Jul 8, 2014

Self-Publishing: it's no DIY

 by Lucinda Whitney

A few weeks back, I was talking online with a group of writers. Someone new expressed an interest in indie publishing her book but wasn't sure how to go about it. She then asked, "I have to do everything myself, don't I?" I remember thinking along these lines when I first started writing. After all, the term self-publishing, or indie (independent) publishing suggests a certain degree of autonomy.

The thing is, this is not to be confused with DIY (Do-It-Yourself). In fact, an author who is starting out will be doing herself a disservice if she tries to publish a book with no other help. She may think she's really good at what she's doing but it will show (it always does). Let's look at some of the steps towards self-publishing that might be better to be hired out:
  • editing
  • cover art and design
  • formatting and typesetting
I would say that hiring a professional editor is one the most important steps in self-publishing. There are many options available nowadays and I suggest you ask around for recommendations, do your research, and send for free editing samples until you find and editor that is right for you. It's an investment that you won't regret. A book really is judged by its cover. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the reader and a professionally designed cover is another step worth the investment. Formatting and typesetting may seem like cosmetic choices, but presenting your book in the most attractive, professional fashion will only increase its value. Plus, readers nowadays are very savvy and demanding, and details do matter.

You may be in a position to barter for some of these services, or even form a cooperative of writers with different skills: one who's good at editing, another at proofreading, yet another who can format book interiors, someone who's good with photography and Photoshop. You get the idea. Pooling skills and resources benefits everyone in the group without having to make a monetary investment. Or, you may also take the time to learn some of these skills, with the knowledge that your investment in time is a medium to long term one and that you can't expect to do it in just a few weeks.

Let's not forget about other steps not directly related to publishing a book but more on the business side:
  • marketing and advertising
  • blog/website creation and hosting
  • copyright
  • business license
  • taxes
Some of these you may be able to do yourself, or learn how to do, and others you might actually need to get help for. Or again, a cooperative with a few business-savvy individuals would be a good idea as well. My point is, self-publishing your book is not an occasion to show off your scrimping. You want to publish the best product you can show to the world, and sometimes that means hiring out others who are better than you at things you can't do. Concentrate on writing the best story you can. Then, surround yourself with people who can help you make it shine.  


What are some services you have hired out to indie publish your book? What are some you wish you had hired?

1 comment:

  1. I work for an indie company Hamilton Press which started as a steampunk only as Xcyhlyer Publishing. What you say is spot on. We offer professional work in editing, formatting, and design. The money is split between author (who receives the most) and the other members involved. We have a fully staffed marketing department as well, and use social media to help sales. Believe you me if I wanted to publish outside the major ones, I'd work with an indie company. I'd never choose DIY. Great post.


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