Self-publishing can mean doing everything yourself, or it can include a certain amount of sub contracting. Professional services for the self-publishing author include everything from ghost writing the book itself to formatting, editing and promoting it.
None of this help is cheap and providers range from qualified experts to re-named vanity publishers. The self-publishing community is very adept at assessing and monitoring the professionals it deals with, another reason to be a part of it.
I always recommend that an author get help with two aspects of publishing – the editing and the cover. Both these reflect the amount of respect you as an author have for your reader.
Covers are often dismissed, particularly for e-books where a reader doesn’t see it unless they go searching for it. So why pay out for something so trivial? Covers are more than just a book’s wrapping, they give out vital information to a potential reader. There’s a reason why different genres tend to use different conventions for covers, as they signify what the reader can expect. A good cover makes a reader want to know more, pulls them in that little bit. A bad cover can kill sales. An indifferent cover indicates you don’t really care what your reader is looking for, you expect them to know regardless that you have a novel they want to read.
Take some time to look at covers for successful books. It’s interesting how often a runaway success also has a new cover treatment - for example, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY moved away from the skimpily clad models (male and female) that normally indicated erotica, towards something more subtle and more enticing.
Editing is also about respect. It’s almost impossible to spot your own spelling and grammatical errors as you’re simply too close to the text. If you don’t think it matters particularly, your reader gets the message that you don’t feel they deserve a professional piece of writing. A nearly-ok approach satisfies no-one.
Obviously there are a number of different services that come under the category of ‘editing’ – which I have covered here, but at the very least, try to provide your reader with a piece of writing that doesn’t have them struggling to understand what you mean.
If you want to self-publish but can’t afford to pay for any aspects of it, at the very least, get a literate friend to read it for errors. And if you aren’t a natural cover designer, keep it simple, clean text, a straightforward image, and with enough clues for your reader to know if they’re going to be picking up crime or romance.
For more advice and help on self-publishing, take a look here.