As the CEO of your publishing business, you want a capable team that helps you produce an outstanding product -- your next book. Any thriving business wants to recruit and retain great people.
The beautiful thing about the virtual world is that you can pull together a team from around the globe if you wish. Your cover designer can be located in South Africa, your editor in the U.S., and your proofreader in Australia. However, you want to make sure that your virtual team is legit and does outstanding work. Whether you have an online relationship or face to face, these tips will help you assemble the right publishing team for you.
1. Educate yourself on what is customary in each area of expertise. How do book cover designers compose a concept? This article from Publishers Weekly has tons of good information on book covers. If you're hopelessly lost when it comes to formatting your e-book, Smashwords has links to vetted formatters who can transform your final manuscript to e-pub or mobi files. But KDP and Smashwords have detailed guides about converting your Word doc to the electronic format. Get a handle on the process even if you don't tackle it yourself. What does a good editing job look like? Do you know what proofreader's marks mean? Be smart and do your homework in advance. Whatever services you outsource, as the CEO you need to know what good work looks like in every area. The big picture view is essential to the success of your book business. Ask yourself what you want your business to look like in a year...in five years.
2. Personalities matter. Just as in a traditional work setting, you need to be able to get along with your team. Interview a potential team member and take time to get to know each other. Face Time or Skype can help with your global team. Sometimes you'll connect with someone who just isn't a good fit or you aren't happy with their work product. Give the person the opportunity to correct what may be wrong and clearly state your expectations. If you just don't mesh, don't waste time, but kindly move on. Explain professionally why you are are doing so.Yes--that's the hard part. You may find that one of your freelancers will cut you loose as well. Focus on finding good people and be a great team player yourself. That means keeping your word, respect, being a good listener, and always ready to improve.
3. Locate team members. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Talk to other authors in the writing organizations you belong to, especially those who've been in the business for a while. Friends and co-workers sometimes have leads on writing professionals too. I found my editor through a friend. We've been working together for almost three years now. It's nice to have face to face contact --the occasional business lunch, etc., so if you can find the right people locally that's a big plus.
4. Family members can be excellent choices. My youngest sister is a talented photographer and graphic designer. We've collaborated on three book covers and a book filled with her photos and my text. It's been a good experience. But, a word of caution--it's a professional relationship, with the complications of family ties. My sister and I have a great relationship that's able to withstand several versions of a cover until we're both satisfied with the result. Our hides are fairly tough when it comes to critiquing as professionals, so it works. However, it's not a great idea for everyone.
5. If you go out to look for a team member virtually, here are some places to find the people you need for your project. The Editorial Freelancers Association is the oldest and largest association for editorial professionals. Check out its site at www.the-efa.org/. Elance.com has plenty of freelancers to choose from in all areas. There are plenty of other sites as well. Do your homework and check out reviews for the sites. Don't be afraid to ask for references and samples of a designer's or editor's work. Editors and proofreaders should offer to edit/proofread a few pages of your manuscript to give you a taste of what their work will look like. Preditors and Editors is also an excellent source for freelancers. They also have lots of helpful information for writers.
The emerging author can be a huge target for scammers because in the end, writers want to put their work in the hands of readers. As my grandfather used to say, "Marry in haste, repent in leisure." Don't rush into a business relationship without being fully informed which includes how much the freelancer will ultimately charge you. Mistakes will still be made along the way, but many can be avoided by taking your time, learning the publishing business, and making wise people choices.
With over 30 years in administration as a manager, paralegal, and administrative professional, my experience runs the gamut from finances, policy, contracts, and human resources. My goal is to help writers navigate the business side of writing with understandable and practical advice.