I was not prepared, even a little bit, when I self-published my short story collection. I should have hired help in every aspect of the process, instead of trying to power through and do everything on my own. But, I did learn a few things.

The author has additional responsibilities, even if they are going to hire help to do the heavy lifting.

  • Find a designer that you really like, check them out as closely as you can before trying to engage them for your book. They may be way out of your price range, or have bad reviews stating that they can’t keep a deadline.
  • You also have to find an editor or two to help. I think if I were to go this route again, I would hire two or three, just to make sure that everything is pristine before the world sees it. Or maybe just one that’s able to do all three, though I think it’s better to divide the load between specialists. Again, research has to be completed on these people to make sure that the services that they offer are of a high enough quality or even legitimate.

There’s a lot of scams out there targeting indie authors. We’re not even going to get into the crazy amount of marketing the author has to engage in both before and after the book is released.

The first place that I would look for a little bit of editorial, proofreading, or indexing help would probably be a site like the Editorial Freelance Association. In snooping around, the rates that they have listed seem fair. I truly believe in paying people for their time. It looks like there’s enough members associated with the site to allow for someone to be available to work on my story. I’d probably double check, too, with the Writer’s Beware blog at SFWA to make sure they weren’t listed as a bad seed.

To find a designer I might try Upwork or Freelancer.com. But I also have a couple of connections to artists that have designed book covers for others that I’m pretty impressed with through author groups on Facebook. I also checked out The Book Cover Designer. It’s a site where artists and designers have sort of sample covers, like templates, and you chose one then they adjust it to fit your needs. Several of them under the SF category looked good. My largest issue with designs like this is that everyone seems to be going for the same kind of nearly photo-realistic human form. But they aren’t close enough. It still looked like a CGI person and that messes me up. A cover can make a huge difference. Why is the cover so important? Because even if you have a perfect, wonderful story, if no one picks it up, it never gets read.

Real life example: Unnamed author writes a pretty darned good book but it didn’t sell huge. Kind of a flop really, not awful, but nothing to call home about. He changes the cover and the title and very little else as far as the actual text goes. Same story, new look that is more genre specific and professionally designed. Now the novel is an award winner.

But How Much is It Going to Cost?

Okay, let’s say each person needs at least 2 weeks to get to their final state of actual working. And as wonderful as the novel is, it’s not fair to assume that they’ll be working on it for 40 hours in each week, but 20 might be a safe bet. So, a total of forty hours in the two week period.

Proof reading $35.00 hourly x 40 hours = $1,400.00

You get my drift. I used the same formula for each person based on the rates provided on the EFA for the editors, proofreading, and indexing. I picked a middle range designer, say $750.00, because that’s about as spectacular as I can get without breaking the bank. I know that the range can be pretty wide with cover design based on testimonials from author friends. Total cost just in working hours editing the text, formatting, and the cover design, we’re looking at about $4,000.00 give or take a couple hundred.

And How Long Will It Take?

This article by Jane Friedman mentions a couple of different time-frames and best practice scenarios on when start working on a part of the publishing process and about how long it will take to finish it. There’s a couple of places where more than one step can be happening at the same time, as long as one won’t mess the other up too much. Word count changing page count which in turn changes spine design, that sort of thing.

There’s always going to be a sneaky little wrench flying in to gunk up the gears.

It’s all a processes, but anyway yes there are a few steps that can be happening at the same time. Let’s assume that I’ll be using the 2 months prior idea to obtain the help of the copy editor and the designers. From what I can tell, it looks like a book could be ready for publication in six weeks, on the outside, from the hire date. Give em a month and a couple weeks after for work and adjustments. Bam, book.  Now, since I’m willing to allow for a little extra time and cost for a freakin amazing cover design, I’d bump it up to 8 weeks. If everything worked out just perfect, with instant communication and no snag, that is. But that’s not the way it works, believe me. There’s always going to be a sneaky little wrench flying in to gunk up the gears. To be realistic, allow at least ten weeks, yes 10 weeks. That seems like forever. But, hold of the years it could take for traditional publication next these measly couple months? Now it’s just a drop in the time bucket.

~Sarah Ockershausen Delp

Image from: https://dangerbrain.wordpress.com/tag/freeing-black-science-fiction-from-the-chains-of-race/

Editorial Freelancers Association. “Editorial Rates.” 2019. EFA. web. <https://www.the-efa.org/rates/&gt;.

Friedman, Jane. “The Self-Publishing Checklist : Editorial, Production, and Distribution.” 31 Dec 2015. Jane Friendman. web. <https://www.janefriedman.com/self-publishing-checklist/&gt;.

The Book Cover Designer. “Premade Book Covers – Sci-Fi.” n.d. The Book Cover Designer. Web. <https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/product-category/premade-book-covers/sci-fi/page/4/&gt;.

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