If there’s a challenge for independent authors, it’s the sheer choice of services one can sign up for. From jacket design to promotion, from editorial assistance to distribution, there are many companies out there who want to help your book reach a wider audience. It’s difficult to give a definitive list of things you should investigate before paying for a service, but here are some general dos and don’ts that can help you make the best decision:
DO ask questions. Ask for case studies, examples of work, broad outlines of how the service is going to help you. The more information you have, the better.
DO look online. For every service, they’ll probably be a forum somewhere with people talking about it. DON’T however take every word as gospel. If you see a very common thread of negativity, it might be best to steer clear, but every book is different, and some will fare better on some platforms than others.
DO ask yourself: is this too good to be true? It’s tempting to think that everything promised will happen for your book, but do be realistic.
DO ask: can I do this myself? You might find you already have good contacts or the skills yourself. But also remember the time factor – you might be able to go it alone, but do you have the hours in the day to do so?
DON’T assume that any service is a magic bullet – regardless of whether you are publishing the book yourself, or have a big publisher behind you, authors still have to make things happen through their own hard work and determination.