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To successfully publish (or self publish) a book, you need the right team behind you. Here are the 10 people you need to know.

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When I announced on the podcast several weeks ago that I had landed a book deal, I promised that I wouldn’t talk about it unless there was a topic that I felt I was bringing true value to you, the listener.

Of course, that’s always in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, but I think with the success of the iPad and the Kindle, the digital revolution we’ve seen as people are producing their own podcasts, videos, music, blogs, and photography with consumer level tools, that there has to be people in my audience saying…

“I’ve always wanted to publish something.”

There are a few scenarios how that could unfold:


– Maybe your dream is to have a physical book sitting in a Barnes & Noble just so you can say you did it
– Or you want to have a PDF download of poems that your friends can read
– Perhaps you need to make technical whitepapers available for your business to help educate your customers
– Or you want to build and sell some kind of information product, in search of huge online profits so you can retire to Buenos Aires and work four hours per week.

The key for me is that I try to give advice on this podcast, not just from what I THINK should be a good idea, but from personal experience.

So if you are someone out there that wants to publish something, whether it’s on your own, with a publisher, for pleasure or for profit, I can now speak from a little big of experience, and relay that to you, the reader:

The 10 people you need to successfully publish (or self publish) a book.

[Summarized from the podcast]

1. Agent
a. Not needed if you are self-publishing, but boy did he make it easy to have an in with the big boys. As I told in my story, I was amazingly fortunate to get hooked up with Jim Levine and thus didn’t spend a year pitching agents or camping out in front of their office, so I don’t know the other side. But the experience has been worth it.

2. Accountant
a. For years I did my own taxes, but not anymore. For many people, self-publishing for profit, or getting an advance from a true publisher means a new revenue stream and often times a new business venture. At a certain point you want to bring in a pro.

3. Lawyer
a. Accountants and lawyers? That’s no fun. Know what also isn’t fun? Paying legal fees. But in this case, I avoided my normal ‘Jim research mode’ and just bit the bullet and paid whatever I had to. There were fees for setting up my own business, Hopkinson Creative Media, LLC. And then there were extortion fees from the city and state of New York to make that legal entity valid. Don’t worry as much if you are outside the big apple.

b. Explain what an LLC is – limited liability company. I’m not a lawyer, but it does two things: insulates you a bit from lawsuits, allows you to write off expenses.

c. Can you set up your own LLC for less on a site like LegalZoom? Of course. Many people do, I chose not to. Can you incorporate for less money in a state like Delaware? Many people do, I chose not to. Can you skip making up a company altogether? Many people do, I chose not to.

d. And then there was the other lawyer I had to pay to make sure Salary Tutor wasn’t being used by anyone else. Remember, just because you have the URL, doesn’t mean you own the trademark. In this case, there were a few levels of background checks they could do. I chose the middle level.

4.) Print Designer
a. See Episode 144: How Designer Erin Fitzsimmons Helped Me Go From PDF to Published to see the value of a print designer. If you’re making a straight novel for the Kindle, you can get away with a basic cover. But I went all out.

5. Web Designer
a. Yes, we’re talking about books here, but even if you have a book in a bookstore, you need a web presence. This task was handled by former intern Brandon Werner, who took care of the website design, website programming, Salary Tutor logo, and not unimportantly, the Salary Tutor launch party poster!

5A. Not enough designers for you?
Since Brandon now has a full-time job and about 5 websites and podcasts and TV shows that he is producing AND he is going to be the designer for my iPad app, I hired a third designer. Freelancer Meghan O’Neill took care of my Salary Tutor business cards on short notice before SXSW, and might be creating JimHopkinson.com for me.

5B. STILL not enough designers for you?
I went all the way to England to find infographic designer Robin Richards, who has the distinction of having the very last, colorful page in the print book – a cheatsheet flowchart for job-searchers.

6.) Developer
a. OK, you’re saying. I thought we were writing a book here. Why do I need a developer? I can think of several reasons…
i. You want to create an iPad app based on your book
ii. You want some interactive elements on your website such as an email capture, an embedded twitter stream, or videos, and don’t know how to do code
iii. You want to have some interactive elements on your book’s Facebook page

b. Where do I stand on a developer? I actually have several. I tap into my 2 decade old CIS degree and 13 year old HTML skills myself to do some website coding, Brandon is amazing and can handle a lot of the heavy lifting, there’s a guy at the publisher that helped with some of the Facebook elements, and I will be hiring an entire outside company to do the development of my iPad app. That ought to do it.

7. Publisher
Although the term publisher is a single word, in all honesty it refers to more than a single person. If you self-publish, by definition you don’t have a publisher, so all the tasks that are performed by them have to come from elsewhere. (I know first-hand, this is how I started out).

Check out this lineup:
a. Technical crew – I started to wade into the waters of self-publishing and got in pretty deep trying to figure out how all the formats worked for the Kindle, the iPad bookstore, and all the other readers. There are great services like Smashwords that many people use, but as a self-admitted micromanager, lets just say I’m glad that this was one area that I just handed off and it got done by people I didn’t even meet

b. Editor – In the beginning I had a very trusted editor… my sister. What’s cool is that she was an actual editor, so I would have felt very comfortable releasing something self-published based on her review, plus my unhealthy obsession with finding typos. But there’s also that extra level of security when you have a full-time editor working at a major publisher editing your work.

c. Project manager – Simple. If you self-publish, you are the project manager. Otherwise, there is someone assigned to help out where needed.

d. Publicist – This is an interesting one, and one that that gets argued a lot. Tim Ferriss says he ‘wasted $18,000 on PR’ so I was interested in how this turned out. So far in my experience, it has been a great balance. I have worked myself to the bone for the last three months, putting in 8-9 hours a day at work, and then 3-5 hours every night and more on the weekends both finishing up production items, but also tapping into my network for publicity.

Am I using my own networks on the my podcast, blog, LinkedIn, 2 Facebook pages, 2 Twitter accounts, and in person? Yes. However, I also have a great publicist in Jen Musico that is getting me interviews on big picture media, from national radio stations to Yahoo Finance. Is it worth it? I’d definitely say yes so far.

8. Audience
a. While you can certainly build an audience along the way, or maybe your book or project is aimed at an entirely new audience, it’s nice to have some kind of following you can reach out to. This isn’t easy of course. In my case, I did free podcasts every week for 3 years. Have I thanked you enough as an audience yet? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

9. Family, friends, spouses, significant others, and mentors
a. OK, OK… that could be dozens of people. And yes, you could be a recluse author, holed up in a cabin somewhere with just a 6 year old, 6 pound Dell laptop. Oh wait, that’s describing my work computer.

What I’m saying is this… writing can be difficult and while I never really felt lonely, it is a little bit of a strange process. You need a mentor to guide you, friends to encourage you, and family to cheer you up when you’re feeling stressed, and cheer you on when you start hitting milestones.

10. Yourself
Is naming yourself as one of the people you need strange? Perhaps. But in the end, writing a book is not something the vast majority of people are forced to do. It is something that a person makes a conscious decision to do. The end result could take days, weeks, months, or even a lifetime to complete. And even though you need to rely on many of the people above, you are the one that need to fuel the passion to get it done.

So I ask you… is there a project inside you you’ve always wanted to complete? What’s stopping you? Assemble your team and get going.

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