Key Roles on Your Dream Team

One key component of being a successful self-published author is putting together the dream team to help you create a quality book. Assembling, and knowing how to manage that team and lead it to victory, drives success for a self-published author.

When assembling your dream team, here are some roles to consider:

1. Editor: Hire a stellar editor first. The editor’s role is to strengthen your manuscript, eliminate grammatical errors, and make it publishable. From basic correction of typos, punctuation, and grammar, to more advanced activities such as re-writing or ghost writing sections of your manuscript, a great editor will help you envision and deliver a better manuscript. The editing process can take years, so budget a significant amount of time for editing, as this is the first step in creating a foundation for your project’s success. Editing may be the most expensive line item in your budget. Resist the urge to cut corners, as this is the most worthwhile investment you can make. Other resources and domain experts will become equally valuable as you move through the process, but the vision and context will be grounded in the editing work.

2. Illustrator: The illustrator will also be a critical player on your dream team. The illustrator’s role is to visually represent the concepts, spirit, and ideas in your book. This might include designing your book cover, interior pages, custom drawings, and even chapter headers. At a minimum, you should find an illustrator who can deliver a stellar cover design. If your book will be available printed form, you will need the front, back cover, and spine designed—and jacket flaps if your book is published in hardcover. If your book will be available as an eBook only, you only need the front cover. Finding an amazing illustrator who can interpret and represent your book accurately is not easy, but it’s incredibly important. Don’t settle for work that’s almost right. It must strongly resonate with you. I strongly recommend hiring illustrators based on their first rough sketch of the cover as this will give you a sense of their direction. If the illustrator’s overall understanding and approach are right, then you can work together to tweak the designs moving forward. Your illustrator creates the face of your book, the visual rendering of what the reader can expect inside. This is the first contact the book gets with the public and it needs to be 100% true. Don’t be afraid to hire and fire illustrators until you find the right one.

3. Layout designer, printer, distributor: These roles are key as well, but will depend on your particular project. Some of the roles, such as printer and distributor, are fulfilled by big self-publishing houses, such as Amazon’s CreateSpace or Ingram’s LightingSoure. Your layout designer is critical in ensuring your manuscript and its illustrations are appropriately positioned on the pages with a good and logical flow. If you are planning on offering your book in eBook format, you should hire a service to do the conversion to eBook.

4. Publicist: All of your work is for nothing if no one knows about your masterpiece: you must hire a phenomenal publicist. Your publicist will create a public relations (PR) campaign for your book, including press releases, pitches to the media, submissions for reviews, and interviews. Hiring a publicist can be expensive but it’s an essential step to ensure that your prior investments can yield success. Many self-published authors choose not to hire a publicist, hoping to do the work themselves. This is actually a disservice to your work, effort, time, and money. Unless you have experience in PR, you should rely on a professional. A stellar publicist will have the right contacts, network, experience, and vision to position and champion your book.

Depending on the specifics of your book, you may need many more experts on your team. As always, seek wide and deep, and only hire the best. Your book is your platform and your identity as an author, so working with the best team to deliver a quality product is imperative. Hire wisely, invest aggressively, and lead to victory with confidence.

Marija Bulatovic 2014

Marija Bulatovic 2014

Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija Bulatovic, along with her parents, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country. An accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, Bulatovic graduated from Colgate University. Marija Bulatovic lives in Seattle with her husband and son.