Book Development & Editing Services
If you’re looking for something more than beta readers or critical partners, you can hire professional editors to review a manuscript. Whether you need help with line edits or are seeking feedback on overarching plot and character development, these can help:
- Writer’s Digest Critique and Editing Services – a service providing a variety of editing options. Choose between a developmental edit, line edit, proofreading, and more.
- Reedsy – a marketplace of editors (as well as designers and marketers). According to Reedsy, “So far only the top 3% of applications (from editors) have been accepted, ensuring that our professionals are a community of the best the industry has to offer.”
- Editcetera – an association of freelance publishing professionals — including proofreaders, copy editors, developmental editors, and more — that provides services to both publishers and indie authors.
- Northwest Editors Guild — The Northwest Editors Guild connects clients with professional editors of the written word in the Pacific Northwest. We also foster community among our members and provide resources for their career development.
Cover Design Services
People do judge a book by its cover, and a good one can significantly impact a book’s success. Whether you’re an indie author just starting out or a publisher looking to update your backlist, consider recruiting a professional cover designer to provide an on-trend, eye-catching cover. If you’re on a tight budget, purchasing a premade book cover is a viable option as well. Here are a few options:
- GoOnWrite – has hundreds of covers available across dozens of genres/topics, with pricing starting at $50 per cover with discounts for multiples. James, the designer of all of these covers, offers custom design services as well.
- DIY Book Covers – at an $87 fee, access hundreds of book cover templates, plus some extras including interior layout templates, an ISBN Barcode Generator, and 3D renderings of the cover once it’s ready.
- Damonza – offers dozens of premade cover designs for $195 each, which includes minor changes to the font or colors. They also offer custom design services.
- Paper & Sage Design – offers dozens of designs across many different genres for only $50 per cover (or $100 for a print + ebook bundle).
- Littera Designs – has numerous covers available across many genres.
- Cover Shot Creations – offers premade covers in romance, YA, new adult, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller/mystery, and western categories.
Book Distribution Services
If you’re an indie author, navigating the logistics of self-publishing and distributing your work can be complicated. To make this complex process simpler, several services are available to help authors distribute their books:
- Smashwords – offers easy book distribution to most of the world’s largest ebook retailers (excluding Amazon) and thousands of libraries. They also provide free tools for marketing, metadata management, and sales reporting.
- Draft2Digital – another option for ebook distribution. They handle formatting, while the author can easily set the price of their books, get monthly payments, and see daily book sales reports.
- BookBaby – unlike Smashwords and Draft2Digital, BookBaby also distributes to Amazon, although many authors prefer to work directly with Amazon instead. They also offer print-on-demand (POD) and worldwide distribution.
- Pronoun – a new distribution option that also distributes to Amazon. They offer cover design and formatting services, and surface insights along the way. For example, they display real readers’ searches for selected keywords, prices of comparable books, and more.
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon KDP lets authors convert and distribute their ebooks for Kindle, and now offers POD services without needing to use CreateSpace. There are two options to publish directly on Amazon: KDP and KDP Select, which requires exclusive distribution through Amazon.
- CreateSpace – a service owned by Amazon that makes it easy for indie authors and publishers to print copies of their books without needing to order in bulk.
- IngramSpark – a POD platform and online publishing tool that provides access to Ingram’s global distribution network for print and ebook content. It’s a one-stop shop for print and ebook distribution, but has upfront costs and fees in addition to royalties.
Website Building Tools
A well-designed website is important — not only is it one of the best ways to connect with readers and build an audience, but it also helps communicate an author’s brand. If you don’t have the time or skills to build a website from scratch, consider looking into some of these tools for help:
- WordPress – a scalable, free content management system. Although the out-of-the-box layout resembles a classic blog, you can create any sort of site with WordPress: add custom pages, galleries, contact forms, and sidebar widgets, and easily manage comments on posts and pages.
- Squarespace – a content management system with ready-to-go templates. You can drag-and-drop to reorder sections, and click-to-edit specific sections — no coding required. Squarespace does not offer a free version — pricing starts at $96 per year.
- Wix – a free website builder that offers more than 500 templates to choose from. The interface is easy to use, and entirely drag-and-drop. However, customization is limited because you can’t access the site’s HTML or CSS.
- Weebly – one of the easiest website builders available. It comes with unlimited pages for free, and it’s only $48 per year to remove Weebly branding and use a custom domain. Users can easily embed third-party tools like MailChimp sign-up forms using a drag-and-drop code block.
- Tumblr – a free blogging and social networking tool. It’s easy to reblog other authors’ and readers’ Tumblr posts, share images, follow other Tumblr blogs, and get followers from other Tumblr users. Many authors thrive on this networking capability.
Graphic Design Tools
To run eye-catching book marketing campaigns, you’ll need to create graphics for ads, email blasts, and more. In fact, social media posts with images are more likely to be shared — tweets with images get 150% more retweets, and Facebook posts with images account for 87% of total interactions. These tools can help you quickly spin up stunning graphics:
- Canva – a free design tool that lets users search from a library of images, backgrounds, layouts, and fun fonts to quickly drag-and-drop a unique design. They have templates for Facebook posts, Facebook cover photos, Pinterest graphics, Instagram posts, blog graphics, and more.
- Designfeed – a free tool that lets users quickly turn text and quotes into images, so you can easily create images for book teasers or inspirational quotes.
- GIMP – powerful graphic design software that’s essentially a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, with advanced tools like layers, masks, filters, transformations, and color adjustments.
- Fiverr – an online marketplace of freelancers available to inexpensively hire for a variety of tasks and services, including graphics and design work. If you want more custom design help, this is a great way to hire a professional at a low cost.
Book Marketing Agencies
If you’re looking for help running your advertising campaigns, there are agencies and freelancers that specialize in marketing books. Here are just a few:
- AuthorBuzz – a marketing service founded by author and marketer M.J. Rose, offering services to both independent writers and major publishers. They often run BookBub Ads campaigns for clients.
- Logical Marketing – a marketing agency providing data-driven, audience-centric research and technical marketing services for publishers and independent authors.
- FSB Associates – a digital marketing firm specializing in book marketing. They provide website design, branding, social media engagement, and online publicity services.
- Smith Publicity – an agency providing book promotion services, including running book tours, securing media placements, creating social media content, coordinating book donations, and more.
- Wildbound Literary PR – a publicity company that helps authors gain exposure for their work via traditional and digital media press campaigns, social media marketing, book tours, author websites, and promotional videos.
- Self Publishing Formula – offers several marketing courses, including ones for Facebook Ads and self-publishing, led by author Mark Dawson. He also consults for traditional publishers and teaches authors how to use the marketing methods that led to his own success.
- Writer’s Digest University – offers a wide variety of workshops on every aspect of writing, from plotting and drafting to publishing and marketing.
- Manuscript Academy – founded by literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer and conference organizer Julie Kingsley, and offers classes like those you’d find at traditional publishing conferences. Classes cover topics like author branding, marketing 101, publishing law, and much more.
Use fellow writers as a resource! These forums and organizations provide flourishing communities of writers where you can ask questions, share your ideas, and stumble upon great advice on everything from copy editor recommendations to promotional strategies:
- KBoards Writers’ Cafe – a very active forum where self-published and hybrid authors congregate to chat about writing, self-publishing and distribution, book marketing, and more.
- Absolute Write Water Cooler – a popular forum for writers, with subforums for just about every writing-related subject you can think of, including outwitting writer’s block, basic writing questions, genre-specific fiction, script-writing, “ask the agent,” “ask the editor,” and more.
- Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) – offers member-only benefits, including a closed online forum, seminars, and events, as well as other benefits like author guides and an advice center.
- Reddit Writing Group – a popular and active subreddit dedicating to writing. Also peruse Reddit for other genre-specific subreddits, including YA Writers, Fantasy Writers, and more!
Publishing Industry News
If you want to stay informed of the latest industry news and publishing trends, these sources offer a wide breadth of information, with in-depth coverage and expert insights:
- Publishers Weekly – a news website that covers all aspects of book publishing and bookselling, including the latest deals, book reviews, and industry trends and news.
- Publishers Lunch – a daily report on the publishing community, including trends, news, book deals, job changes, and more. It also gathers 5-10 stories from all over the web and print about the professional trade book community. There is a limited free version, and the premium service costs $25 per month.
- The Hot Sheet – a digestible publishing industry newsletter delivered via email every other Wednesday, reporting and analyzing the developments Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson deem most important for authors. This premium newsletter costs $59 per year.
- Publishing Perspectives – a trade magazine covering the trends, people, and companies shaping the international book business. They offer insight into the business of publishing and writing, from digital innovations to insights into global publishing markets.
- The Bookseller – a business magazine of the book industry providing business intelligence and analysis, and includes industry news, author profiles, and more. The print version has been published since 1858, and is one of the UK’s longest-standing magazines!
Still looking for more publishing tips and insights? Blogs written by authors and long-time industry professionals can also be great resources. These are the ones we regularly check for thought-provoking insights based on personal experience and comprehensive industry knowledge. We included their pitches below so you can see what each has to offer:
- Mike Shatzkin – “A widely-acknowledged thought leader about digital change in the book publishing industry.”
- Writer Unboxed – “About the craft and business of fiction.”
- Jane Friedman – “Information and resources for writers, from a 20-year veteran of the publishing industry.”
- The Creative Penn – “Helping you write, publish, and market your book.”
- Joe Konrath – “A newbie’s guide to publishing.”
- The Passive Voice – “A lawyer’s thoughts on authors, self-publishing, and traditional publishing.”