I’m told that the success of launching any business venture comes down to the people on your team.
Turns out, it’s much the same when self-publishing a book.
The Power of One(s)
One serious advantage that a self-publishing author has over a traditionally publishing author is that the self-publisher doesn’t have to do it alone.
No, I don’t have that backwards.
A first-time author seeking to traditionally publish a book is alone—completely and utterly alone. He submits his book to the gatekeepers (editors and agents) on his own. On his own, he tries to convince publishers to take a chance on him. If he makes it past the gate, then, in theory, he now has a pre-built team. But this team is one the author isn’t necessarily a part of. This team works for the publisher, and is loyal to that publisher. They may associate with the author, but they are not his.
A first-time author seeking to self-publish, however, has the option to assemble his own team. He decides which people have the talents he requires, and he decides how they all come together into the mixture that is the finished book.
My Dream Team
It has taken an unbelievable amount of time to assemble all the people I need to launch my book (and I am still not done).
The hardest part was getting started. I had no idea who to even turn to. When I finally worked up the courage to hire an editor, things started to move. And I keep kicking myself for not starting sooner, but also realize that it might not have been possible to start sooner, because there is no road map anyone could have given me before I took that first chance. The only advice they give to new writers is “get an agent” which is such a crapshoot that a lot of future bestsellers can go for years without getting noticed.
But now that the first step has been taken, the ride is much smoother. And more fun. I am forced to make more executive decisions, but those are rewarding to make, and it’s nice to have some control.
And since it’s been such a long road, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the team I’ve already assembled.
The Author: Myself
It helps that I’m a competent writer, and that the manuscript I have on offer is of such good caliber. But any venture capitalist can tell you that it is never enough to simply have an excellent product. You have to package, distribute, and market it in a way that makes people buy what you’re selling.
But while I may be the heart of the team, I am still its weakest link, as the only member who is not technically a professional in his field yet. But everyone has to start somewhere.
The Editor: David Farland (Dave Wolverton)
I figured if I was going to hire an editor then I would want to hire the best one in all the world, which I am convinced is David Farland.
Author of bestsellers. Inventor of the modern editing major. Marketing consultant that brought J.K. Rowling’s books to America. Tutor to Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Stephenie Meyer, and a host of others. I looked at a few different editors, but no one else even came close.
I was lucky that he loved the manuscript, and even gave me a free second run-through. Even offered a cover quote to any publisher that would have me.
And now that I’ve made the decision to self publish, he has been feeding me contacts to make the team bigger. I owe a tremendous amount to his experience, his savvy, and his faith in my book.
The Audiobook Narrator: Michael Kramer
Narrator of more than 100 audiobooks. Has read for such luminaries as James Patterson, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and a host of other huge names.
He’s been narrating since at least the 90s and knows how to handle almost any kind of story. Though I consume most books through printed paper, I cannot help but be flabbergasted at Michael’s mountainous résumé. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have narrating my manuscript.
The Cover Artist: Howard Lyon
A fine artist is a fine artist, and I could ask for none finer than Howard Lyon. He is not exclusively a cover artist. A lot of his works are religious paintings featured in galleries. He’s also painted a few cards for Magic: The Gathering.
But his talent is undeniable. And the more of his stuff that I discover, the more I realize he is an actual colossus of the field. A cover from him would elevate my book, as he’s only becoming more famous with each passing year.
There Are Others
Eventually, I’m going to create an acknowledgements page for my book, which I hope will exhaustively list everyone who has helped this effort.
In this blog post, I did not mention my concept artist or the junior editor who did a preliminary run for David Farland. They are both important and will be included when the final list is compiled.
There are also many people who will be part of this effort but don’t know it yet. There are costumers, merch designers, and interior illustrators who will need to be contracted. There will also be lots of publicity and marketing help, all of which needs to be coordinated. It is a lot to take in, but also a joy to see happening in real time.
Keep your eyes on this space. There will be more to come.
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