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How to keep your wallet fat as an aspiring author

It’s one of the most common questions asked by aspiring authors, “Do I need to hire a [place term here]?” [Freelance editor, book doctor, publicist, marketing professional]. The list goes on. The answer is no, unequivocally, but there are some times that working with an industry professional that fits your budge t comfortably can be a useful tool. Here is a checklist of things to determine whether a professional is needed/can help you:

1.    1.  You have a finished manuscript, edited by a family member, friend, spouse, colleague, etc. (so that a second set of impartial eyes – or as impartial as you can get – has looked for and hopefully caught your typos and grammatical slip-ups)

  2. You have written an excellent query letter that conforms to guidelines and preferences set by agents and industry professionals.

3.  3.    You have researched a LONG LIST of agents and submitted your query letter and/or the requisite submission materials to them.

4.  4.  You have been overwhelmingly rejected by your LONG LIST of agents.

5.  5.  You have next investigated small presses that do not require agented submissions and you have sent them your query letter/materials.

6.  6.  You have been overwhelmingly rejected by your list of small presses.

7.  7.  The option of self-publishing is starting to look attractive.

If you find that all of those steps have been covered and you’re hovering somewhere between step 6 and 7, then it might be a good time to start looking into the BUDGET-FRIENDLY help of an industry professional.

Where to go? First take advantage of free online resources. Even simple Google searches can find you a bevy of good information. Also check out regional associations that provide membership for freelance editors, book publicists, marketing strategists, and whatever other freelance positions you think might help.

From there on out, don’t forget these key points:

·      1. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you take on freelance help, they will call you the “client” but remember:  You’re the one paying them + it’s your manuscript = you are THE BOSS.

·      2.  There is a devastatingly large number of unemployed editors and literary professionals – this is terrible for them, but good for you. You hold the value in this negotiation – the Work. If you don’t find someone who fits your budget, keep looking, or tell them upfront that they need to negotiate or you will go with someone else. There is no excuse in this economy for you to not be able to find someone who will work with your budget restrictions, whatever they may be.

·      3.   Utilize word of mouth referrals first. Ask your friends, family, and work colleagues if they can refer someone with which they’ve previously worked and had a positive experience. Now’s the time to take advantage of your network and professional association affiliations.

·     4.    Don’t give up. Publishing is an extremely subjective process, and rejection letters do not mean failure. Distill whatever feedback trends you see in these letters, and see if you can incorporate them into your book without changing its integrity. Try and try again.