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The Self-Publishing Journey: 6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Team

You don't have to be a lone wolf in the self-pub game! Photo by ghetzu

Yes, we know, it’s right there in the name — “self” publishing.

It goes with other terms like “do-it-yourself” and “self-confidence” and “self-employed.” But before you reach a point of utter frustration and begin belting out Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” you should know something; self-publishing doesn’t have to be a solo journey.

Look at it like this: Self-publishing is just like any other entrepreneurial endeavor. You might get the business off the ground by yourself, but to grow it into a prosperous investment, you have to hire help to cover the areas where you don’t have the time or expertise to give your product what it deserves.

But that’s not to say that you should go about hiring people all free and easy. If you were hiring someone to paint your house you’d have some questions before you made a decision. The same goes for hiring designers, editors and other consultants to help with your project.

Not sure what questions to ask? We’ve got you covered!

6 Questions to ask before you hire someone for your team.

1. What kind of experience do you have?

Your first priority is to identify what kind of credentials your potential team member brings to the table. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re looking for the most experienced person available, however. You just want to know that the individual you’re working with knows what they’re doing. You want your house painter to know how to handle a brush, right?

It's all about teamwork! Photo by battlecreekcvb

2. Do you specialize in certain genres?

Imagine what would happen if you, a science fiction author, were suddenly asked to write a romance novel? You would struggle, right? The same thing applies to editors and designers. Many of them have a genre they specify in, so be sure to find the one that fits with the genre of your title.

3. Can you share some samples of your work or a few testimonials?

This goes hand-in-hand with Question #1. Your house painter might say he’s really good with edging and trim work, but you can’t know for sure unless he shows you some examples — or even better, a testimonial from a satisfied client. Most designers and editors are more than happy to provide this information, in fact most of them provide that info on their websites. Check them out first to verify you’ve got a talented, experienced person on your hands.

4. How do you typically communicate with clients?

This is probably the most overlooked issue when picking the right members for your team. You have to know yourself and know what kind of communication you’ll require of your teammates. Do you prefer a daily check-in or weekly? Would you rather speak over the phone or in an email? Figure out what your needs are first, then find a teammate who matches your communications requirements.

5. What’s your turnaround time?

Again, this is an incredibly important detail to iron out at the very beginning. Make sure your teammates are aware of your deadlines up front so if their production schedule doesn’t line-up with your dates, you can avoid tragedy down the road. Follow up questions to this one include: How many clients are you currently working with? What tends to be the biggest hold-up in the process? How much time do you usually spend on edits after the initial draft is completed?

6. How much do you charge?

Ah, the most important question of all. Look, don’t hide behind the dollar signs, okay? You have a budget, everyone does. Most editors and designers are very forthcoming with their rates and a few are willing to work with you on packages that can save a little. But you have to know that the old adage still applies here, you get what you pay for. Your book is an investment and you want to do as much as you can to ensure that your investment is in the best hands possible.

Put our advice to use: Introducing the Duolit Directory!

You know we wouldn’t have given you all this ammo for finding the perfect self-publishing team if we didn’t have some ducks lined up for the hunt! (Okay, not literally, we mean that in a very Nintendo Duck Hunt sort of way.) Toni and I have started a Duolit Resource Directory filled with information on editors and designers who are looking to work with self-published authors just like you! Even better, they’ve already answered 4 of the 6 questions above in their profiles!

Do you have something to add? Tell us!

Are there some other questions you’d ask an editor or designer before signing on? What makes for a good match between authors and their support team? If you are an editor, designer or book promoter, what do you like to find out from your clients before getting started? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments below!

Would you or someone you know like to join the directory? Fill out this quick form and we’ll get you added! You can also shoot us an email with your information.

  • So important to ask these questions and I think number 4 especially is overlooked. When I was working with a cover designer for one of my books, I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks at a time. I found this incredibly frustrating. Now it’s always a priority for me to be on the same “communication level” whenever I hire a contractor. Thanks for this post lovely ladies!

    • You nailed it, Laura. And what’s interesting is that, for some authors, not hearing from a designer for weeks at a time might not be a dealbreaker. So it’s all about finding folks you mesh well with, then sticking with them! So glad you enjoyed the post!