Most self-pubbers are multi-talented folks, but i don’t know anyone who has the skill set to do a fabulous job on all aspects of putting out a book. Yet, the desire for a professional package is the lure used by scam publishing operations that will accept any manuscript and return little in the way of value while charging top dollar. (I know of one such house that charges authors for the Amazon “Look Inside,” which Amazon automatically enables on all titles for no cost) The best and least expensive option is to manage the production of your book by hiring a team of professionals to provide the services you need.
The self-publishing boom has created an entire industry of people who provide services to authors. The hardest part is finding the right people. Personal recommendations are helpful, but often the people who are doing the recommending are not qualified to know if the person is good or even competent.
One place to find new talent is Fiverr.com
The links below are for reasonably priced professionals I can vouch for, or are vouched for by people I trust.
The most important place to spend your publishing dollars is on your cover. Get the best cover you can afford, even if it means doing everything else yourself. If you don’t hook readers with your cover, they will pass you by and you can expect to wind up languishing in 1mil+ ranking hell on Amazon. Unless you have a couple thousand people who will buy your book no matter what it looks like. Hugh Howey can get away with dubious covers. You can’t. Unless you are Hugh Howey.
Elizabeth Mackey is my Favorite Cover Designer. Her prices are reasonable, she has a quick turnaround and her flexibility and creativity continue to astound me. Elizabeth excels at branding–creating a unique look for an author that will be carried through on all covers–which encourages instant recognition of an author’s titles
Torrie Cooney’s bold and sophisticated typography will make your cover look like a bestseller.
Ravven excels at layering and compositing to create unique images using figures. Her look is lush and suitable for historical romances, fantasy and sci-fi. Her prices are higher, to reflect the many hours of handwork that go into each cover.
The online software listed below will analyze your text for many issues that are handled by editors. Clean up your MS as much as possible before handing over to an editor, and your editor will thank you. Depending on their rate structure, they will also charge you less.
e-Book Builders are personable and easy to work with, they provide formatting for paper books as well as ebooks.
Vellum Currently available for Mac only, Vellum sets a new standard for do-it-yourself ebook formatting. It’s easy to use and the result is gorgeous. Now that I’ve tried it, I won’t use anything else. Licenses for individual titles can be purchased for $29 each. A lifetime license is $199.
Draft2Digital will convert your .docx and create at table of contents, front matter and back matter for you.
Jutoh inexpensive formatting software with more options than Scrivener.
Scrivener Is a terrific work environment that allows you to organize your notes and research. It will compile your book chapters and create the table of contents for you. Formatting options are limited. Folks who use a lot of research love it.
Kindlegen is an Amazon app that converts epubs to mobi for KDP. Jutoh, Scrivener and Vellum require you to have this for formatting Kindle books.
If you truly want to have someone else coordinate the publication of your book for you, Ella Meddler offers soup-to-nuts services at Paper Gold Publishing. Many such companies are of questionable value. This is the real deal.
Kindle Direct Publishing
This list of resources is a course on self-pubbing all in itself.