6 Vital Questions to Explore in Seeking Your Dream Book Production Partner(s)

What I know without a doubt is that no matter the genre, no matter the subject, every book is precious to a writer. This is why it’s so important to me that authors who wish to self-publish seek a partner—or team of partners—who truly connect with and care about the words on the pages they’ve worked so hard to write.

As a professional book doctor, producing someone’s book isn’t just a job to me; it’s deeply personal because a book is profoundly personal to the author who wrote it. But as I know I can’t take the hand of every self-publishing writer—both because I’m only one person and because I’m not the perfect match for every manuscript!—I wish to offer you some loving advice when seeking trusted partnerships so that your experience will be positive and fulfilling for you as your labor of love is brought to fruition.

Since there are many elements that make up your book’s top-notch production, you’ll want to use the following questions (and your answers, of course!) as a guide when interviewing prospective editors, book designers, and/or other professionals to determine if the person will be right for you in your publishing journey. :-)

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What are my biggest concerns in hiring a partner (or team)?

(budget; trust; skill level of provider; follow-through; communication; finding desired level of support, encouragement, or caring; meeting deadlines; being charged unfairly; having good rapport; etc.)

What am I most overwhelmed by?

(choosing a self-publishing company; weighing options; receiving sound advice; cost of services; finding someone trustworthy; finding credible providers, etc.)

How would my dream partner(s):

• Communicate:

• Connect with my material:

• Conduct the editing phase:

• Perform the cover design phase:

• Manage the interior book design phase:

• Guide me through the publishing process:

• Help me write the marketing materials:

• Create my ebook version:

• Guide me in pinpointing my audience:

• Assist me with marketing:

• Support and encourage me throughout the process:

I would be most comfortable if a provider:

• Were given to me by referral

• Held my hand every step of the way

• Outlined all services on their website

• Offered some free materials

• Gave pricing on their website without my having to email for quotes

• Scheduled a phone conversation to assess our rapport and answer my questions

• Offered to do a paid “audition” for a set fee or number of hours at their rate before I decide if I like their work and style

• Prepared a written proposal with estimated ranges for costs

• Offered set-fee packages for services

• Provided testimonials from prior clients

• Featured an online portfolio to show the caliber and variety of their work

• Other _______________________________________

The personality traits that mean the most to me in my dream partner(s) are:

(trust, humor, friendliness, attentiveness, sensitivity, directness, etc.)

If a contractor can’t provide _________________________ (fill in the blank with YOUR most important priorities), it will be a deal breaker for me to hire them.

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The months you spend with your single all-encompassing provider or team of experts will prove to be more gratifying—and successful on all counts—if they meet as many of your expectations and goals as possible. No one wants to enter into a partnership feeling vulnerable or lacking confidence in the contractor’s abilities or level of trustworthiness, so exploring what your wishes are before you even think about interviewing specialists will be vital to you as you embark on your publishing journey.


• Be clear on what’s most important to you and don’t be afraid to express it.

• Ask the crucial questions and expect candid answers.

• Don’t compromise on your key requirements unless it makes sense and feels right to do so.

• Trust your instinct.

• Check references.

• Assert your wishes and find out if they can be fulfilled.

• Be open but not gullible.

• Be willing to learn and grow.

• Trust your instinct (yes, that’s on the list twice!).

And if you need more guidance or have a question you’d like answered, feel free to reach out to me—I’ll be happy to help!

If you think other writers would be helped by this post’s list of crucial questions, please do share it on Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn … I would be most grateful if you did! Feel free to leave me a comment too if this post was inspiring for you. :-)

Wishing you all the best as you seek your dream book production partner …


Write from the heart,


Stacey Aaronson is a professional Book Doctor who takes self-publishing authors by the hand and transforms their manuscript into the book they’ve dreamed of—from impeccable editing and proofreading to engaging, audience-targeted cover and interior design—rivaling or exceeding a traditional house publication.


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