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5 Steps to Recruit ‘A’ Players for Your Book Publishing Team

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by Jyotsna Ramachandran, Founder, Happy Self Publishing —

Jyotsna Ramachandran

The best way to build a team is to hire a set of freelancers who are experts at what they do.

Are you a self-published author who is overwhelmed by the number of items on your book launch checklist? I have some good news for you! Authors don’t have to take everything upon themselves. I believe there are only certain tasks that authors should do on their own; for example, finding a unique angle for their book, converting their powerful message into chapter outlines, and giving podcast interviews to promote their book. For any other task, like cover design, editing, formatting, running ads, and even writing the book (yes, that’s right), it’s best to get it outsourced and done by professionals if that’s not what you are particularly good at. This is why it’s important to build a team for your book project, and the best way to build a team is to hire a set of freelancers who are experts at what they do.

With my years of experience with over 400 self-published authors from about 35 different countries and throughout my continuing journey in building my publishing agency, Happy Self Publishing, these are the methods I use every single time I want to hire a new team member to assist us with our projects. I believe these methods will come in handy, especially for authors who are hiring their freelancers for the first time.

It is beneficial for authors to work with freelancers because they may not have the necessity to hire a full-time employee such as a designer or an editor and pay them monthly. In most cases, it’s best to work with people on a project basis.

There are several platforms where you can find freelancers who are fit for your job requirements. Examples of dependable platforms that work for me and most authors and similar agencies are Upwork and Fiverr. You may also get references from other authors, or you may find some good design agencies or editing services through an online search. Whichever platform you plan to hire your people from, it’s recommended that you go through this five-step recruitment process to make sure that the people who are joining your team are “A” players.

1. Find People With Experience

This is probably the most important factor in recruiting freelancers into your team. This proves helpful, especially when you don’t have the time and money to train people. Plus, if these applicants have a proven track record of success with their previous projects with similar authors or other clients, then they may replicate the same success with your projects as well.

Check your potential recruits’ work history. Their total earnings, total jobs, and total hours are a perfect way to measure how good they are. An astounding work history is a good indication if the freelancer you hope to hire is a professional or a newbie in the industry.

Also, look for the genres they specialize in while trying to shortlist the freelancers. There are editors who are great at business books, but a fiction novel may not be their forte. Likewise, some designers who are really good with thriller books may not be the right fit to design a self-help book cover.

2. Read Their Testimonials

When hiring a freelancer for your team or your project, try to look past their well-written resumes and go through their reviews and testimonials. It takes a lot of hard work and some time to build up these good reviews. You want to hire somebody who has a four to five star rating so you can be sure that they are not just experienced but are also skillful at what they do.

3. Assign Them Sample Work

You may find a surplus of talents when looking for freelancers, but do they truly fit your job requirements? It’s important to give your potential candidates sample tasks that are based on the actual job role you’re wanting to get filled. It is difficult to fake job proficiency, and these tests will help ease the process of hiring someone who is genuinely reliable and fit for you and your book project.

4. Test Their Communication Skills

Good communication skills are needed to effectively deliver, understand, and coordinate information with your clients and team members. There are three things you want to consider when measuring your applicants’ communication skills:

Attention to detail

When posting a job on sites like Upwork, ask a set of questions that are not entirely related to your job post. For example, “What’s your dream holiday destination?” It may sound unusual; however, you’d be surprised at how only a few will notice it. The small number of people who have answered your question, no matter how random, are the ones who are certainly paying attention to detail. Those are the ones you want to start with. Detail-oriented employees are more likely to catch mistakes and make success in the workplace easier, allowing you to avoid costly gaffes in the long run.


How quickly did these applicants respond to your job post? Do you find yourself waiting for two or three days for their reply to your message? If they are late at responding now, there is a high chance that your job offer is not that important to them. Worse, it may also indicate what sort of worker they are.

Friendly Personality

While hard skills are essential when choosing your recruit, you want to hire a person who possesses a positive attitude and a high level of camaraderie. Hard skills can be learned anytime and anywhere; however, a trait, character, or personality isn’t something that can be taught. A good way to check this would be to get on a video call with the shortlisted candidates.

5. Negotiate Rates

The final step in the recruitment process is finalizing the fee for the work that’ll be outsourced. When deciding on a rate, have a ballpark figure in mind by studying the industry rates first. Does that fit in your budget? If your budget is less, you should be OK with freelancers who don’t have a lot of experience; however, if you prefer to put some quality work on your book, you need to prepare to pay for an experienced freelancer, or simply increase your budget for your book project.

I would also suggest paying your team member by the project instead of by the hour. Also, mutually agree on the number of revisions/rounds they would be willing to provide for this price, what the fee would be for extra revisions, and the milestones to release the payment. Have these written in a contract that you both sign, or at least have it in email, so that there is absolute clarity before you get started working with the new team member.

There is no fail-safe formula or fool-proof plan for finding the perfect freelancer. However, by following the five-step process mentioned above, you are definitely going to increase your success rate of building a strong book publishing team. If you want to save your time and work with my all-star team, email us at writetous@happyselfpublishing.com. I would love to get on a complimentary book strategy call with you.

Jyotsna Ramachandran is an author success coach and founder of Happy Self Publishing. She is also a two-time TEDx speaker and bestselling author.

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