Friday, October 18, 2013 | By: Angela Brown

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

Because I've started my publishing journey on the Indie road, I can truthfully say that sometimes, it can be hard to take the journey alone. I've been blessed to have my Partner in ParanormYA, Gwen Gardner. It can be helpful to have someone to lean on when it comes to doing more than writing the story. Today, Jessica Winn is stopping by to share about an option many authors turn to but she's giving some pros and cons for your "thinking" purposes. After all, it's great getting information and making up your own mind.

Pros and Cons of Author Services Firms

It takes a lot of work from writing the book, getting it published and attracting the attention from the outside world. Sometimes even authors who go the traditional route need to hire outside assistance with their book simply because some of the bigger houses don’t have the people or time to help the author with publicity. Self published authors are even more on their own. That’s why a good author service firm can help.

Like most things, there’s both good and bad with hiring an author service firm. Today, I’m hoping this post will help highlight both the pros and cons of hiring an author service firm and help authors figure out if they need one or not.

Money: Books are an investment, both in time and in money. Before settling on a service company, authors should compare the cost they are charging for packages (and what those packages come with), and talk to a representative.

Predatory Firms: Unfortunately, there are a lot of services that know there are authors out there who need help and try to take advantage of them. Because of so many dishonest services authors need to be very careful about who they choose and trust. Some firms will try and get authors to keep signing up for services they either can’t afford, or worse, don’t need. This is why it’s so important for authors to talk with a rep before signing on the dotted line. If going with a particular author service company doesn’t feel right, keep looking. Believe it or not, there are a few out there that want to really help authors, not take their money and run.

Criticism: Some of the services that authors can sign up (for example: branding or editing) for can open them up to criticism. When signing up for services like this, authors should keep in mind that they might hear things that they don’t want to change, so keeping an open mind and thick skin is important. Ultimately, with a good company, the criticism is meant to help the author, not offend them. Authors need to know if they’re ready to hear constructive criticism before they sign up for it, otherwise it might end up being a waste.

Specific Help: Depending on if the author is self published or traditional will help determine the types of services they need. Typically, publicity and marketing are what traditionally published authors are looking for assistance with. Self published authors might need this too, but they usually need other packages as well.

Because self published authors are on their own, finding editors, cover and layout designers, picking a publication plan, marketing and publicity are all things they need to deal with themselves. If authors haven’t done this before, or know people who can help, this can be very daunting and difficult. A good author service company can usually help with a lot of these things.

Traditional authors might need help from an author service company if their publisher doesn’t have the time or money to invest in the book’s publicity, marketing and branding of the author, or if they’d like to go above and beyond what a normal publisher offers.

Not All Alone: The best part about author service companies is the fact that the author isn’t doing it all on their own anymore. Having to figure everything out can feel overwhelming. Author services can help relieve that, especially for those who have no clue where to start. Having someone to turn to can be a huge relief.

Professional Help: Getting help from people who have done it before is one of the best things about author service companies. They know what they’re doing and know how to help those who are a loss of ‘what’s next.’

Not for Everyone:
Not everyone needs help from author service companies either, and that’s ok. Some authors know someone who can create a cover for them for free or at little cost, or they know how to do it themselves. Other authors might have connections with someone who is an excellent editor or expert in some other field. But for those who don’t have such connections, a trustworthy and good author service company can be a lifesaver.

Either way, an author’s business is their book and they should do all they can to make sure it is as professional as it can be before they release it to the world. The good news is there are options and going with an author service company is one of them.

Bio: Jessica Winn is a freelance publicist supported by Cunning Relations, a consultation firm specialized in the book industry. Jessica graduated from Utah State University in 2011 with a bachelors in Journalism. Since then she has worked as a public relations specialist for a technology company and as a publicist for Jolly Fish Press. Jessica is also a member of the League of Utah Writers and is currently working on her own novel.

You can contact Jessica on Twitter at @JessWinn26 or through email:


Maria Zannini said...

This is so true. Life is busy enough and it's nearly impossible to be good at everything. Besides, most of us can write off expenses on our taxes. It's an investment in your business.

I am meticulous at keeping my receipts for anything I buy to improve my business.

mshatch said...

While it's true you can write off expenses as the previous post said, you still have to come up with the $ up front which can be difficult for some people (like me). However, this is certainly an avenue I will look into when I get a date for my book. Thanks :)

Julie Dao said...

I have never even heard of author service firms, but that makes so much sense. I'll definitely be reading up more on these. Thank you for the tips and insight!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The only thing I would need help with is marketing since I'm with a small publisher, but so far I've managed to do everything on my own.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Thanks for the insight, Jessica!

Yolanda Renee said...

Good post, most folks don't realize the budget needed to get your work off the ground. Marketing is the biggest drain, but covers, editing, and for some, formatting. But so right! Do your homework!

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

Great post with many good points, Jessica and Angela. Writing in itself is a lonely business, but everything associated with getting the book out and then marketing needs the involvement of others. That's how the successful books are made and distributed to the readers. But - as you pointed out - it is easy to take the wrong path and end up banging your head against a wall. Fortunately the indie writing community is filled with people who genuinely want to help and share their own experience. I know, I would've never been able to travel the publishing journey alone!

J.L. Campbell said...

It's good to know that there are services out there who can help with all the other stuff that writers don't like to do or have a clue above. I've noticed a jump in the number of persons act as virtual assistants too in recent times.

Shelley Munro said...

I think it's an excellent idea to outsource if you can't do a task or you don't want to. Another idea if your budget is tight is to barter services with other authors in your circle. That can work well too.

Rum-Punch Drunk said...

A very interesting and informative post. So many people struggle with publishing their own book and knowing exactly what they should or should not be doing. I've heard some very sad stories with people being let down or just giving up on their dreams. It's also good that you gave the pro's and con's, something to think about before delving head long into it. Thanks mate.

Anonymous said...

I'm bookmarking this for future reference. Great Pros and Cons list. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Great advice!

Jessica W. said...

Hi Angela! I wanted to say thank you for the opportunity of letting me guest blog and also thanks for everyone for commenting! :)

John M said...

Thanks for sharing a good post. I'm going into the e-book market because it is becoming more popular with so many owners of iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc.
The cost is much less than a printed book both for the writer and reader.

I've also self published a print on demand paperback version. They only print a book if it is ordered and keep a percentage of the price for themselves.

But you must be very careful about paying too much for someone to edit your book, design the cover, format the text, etc. It may be difficult to sell enough books to pay for these services.

My problem now is how to promote my book. It's on but it's as if it was invisible.
I bought a copy to see if everything was working. Someone bought a copy because I bought a copy of his book. My daughter bought a copy. That's it! Only 3 copies "sold" since June.

What frustrates me the most is the number of poor quality books and movies that are being sold. I'm sure my book is not any worse than those books.
Sometimes I start to become a little anxious and depressed. Am I fooling myself? Is my book that bad?

If I look at the overall situation I must admit that I enjoyed putting in all that time (several years) and effort. I think of the characters in my book as my "children". Now I want to share my story but how?

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