how to get help to self publish

Ricardo Fayet is a cofounder of Reedsy, an online marketplace that connects authors with everything you need to succeed, from free educational courses, to a platform to help you find the best cover artists, book designers, and publishing support.

Ricardo and a friend got the idea for Reedsy in business school. They approached developing Reedsy from a reader perspective.

The Birth of Reedsy

Ricardo and his friend were among the first early adopters of the Kindle device. They began thinking about how the device was changing the publishing industry for publishers and authors. They asked themselves several questions:

  • What does it change for authors and publishers?
  • How does it change how readers read books?
  • Will there be more ebooks produced than paper books?

After asking these questions, Ricardo began learning about self-publishing. At first, self-publishing was a fascinating market space. As Ricardo looked into self-publishing more deeply, he realized that there’s a lot that goes into publishing a book beyond simply hitting publish.

You have to:

  • Edit the book.
  • Do cover design for the book.
  • Market the book.

That’s when Ricardo and his partners decided to create a marketplace for authors who were self-publishing, as well as the people who were leaving traditional publishing companies.

When self-publishing started to take off, in the period from 2010 to 2011, a lot of people who had worked for traditional publishers decided to do freelance work instead. They like the freedom and flexibility of working as a freelance provider, and they also like the access to self-published authors.

“It’s really a misnomer to call it self-publishing. No one does it by themselves. You have to have cover designers, book designers to do the layout, and usually marketing support and help. So there’s a big team that any self-published author needs to create in order to make a project really successful.”
– Tom Corson Knowles

how to find a good match with an editor

How to Create the Best Team to Support Your Book

“The most common advice out there is to ask your peers and other authors in your genre. On the one hand, I think it’s great advice, because obviously what worked for one author might work for you. But on the other hand, it depends a lot on your genre, for both cover design and editing. Editing depends a lot on your personality and writing style.”
– Ricardo Fayet

The most important factor that affects cover design is your genre or category. If you ask authors in your specific genre or category for advice on cover designers, that advice will probably work for you.

The most important factor that affects your relationship with your editor is your personality and writing style. Because every writer is different, it’s less likely that one author’s advice about a good editor will translate into a good working experience for another author.

When looking for an editor, it’s best to look for an editor who specializes in your genre. On Reedsy, the editors in the marketplace specialize in certain genres.

As an editor: It’s simple to specialize in a genre. Simply choose to edit the books you like to read. Once you get some clients and do good work for them, they will recommend you to other authors who write in their genre. Then you can begin to build a portfolio as an editor.

As an author: When you’re looking for an editor, reach out to three or four and see how they work. Send them a small sample of your work, about 3,000 words. This allows you to get a feel for the relationship before you commit to working together on the larger project.

When you’re looking for a developmental editor, you definitely want someone who specializes in editing your genre. Ricardo recommends asking for a sample feedback letter that they wrote for another author. You can’t really ask them to look at a sample of your work because they need to see the whole book in order to give you good feedback.

But by asking for a sample letter, you can get an idea of how they give feedback to authors. Some editors are very blunt. Some editors like to sugarcoat their feedback. By looking at an editor’s sample feedback letter, you can get a sense of the type of feedback you’re likely to receive from that editor, and you can decide whether or not that feedback will help you write a better book.

When you hire an editor, it’s all about developing the right kind of relationship. That’s why it is important to reach out to several people, get several quotes, and get an idea of what type of feedback each editor will give you.

Reedsy only accepts 3% of the freelancers who apply to be listed in the marketplace. They are very selective about the professionals they choose to offer to authors.

Reedsy has never seen any freelancer abuse their access to the creative work of authors. A lot of the freelancers on Reedsy come from traditional publishing. They’re not going to compromise their good working relationship on Reedsy in order to publish some author’s idea under their own name. In many cases, they aren’t even authors themselves.

A lot of the best editors on Reedsy make between $10,000 and $15,000 a month. They’re not going to risk their reputation to publish an author’s work themselves.

The biggest problem Reedsy has run into as a platform is editors and authors not getting along. That’s why Ricardo recommends that you get several samples from copy editors and a sample feedback letter from a developmental editor.

The best way to make sure you’re going to have a good relationship with an editor is to try out numerous applicants until you find a good fit.

The editor/author collaboration is a real partnership and you have to make sure your personalities match as much as possible before you agree to working on a larger project together.

If you use a freelancing marketplace like Reedsy and you make sure you’re going to have a good personality match with the editor, you’re never going to be unhappy with your results.

When an editor quotes you a price on Reedsy, Reedsy will add a 10% service charge to the price. That’s how they make money. So, if an editor quotes you a price of $1,000, your final bill as the client will be $1,100. Of that, $100 will go to Reedsy and the agreed-upon $1,000 will go to the editor.

The Hiring Process on Reedsy

You can use Reedsy to hire a variety of professionals to help with your manuscript.

Hiring an Editor

Let’s say you’re hiring a developmental editor through Reedsy.

Reedsy is going to give you a form that asks a lot of questions. They’re going to want you to send a sample of your manuscript, as well as describe the characters in your story. They’ll also want to know when you want to publish your book and when you want the editor to get back to you.

After the editor receives your submission, they’ll likely have additional questions. Typically, after an editor responds to you, a natural conversation takes place.

If, after you send initial information to an editor, that conversation doesn’t take place, you should look for another professional.

Communication is always key. If you start a project with a $500 budget and you find a cover designer who says they’ll design you a cover without asking questions, that’s a warning sign.

You haven’t said what genre your book is, or whether your cover design is for a print book or an ebook. Those are very basic questions that any good cover designer would ask.

There’s a lot of information that freelancers need before giving you a quote for the service. Most likely, you’re not going to think of all the information they need. You should expect to get questions back when you put a project on Reedsy.

If you don’t get questions back, you should look for another professional who will give your project the kind of attention it deserves.

Hiring a Cover Designer

It’s always good when you’re working with a cover designer to send them inspiration. Find two or three covers on Amazon in the genre of your book that you really like. When you send those to the cover designer, that’s going to give them an idea of what appeals to you, and then they’ll most likely begin a conversation with you about the specifics of your cover.

Experienced freelancers are going to ask the most questions up front because they know the process, and they know all of the issues that might pop up during their work. So they want to have as many answers for those potential problems as possible before they put in the time and effort to do the project.

It’s important that you hire a cover designer who has experience with book cover design, especially if you don’t. If you are an experienced indie author, you can take on an inexperienced cover designer because you’ve been through it before. But if this is your first project, you want someone who knows the ins and outs of cover design.

You’ll want someone who:

  • Knows the type of images that will work for your genre cover.
  • Knows the kind of typography that will work for your genre cover.
  • Knows how to lay out your cover so that it looks right.
  • Has experience with the types of problems that can occur when designing a cover.

What to Do If the Project Isn’t Working Out the Way You Want

When a project starts going wrong, it’s important that you manage the expectations of the freelancer. It’s also important that you be honest and upfront from the very beginning.

The biggest problems on Reedsy’s platform happen because authors don’t make freelancers aware that they’re unhappy until very far along in the process. If you’re honest and upfront at the beginning, the freelancer can either adjust direction, or you can part ways without wasting any more of each other’s time.

When you’re not honest about a problem at the beginning of the process, it leads to miscommunication, hurt feelings, and bad relationships throughout the entire process. This means a loss of time and money for both you and the freelancer.

The longer you wait to let your freelancer know there’s a problem with your project, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to publish your project on time.

When you hire a freelancer through a third party like Reedsy, you should get them involved as soon as you feel like something is starting to go wrong. The sooner you get Reedsy involved, the more time they have to look into the problem before it leads to a real issue with your publishing schedule.

Almost all the problems you might encounter can be avoided by communicating with your freelancer before you hire them.

If things go really wrong, the final recourse is a legal one. If you’re not hiring a freelancer through Reedsy, make sure you sign a contract. Make sure you read all of the provisions in that contract before you sign it.

Make sure the contract:

  • Protects your intellectual property.
  • Protects your copyright.
  • Clearly defines the consequences to each party of canceling. Ricardo has heard horror stories about cancellation fees and communication breakdowns when a project goes wrong.

Reedsy has developed standard contracts to protect both parties that are a part of their normal terms of service.

Overall, Reedsy has conflicts between freelancers and authors only 2% of the time. In those cases, Reedsy steps in as a neutral third-party mediator.

In Ricardo’s experience, every problem can be avoided by communicating with the freelancer up front before you hire them.

Don’t be afraid to tell a freelancer that you don’t like the way the project is going early on. Ricardo knows of one publishing company that uses Reedsy to find cover designers. The managing editor insists on having a “kill fee” in the contract. If she gets three cover designs she doesn’t like, she’ll pay the cover designer $300 or $500 to kill the project.

How to Have the Best Customer Experience on Reedsy

All the freelancers on Reedsy have been vetted by the company. That means they all have the same basic level of ability to do the work.

That being said, it’s probably best to work with editors and cover designers who have fewer clients. If you work with freelancers who have fewer clients, that means they’ll have more time to devote to your individual projects.

Reedsy has quite a few editors who worked on big traditional books, and a lot of people want to hire them. They’re all able to do their work, but when you hire a famous editor who’s working with several clients at once, you’re not going to get the type of attention you could get if you work with someone who’s only working on your project.

Ricardo has noticed a career trajectory for editors on Reedsy. The editor will start with one or two clients. Those clients will be satisfied and recommend that editor to their friends.

Now the editor has more clients. Those clients will be happy and recommend the editor again. At some point, the editor will book one client too many. When they book one client too many and then have issues in their personal lives come up, that’s when problems arise. As an author, you can’t predict when that’s going to happen for an editor.

Ricardo recommends you be patient if you realize the editor may have booked too many clients. He also recommends that you always ask the editor how many clients they have booked for the time that they’re going to be editing your project. The fewer clients they have booked, the more time they can devote to editing your work.

Advice for Authors in a Rush

If you’re on a tight deadline, it’s important that you contact more good applicants for the position you need filled. It’s also important that you brief them really thoroughly about the project itself so that the rest of the process can go smoothly.

In general, cover designers can come up with a good cover design in a week, but you’ll want to contact more of them because if you have a hard deadline, more of the cover designers you want to work with will be booked during the week you need them.

Good copy editors can work with you on a tight deadline. It’s important that you contact more of them to find one who is available, and that you brief them thoroughly on the specifications for the project.

Good developmental editors are generally booked a full 3 to 6 months in advance. That’s a good thing! They know how many clients they can handle and they stick to that number per month. Those are the kind of editors that you want. If you need a developmental editor, it’s important that you don’t put yourself in a position where you’re on a fixed deadline.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview – a marketplace connecting authors with the freelancers they need to self-publish their books. – free courses for authors on writing, editing, design, marketing, publishing, and distribution.

[email protected] – contact Ricardo directly. Feel free to ask any questions you want. He’s also happy to recommend freelancers for your project.

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