For folks new to the world of self-publishing, it’s easy to get distracted by the “self” part, thinking that you need to do any and all steps it takes to get your book written, produced and onto shelves solo. But after looking at some of the most successful self-published authors, it quickly becomes clear that this is very never the case. Indeed, to produce a self-published book that is unrecognizable from a traditionally published one you can call on freelance editors and publishing experts in the different steps and facets of the publishing process to help you write, polish, design, and more.
Now you may be wondering, how do you find those people? You can seek them out one by one, factoring all of their individual fees into your overall publishing budget, or you can work with a company like Raab & Co. who will bring together all the professionals you need and shepherd you through the self-publishing journey. Here, we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look at our process and what exactly goes into self-publishing a book once you decide to work with us.
Step 1: Build Your Team
The very first thing we do when we begin working with an author is to assemble a team. Your team depends on your specific needs as an author, but they may include:
- Designer: The designer takes your typewritten manuscript and turns it into a book. They determine what the layout of the pages will be, from the table of contents to the chapter openers to the regular pages of text, plus select fonts and any other design elements that your book might need to include. The designer will also collaborate with you to figure out the cover design that will best represent your book. When you work with Raab & Co., Josh or another book producer will oversee this whole process and ensure the design is creative, thoughtful, and unique.
- Ghostwriter: If you need one, a ghostwriter will help extract your book from your head and turn it into a written manuscript, typically through conducting a series of interviews and then writing the book from there.
- Editor: Regardless of whether or not you work with a ghostwriter, your book will be assigned to one of our experienced and accomplished editors to make sure it is the best it can be. An editor will make sure you’re following through on the promise of your book and not leaving any possible reader questions unanswered, plus check for any continuity issues or details that aren’t consistent throughout.
- Proofreader: If you think one editor is going to catch every spelling error and missed comma in your manuscript while also making sure the book works as a whole, you’re asking a lot. At Raab & Co., we spread out these responsibilities, always adding a proofreader to your team whose job it is to fix every spelling mistake, grammatical error, punctuation error, or any other technical issue that will disturb the reader’s enjoyment of your book. Often times clients are amazed at how much value a round (or two) of proofreading can add to the value and quality of your book in the finishing stages.
- Fact Checker: Whether or not your book needs a fact checker depends on the subject matter. If you’re focusing on your personal experience, advice, or philosophy you may not need one, but if you’re also including information about a specific industry—including lots of statistics or scientific claims, for example, we will add a fact checker to your team to make sure everything is accurate.
- Marketer: Especially in today’s crowded publishing market, smart and savvy marketing and publicity are critical to getting your book noticed by your target readers. While many of the authors we work with already have an existing audience or following, others may need additional help with marketing—in which case a marketer will be added to their team to advise and assist in creating buzz for the book, even before it is ready for purchase.
Step 2: Create Your Manuscript
This is the fun part! How your manuscript gets created is going to vary based on the role you take in the actual butt-in-seat writing process. Many of our authors come to us with a solid first draft already written, at which point they will start working with an editor to fill in any gaps, add any new sections and smooth out the existing text. Much of this collaboration happens over the phone, just as it would if you didn’t have a draft written and were starting with a ghostwriter. We record all these phone calls and use Rev.com to transcribe the conversations so that nothing is missed or left out, then we use Google Docs to share the working manuscript and work on it together. Not only does this allow both the ghostwriter or editor and the author to contribute and make changes, but it also lets all parties see what the others have done via previous versions and tracked changes. In other words, you’re not going to open your manuscript to find half of it completely deleted without an explanation (not that our editors would do that in the first place!) and with no way of retrieving the old text.
This phase can involve as much or as little back and forth as is optimal for you, depending on how lightly or heavily involved in the actual writing process you want to be.
Step 3: Proofread
Once we have a manuscript that everyone is happy with, it gets shipped off to the proofreader (re: we send them the link to the Google Doc) for a thorough read. By this point, all the content editing has been completed and the ideas and words in the book are going to change very little going forward. The proofreader is—hopefully—only looking for minute things, the things that separate the haphazardly self-published books from those indistinguishable from traditionally published titles. Sometimes these are misplaced commas or missing quotation marks, but it could be something bigger like out-of-order page numbers, incorrect table of contents, contradictions in the storyline, incorrect internal page references, and any number of any other formatting and writing details that need finishing touches.
When the proofreader is done, your manuscript will be ready to shine.
Step 4: Design Your Book
With proofreading done, the design phase is when you get to see your book come to life. We’ll start with a sample chapter to see how you feel about our font choices and any custom illustrations we’ve created for your book, plus we’ll share an initial version of your book cover based on market research and our experience creating covers for your specific genre. Once we’re all happy with it, the designer will go ahead and lay out the whole book. There may be a couple more edits that need to be made at this point depending on how the chapters are fitting and how the layout is working, which may require a few rounds of review before the layout and design of your book are exactly right. Often we’ll do about 3-5 rounds of revisions to the design to make sure it all looks great and everything fits together nicely.
Step 5: Proofread (Again)
That’s right, we’re going back to the proofreader. This time, the proofreader will review the fully designed book to make sure no errors were made during the design process and that no previous changes or updates were lost. And because even professional proofreaders miss things sometimes, they’ll give it a final once-over for those same punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors. We don’t want a single missed capital letter or an exclamation point that should be a question mark ruining the reader’s experience of your book, which is why proofreading is the last thing that happens before publishing the book.
Step 6: Publish!
The final step before you have your book in your hands, whether in print or on your e-reader, is to select the publishing method you want to use. You can opt for print-on-demand through IngramSpark or Amazon KDP, in which books are only printed after they’ve been purchased, or you can choose to do an initial set print run of your book. We’ll also handle creating an e-book version and an audiobook version if you want to do those too. And before you know it, you’ll have a clean, professional, soon-to-be-bestseller on your hands!
So, as you can see, it's a lot of work and requires a lot of detailed project management and talent vetting. If you don't want to go at it alone, let's jump on a call and see how we can help!