Michael Doane is a freelance book marketer, so he knows better than anyone the importance of having a team of professionals behind an indie book. That’s why, when he self-published The Crossing in 2016, he looked to Reedsy to put together a dream team: one that consisted of an editor, a cover designer, and a proofreader. Michael’s story is about understanding that you need to be its first investor if you want people to buy your book.
This is Michael’s story
It was late, about 1am on a Tuesday night, and I had to get up for work in four hours. My wife Emily is always my first reader and she had just finished the first draft of my manuscript. She was so disappointed with the ending that she woke me up. “Mike, Mike. What the…!? This book is SO GOOD, but the ending…” She said it was so bad that she couldn’t sleep. I love my wife, so I got up and re-wrote the ending. At 2am, I brought it back to her and watched her read it. “This is better,” she said, “but still not the best it can be.” It took three more tries and the help of two editors, but I eventually wrote my novel the best ending — the one that made my wife cry! All this to say, and any author will agree with me here: getting your manuscript ready to publish is one hell of an ongoing, iterative process. Luckily, Reedsy was there to help me out along the way.
Assembling my dream team
My wife’s initial assessment of The Crossing showed me that while my novel was good, it could be better. I needed more feedback, and at this point I knew there was little more I could do on my own. With the encouragement of my friends, family, and beta readers, I turned to Reedsy and put out proposals for an editorial assessment. I ended up hiring Rebecca Heyman, a fantastic editor with tons of experience in my genre. She delivered an eight-page document detailing the parts of the narrative that worked and — more importantly — the parts that didn’t. We even had to jump on Skype a few times to resolve heated debates about details within the novel. And that’s exactly what you want from an editor: someone who will fight for the improvement of your novel.
Becca’s editorial assessment provided me with a crucial new perspective on my work, and by the time we’d finished tinkering with my manuscript, I was elated. Together, we had uncovered the story I had wanted to tell. While my beta readers were busy reading the new and Becca-approved draft, I went back to Reedsy and started looking for a cover designer. I thought, “if I want to make a living off my books, someone is going to need to pick them up and read them first.” Therefore, my cover needed to be compelling enough to get readers to pay ten bucks!
I ended up hiring Matthew Cobb, who just so happens to be a Reedsy co-founder as well. When Matt sent me his first concept for the book cover, I was surprised. He’d got it spot on from the get-go! After a few iterations, a book cover was born. It was a liberating experience to have full control over the final finished product, as every detail required my approval. With this kind of creative control, by the time you’re ready to publish, you’ve got a book you can truly be proud of. The final revisions for The Crossing included a round of copy editing and proofreading, by Rachel Small. Whereas Becca’s job was to help me with “big picture” issues, Rachel went through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Without her, I’m sure my readers would have pulled me up on some nasty typos and character inconsistencies. Once I had accepted her suggestions, I read through the manuscript one more time and felt completely assured that The Crossing was a solid narrative, ready to publish. After all this effort to get the story just right, I was determined not to fall into the classic self-publishing trap of presenting my masterpiece in a dodgy Word PDF template. It needed to be a pleasure to read. This is when I discovered Reedsy’s free Book Editor, a production tool that let me do the typesetting myself. I just copied-and-pasted my chapters into the tool, hit export and I got a beautifully formatted, print-ready PDF and ebook reader friendly ePub file. Bingo! I was ready to hit publish.
Reedsy is an investment you can count on
If you’re detail-oriented and want to bypass the publishing industry’s red-tape, self-publishing might be the right choice for you. It’s a long road if you want to do it right, so be ready to invest both time and money. But more than that, be ready to invest patience and effort. You need to learn how to write, edit, and publish. You’ll be working with various editors and beta readers, sharing your manuscripts with friends and family and waiting for a response. You’ll have your work torn down by editors (and you’ll also have their help while building it back up). Finding professionals through a marketplace like Reedsy can help you rest assured that your time is well spent. Good luck!