Wednesday, May 8, 2024

 Hey everyone! Freelance Friday's coming a day early because of the sheer amount of posts I've got going this week. Oof. But without further ado...


Indie Author Toolkit

So you decided you want to do your own thing, be a freelancer, go independent. 

Good for you! Believe it or not, indie authors can hit bestseller status on Amazon just as well as traditional publishing. BUT it does take a  l o t  of work. You’re essentially your own team, either that or you have to develop good discernment in choosing who you partner with for things like cover design, editing, and so forth. And marketing is wholly up to you. 

BUT there are a lot of tools you can utilize depending on your goals as an indie author, and I’d like to address them right now. 

MARKETING (For more than indie authors! No matter what your business is, you can benefit from these programs.) 

  • Easily, Canva is one of the best for free designs and ready-made templates. Some aren’t free, but you’ll be able to see those easily enough to avoid them if you’d rather. 

  • Sponsored ads on Facebook are virtually a toss-up; I’ve known some folks that have good success with them and others that don’t. Feel free to try it, but don’t lean too heavily on it.

  • You can very easily use free photo manipulation programs like GIMP to make gorgeous shots using a book cover you don’t actually have in your possession just yet, i.e. for cover reveals. There are a lot of help articles and YouTube videos to help, and I’ve actually found GIMP to be more user-friendly than Photoshop Elements for this side of marketing.

  • Use free schedulers to get a head-start on marketing. Meta Business Suite is great for Facebook and Instagram, and it’s free to use if you’ve got a page on either site. That way, you can work ahead and schedule posts in advance to stay on top of the algorithm.

  • Get a newsletter started before you even have a book published! There are a host of different brands that offer free tiers, like MailChimp, MailerLite, and Substack. This can be indispensable in case there are glitches on social media, a social media site goes down, etc.

  • Get a .com website started ASAP! Google (now partnered with Squarespace) offers domains for as low as $15 per year, and WordPress is another valid option. A .com website offers much more visibility and searchability online than free options (that may end with or 


Formatting can be one of the most tedious parts of publishing a book, but it’s absolutely necessary. It can be done on Word, with the help of YouTube videos. However, Kindle/ebooks require different formatting and optimization. 

  • Kindle Create is a free program offered from KDP/Amazon which allows you to upload a Word document and optimize it for ebooks.

  • Atticus is not free, but it is a pretty great and ever-growing platform, a word processor and formatter that makes formatting pretty seamless for a professional print book layout and ebook, too. If you plan on writing multiple books, it would be worth the purchase and the learning curve.

  • There are also a lot of freelancers who offer formatting! It isn’t free, again, but check out your options. Make sure to hire someone you’re comfortable with, can show samples of their work, and fits your goals!


Self-editing is possible from start to finish, if you’re strong with grammar rules and style such as Chicago Manual, AP, etc. If you do this, I strongly recommend using the spellcheck option (with prejudice) on your word processor like Word or Google Docs. However, it can’t hurt to hire someone! There are several types of editing stages: 

  • Content or developmental, which assesses the “bones” of your story’s plot and helps you strengthen an earlier, completed draft.

  • Line edits, which assess each sentence for readability, understanding, and style. 

  • Copy edits, which focus on grammatical errors.

  • Proofreading, which is the final pass after formatting to ensure there aren’t any last-minute ‘oops’ hiding. 

Is it common to still have a couple typos hanging around after? Sure. I’ve read a lot of mainstream/traditionally-published books that have loads of errors left after going through an entire team of editors. What does that prove? We’re all human. So while we should strive to do our best to present a professional, polished novel, don’t beat yourself up if small slip-ups still make it into the final product. A lot of folks bash indies for this, but again, it happens to traditional publishers too.

If you’re on a budget, learn and strengthen yourself in areas you’re most confident in and then seek editing for the area you feel least confident in. 

Unless you’re talented in graphic design too, it’s imperative to hire a cover designer or purchase a well made premade design for your book. Despite the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” people do that literally all the time. Take your time checking out and searching for cover designers who offer portfolios that fit your book’s genre, and again, make sure you fit well with the designer! 

If you’re on a budget, Getcovers is a fantastic resource for quality work. If you can afford a little more wiggle room and want more customization, Miblart is another great, affordable company (and they’re the parent company of Getcovers.) Check them both out if you’re on the hunt!

I also can’t recommend enough the sheer importance of networking and community. Get plugged into groups with similar goals, similar books, and similar genres. Study what they do and don’t copy them, but learn from them. Ask for help. Offer support to others (because that’s what community should do!) and glean for advice or recommendations. You never know what you might learn!

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