This came up twice in the last few weeks, so I thought I’d devote a whole blog post to it.
We don’t write in a bubble. You’ve heard me say this a hundred times, and you’ll hear me say it a thousand more. Normally when I say it, I mean that we are members of the human race, the world will influence our writing, and our lives will influence our writing.
That’s not what I mean today, though. What I mean is that no book goes from writer to reader without a team of other people getting involved. Even as indie writers, we can’t bring our stories to life alone.
Sure, some of my books were complete self-jobs. But they’re not as good as the ones that I got other people involved with.
So today, I want to talk about the team of people who help me publish my books. If you’re a reader, you should know that you have a lot more people to thank for your favorite books. If you’re a writer, you should be developing a team like this for yourself. Because we really don’t write in a bubble.
This is the first team a writer builds. In some ways, it’s the easiest. In many others, it’s the hardest.
Beta readers are the first people you show your work to before you submit it or show it to your editor. These are friends, family and fellow writers who agree to read your book and give you their honest opinion.
Building a beta writing team is hard. You’re basically asking your friends and family to take a piece of my soul and tell me why it blows and how hard. Oh, and you’re asking them to take the time to read your stuff. Sadly, most adults don’t think they have time to read a book. (I’m working on a course about this, by the way. We have time to read, but we don’t. I’m going to help people fix that.)
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. A good beta reader needs to love you enough, to be honest with you. They need to be someone whose opinion you respect, and who has the time to commit to reading a manuscript. Maybe a long one, too.
I generally try to give my book to five people. I want to get a varied opinion, and I want to make sure that if a few people need to bow out I’ve still got at least a couple of people reading until the end. A few of my beta readers are writers, one is a fan of the Woven series. (Or, just really good at humoring me.) But I try to get one person, at least, who hasn’t read any of my books before. I want to know if someone could just pick up this book, and read it by itself.
Listen to me when I say that making friends with other writers is the single best thing you can do for your career as an indie writer. The list of things that you can do to help each other out is never-ending. In my writing group, we share markets looking for short stories. We do blog swaps and guest posts. We talk about the craft of writing, the difficulties of world building. I’ve been able to ask writers I respect if they would read my books and give me blurbs for the covers. Best of all, I’ve made friends, real friends who value writing as much as I do. Fellow writers might also share your work.
If you want to make writing friends, you have to be a good writing friend first. Offer more than you ask for, and don’t get pissed when someone has to say no to you. Because it’s going to happen, people are busy.
But making good writing friends will do more than help your writing. It will enrich your life. It’s great to spend time with people who speak the same language as you do.
One of the perks of being a traditionally published writer is that they provide you with an editor. This is the most important member of your team. They work almost as hard you do on your book, and they help make your book way better than it would be without it.
If you’re an indie writer, then you’ve got to find an editor on your own. This can be pricey, but it is totally necessary. It might take you some time to find the right editor for you, but you’ve got to do it. I’m still looking for one.
Your cover artist
I had a great cover artist, but unfortunately, he’s no longer in the business. I need someone new if anyone knows someone.
Cover artists will render what’s in your brain on real, brilliant color. And a good cover may not be the only thing that will sell your novel, but it’s a pretty big tool. So find someone that you connect with, and try not to lose them!
Your friends and family members that share your social media promotions
Getting shares and likes on social media may seem like an ego booster and nothing else. And by and large, it is. But it’s also getting parts of your sales funnel in front of new readers. So if your friends and family are willing, get them to share your social media like crazy. Consider these people your auxiliary marketing team.
It’s important to remember and acknowledge the people who help make our books as wonderful as they can be. It takes a long time to establish this support system, but once you do it’s going to improve your stories.