people if you're serious about being an author. You want a professional look that shouts quality. Don't do it alone! One-man-band books don't necessarily sell better. Professionalism is worth the time and money it takes, I promise.

Before I hired anyone, I wrote the first draft of Martin Hospitality alongside my alpha readers who gave me feedback. I revised it and sent the draft that resulted to my beta readers, who gave me a ton of helpful feedback that resulted in the most extensive changes to the novel. At that point, I was confidant that plot holes were resolved, my story made sense, people kept the characters straight... Basically the content was ready for publication. I still wasn't 100% certain that the presentation was technically flawless. It needed a formal edit, formatting, and a snazzy cover.
This is when I used my editor, Kelsey Bryant. I had hired her about a month before, knowing I would still want a professional look over, especially after my brain was tired of so much editing. I had left myself two weeks to cram all the beta feedback into my draft before I sent it off to Kelsey.

Finding an editor was a little tricky. I knew I was looking for a freelance editor for a reasonable price, and preferably Christian since that would put my book in the best frame for them. First, I asked friends who they had used. Kelsey was one of the main people who came up multiple times. I also got a few tips on who not to use ;) 

Then I did try Google. Most editors have the kinds of edits they offer and the price listed on their websites. For a few who had the delightful "message for pricing," I did message them. For my 100k novel, one ran $700 and another $1,250. Obviously more than I was hoping to pay!

Kelsey charges $3/1,000 words and is a very flexible, lovely person to work with. She was Christian, available, comparatively inexpensive, and willing to edit my entire novel in two weeks. That's why I chose her.

Do your research and don't be afraid to message people and see what you can arrange before making your final decision. Editing is overall more expensive than I expected. I have the skill of Natalie Hanemann and Nadine Brandes on good authority, but they both cost between $1,000 and $2,000 for a complete, in-depth edit of a 100k novel. So I might be able to afford them for a short story ;)

Since I'm still in the process of educating myself as an editor, I currently charge $1/1,000 words. You can learn more about my editing here.
Once I had revised my novel according to my editor's feedback, it was time for formatting. Again, I asked my friends who they had used. It's the easiest way to make sure people are legit and their talent is satisfactory. Perry Elisabeth Design was who came recommended and they have the best formatting price I've found by far. They do paperback & Kindle formatting, and are very prompt and easy to work with. Also, whatever font and size they chose was perfect for my interior :)

The only thing I wish I had known was what the standards are, so I could have had them do it they way I wanted from the very beginning. I felt bad making them redo stuff because I didn't think about the million ways to format. For example, what page is numbered as the first? How do you want them to handle the "widows and orphans" paragraph splitting at the bottom of pages? Consider your preferences before you get started. 

Also, make sure your novel is 110% complete. I kept finding a typo and word change to be made after I had submitted the manuscript for formatting and so had to pay extra for those tweaks. (Not a huge deal, but don't put yourself or your formatter through that for the sake of a deadline. Take the time to perfect it first.)
Cover design is hard. I have no skills and knew I wanted to hire someone to get a professional look, but I really had no idea of what I wanted for the cover. Eventually my sister helped me decide that a different art medium would be pretty. A watercolor corn field is what I went with, but no designer wanted to do a watercolor cover for under $600. Again, more than I wanted to pay! 

Even when I found people with portfolios I liked (which is rare; I'm picky), they were well outside my budget. I was hoping for a cover definitely under $500, but wasn't finding anyone willing to do my look for that amount. Some more "normal" photo covers might fit into the $400 range, such as Perry Elisabeth Designs with their most extensive option at $300.

My uncle helped me mess around with photoshop and text to formulate ideas and had an acquaintance who was a watercolor artist. Mandy Cave is an absolutely amazing artist and wonderful person. I got to meet her at her adorable house on a rainy day and see her talent in person. After talking through some details and getting a bid under $400, I knew she was exactly what I wanted! The fact that she was also a Christian, thrilled about getting to do her first cover, and sent me the original paintings (!!!!) made her just that much more amazing and compatible!

The only other cover designer I have hired is Anika Walkes (currently charges under $30). Her photoshop skills and fonts are some of the best I've seen, although I don't know how her sizing skills transfer for a print book. Alea Harper also does gorgeous work, but doesn't sell her skills yet. For professionals whose portfolios I enjoy (but I don't know their pricing), try Kirk DouPonce of DogEared Design and Jenny of Seedlings Design Studio.


Did that clear some things up? There really is no magic formula. Hopefully knowing what is standard and asking for personal recommendations will get you on your way to some amazing service. Don't go it alone! Professionalism is so worth the money. Make sure at the end of the day you're happy, even if it's a long road getting there. Worst case scenario, you learn a lot for next time! You've got this :)


  1. It's great to know just how much these services cost. I had no idea cover design could require so much!

    1. I think so! I had no idea what "regular" rates were when I was ready to hire people, which made it tricky to know who was offering me a good price.

      Hehe ... yeah, cover design. Although with your photo skills, you might not need a whole lot of help creating a gorgeous cover!

  2. This series has been wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I'm looking at my current works and thinking that I may have to go with self-publishing, because there aren't really any agents who want to take the kind of thing I write. But your experience, and the fact that you're willing to post about it, is very encouraging to me. :)

    1. Aw, yay! Don't ever feel like you HAVE to go with self-publishing. I'm sure if you decided to give traditional a shot that something wold work out, even if it took a long time!! But self-publishing is amazing for that very reason :)

      I'm so glad! It's been a great experience for me and I'm happy to help educate others so they know what they're getting into! :D

  3. HI! I'm new to The Left-Handed Typist, but so far, I really like the blog. I've thought a little about if I want to self-publish or try for traditional publishing and as of now, my conclusion is this: I. Don't. Know. I've seen the pros and cons of both sides, but I don't know. I've always thought traditional publishing would be the way I wanted to go, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe traditional publishers won't like my novel? (That is if I ever actually get it ready to even think about publishing. It's currently still a working first draft, plotless, messy...thing.) But this series has helped me feel more comfortable exploring the idea of self-publishing. So thanks Abi, I appreciate it.

    1. Hello! Welcome :D I'm so glad you're enjoying it thus far.

      There are definitely a lot of decisions to be made when it comes to publishing! Don't ever feel like you shouldn't try traditional publishing!! Fear of rejection (which will probably happen a few times) shouldn't keep you from taking that route if that's what you feel led to do! I'm sure something would work out eventually, no matter how much time it took.

      Self-publishing is a great option, though, if you're looking to avoid that initial hassle of traditional and do everything your way :) That's basically how I decided ;) Although traditional does appeal, so maybe I'll give it a shot one day! <3

      I'm glad it's been helpful. It's great to know your options, but don't be afraid to step out and tackle the one that really appeals to you!! You're very welcome :)

  4. Wow, this series is proving to be VERY helpful. :) I'm so glad that you're willing to share your experiences. I will definitely be referring back to these posts. ;)

    Thank you for sharing! :)

    1. Goodie ^.^ It's been fun to share some more of my experience instead of just always throwing advice at you guys, so I'm glad it's useful! :D

  5. Thanks for the advice, Abi! I'm currently looking into the formatting bit and it's something I'm definitely feeling at a loss about. Thanks for sharing your experience for me to look into. :) This is all so helpful!

    1. Of course!! Yes, I always get hung up on one or the other of the jobs I hire out. I'm hoping it will be easier this next time with my novella, but I haven't made it that far yet, so ... *crosses fingers*

      You're welcome :)

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