Don’t Forget the Sherpa!

Wanna write a book? 

Don’t forget your Sherpa!

When asked the other day what Epiphany offers that’s a bit unique to other creative agencies, I responded, “We’re also your Book Sherpa.”  After a moment with a blank stare, my colleague laughed out loud and said, “That’s been on my to-do list. Let’s do this.”

I remember well when I ventured into the great unknown to self-publish my own book. It reminded me of the country hit, “I Was Country Before Country Was Cool.” Only just replace those words with, “I self-published before self-publishing was cool.” I’m serious. People avoided admitting doing indie publishing like the plague back then. We only spoke about it behind closed doors.

Having worked at a major publishing house, and having learned the language necessary for the lay of the land, I felt ready to venture out on my own. If I’d done it every day at work for years, surely I could this on my own… right?


Oh, those painful days. I can still recall them all too well. One time I sat out on my deck after the third phone call to the same company trying to understand what they were asking me or needing from me. How could something I had done for years be so foreign?

I was now on my own fielding questions I couldn’t even understand let alone figure how to answer. Would that be sent as an Adobe file? What exact Pantone number again was that particular pink? What type of distribution would I prefer? And, when the conversion was completed would I like the .mobi and the epub? What exact shade of white paper did I say I wanted for the interior pages, again? And on and on and on…

If only I’d had access to a sherpa! But back then— there really weren’t any. None I knew of at least.

Photo by Christopher Burns

After completing my first book on my own, I was very pleased. The process was painful and the number of daily decisions was overwhelming, but I loved every part of the journey. The decisions I did end up making, in the end, were good ones. And too, I had not gone the cheap route. I did it right from the start and never regretted that decision, nor did I look back. It was good! I was proud every time I held that book or saw it on a shelf or coffee table. I still am today.

Sometime after, I noticed people started coming to me asking for assistance. Sure, I thought. I don’t want you to ever have to go through what I did. I learned the ropes, made notes, and now was ready to share the formula.

When it’s all said and done, those who make the decision to hire a Book Sherpa find it’s the best decision they’ll make in the entire Author Journey—it saves time, energy, and resources (make that money) in the long run.

A good Book Sherpa, just like those who help people climb Mt. Everest, will help you navigate the production, the publishing process, the printing and more; all the while helping you avoid pitfalls and guide you to that point of success you have targeted.

Photo by rawpixel

So what does a Book Sherpa actually do?

  1. The Sherpa oversees all the different aspects of your Author Journey. You will need to navigate writing, editing, research, design, art direction, publishing, production, administration, budget, promotion, and printing. Without the Sherpa, you have no idea truly where to being, which path is the best, and what to watch out for as you make the trek up.
  2. A Sherpa works to make sure you do what you do best (continue writing your book) while they manage the stuff you really don’t want to be messing with anyway.
  3. Your Sherpa understands books and the book business. They are professionals who know the ropes, and if you do get in a tangle, they know which cavalry to call in and exactly when.
  4. Sherpas not only help you set timelines and budgets, but they also help you keep them. They know when you need to be at the printer in order to have that book in time for your special date or event. They know you aren’t going to want an editor, but that you’ll need one anyway. And that cover you had in mind is nice, but it won’t be what’s best for the book you’re writing right now.
  5. Sherpas speak the language. If you think you can speak to and handle designers, marketers, printers and more, you just might be fooling yourself. Your Book Sherpa has relationships in place and knows what to say and when to get the job done and how to get it done right. The know the twists and are not afraid of the journey—they love it.
  6. Whether you understand or not, once you reach the top of the mountain and hold that book in your hand, your Book Sherpa knows you aren’t going to stay there. They are well prepared for the other side of that journey and qualified to help you maneuver back to normal while working on a plan to get and keep your book selling and not just sitting in boxes in your office.

Photo by Rafaela Biazi

If writing or publishing a book has been on your back burner, or if you’ve been wondering where to bring your word doc or yellow legal pads full of your fabulous thoughts and words, we hope you’ll consider us.

We’d love to chat with you about your journey, and should we be so fortunate, we’d be happy to gear you up and get up started up that mountain.

Happy Trails and hoping to talk with you… soon!




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