13 Tips on Self-Publishing Success P2


open book with a leave on





It essence, a good book shepherd can save an author time,

money, headaches, and—one hopes—disappointment. How to Get the Most from a Book Shepherding Session But don’t plan on using a book shepherd to hold your hand every step of the way—unless of course,


your pocketbook is bursting at the seams. With hourly rates ranging from approximately $50 to $150 and up, depending on the services you use,


the fees can pile up quickly and eat up a good chunk of your budget.

It’s much more prudent to do a lot of homework up front, advises Barbara Denise Files, author of two self-published books including her latest, Ballet Secrets for Skaters: How to Hone Your Artistic Competitive Edge.


Alibris, Inc.


Files enjoyed a positive experience working with book shepherd

Marilyn Ross,

co-founder of Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), and she attributes much of the collaboration’s success to the fact that she did a lot of research before she even called Ross


“I didn’t just pick up the phone and say, ‘You know, I think I might want to write a book,’” Files says.


After formulating a business plan,

Files did a background check on her prospective coach by monitoring her newsletters and submitting some questions to Ross via the internet. Satisfied that Ross really knew her stuff,






Files gathered her materials—a mission statement, some demographic information she’d compiled on her target audience, and ideas for how to serve them—


and developed some specific questions for Ross to answer

during their consulting session: Should she write one book, or should she divide her information into a series?


How could she best market her niche publication? How many copies should she have printed in the first run? And the all-important: What should the title be?


For Files, using a coach enabled her to make better-educated choices:

“When you’re a self-publishing author, there are a lot of crucial decisions you have to make,” Files says. “A book shepherd acts like a sounding board and using one gives you access to professional feedback.”


Laura Geller


In order to make your book shepherding experience cost-


Files recommends networking with other self-publishers on Internet forums, joining writers’ clubs, taking a class,


and reading books on self-publishing so you can learn the rules of the road before hiring a consultant. “Make the call only after you have a specific plan and specific questions to ask,” says Files,


“otherwise, you’re going to end up spending a lot of money and time asking basic questions without receiving much direction on your project.”


Working with a book shepherd is like most experiences in life, according to Files, who says, “The more you put into it ahead of time, the more you’ll get out of it.”