Five People an Author Needs on the “Author Team”

Writing is a solitary job that writers do by themselves. Some may collaborate or use beta readers eventually, but at least during the development stage and initial writing stage, writers work by themselves.

It’s also a long process which means that for months, no one is looking at the story but the author. Then one day the author lifts his head as if coming out of a day dream and it’s time to let others in to see what has been created.

This is the time to call on the team. Not all authors have or need all of these people. For example, the first one I’m going to mention is an agent. If the writer is self-publishing, then an agent is not needed. But writers do need a team of people to help them and be on their side.

1.Agent — I begin with an agent because if a writer is hoping to work with a traditional publisher, then an agent is a necessity. An agent will also be the one to help plan the writer’s career.

Together with an agent, writers can develop long term goals and strategize the writer’s career. With the agent’s knowledge of the publishing industry and connections with publishing houses, writers delegate the work of finding a home for their manuscript to an expert, and focus on writing. The agent might also be the writer’s first reader and point out places where the manuscript needs changes.

2. Marketing and Promotion Team — This can look different depending on whether an author is self or traditionally published.

Publisher Marketing Team — working with the publisher’s marketing team can be invaluable to the book’s success. Authors should always ask their editor what the marketing team has planned for the book and how to help. Publishers attend trade shows and book festivals, for example, and authors can volunteer to go and sign books or help out. New authors do not much or any marketing budget, but asking and showing interest will sometimes get authors notices and the marketing team will help.

Creating a Street Team — authors can build a group of friends, family and fans who will help spread the news of the book’s release. A street team can share the author’s book cover on their social media accounts. They can be first readers and post reviews. They can request books at bookstores. They are the author’s cheerleaders, and since word of mouth advertising is the best kind, having a group who tells others about the book helps the author better than any ad.

The street team can be as small or large as the author wants. This group is usually willing to help for free. They don’t ask for anything in return except for the author’s attention. But authors sometimes offer free books or other giveaways.

Professional Marketing Service — If an author is not traditionally published and does not have the luxury to work with in-house marketing experts, he or she might consider hiring a professional marketing service. Often first-time authors do not do this because it can be expensive. But at some point, it might be beneficial.

Marketing professionals can help with audience targeting to make sure the correct readers see ads and other marketing efforts. They will create a plan that might include ads or other ways to drive traffic to author websites. They might also help with promotional materials like writing press releases or improving websites and book descriptions on books store pages and Goodreads. Reedsy has recommendations that might be helpful.

Publicist — A publicist will work specifically with getting the author media attention. They can schedule book tours in person or virtual. They can send books our to be reviewed and get endorsements from other writers or influencers.

3. Cover Designer — A cover designer will be the person an independent self-published author will work with to get the perfect cover that will sell the book.

4. Web Designer — Another important person to add to the author team is a professional web designer who can create at attractive and useful website. Websites are less complicated to create than they have been historically, however, in this blog I’m focusing on which parts of the author duties can be outsourced, and this is definitely one of them.

I’ve paid people to create my website and I’ve created my own. I liked it much better when someone else created and updated my website. Right now, I’m paying for both my kids to go to college, and I’m trying to save money where I can, but eventually a web designer will become one of my team members again.

5. Editors — Whether traditionally or self-published, authors must work with editors. Editors are second and third eyes on the book and they improve the quality of books tremendously. They often love the author’s book as much as the author does and they have their reputation invested in the book and how well it does. I left editors as the last team member because they are the most important. If authors and editors work well together, they can produce an excellent book readers will love.

Each of these people will leave a mark on the author’s book. It’s important for the author to be clear on the goal he or she has for their book. Think of it this way, if I am an author who wants to be a “celebrity” and my goal is to become popular NY Times best seller and be in the news, I need people on my team that can make that happen. If I’m a quieter person who wants to write books that influence people, and I want to share my experiences with others and have no interest in being commercially popular, I need to hire different types of people.

Authors need to be clear on their goal for their career and for their book before they agree to work with agents, editors or anyone else.

Also, I want to add that this is not an exhaustive list of team members. Some authors are lucky enough to have personal assistants to handle email and other office duties. Authors who cannot afford this can consider virtual assistants who might be more reasonable.

And almost everyone needs to hire a financial planner or accountant who can help separate personal finances from business.

I didn’t include printers because often authors are not working with a person but a software program. Manuscripts are uploaded and the books is created into an ebook or pbook. Unless there is a problem, authors do not speak to a person. For example, I’ve never spoken to someone at Amazon. I uploaded book, my book cover, and answered all their questions, and a day or two later my book appeared on the Amazon website.

As solitary business people, we might forget that books will not get to readers on their own. We need a good team, and we should carefully plan to create one.

Have a story to tell? Want to learn how to record personal experiences before they’re lost or write a novel? Let started by downloading for free Julia Amante’s “Free Your Story” framework.

Women’s Fiction author of That Was Then, Say You’ll Be Mine, and Evenings at the Argentine Club. Speaker and and teacher.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store