Services for Authors: Setting Up Your Author Team

2015-06-01 Dog in HatWelcome to the Services for Authors Series

Indie publishing means wearing many hats. Everything a publisher would have done for you, you have to do for yourself – or hire someone to do it for you. With the rapid rise in popularity of indie publishing, there is also a growing industry of services for authors – and to help our books stand out, we’d be smart to take advantage of them!

We all know we should hire a professional editor and a professional cover designer. But what other services are available? How can they streamline your business? At what point should you consider adding new freelance professionals to your team? And how do you find them?

For the next five Mondays (June 1st through June 29th, 2015) we’ll be running a series of interviews and guest posts, Services for Authors in which we’ll be talking with a number of these professionals and what they can do for you. To kick off the series, we have indie author Chris Fox, who wrings out as much productivity as possible from his limited writing time with the use of author services. Take it away, Chris!

Setting Up Your Author Team

A guest post by Chris Fox 

2015-06-01 HandsI don’t know a single person who doesn’t want more hours in the day. That’s doubly true for authors, because the vast majority of us write in our spare time as a second job. We have families and day jobs and obligations all competing for our precious waking hours.

So what’s a busy author to do? How do you manage marketing, editing, cover design and the myriad of other tasks required to get your books to market? By setting up a team. It’s vital that you outsource anything you don’t absolutely have to do yourself.

For authors that means the only thing you can’t offload is the writing itself. Generating prose in your unique voice is the core of your business, but your readers won’t know or care who set up your Facebook ads or sent off your ARCs to three dozen reviewers.

The Hierarchy Of Assistants

2015-06-01 Bowling TeamI was interviewed on Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self-Publishing back in January, and one of the topics that generated the most buzz was my use of assistants. In fact that’s why you’re reading this today, because Danielle heard that interview and approached me about writing this guest post.

What people found so interesting was that I don’t just use one assistant. I use an entire team. This is how that team breaks down:

Author’s Assistant

Cost: $15-25 an hour

This is my right hand. She takes care of high level tasks with minimal direction. I can ask her to add a book to Goodreads or set up an entire promotion on dozens of sites and know that she’ll get it done.

Virtual Assistant

Cost: $3-5 an hour, or per project

I employ 2-3 virtual assistants at any given time, depending on the tasks I need done. Recent examples include having artwork and layout created for business cards (pictured below) or compiling a list of zombie blogs and forums where I might advertise. The business cards were made by a contractor in Malaysia.

Chris Fox - Business Card 1 (640x375)

Chris Fox - Business Card 2 (640x375)

Writing Coach

Cost: $1,000 – $1,200 per book

Many authors are unsure what kind of editors to use. Some use a proofreader, others a proofreader and a line editor. I’ve met very few indies who also use a content editor or a writing coach. They’re expensive, but they’re worth it.

A writing coach tears apart your manuscript at a high level. They look for plot holes, word re-use and consistent patterns in your writing. Maybe you use too many commas, or not enough. Maybe you’re dialogue is stilted, or you don’t use enough description. A writing coach will help you identify your weaknesses. More, they’ll teach you to turn those into strengths.

Line Editor

Cost: $200 per book (on average)

A line editor goes through your book sentence by sentence correcting grammar and suggesting paragraph level changes. They’ll edit your prose and help you make it better.  You can get by without a writing coach. You CANNOT get by without a good line editor, no matter how good you think you are at self editing.


Cost: $100 per book (on average)

Once your writing coach has shredded your manuscript you re-write it. Then your line editor shreds it and you re-write it. The proofreader is the last line of defense. After you think your book is ready for readers you give it to a proofreader to find the dozens of typos that slipped under the radar.

Beta Readers

Cost: Free, yay!

Beta readers are hardest to corral for your first book, but after you’ve set up a mailing list and have started to build a street team they become easier to find. My last step before pressing the publish button is sending my completed, proof read book out to about sixty beta readers.

They go through scanning for typos, and I fix everything they find. Then and only then do I submit my finished book to Amazon or iTunes. I developed this process, because I found that no matter how good my proofreader was typos still snuck through =(

Cover Artist

Cost: $500 per book

Many new indies stumble on the cover. They design it themselves or find the cheapest one available for their book. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. As important as great editing is a great cover is FAR more important. Without a great cover a reader will never know about the editing in your book, because they’ll never even open it. People can and do judge books by their cover, and it is critical that yours be amazing.

I actually employ a cover artist, and a separate typographer. They work together to create some impressive covers, as you can see on my Amazon author page.

2015-06-01 Cup of coffee and cellphoneThere are other people you can recruit, but that covers the basics of a great writing team. I realize that the entire list is daunting, especially when you add up the costs. Don’t worry about that, at least not yet. Your goal should be to build the entire list eventually, but in the beginning you can take care of most tasks yourself.

The best way to begin doing that is by learning from professionals. Read interviews from editors, cover designers and author assistants. You’ll pick up tips on how you can do a lot of what they do, at least until you can afford to hire them to do it for you.

It just so happens that Indie Plot Twist is running a series of interviews from just the kind of people you need to talk to. What a coincidence. It’s almost like they planned it =O

So buckle up and get ready to learn. Indie Plot Twist is about to teach you how to build a kick ass author team!

Other & Upcoming Posts in This Series:

About the Author:

Chris Fox - Headshot (640x610)By day Chris is the iPhone developer architecting the app used to scope Stephen Colberts ear. By night he is Batman. Ok maybe not. He can dream though, right?

You can learn more about Chriss new book 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter, his fiction and his life over at

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About His Book:

Chris Fox - 5000 Words Per Hour (200x300)The fastest way to succeed as an author is to write more books. How do you do that with a day job, family, school or all your other time commitments? The secret is efficiency.

5K WPH will help you maximize your writing time by building effective habits that both measure and increase your writing speed.

– Create an effective writing habit
– Track and improve your Words Per Hour
– Stop the endless editing and tinkering so you can finish your draft
– Use voice dictation software to dramatically increase words per hour.

It’s time to shift your writing into high gear.

Webpage | Amazon


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