There’s a lot of talk about indie authors being lone wolves, roaming free in the publishing world and doing everything themselves. It’s true that indie authors are their own publisher, but if you try to commit to doing every aspect of the writing, editing, production and promotion process yourself, you are highly unlikely to succeed. As with almost every other creative endeavour, authors need collaborators.
Whether it’s a friend who can read over your early drafts or a marketing savvy friend who understands how to build a social media campaign for your book when it’s released, it’s good to have a team of collaborators to hand to call upon for a host of services. It may cost you a little more than a hug or a beer to get them on board, but it’ll be worth it.
Here are five potential collaborators that indie authors should definitely consider working with on their self-publishing journey:
#1 – Filmmakers
Online video has never been more popular, with billions of hours of footage consumed on YouTube every year. Authors understand that getting their books out into the world is one thing, but actually getting noticed is another. Creating video content – interviews, video diaries, book trailers, etc. – is a great way to reach out to your readers and a wider audience, and the chances are there are some superb potential collaborators right on your doorstep.
Head to social media or the search engines and search locally for any filmmakers, video marketers or filmmaking groups that offer these services, or might be open to a collaboration. You could offer to write something for them in return, thus giving your writing CV a bit of diversity.
I created a book trailer for my debut novel WALKING UP A SLIDE because I knew that the novel wouldn’t reach people based solely on my name. The trailer has been viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube, and although I came up with the concept, the filmmaking and editing skills of my friend Lee Tomes brought it all together. Without him to collaborate with, it would’ve just been a fun idea that I couldn’t follow through with, so keep this in mind when thinking of cool ways to market yourself.
#2 – Graphic Designers
Book cover designs are a huge selling point for novels, and for self-publishing authors, a decent book cover suggests that the book is of a publishable standard. Quality covers are a must in our ADD society, where you have a handful of seconds to grab someone’s attention before they’re off again.
Indie authors would be clever to seek out potential collaborators who are web savvy, and this includes graphic designers. They can put together a great looking book cover for you, and their skill set and experience will mean that they will have an eye for detail that is essential for creating a book cover that fits into a category and sells the book.
There are folks out there who specialise in book cover designs. Fish for them online and start collaborating with them, because their work is going to sell you a solid % of your books, and if you find that you work well together, you’ll never have an issue with book cover designs again.
#3 – Illustrators
Graphic novels, children’s novels and picture books are huge sellers, and indie authors are often put off by these markets because of the amount of cash that has to be spent before they even release the books out into the world. The more work that goes in to creating the book, the higher the price has to be, which is great for royalties but could result in fewer sales and a lower ROI. Having said that, if you know any illustrators (and this ties in with graphic designers, too), it is worthwhile collaborating with them so that you both get book credits to your name.
From a personal standpoint, my friend J. P. HattSmith created the wonderful book cover and illustrations for my second novel, the children’s adventure THIS BOOK BELONGS TO, and the collaboration was born out of an ongoing friendship where we were always talking about collaborating on something. It ended up being this book, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the work James created. I got an awesome book into the world, and James got a book illustrators credit that he can show potential employers, friends and family.
#4 – Book Reviewers
Book reviews are a contentious issue for indie authors. Some people view the tactic of giving the book away for free in exchange for an honest review as a smart move that can generate sales. Some look at it as a desperate tactic that will lead to nothing but a star rating at Amazon. On the other hand, there are people who look at authors who pay up to $500 for a review from the likes of Publishers Weekly or Kirkus Reviews with a mixture of bemusement and/or disdain. Some authors would say that it’s the best bit of marketing they ever did. Others would say that they might as well have flushed that money down the toilet for all the good it did their book sales.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, book reviewers are good collaborators to have to hand, as they can give your book a boost up the rankings and help with the launch by reviewing your book before it goes on sale. If you can make friends with reputable reviewers and bloggers (Amazon Top Reviewers are extremely useful collaborators), you can give your novel a leg-up in return for them getting a superb free read.
#5 – Editors and Proofreaders
I was extremely fortunate to have studied Creative Writing and Journalism, where there were a host of avid readers and burgeoning editors, proofreaders and authors read to tear my work to shred and give me a kick up the backside when I (and my writing) needed it. Since graduating, my friend and fellow DMU alumni Lex has edited three of my books, and they wouldn’t have been as partially above-average as they are without her brutal editing and honest feedback.
Editing and proofreading is a costly business, but one that is more important than a sexy book cover, marketing strategy or that amazing twist ending that you’re excited to share with the world COMBINED. The stigma of self-publishing was born out of shockingly written books that read like they were edited by the author in five minutes. After eight pints. Only when ALL indie authors take the time, effort and resources to hire the best editors and proofreaders they can get their hands on will the stigma end completely, so hire the best you can afford, or collaborate with the editors that you might already know and will do the best job they can, for you and your novel.
There you have it, five very different but equally awesome collaborators that all indie authors should consider reaching out to before, during and after they’ve created their masterpiece. You won’t regret it, and it’s nice to get out of your sweatpants and talk to a real person once in a while, right?