“I can do whatever I want. It’s a free country.” Well sort of. But we won’t start that debate here. Instead, we will apply this to authors. Because I have seen it happen even over the last week. Less.
You see independent actually means you are dependent on other professionals to make your work great, and responsible to yourself and your readers to ensure the highest quality possible is achieved.
Unfortunately, many indie authors feel like the freedom to do everything themselves gives them some kind of right to do so, something I call the “right to suck.” When someone points out their work is not well edited or their cover is poor quality, they excuse it by saying, “I can’t afford to hire professionals the way the publishers or big name indie authors do.” In fact, one told me she was “just content to be writing” as if selling books was not important to her. But I know that’s a lie. We write to be read, and selling books is the only way to get others to see our work. So here are some tips to consider before you hit publish.
Hire a professional editor. Your critique group (wonderful people I am sure) are not editors. Nor is your Aunt, or you mother’s friend who has an English Lit degree. Editors have specific job skills relating to story structure and other things not all related to grammar. We are constantly “going to school” to improve both our understanding of the craft, and our understanding of the market, something you really want to consider when putting the final touches on your stories.
Hire a professional cover designer. Even if you are a graphic artist, don’t do your own cover. You are too close to your work to be objective about it. It will show in the final product. Just as I as an editor don’t edit my own work, I know a cover designer who does not do her own covers. She hires someone else to do them for her.
If you cannot afford to invest in your book, you can’t afford to publish. This is the hardest pill for people to swallow, but it is true. Be content to be a writer. But don’t self-publish, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t involve a small press or another publisher. You still must invest in marketing, and if you don’t and your work never sells, you can find yourself in a situation where you aren’t offered any more contracts, or worse are blacklisted from a group of publishers.
Writing as a profession takes the investment of time, money, and work to improve your craft and hone your talent. It is great to write, and writing itself is often great release and great therapy, but to self-publish or move into the publishing world requires a greater commitment: the treating of your art as a business, your book as a product to be marketed and sold.