To Be or Not To Be--A Self-Published Author

How To Publish A Book?

Just under a week ago, Bob Medak wrote an interesting article for Writers on the Move discussing when is the best time to build an author platform. But the last line stopped me in amazement.

"Authors," he wrote, " should have their book published the way they wrote it."

To my surprise, no one even queried the statement, far less took him to task. But as a judge for the recent Global e-Book awards and member of an enthusiastic Kindle publishing group, I have to disagree or at least urge caution on any author thinking of going it alone.

So many potentially good books cannot achieve the success their authors deserve because 
  • poor editing leaves muddled sentences, glaring grammatical mistakes and confused plot lines.
  • poor formatting renders books irritatingly untidy and difficult to read
  • poor spelling and proofreading stop the reader from concentrating on the story or information provided.
  • the cover does not have sales appeal.
A reader who is disappointed in the presentation of a book will not buy from the same author again in a hurry.

Advantages of Self-Publishing

  • Publish the book the way you, the author, wrote it--but please employ an editor and proofreader.
  • Have the last word in the design of your own cover--but consult a good graphic designer or at least visit a site like The Book Designer.
 The designers' comments here on the great range of book covers submitted for awards are helpful and informative and teach what makes a cover attractive to buyers.
  • Check and recheck your formatting till it is absolutely perfect.
  • You have complete control over your own work. 
  • You can publish as fast or as slowly as you like. You make your own deadlines.
  •  You have the joy of learning all the ins and outs of the business.

Advantages of Traditional Publishing
  •  The editors, proofreader and cover designer will be provided. They are professionals and will advise on what sells.
  •   The formatting will be handled by someone who knows the job and the pitfalls.
  •  A good publisher, editor, cover designer will listen.
  •  You will have more time for writing. 
There is of course the downside.
  • The length of time between contract signing and publication date.
  • Less income as you have effectively outsourced the work of publication.
  •  You may not have the book published the way you wrote it but then and again it might just be a smidgeon better. 

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

13 comments:

  1. Anne, I didn't notice that in Robert's post. But, then again, I often skim read.

    I agree that an author needs to have the manuscript in 'polished' condition before self-publishing. Often, it takes someone else to do this, because our books are too close to us and we can't see our own mistakes. It's tough to self-edit your own work for publication.

    Great list of advantages of both types of publishing!

    A tip on book covers is you can check out 'top sellers' on Amazon or Kindle and see how they're designed. If you have the know-how you can do something similar.

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    1. Thanks Karen and I also refer to your webinar and handbook which provided a great starting point.

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  2. Great list, Anne. I self-published the poems that went with "Relocated" (published by MuseItUp) because I dragged my feet and ran out of time, and I one of the reasons for publishing the collection was to help promote the book. Fortunately, Karen designed the cover and Michele Graf edited the collection.

    As to the formatting-- oy! Granted I'd probably need fewer next time, but it took me over eleven iterations for the print version (and three print proof copies) plus another five or six at least for the Kindle version. And all this for a 43 page book.

    If I'd had the time and energy to find someone else to take all that on, I'd have done it in a heartbeat.

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    1. But just think of what you learned, Peggy. Kudos on taking the time to get it all perfect. And what a good idea that was to publish the poems as promo for the book. Good luck with it. Hope it goes well.

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  3. Thanks for the link to 'The Book Designer'. Tons of information there!

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    1. Yep, thought it was a great site too. I'm always open to great procrastination possibilities and The Book Designer keeps me busy for hours...lol

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  4. Ditto, Anne. I didn't notice that line either.
    One should ALWAYS have the book professionally edited and proofread. That's not to say you should make every single change that is suggested or that you should allow the editor to change your voice, but editors are experienced and that is what you are asking them for--especially for a new novelist. (I am a freelance editor, and I need my books edited! I get too close to the content to see what's wrong after awhile.)

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    1. The art is hiding the fact that any editing has taken place. The editor just frees the author's voice to sing out.
      I totally agree, Heidi, that it is vital to have a book edited and proofread. But I do feel anxious for new authors working out their budgets as , even on the most reasonable terms,that could well cost more than the book itself will recoup.

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  5. Excellent points Annie. There's a big difference too between a content editor, a line editor, and a proofreader and a professional manuscript really needs all three. Sometimes a single editor can do all 3 jobs but it's rare since the skills required are very different. Note that not all traditional publishers do a good job on editing anymore either - the author should always take full responsibility for the final quality of his or her work regardless of how it's being published. Great editing, of all 3 varieties, is very often the difference between an ordinary, hard to read book, and an extraordinary, wonderful one.

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    1. I totally agree on all counts, Maggie. I was so disappointed for some of the authors whose books I read for the GEBA awards as I felt that good editing would have made the quality of their work truly outstanding.

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  6. Interesting how a statement put at the end of a post can be overlooked. For most people, publishing is a team effort.

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    1. Hi Mary Jo,
      You are , of course, talking as a writer hehe. Kindle marketing sites are spawning a horde of wannabes who are at best writing by numbers and who have not put in the hours of effort needed to produce a well-crafted publication.

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  7. It's true that getting a book published is no easy task. It requires a strong combination of patience and perseverance, and anyone who is not serious enough in his endeavors may end up quitting halfway through. Very helpful tips.

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