On Thursday September 26, 2019, EFA members from all over north Georgia came together virtually to discuss self-publishing. One of our own editorial freelancers, Briana Morgan, an editor, fiction author, and playwright, discussed her experiences on both sides of self-publishing. Below you’ll find a summary of the highlights of our discussion.

For Morgan, several factors led her to self-publishing. Her research indicated that the average advances granted to authors by traditional publishers were discouragingly low for the amount of control over her work she would be giving up. Self-publishing seemed to be designed better for a steady stream of earnings from the sale of her books and full control over the quality of what she published. Although many authors are deterred from self-publishing due to the up-front cost, Morgan has an encouraging story and says her books have been worth the investment.

The best thing about self-publishing, Morgan asserts, is the degree of intimacy with readers. Readers of her one-act play Touch can contact her for permission to organize a performance, and they don’t have to go through a middleman. As a result, she is working with creators who are adapting her one-act play into an opera in London. She can connect with her readers over social media in a way that was never possible before the surge in self-publishing. And Morgan thrives in this environment, loving to learn how her work really resonates with her readers. Similarly, social media is a great place to find established and experienced self-published authors who share their stories, tips, and tricks.

Self-publishing, like any publishing route, is not without its challenges, however. Morgan says that the most difficult thing about self-publishing is doing it well under a budget. What helped her most was reviewing the appearances of traditionally published books. “Your books have to look traditional” to be competitive, she says, stressing that she believes that self-publishing is attainable for anyone who is committed to quality.

So how can self-published authors ensure quality in their work? That’s where editorial freelancers come in! On our call, we discussed the needs of self-publishing clients and ways freelance editorial professionals can meet them. Morgan outlined a few things that every self-publishing author must consider: publishing platform, cover design, editing, and marketing.

The most crucial and often most expensive step, of course, is editing. And yet for Morgan, it’s sometimes difficult to convince fellow self-published authors that quality editing can make or break their book. To draw self-published authors in, she offers free sample edits. Sample edits, whether free or paid, can be critical to establishing rapport with a potential client, evaluating the scope of the project, and instilling confidence for the author in a freelancer’s editorial skill.

Cover and interior design are the front lines of book marketing. If a book has a poor cover, readers will (sometimes erroneously) assume the content is the same. If a book has a stunning cover and a clean, crisp interior layout, it screams quality. Editorial freelancers can provide ebook, paperback, and hardcover designs, and those who design book covers can create pre-made or custom covers.

The next step for self-publishing authors is publishing platforms and marketing. While Morgan uses CreateSpace through KDP exclusively to lower her marketing costs, she also recommends IngramSpark and is looking into the platform for her own future books. Marketing efforts for Morgan include her website, social media accounts, and participation in KDP Unlimited.

Eleven members participated in our discussion, and it was great to hear from several other editorial freelancers as they asked questions, provided their own opinions, and learned from one another. To encourage participation and camaraderie, this virtual meeting was a test run, and in 2020, EFA Georgia hopes to establish a monthly coffee hour to supplement our in-person professional development meetings. If you’d like more information on Briana’s work, check out her EFA profile or connect with her on social media.

Christi Martin
Georgia Chapter Co-coordinator