Not long after Macmillan closed Pronoun, another publishing giant decided to step down. Amazon company CreateSpace will stop offering paid author services. CreateSpace has long been home of many self-published authors and its presence will be missed. Amazon itself has already taken over the distribution of print-on-demand paperbacks and even started offering author proof copies. The author services department, however, will be closed completely by March 15, leaving many aspiring authors looking for a new option.
What services did CreateSpace offer?
CreateSpace was a sort of marketplace for authors to purchase paid services suitable for their needs. The main difference between services like CreateSpace and vanity presses is that companies offering legitimate authoring services are very clear about what is included and what is not; and authors can choose only the services they need.
Paid authoring services often include editing, proofreading, cover design and professional, manual ebook conversion. Companies offering paid authoring services have a pool of qualified editors and designers to cater for the authors’ need. They might employ professionals on a freelance basis, or – as CreateSpace did – full time.
Photo by Galymzhan Abdugalimov
How to find qualified professionals and author services?
While it is possible for somebody to go through the self-publishing process on your own, many writers prefer the approach of “everyone should be doing what they are best at”. And for most authors this is writing. While polymaths and geniuses are among us, it is seldom that somebody can write amazing books, proofread them objectively, has an excellent eye for design and the skills of an artist.
A bestseller is almost always the work of a small team of skilled artists and professionals – just like in traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, a commissioning editor decides who gets published and a project coordinator selects the artists to work with.
Finding qualified professionals is not easy unless you know where to look for them.
Find a freelancer
As the percentage of British self-employed has risen to 15% (including those who are self-employed on a temporary, project-basis), it is more easy than ever to find a freelance professional. Even traditional publishers often employ freelancers: bringing in some “new blood” for more ideas and creative results.
But freelancers are often underpaid, exploited or expected to work for free. While there are definitely benefits of doing creative work for exposure (many writers blog for free or give free books away), commissioned works should definitely be paid for.
While everybody knows how to search Fiverr or Upwork for somebody who is willing to do the job – well, for a fiver -, sometimes it is better to look in “approved” databases to avoid later disappointment. I really like the freelance directory of PPN, Joanna Penn’s list of trusted editors or cover designers.
Find an authoring service provider or marketplace
If you don’t have the time and energy of contacting freelancers and finding those few people who work best with you, you can also find an authoring service or a marketplace. Our favourite all-round author marketplace is Reedsy. They offer a place for authors, editors, and designers, as well as ghostwriters and website editors to get in touch and work together. All their professional partners are trusted. Payment works on clear, approved terms.
Most self-publishing services also offer support to authors. PublishDrive is in contract with some qualified, English native speaker editors. Read more here. We also have a small team of professionals for ebook conversion.
Best practices for selecting freelancers for a project
1. Make sure that your expectations and their portfolio matches.
It is no use asking a horror-editor to edit a children’s books. This professional might be amazingly skilled; but simply not the right fit for you.
2. Check for communication discrepancies.
Yes, somebody can be an amazing professional and not a good communicator. It is important, though, that you can be sure that you can reach them whenever it is important. If your preferred freelancer lives in a cave and only goes near internet once a month, that’s okay – as long as you are aware of it, fine with that and happy to wait.
3. Ask for samples.
Everyone can say anything. Don’t commit to any contract until you can’t see a sample of their work.
4. And last but not least: trust them.
If you have carefully selected a freelancer or other professional, let them do their work. Listen to their opinion. There is nobody during the creative process who wouldn’t want you and your book to be successful.