If you want something done, (don’t) do it yourself

When it comes to indie publishing, the right way to do it, often, is not to do it yourself.

[2:52] Do it yourself

[2:52] Do it yourself (Photo credit: david buedo)

From editing to cover design, formatting and more, there are some things that the average (non-techie, non Photoshop loving) indie writer can’t do – and it shows when they put out their books.

Editing – why you shouldn’t do it yourself

One of the major issues with indie books is the perceived idea that none of them have bothered using an editor.  It’s often not helped by the fact that a lot of these writers respond to reviews about poor editing with poorly written rebuttals and messages.

The thing is, while it’s not true that most indies don’t use editors, the boards on Facebook are rife with authors admitting they’ve only gone with a beta read, can’t afford or ‘are editors themselves, so shouldn’t need it’.  To each I have to say:

Whether you’re an editor* or not, whether you think you can afford it or not, editing is that one expense that you just can’t avoid. (Head to the bottom of the page to vote whether you agree or don’t agree).  An editor can bring a realistic view to your piece that you may not have – it should also catch almost every error you’ve made (because even editors are human, the occasional error, though regrettable, might slide by).  And once your editor has worked on your book, YOU should work it again, start to finish.  Then, technically, you should find a proofreader.  If you can’t do that, find your most nitpicky friend  and get them to look for stuff like homophones, misspelled words and other issues, like punctuation.
And then, find a formatter, and ask them to keep a weather eye out for issues.

Cover design – where to start

The thing with cover design that really bothers me is that like writing, anyone can do it.  ANYONE.
Just let that thought percolate for a second when I explain that I’m about as adept with colour and design as a monkey painting using only it’s mouth while blindfolded and swinging upside down.  Yes, that good.  It might pass as, y’know, outsider art, but that’s not what I want my cover to say.
And yet, there are some covers out there that make me think ‘I could have done better than that’, and then shudder and run in the opposite direction.
If your average reader isn’t encountering you on Facebook, or due to interviews or other ‘fun stuff’, then chances are, they’re stumbling across you in a book store, or because they’ve been sent a link to your stuff on a bookstore.

What’s the FIRST thing they’re going to see?  Your cover.
Do you want it to say ‘cheap, cheerful, stock’ or ‘I’m actually so in command of what my story is about, I’ve conveyed it to a cover designer perfectly.’


Being an indie is being a business(wo)man

The important thing about all of this is some misguided indies will start trotting out the old adage ‘money should flow to the writer, not from them’.  Except, before you release your book, you’re not just a writer, you’re your publisher/PR person/acquisitions editor.  You’re writer last.
You are instead a business person.  And you’ve got to make it your business to produce the best, most refined product out there.  Or your reviews WILL read ‘could have done with a better cover not drawn by a chimp and some editing’ if you’re really unlucky.

[poll id=’2′]

If you do vote, and you want to add anything, please chuck it in the comments 🙂  It won’t tell us what you voted for, but I’m always interested, even if we don’t publish comments (and you can ask us to do so) as to why someone would choose certain options.  Be aware however that if you’ve commented before, you may get autoapproved.

* Disclaimer.  I work as an editor and copywriter/PR person full-time.  I still send my stuff to other people to be edited/checked before publishing.Enhanced by Zemanta

Kai Wilson-Viola writes under various names, and in all genres. Co-founder and webmistress of the IAG site, she writes content on request of members.
She has written several books including the Ten Hour Marketing Plan and 12x12 - tutorials for social media.
When not writing, she can be found maintaining sites, designing themes, managing a charity called the Less than Three foundation, gaming, knitting or reading.

0 thoughts on “If you want something done, (don’t) do it yourself

  1. I completely agree. I’m a professional editor and an author. I do *not* edit my own work. I simply refuse to put a title out there that isn’t squeaky clean and as good as I can make it.
    One of the egregious issues I see with self-or indie published work is poor formatting. While I adore my Kindles, especially the Fire, any glitches show up like the proverbial sore thumb, making the reading experience less than satisfactory. To the point of making it difficult to read it at all. If I must mentally fight to correct for that type of mistake, I give up – life’s too short and there are far too many choices to allow less than competently produced content to take up my time.

    • I often wonder if we, as editors, aren’t actually in a worse position. It’s not as if we can put out whatever we like, and I bet, any mistakes that do slip through, no matter how minor, are seen as ‘worse’.
      I dunno. Sometimes being a loudmouth isn’t as helpful as it seems. I have a great and visible profile, but I’ve certainly made a rod for my own back. I’ll always put my money where my mouth is though 🙂

  2. I picked the pay for cover and editing option. The only reason I don’t pay for formatting is because my husband is qualified to do it so I don’t have to pay, otherwise I would pay for that too. Hope that doesn’t muss with your results too much. 🙂

  3. I’ve been a graphic designer for about twenty years, so I feel I’m somewhat qualified to do my own covers. I definitely parcel out editing though. No way can anyone self edit reliably.

  4. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I got a good cover for 50 bucks, I got formatting for 40 bucks, the editing I paid way too much. She was my first editor and my advice is don’t use Craig’s list and just because they say 17.50 an hour doesn’t mean you are going to save money. What if she’s slow? She was and she did a crappy job and she made changes without making notations and that is a giant no-no for me. I won’t trust anybody who decides to rewrite my book without my permission. I credited all the people who helped me but I removed her name from the intro because she did such a lousy job. Be careful, like I wasn’t.

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