If you know me well, you know that I was a DIY guy first when it comes to self-publishing. I had no discretionary funds for outsourcing for self publishers. In fact, my beginning in self-publishing wasn’t exactly how I’d recommend anyone do things.
I’ve told that story a zillion times, but in short, I put in my notice when I received my first paycheck from Amazon. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that paycheck was just a little over $20.
Needless to say, the next couple of years were a hard lesson. Today, I’m able to write this post about outsourcing for self publishers as a result.
So, in the beginning, I did everything myself. It was good experience. It started me on the path that you currently find me on today: publishing and helping others with publishing. Honestly, it’s my favorite thing!
Consequently, I built up a lot of knowledge and released my first course in 2017. It was called DIY Self-Publishing and focused on teaching authors how to self-publish their work.
I also started my YouTube channel to answer all the questions I was getting about self-publishing. This is probably how you found me. YouTube has been a game changer for me. I was making a full-time living from it, my course, and self-publishing with a tiny subscriber base of around 2,500.
The cool thing is some of those people are still around!
Once I was able, I began to outsource different aspects of the self-publishing process.
I still teach self-publishing and I tell my followers to only outsource when you can afford to do so with one exception: your book cover.
I’ve found such inexpensive designers on Fiverr that a DIY cover is a deprecated notion. You will benefit greatly from a professional cover design.
These days, new self-publishers are outsourcing right out of the gate.
Benefits of Outsourcing for Self Publishers
Beyond the obvious time saved and a boost to productivity, outsourcing provides a number of benefits:
- Boosts the level of professionalism – Rather than just going it alone, you have a team of people working to make your book better
- Expertise – Your main schtick as an author is writing. You may be good at other things too, but maybe not. Hire experts for the things you’re not as good at
- Sharpening your focus – Outsourcing the more mundane things like social media posts will allow you to focus more deeply on writing
- Straighten the learning curve – You don’t have to know how to do everything
- Working with people of other walks or life and/or cultures – Outsourcing can sometimes mean taking your business international
Of course, the time and productivity are the two major ones. The time you save can be used any way you wish. Maybe self-publishing is just a side-hustle and you work full-time. Saving time is essential. Having that time to do other things can maintain a forward momentum in your publishing business that may result in nice profits.
What Should Be Outsourced
Self-publishing has a lot of steps, and any of them can be outsourced. Let’s take a look at the main ones:
- Book Description
- Cover Design
- Keywords and Categories
- A+ Content
At minimum, outsource your book cover. Unless you yourself are a professional book cover designer, you should outsource this step. You can get a professional cover design starting at $10 on Fiverr, so everyone should be able to afford at least that.
After covers, I recommend outsourcing editing and formatting, in that order.
If you can’t afford to do so, I do have DIY options that I’ve shared over the years.
This post for DIY editing and multiple videos on my YouTube channel for formatting + this post for eBook formatting.
After that, outsource whatever can help you sell more books!
How Much Does Outsourcing Cost?
It varies. The most important aspect of outsourcing for self publishers, which I consider to be book cover design starts as low as $10!
Editing and formatting are significantly more expensive.
I recommend having $100 to get started. That way you have the funds for your book cover and possibly to at least get started with the rest.
It’s not going to be cheap, but it will be worth it.
What About Outsourcing the Writing?
Self-publishing books is a business model, and there are some publishers who have never written a word of their own books. To each their own.
Personally, the writing is part of it for me. I’ve loved books most of my life, and I always dreamed of writing my own. I can’t speak for the majority of authors on Amazon, but I know within my own audience, most of us write our own stuff.
I do have a story for you, though.
Several years ago, I decided to give outsourcing the writing process a shot. After all, I was doing well with writing on my own, so how difficult could it be to hire a freelance writer?
These days it’s not difficult at all, but if you aren’t careful, it could be a danger to your self-publishing business.
For me, it was near fatal to mine because I skipped one critical step.
I decided to hire a writer from Upwork.
After vetting numerous applicants and feeling that I’d done my due diligence, I found a person who fit my needs. This freelancer had experience and a great portfolio to prove it.
After 3 months or so, we’d worked together to produce a full series of books and I saw an instant return on my investment. In fact, the series still makes me money.
The process had become so easy that I allowed myself to become lazy and I began skipping one vital step.
You might be thinking that I cheaped out on the editing, allowed the freelancer access to my account, or gave them free reign in some other way. It was none of that. The step I was skipping was much easier.
I wasn’t checking the work for plagiarism.
Regardless of what aspects you decide to outsource in your business, do some basic follow up. If you outsource the writing, check it for plagiarism and also for AI content these days. My preferred plagiarism checker is ProWritingAid.
If Amazon detects plagiarism in your work, the consequences will be dire, and it could very well result in your account being banned. Amazon KDP is a one and done platform. One offense, and you’re done. You can’t create a new account. A ban on KDP is a lifetime ban. There are no second chances.
Back to the story…
After the success of my initial 5-part series, I started a second 5-part series with the same writer.
I approved the first book without a second look and paid for the services. I gave the writer the green light for part two.
As part of my pre-editing process, I usually go through with my grammar checker. I also thought it would be a good idea to check for plagiarism, but it was nothing more than a passing thought.
Sure enough, the check detected an entire sentence and a half of word-for-word plagiarism. I didn’t think much of it until I clicked the provided link and found the content was pulled directly from the web.
I frantically checked the entire first series, but thankfully found no issues.
After that, I contacted the writer. She didn’t confirm or deny that she plagiarized the content, but refunded my money. I severed the relationship. The experience swayed me away from outsourcing the writing process ever since.
This story is a cautionary tale that I hope you use to grow and protect your business. Never take any part of the publishing process for granted and always double check the work your freelancers do.
Where to Hire Freelancers
I really love Fiverr for freelancers. Fiverr was a huge thing when I first got into self-publishing and then it kind of fell out of favor with self-publishers as a whole.
The problem with Fiverr is there’s a good chance you may have to kiss a few frogs before you find really great freelancers that you’d like to work with long-term.
I partnered with Fiverr in late 2019 to change the stigma. They gave me some credits, and I was able to vet freelancers at no cost to me and also no cost to you! The result is my list of vetted service providers.
Aside from Fiverr, here are few folks I like to work with:
Looking for my DIY stuff? Check out TheSelfPublishingHub.com.
Who am I missing? Let us know in the comments!