How Many ‘Selves’ Does It Take to ‘Self’-Publish?
Self-publishing isn’t “self” publishing. It’s a misnomer, really. The word “self” in self-publishing gives the impression that an author can publish a book on his or her own with no input or help from others.
Not so, grasshopper.
Sure, it’s true that with the advent of digital technology, publishing a book is easier, quicker, and not nearly as intimidating. But it takes a team of professionals to publish a quality literary work.
Is it possible for an author to learn the technical aspects behind designing a template, setting the styles, and uploading the finished product to an online store? Sure! Does Amazon make the technical side of self-publishing seem easy? Certainly! But what I’ve mentioned so far only scratches the surface of what publishing is all about.
As a new author, you’ll want your first book to be well-written, well-edited, and polished in its presentation and design, accompanied by a clear and concise plan for getting it into the hands of your target audience. For all this, certain professionals need to play a role in the production process: editors, text layout specialists, designers, and marketers.
I cannot stress this point enough—whether you are attempting to publish a five-page white paper or a 500-page how-to manual, professional editing is a must! Publishing, 9 times out of 10, begins with an author placing his or her draft manuscript in the capable hands of a skilled editor who works with the author to shape, organize, correct, and clearly present the author’s thoughts and expertise relative to the subject-matter and its intended audience.
Unfortunately, the 10th time refers to an author who chooses to skip this all-important step and go straight to publishing only to face criticism for the book’s unprofessional presentation and myriad typos. Although no one is perfect, editors are the first line of defense against an author publicly embarrassing him- or herself.
There are different types of editing, although many well-trained editors can perform all of the editorial duties set forth—from developmental, organizational, and conceptual editing to basic proofreading for typos, grammar mistakes, and inconsistencies. Not every manuscript requires a heavy edit.
Many books tend to be formatted in MSWord or Adobe InDesign, so it pays to use someone who is quite knowledgeable in one or both software programs. From developing templates to customizing stylesheets to choosing font families, a well-manicured manuscript takes time and effort to design the pages in the most functional way for the intended audience. The page designer also should be familiar with converting a finished manuscript to eBook format, whether Kindle (.mobi) or ePub.
Don’t skimp on cover design. People do judge a book by its cover. An author should leave this step to a professional with experience designing for the genre in which he or she writes. The chosen design should be clear and easy to read, taking into account the typical size of a cover appearing on Amazon and other e-Bookstores. The design should carry through to the marketing materials in order to develop a recognizable brand.
Marketing is probably the most important stage and needs to be mapped out well before the release of the book. It’s about knowing who your primary audience is before you even finish writing your first paragraph so that your marketing dollars are well-spent.
Self-publishing involves more than the “self” who’s writing the book. To be successful, one must self-publish with the right help.