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Working With Freelancers

It requires a wide variety of skills to bring a book to the public. Many self-published authors will find that they cannot do everything in the publishing process by themselves. Some may want a graphic artist to design their book cover. Others may pay top dollar for quality editing. Still more will look for long-term partnerships with someone technologically savvy to handle the formatting of digital and print editions.

But how exactly do you go about finding and hiring freelancers? We’ve got a few tips to get you started.

1.  Identify which parts of the publishing process you’ll most need professional assistance.

  • Drafting the story or book (we’ll assume you still do this!)
  • Editing the book for content and style
  • Proofreading for grammar and punctuation
  • Formatting the text and graphics for the various editions of the book
  • Design of a book cover
  • Drafting marketing copy (blurb)
  • Registering copyright
  • Purchase of ISBN(s)
  • Uploading your book and metadata on various retail sites
  • Launch promotion

2.  Set a budget.

  • How much are you willing to invest to make your book be the best it can be?
  • Will you pay money up-front or give a portion of the book earnings to the freelancer?
  • How many copies of your book will you need to sell to earn back your investment?
  • Remember to weigh your time against dollars spent.

3.  Choose freelancers in advance of when you’ll need their services.

  • Ask others for recommendations.
  • Interview freelancers and ask for examples of their work.
  • Will there be a contract between you? If not, be sure to agree to basic terms in writing such as emails back and forth. Document the fees, payment terms, deadlines and scope of work.
  • Schedule your project in advance. Successful freelancers are booked months ahead.

Freelancers vs Aggregators

Some professionals work as aggregators. These people or companies take one formatted file of your book and prepare all the final versions and upload them to a number of retailers. Often, they’ll also supply ISBNs as necessary. Aggregators can cost much less than hiring individual freelancers for each step of the publication process. Be aware that when an aggregator uploads your book, it generally means the retailer recognizes the aggregator as the “publisher” of your book. Meaning, all royalties for your book will flow through the aggregator. Aggregators commonly take a portion of the royalties and pass the bulk on to you. Payments may be delayed by 30-60 days to allow for this extra accounting step.

Where To Find Freelancers

We’ve started our own resource list here in the Self-Publishing section. To broaden your search, we’re including some resources from other websites below.

  • Authors Resource Guide — in conjunction with the Association of Independent Authors, this page lists resources of all kinds from agents to editors to digital publishing to promotion.
  • Global eBook Awards — while we don’t endorse this contest, site owner Dan Poynter has compiled a useful list of cover artists, web designers and editors. Choose your category and follow the links from this page. Editing and Proofreading can be accessed from the blue navigation bar, look for the drop-down menu under EBook Resources.
  • Novel Needs — team of service providers offer a host of freelance services.
  • Writers Market — section on paid services. Editors are listed under Professional Services (many edit non-fiction). The Self-Publishing Companies list includes POD companies more than digital formatters.
  • GalleyCat Freelance Editor Directory — available as a webpage or downloadable spreadsheet, this directory is constantly updated as new editors add or update their information. This post  also contains a link to a description of four kinds of editing.


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