2-1 Coordinate the Self Publishing Process

One of the big decisions the author must make in writing and publishing a book is to decide whether to self-publish the book or seek an outside publisher. Let’s discuss the differences so you can best help the author meet his or her goals.

Until a few years ago, authors considered self-publishing only after being turned down by established commercial publishers. Times have changed. Because publishers have shifted many of the business and promotional responsibilities to their authors, they must be active participants in order to succeed. Combine this reality with the technical advances and sophisticated resources that are currently available, and you can see why self-publishing is now much more possible. Especially for authors who are also speakers and have many opportunities to sell books, self publishing can be very profitable.


It typically takes about two to three months to take a finished manuscript and move it through the self-publishing process to create a printed book, but there are good reasons for authors to stretch that out into four to five months in selecting a publication date.

An author’s assistant can oversee this process, making sure that all the necessary steps are completed by the author and the professionals involved.

Here are the elements involved:

  • Creating a publishing company
  • Developing a publishing team
  • Organizing the information for the cover
  • Organizing the information for the interior
  • Working with the printer/publisher
  • Registering the copyright (in most countries)

Each of these will be discussed in much more detail throughout this section.

Creating a Publishing Company

Publisher Name

If the author decides to self publish he or she, in essence, is starting a new publishing company.

One of the first tasks is to select a name for that publisher. While there is no “business name registry”, you will want to check to see if the name you want to use is already being used. An easy way to do that is with a Google search, or by looking up the domain name to see if it is still available. You can also check your state’s database of corporate names. It is essential to have a publishing company name to do some of the tasks required in the process.

The author will probably want to create a simple logo for that name to place on the back cover, spine and on the title page of your book, as is traditionally done. The author will also want to secure the Internet domain names for the author name, book title and the publishing company name.

Other Business Essentials

To create a new business, the author/publisher may need to:
• Name the business and get a fictitious name statement (DBA) and reserve the domain name
• Get a business license (if you don’t already have one for your business or if you are publishing under a new name)
• Get a Federal Tax ID (or use your Social Security number of if you are a sole proprietor)
• Get a Seller’s Permit and Resale number by registering to pay state sales taxes. You will need a to do most of these things to work most effectively with printers and others in the process, so it is good to get these simple things done up front while you are still working on your book.

Getting all the Information You Need From the Author

The author has some decisions to make and the answers to these questions will determine how best you can help him or her book. Take down the answers on the Publishing Information Worksheet below.

Cost line

Expected costs – all from independent contracts who do this work for a living:

  • Book Coach – $1,000 -$2,000
  • Editor – $1,000-$3,000
  • ISBNs – $300
  • Cover Design – $1,000 and up
  • Interior Design – $2,500 and up
  • Copywriter – $1,000 and up
  • Proofreading – $500 and up
  • Indexing – $750 and up
  • Virtual Author’s Assistant  – $1,000 and up
  • Website – $500 and up
  • Printer Registration – $200
  • Printed Copies – $2.50-$4.50 per copy
  • eBook Formatting and Uploading – $400

You can save money for the author, sometimes a lot of money. When they work with a publishing services firm, they are paying for a publishing services company’s profit margin and all the benefits they have to pay their employees. That adds a lot to the cost of their work.

An author can expect to spend from $10,000 to $15,000 and up to self-publish a book and do some modest marketing. Additional outlay may be incurred if you desire additional help. And, of course, the author can spend a lot more at each stage of the process if you don’t help them find a high-quality professionals to work with the first time and have to redo some of the original work.

Book Size and Format

The author has a number of other decisions to make about how the book will look in a physical sense. Consider these format decisions:

Hard cover or soft cover?

Most books now come out in soft cover, but hardcover (offset printing) is still the right choice for some circumstances. Hardcover books are still considered “gift” books, so if yours would likely be given as a gift, then hardcover is a good choice. Hardcover is generally more expensive and involved in creating a book jacket for the finished product.

Trim size?

The trim size is the physical size of the book. Some typical trim, or outside cover, sizes include (in inches): 5 ½ x 8 ½, 6 x 9, 7 x 10, 8 ½ x 11, but there are at least a dozen other standard sizes. A book can be created in almost any size the author wants, but sticking with what is standard in the industry will cut expenses.

Color interior?

Most soft cover trade books are printed with a black and white interior, but gift books often are printed in color. Color on every page adds significantly to the cost of a book.

Paper: weight and type?

Standard trade book paper is 50- or 60-pound stock paper. For a gift book, a standard weight might be 70- or 80-pound. There is also a choice between matte and gloss paper at these higher weights for the book. Finally you have a choice between a bright white paper stock and an ivory or cream-colored paper stock.


Most soft cover books are “perfect bound” with a spine. that narrow piece between the front and back covers. You can also create a book that is saddle stitched, has a lay flat binding (educational materials) or wire-o binding. Most hard cover books are “casebound”, but you can select smythe sewn (journal style).

Team Members for the Publishing Process

It really does take a village to create a book and a number of professionals are usually required. You can hire a ready-made team when you work with a publishing services firm, or you can help the author create the team from individual talented professionals, in many cases, the same individuals who freelance for the largest publishers. Your team might include some of the following professionals.

To complete a manuscript

A ghostwriter can do the writing from the author’s ideas, or a book coach can help the author write a book to make sure it is marketable. An editor can help polish the manuscript and make sure it is organized and communicated effectively. A copy editor can check sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. An indexer can create a professionally done index for the back of the book. And a proofreader can check everyone’s work for typos and formatting errors.

For the publishing process

You will probably be working with a cover designer, perhaps an illustrator, and an interior book designer and typesetter. Your author may want to use the services of a copywriter to write the sales copy for the back cover, including the testimonials. You will need a photographer to take the author photo. Of course, you will need a printer. Get the best help you can afford, but if you need to watch costs, be sure to get the best editor and cover designer you can afford.

Assisted Self Publishing

Just because your author decides to “self” publish, doesn’t mean you have to do the work alone. The author’s assistant can handle some or all of the administrative portions of the work but you can also help the author hire a firm to handle all or most of the process, from cover design, interior design through printing and more.

Publishing services firms are a legitimate way to pay for services, but there are other entities in the book publishing world, often called POD publishers or subsidy publishers that are not recommended, and it can be hard to tell the difference.

Help the author take a good look at any contract signing on to use the services of any “publisher” or “printer”.

Established commercial publishers will not ask the author to pay any fees up front to pay for the creation of the book, but in exchange they are buying the exclusive write to print and distribute the book. We will cover this in a lot more detail in the section on working with POD publishers and publishing services firms.

Timetable and Costs for the Author’s Assistant

One of the first questions you might get from an author thinking about working with you in the self publishing process is about the costs involved.

You may be wondering how to price your work in self publishing coordination. Some author’s assistants charge by the hour and others create packages of services. To give you some idea of how to do that, we’ve created a list of rough estimates of how long it will typically take you to do the work. This list can be found by clicking on the Toolbox in the sidebar menu. So if a client asks you just to provide one or two of these services, this might give you an idea of how to charge for them.

If your client wants you to coordinate the entire self publishing process, then a lot more is involved. It will include all the straightforward services from the last slide, plus recommending and coordinating with other professionals and a lot of back and forth of helping the author decide on all aspects of the cover the interior and the printing process. This eats up a lot more time than it might seem, especially if you are working with an author who needs a lot of questions answered or wants to be updated a lot on progress to make sure things are going well.

We figure this will be about a full day a week for the 8 weeks or two months of the publishing process. If you figure an hourly rate of between 40 and 55 dollars an hour, this might come to $2,500 to $3,500 for your coordination of the process doing the tasks such as getting the ISBN, the bar code, etc.

Why an Author Would Want to Use the Services of an Author’s Assistant To Self Publish

Most authors are working really hard on their writing and they have spent a great deal of time and energy on their manuscripts. What authors don’t know is how to get that manuscript from their computer to finished product on a bookshelf. There is so much to do and so many details even the idea of publishing is intimidating to most authors. So many wonderful books never see the light of day, just because people don’t know how to even start the publishing process.

As a virtual author’s assistant, you can make a critical difference in the lives of these writers becoming authors and in some cases publishers. There is a huge opportunity for someone with these skills. With so many sole proprietors who are coaches, or therapists or attorneys – many of these people will be authoring books and though they are experts in their own fields they most likely are not experts in publishing.

You can save time a lot of time for the author because you can get the book to market in 2 months which no one else can do and which means the faster the author starts to sell the faster he or she earns back her investment. You can do this because you have access to expertise they don’t have time to acquire and you do the leg work, such as getting the ISBN and coordinating the work with all the professionals.

You can save money for the author, sometimes a lot of money. When they work with a publishing services firm, they are paying for a publishing services company’s profit margin and all the benefits they have to pay their employees. That adds a lot to the cost of their work.

One of the big reasons authors self publish is to keep all of their rights to their intellectual property and to maximize their profits. An author’s assistant never takes any of the rights and all the profits all go to the author, but the author has a partner to help get the work done. You will read a lot more about this in the section on working with POD publishers.

Another important thing you bring is that you know how to produce a professional quality product and find professionals and services that are a great value for the money. You will help make sure that the author doesn’t make a lot of mistakes that eat up time and money. Sometimes the cheapest things turn out to be the most expensive because the work has to be done over and you will help the author avoid those pitfalls.

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Download the Publishing Information worksheet on this page to use with authors
Download the Self Publishing Steps worksheet on this page to use with authors


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