What tasks should authors outsource?

Authors can’t do everything. What should they hire others to do for them? Assuming you’re working with a publisher rather than self-publishing, here’s a list, ranging from tasks you really shouldn’t outsource to those you probably ought to.

Do this yourself.

Here’s what you can’t or shouldn’t delegate.

  • Developing your idea.
  • Choosing a title and subtitle.
  • Making a table of contents as a plan for your book.
  • Doing case study interviews. (This is where you learn the most — it’s a bad move to let others do your interviews for you.)
  • Public speaking about your topic.

You could outsource these tasks, but don’t have to.

You can pay to have people do these things for you, but you’ll still have to be heavily involved.

  • Writing a book proposal. (This is often a collaboration between the author and a proposal expert.)
  • Background research. You can hire an experienced researcher.
  • Writing. You can hire and work with a ghostwriter.
  • Footnotes.
  • Fact checking.
  • Soliciting and managing endorsement blurbs. Even if others help administer this, personal outreach is more effective.
  • Audiobook narration. Some authors do it; others prefer to have a voice actor do it.

Your publisher will do these tasks for you.

Here’s what you can count on the publisher to do.

  • Copy editing.
  • Page layout.
  • Ebook design.
  • Cover design.
  • Bookstore distribution.
  • Online bookstore pages, for example, Amazon.
  • Writing marketing copy (for example, flap copy). But if you can, you should do this yourself.

You’re better off outsourcing these tasks.

Most authors don’t have the talent to do these things, and should hire experts to help them.

  • Pitching publishers. Hire an agent.
  • Developmental editing. Hire an editor.
  • Graphics. Hire a graphic designer.
  • Collecting and analyzing data.
  • Promotion. Hire a publicist and possibly a book marketing expert.

Bottom line

Cheaping out on things like graphic design or developmental editing is a mistake. It’s a rare author who can do more than an amateur job on the these tasks, and that slapdash job will be visible to every reader. Budget accordingly.

As for the optional things: outsource stuff that’s an annoyance if you can afford it, like footnotes. But I recommend doing the proposal, writing, research, blurb outreach, and audiobook narration if you possibly can. Doing those activities yourself will make you smarter and make your book better.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.