Bar none, the best and most gratifying aspect of self-publication has been getting to hand pick the group of people I wanted to work with. Not that I’m a complete control freak or anything. As it turns out, this isn’t so much about keeping full artistic control as it is about relinquishing it on your own terms. You can’t do this on your own, trust me, unless you’re some sort of all-round ultimate super-powered Artist, trademark, copyright. In which case, good for you and I sort of hate you. Kidding. Mostly.

I found Eliott on Twitter. They came highly recommended. I hadn’t planned to hire an interior designer for The Old Love and the New. I figured I could do it myself, save a few bucks. Ha. Haha. Well. I suppose I could have done it myself, but would it have been as good? No. Would it have actually saved me a few bucks? Actually, surprisingly enough, not really.
I’d downloaded Vellum, you see, and it is a solid piece of software. Used by most indie authors, I’d wager, and it does the job. It absolutely does. I was ready to learn, play around, and eventually purchase the license.

But Eliott came highly recommended.

And Eliott kept popping up on my Twitter timeline, and more and more I was reconsidering my DIY approach. Their services were (and are) extremely affordable. They use InDesign, which means they build your book from scratch, tweak it page by page, and can adjust anything without the hindrance of prefab templates. Most importantly, though, Eliott is a person. They bring technical knowledge, industry insight, and artistic sensitivity to the table, none of which I had as a first-time author.

When I first reached out to them, I was thinking I’d hire a professional for that first time. Then maybe once the urgency of an upcoming release date wasn’t adding extra pressure, I’d learn to use Vellum. Maybe I’d be able to do it myself next time.

I sent the manuscript as it stood at the time on May 25th. Eliott sent me mockups on May 27th.

I think that’s when I knew for certain I’d made the right decision. For the life of me, I don’t know how many hours Eliott has in a day, but they are clearly not wasting any of them. Surely it’s more than 24. Surely. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for their attention to detail and their enthusiasm about it. It was crystal clear that my book was in safe hands, and that Eliott would not settle for “good enough”.

Because they waited patiently for the cover design to be done before deciding on font options for the chapter headers, the final result is cohesive and smooth.
Because they reached out to a specialist for information about transcripts, these chapters stand out and look that much more authentic.
Because they offered to add hyperlinks to the e-book, everyone who worked on it can be easily contacted by potential new clients.

They also, uh…

… they have a good eye.

Another thing that made it easy to trust their judgement – that “relinquishing control on your own terms” bit – was their openness and transparency about the reasoning behind each of their decisions. It was always “I went for this because…” and “I’m concerned this would cause…” and “Here’s an example of a problem that can arise from this idea.” Not once did I feel like my thoughts were dismissed, nor did Eliott shy away from explaining in detail the intricacies of their job. For someone like me who gets exceedingly excited about technical skills, this was all fascinating.

Once I was able to send out the final manuscript and provide the title font, everything was quick and efficient. The back and forth was productive and light-hearted. It was like talking to a friend about this awesome project we’re both working on.
I pointed out some minor issues as they cropped up. Eliott fixed each of them by hand immediately and ensured it didn’t mess up anything else down the line. We bantered about Adobe, export oddities, file types, and the heatwave. They reassured me that I’d only need an ePub file for the e-book.
They also suggested ways to work around the limitations of e-book interior design. No transcript font, sadly, but with some strategic margin work and bolded names, they managed to retain as much of the paperback feel as possible.

I think it’s fair to say I could not possibly be happier with the results.

Friends, I won’t be doing it myself next time. Next time, don’t you know, I’ll go back to Eliott.

Check out Eliott’s work!

Published by Alistair Caradec

Indie author of queer dystopian drama The Old Love and the New. I hold a BA in film studies and a first class MLitt in creative writing. Sometimes I also hold a guitar.

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