Making the decision to self-publish can be harrowing. As you stand at a fork in the road, you look to the left and see traditional presses with potential royalties, a dedicated acquisition editor, and a production team prepared to turn your manuscript into a book. To the right is the dark, twisty road of self-publishing where, it seems, you must go it alone. But, as the trend moves away from traditional publishing, foregoing literary agents and the Big Six doesn’t mean you can’t have a functional, effective support system.
A book shepherd has a depth of experience in the publishing field – especially the self-publishing field – that you cannot replicate on your own.
During the writing process, your book shepherd will keep you on track. Having someone who can help you when you’re stuck is invaluable, especially if you’re writing on a deadline (even if it’s self-imposed). Additionally, your shepherd can provide oversight that makes your writing better. An experienced eye to watch over your writing process is an asset that will serve you well throughout the self-publishing process.
During the editing process, your book shepherd will connect you with a seasoned editor who is well-prepared to take on your manuscript. It’s possible that the single best thing you can do for your book (and your book sales) is to entrust the manuscript to an editor who specializes in your field and your book shepherd will have a stable of accomplished contacts.
During the design process, your book shepherd will provide a vital perspective on the design of your book. While facilitating an expert layout and cover design, your book shepherd will also be able to give you unbiased opinions and constructive criticism, giving your book an edge before any readers even see it on the shelves (or the e-shelves).
During the printing and distribution process, your book shepherd will advise you on best practices for printing and distribution. Where do you need to sell your books? What is e-book conversion? What do you need to do to sell via Kindle, Nook, and iBook? With a book shepherd, you don’t need to stress about these questions because they’ll all be taken care of.
With a book shepherd, you’re able to focus less on the nitty-gritty and more on the most important element of your publishing process: your book. Don’t feel like, just because you’re self-publishing, you have to go it alone. You can be confident (and relaxed!) before you dive into the process of marketing your newly released book!