Meghan Ward, the author of the Writerland blog, which I follow, offered some interesting and useful advice to her readers in her post 10 Steps to Becoming a Self Publishing Superstar .
I was particularly interested in Step 4: “If you do decide to self-publish, you should hire a freelance editor (even if you have excellent editing skills yourself) and book designer, so that your book is as professional as it would be if it were published by one of the Big 6.”
It’s something I often tell authors I talk to. If you think about it for a moment the reason it’s sound advice is obvious.
Traditional publishers have long employed a team approach to produce quality books. No author was expected to be skilled in every aspect of creating a successful book. The author’s job was to produce the best manuscript she could create. The publisher might even provide a developmental editor to help sharpen the author’s vision of the book. A copy editor guided the author through the process of revising the manuscript. And before it went to print a copy editor gave the manuscript a thorough going over to make sure every detail of word choice, grammar and punctuation was perfect. While this was going on a cover designer was creating an alluring cover to attract would-be readers to buy the book. Someone else managed the interior layout. When the book was published the author’s name was on the cover and her picture was on the dust jacket, but the book was a team effort. (photo by Magic Madzik under Creative Commons)
When you decide to self publish a book you don’t have that team of creative people to rely on. But does that mean you should expect to possess all the skills of a team of professionals? Hardly. Self publishing doesn’t require that you go it alone. What it does mean is that you’ll need to assemble your own creative team.
One of the reasons that a lot of self published books look less than professional is that their authors have tried to treat their creation as a DIY project. That doesn’t have to happen to you. Make sure your book gets the editing and design it deserves.