Publishing Skillsets: What Does An Author Need To Know?

One important things that I have learned about the self-publishing process is that, actually, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. You can always hire a perfectly good freelancer to design your cover, or format your manuscript for ebook and physical copy. For many people, that’s a good thing! Some people just want to craft stories and put them out into the world. Leaving the design work up to the professionals is for the best if you neither have the time, knowledge base, or interest in that part of the publishing process.

But I’m still putting effort into learning how to create covers, format manuscripts, and write marketing content without outside help. Why is that?

Firstly, I’m a very independent sort of person. While I love gathering other’s critique on my work, I very much like to be in control of what the final product looks like in the end. I’ll gladly take on more work if it gives me more say in my art.

Secondly, and much more importantly, I see engaging with the publishing process on as many levels as possible is a skill investment. Especially since I’m going indie.

There are some skillsets that you, as an author, are inevitably going to have to develop, whether you’re interested in them or not. I’ve learned this the hard way with social media. I spent many years deliberately avoiding the marketing and networking side of being an author, instead choosing to focus on my writing. And while I don’t regret honing my craft, I do regret neglecting my content-creation skills!

So what skills are essential for a successful author? And which ones are optional?

As a traditionally published author, you definitely need to know how to write a synopsis and cover letter, how to manage social media, how to contact an agent, and how to work with your assigned editor. Most other things are outside of your hands.

And as a self-published author, even more of the process is on your shoulders. You’ll skip the agent hunt at the cost of have to learn how conduct advertising campaigns and how to contact and hire reliable professionals — because at the very least, you need an editor and reviewers. And depending on how much you’re willing to take upon yourself, it may be important to learn typography, typesetting, cover design, and illustration as well.

Your two resources here are time and money. If you want to spend less of one, then you have to spend more of the other. If you don’t want to spend months studying cover design, then you’ll have pay for a cover designer. And vice versa; if you don’t want to pay for a cover designer, then you need to start learning to design.

But there’s something else to consider here. The time you spend learning a new skill is an investment that pays off well later, and I’m not just talking about not having to pay other people if you do everything yourself here. For instance, if you put the effort into learning how to typeset your novel, your typesetting skill improves, and you’ll typeset your next novel even quicker.

Which skills are you willing to cultivate in the long run? Learn how to allocate your time to both what you need to do, and what you want to do — and learn which areas you need someone else to cover for you.

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And that’s it for publishing advice for today! If you find my advice helpful, then you can support my journey as a creator by buying me a Ko-fi. Thank you, and have a lovely day!

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