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  • Writer's pictureJamie Lee Fry

How to Self-Publish Part 4

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Hello and Welcome back to Part 4 of my How to Self-Publish Blog Series.

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will receive my personal Indie Author Publishing Plan. In this series, I break down every step on that plan. Be sure to check Parts 1-3 if you haven't already.

I'm excited to share my experience self-publishing and being an Indie Author with all of you.

Step 10: Hire a Cover Designer and Formatter

Almost every Indie Author will tell you the same thing-- If you're going to invest any money into publishing, you should invest in an editor and a cover designer. We discussed hiring an editor in Part 2 and why it's vital for the success of your novel, but a cover designer is equally important. No one will pick up your book if your cover is dull or doesn't match your genre. So hiring a designer that knows your genre and the target market will get your further, hopefully.

What you should know before hiring a designer

1- What is your genre?

2- Who is your target audience?

3- What are comparable titles? (Comps)

4- Is there a critical theme throughout your novel that is helpful for designing a cover?

5- What is your synopsis?

Once again, I used Reedsy to hire my cover designer. Reedsy makes it easy to view designers that specialize in your genre. You can view profiles until you find the right person for the job. Like when hiring an editor, you and your project might not be the right fit for that designer, so keep that in mind when reaching out. I was particular when I started looking for a designer. I had my heart set on working with a specific person that I found on Reedsy. Her creativity blew my mind, and she seemed like a genuine person too. I knew right away that she was the right designer for my novel. I only reached out to three people, and luckily all three got back to me. It was nice to compare each of them and what they had to offer as far as services, price, and timeline. I was still pleased with my first choice, and she checked all the boxes I desired. Sure, she was the most expensive choice, but if you're right and invest the money in a good cover designer, you will get what you paid for. I'm a first-time author with zero experience, and for me, I wanted someone who could do everything from creating the cover for print and ebook to formatting the novel for me and helping create social media adverts. I really wanted everything, the whole package. It's has been an incredible learning experience, and I now have the knowledge of what is expected going forward with my subsequent novels.

When should you hire a cover designer?

For each author, that answer will be different, but I can speak about my experience. I just had hired my editor, and once I nailed down timing with her for each stage of editing and completion date, I reached out to cover designers. I hired my designer in October, but we didn't actually begin working together until May.

Things to keep in mind:

1- Good cover designers book up fast.

2- You don't have to have your novel 100% done before hiring a cover designer.

When working with a cover designer, it's good to provide them with a brief and your novel's key scenes if it's not complete.

I had an idea of what I wanted on my cover, but it turns out I was very wrong. Specific colors and fonts and even images do not scream thriller or suspense. After doing some research, I understood what is expected in a psychological thriller cover. You want your target audience to know that your book is a thriller, fantasy, or romance just by looking at the cover. If you hire a professional, trust that they know their stuff but if you are really questioning their ability, do some research of your own. Go to a bookstore and see what titles are selling in your genre. In all reality, you should have already done this so you could give your designer a list of comparable titles. This will provide your designer an idea of where you think your book fits in on a bookshelf.

Other ways to create a cover on a budget

1- Create a cover on Canva for free or pay for a subscription to unlock pro images.

2- Hire a designer on Fiverr. It's easy to search for creators in your price range as low as ten dollars.

3- Use the cover creator on KDP.*

*I did this for a temp cover and used a personal photo. It looked just ok.*

As for formatting your novel, you can hire someone as I did or attempt to do it all on your own. Formatting can be tricky if you don't know what you're doing. If you want to learn how to format a novel, check out youtube videos on the subject. Natalia Leigh and Bethany Atazadeh both have great videos on formatting.

The resources are there if you want to learn or do something on your own. You really can publish a book on a budget; you just have to do a little more work and a lot of research.

Step 11: Edit Based on Beta Feedback

In Part 3, we talked about Beta Readers, now let's talk about how to edit based on their feedback. I hope you set clear expectations with your Beta Readers or gave them a questionnaire to fill out. This step can be extremely overwhelming and sometimes uncomfortable or hard to hear, but trust me, their feedback is invaluable. Don't worry; you don't have to take all the suggestions and implement all their input, but you will want to truly listen and think hard about each area they point out. A good rule is that if multiple Betas say the same thing about your novel, that is an excellent place to consider reworking. Don't get defensive with your Beta's; they are just doing what you asked of them. Hopefully, they have your best interest in mind and want to see you succeed. I also hope you were able to cast a wide net to get a mix of readers. Once you edit based on their feedback, you can either move on to the next step or resubmit to a new group of beta readers and then repeat until you're ready to move on.

Step 12: Final Round of Self Edits

You just got done implementing your Beta edits, and you feel your story is well rounded and finally ready for your last set of eyes before submitting it to your editor. Comb through your novel for any obvious errors, and if you chose not to do a developmental edit and head straight to copy edit, you will want to make sure all plot holes are tied up, and all your characters are well developed. Once you feel satisfied, it's now time to submit your novel, which we will discuss in part 5.

Thank you for checking out my blog, and I hope to see you back here for Part Five.

Remember, only you know what is right for you. I can only offer my experience and advice based on what worked for me. Good luck and happy writing!

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