Being in the publishing business for almost fifteen years has afforded me the opportunity to be on some of the best and brightest publishing teams in the industry—New York Times–best-seller, award-winning marketing and sales people, award-winning graphic designers, and simply the best writing and editing people around. Needless to say, my network for help and support when I need it in my own venture at jevonbolden.com runs deep. You can see some of the projects my dream team has accomplished here.
But what’s great about how the publishing industry is opening up, you can have your own publishing dream team as well. All you need to know are the list of players to recruit, where to find them, and what are the resources you need to pull out their best creative work. If want to publish an industry-competitive book without the industry restrictions, here are the independent publishing professionals you’ll need on your team to pull it off.
This well-connected individual should know how to pull together a team and lead them to a completed project. They should be familiar with the publishing process and fabulous at communicating to all parties involved. This person may double as your ghostwriter or editor, depending on their skills.
A gifted, industry-savvy, trends-aware writer who knows how to keep your voice and message ahead of their own, ghostwriters love the background and want to make you shine. Get a list of their previous projects, personal reading and writing interests, educational background, and their writing style and preferences for how they work with authors.
A gifted, industry-savvy, trends aware editor who’s been in the publishing industry and knows how to cultivate great content, your editor ought to be able to help you hone your message to a specific yet broad target audience. They should know Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) like the back of their hand—or at least how to find what they need to get your book tight. More than that, though, they are big-picture thinkers and can really give you specific content fixes and guidance that really enhances the quality and reach of your book. Don’t use this type of editor for just grammar. Get them to really help you craft a compelling narrative or message.
This is whom you use for grammar and style—and they must indeed know the most recent version of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) like the back of their hand. The fine details such as—commas vs. semicolons, if “4th” should be “fourth” or not—in your manuscript is this editor domain of passion. They should absolutely love finding the dangling participles and connecting them to their subjects. However, this editor should be comfortable with nuance—careful to not overcorrect to the point where you no longer sound like you.
These amazing professionals are your unsung heroes. They take your manuscript from a Word document and set it into a template in Adobe InDesign, which becomes a file the printers use to print your book. They will also help you with getting your book formatted and linked for ebook platforms. They make the interior of your book look like the interior of the next best-seller.
These pros come in after your book has been typeset (sometimes called galleys, galley proofs, or first pages). They read through your manuscript and check for typos, misspellings, minor punctuation issues, various typesetting issues, consistency on headers and footers, pagination, and any other details that may have been missed at the copyediting stage or that have arisen during typesetting. They should have an incredibly sharp and knowledgeable eye.
A master at digital visual design. They should be masters at the newest version of Adobe Creative Suite, especially InDesign and Photoshop. They should be able to capture the essence of your design and push it a bit to coincide with what’s hot in the industry. This person should be able to show you book covers and marketing pieces that have helped launch or support authors or personalities whose look and style resonate with yours.
Overall brand and marketing strategist to help build your platform and boost your visibility. You’ll want to know that this person has led successful book marketing/author branding campaigns. They should have success stories to share. The following two dream team members sometimes come along with the marketing consultant.
They will prepare press releases, media contacts, and various other notifications to get the word about you and your projects. They may also assist with getting you connected with book reviewers and bloggers, conference coordinators for speaking engagements, bookstore owners for signings, radio and TV show hosts for interviews.
Social Media Manager
These savvy individuals help busy movers and shakers like you stay active and engaged on social media, while you are busy doing your author thing. They will ghost tweet, write blogs and Facebook posts, post images and updates to Instagram, and more.
Mastering both graphic design and computer coding and programming, a web designer will create the look, layout, and features of your website. Some will even help you maintain it and keep the content fresh and updated. They should be willing to hear your needs as well as make professional and proven recommendations for your website to get the views, clicks, and buys that help support your budding platform.
Having a photographer on speed dial (is this still a thing? I never used it) is so important in this hypervisual times. They will help you with photo shoots for headshots for digital and print media opportunities, your website, Instagram and other photo-driven social media; live action shots of you and your audience while you speak or present; photographing your products and other ancillary materials for various digital and print promotions.
A videographer provides help with book trailers, YouTube videos, promo videos, and record and can curate and edit footage from speaking engagements and special appearances to make an exciting highlight reel.
To get the best printing rates, some authors will get the help of a print buyer who knows the printing and manufacturing industry like the back of their hands. They should have a list of printers with whom they can negotiate price, printing dates, and delivery options all in your wallet’s best interest. Print buyers are especially helpful when you are publishing a nontraditional book package—for example, a specialty journal with a padded cover, gilded edges, and ribbon marker.
Sometimes this is built-in to the printing service you use, such as IngramSpark. But if you choose to go completely indie and want to choose the printer (as referenced above) and choose the stores you want your book to be sold in, the experts in this field have the contacts to help get your book in online and brick-and-mortar stores.
If all this work turns into you a publisher taking notice of you, your, platform, or your book, here’s the team you may need:
They will advise you on how to put together a compelling book concept and a stunning book proposal. Then they will present that book proposal to traditional book publishers, negotiate the terms of your publishing contract in your favor, and help you understand your contract. They may even offer tips on how to build your platform, and depending on how connected they are can help you make media connections, book speaking engagements, and other things that help propel your platform. They usually do not ask for any money up front, but they will require a percentage of your advance and royalties upon your getting signed to a publisher.
Intellectual Property Attorney
When you only need help with understanding and negotiating a contract, these are your go-to professionals. They can also help you unravel contractual disagreements with publishers once you are under contract. They can advise you on how to navigate copyright, libel, trademarks, and other issues pertaining intellectual property.
Now that you know that you know the people who make book publishing happen, you could totally do this thing on your own. Am I right? Really, though, that is your call. There are so many ways to reach your goals, and it won’t always look like the next person’s way. But know this:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (An African proverb)
And, I know you saw it coming a mile away, but it’s true:
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK.