Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Self-Publishing Is Entrepreneurship


Frustrated by people who call themselves authors, but drag the rest of us down when they produce shoddy products?  Upset when they provide fodder for the anti-self-publishing movement claiming we are all unprofessional? 
SO just what is the difference between being self-published  and a self-publisher? Everything.

Being a self-publisher means hiring professionals who can make your book as good as it can be. You are the author but you are also your own publisher. You hire a printing company like CreateSpace to produce your book.  Make no mistake. You are an entrepreneur. You create a product, you market it, you sell it.
What is entrepreneurship?  It is the pursuit of opportunity.  The opportunities to get our stories out there have become almost limitless.


Recently at the Curves fitness center in Lionville, Pennsylvania, I sold my books. Like any business person you need to make contact with your audience.  As the women finished their work-outs, they met with me, talked about memoir, shared their own stories.  I brought some light refreshments . . . fruit and vegetables to add to the celebration.

This week I joined a LinkedIn discussion titled: "Do you think you can self-publish without hiring a professional editor?" From the comments, it seemed there was some resistance to spending money on editing, as well as some hopeful thinking that a quality book can be produced without hiring professionals.
How do you stand out in a crowd of folks who believe that they can upload whatever and however (text for the book ends up on Kindle looking unprofessional) all to save a few dollars?

I have met people who wanted me to read their work which they were planning to self-publish, WITHOUT paying me a cent for my editing expertise. Seriously? A book is your legacy, it is your calling card as an artist.

Why would you just throw it out there in the marketplace? 

Yes, traditional publishers also have typos in their books. And so do magazines. Recently, I picked up a well-known memoir magazine - a literary journal. The last name of the great Canadian short story writer, Alice Munro, was misspelled. So nothing and no one is perfect. We live in an imperfect world, but as self-publishers we owe it to ourselves to hire people to help us create a beautiful book worthy of any bookshelf . . . mostly, though, worthy of our readers.


Hire -

  • An editor for content.

  • A copy editor and proofreader to catch typos, grammatical errors, etc. 

  • A design team for your cover and interior format.

  • If you don't know much about promotion or publicity, hire a publicist.

Here's a good article elaborating on functions editors perform: 

Like any business, there are untold hours required to be successful.  That is both the joy and the challenge of being a self-publisher.


Unknown said...

Great post with lots of writer's meat to it! I totally agree with the hiring of an editor. I did not do that on my latest book and it has been a nightmare going through the editing process. I have been very frustrated with the editors provided by the publisher. Of course, some of the mistakes I should have never made anyway! C'est la vie!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Sharla. I think you make an excellent point that publishers don't always provide editors we ourselves might select for our books. As self-publishers we can shop for our own editors. Again, this gets back to having total creative - as well as monetary - control which is one of the joys of self-publishing.

kathleen pooler said...

Excellent post with lots of practical tips for any writer. I once read that if you decide to self-publish, you need to think like a traditional publisher- all the way down the line- investing in professional services for editing, book design,marketing and whatever else it takes to do it right. At least if you self-publish , you can choose who will do those services.

Diane Krause said...

I'm a freelance editor, and I'm shaking my head (in disbelief) to know there were people in the LinkedIn discussion who don't believe there's value in paying for an editor. Yes, I know those people are out there, but suppose a part of me wishes they aren't real. :)

Keep up the good work cheerleading for quality standards!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Kathy and Diane, thank you for the comments. I have been shaking my head too at how unwilling some people are to invest in their own books. I have met self-published authors who insist they have little to no money to invest so they resort to asking friends and family to edit their manuscripts for free. Seriously. Where is the quality control in that? It is discouraging, but as more and more professional writers go the self-publishing route I believe things will change and improve for serious self-publishers.

Unknown said...

You're preaching to the choir here, Susan. It's wonderful to hear some another professional about what's truly needed. I'm just finishing the final edits for my first book - with the editor I hired - and tomorrow I discuss my book with a cover designer. If writers are not willing to do all the things you suggested, their work and reputations will suffer. Thanks again!

Linda Austin said...

Ugh, and this is why Search Inside is such a valuable tool. I do think ignorance of what goes into a good cover and interior formatting and how not editing can get you wicked Amazon reviews has a lot to do with their delusional thinking.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Victoria, good luck with your book. I have little doubt that you are ensuring greater chances of success by investing in your book. My experience has been that anyone thinks they can be an author, a writer. They often don't realize it takes hard work, patience, practice at the craft, talent, AND accepting and PAYING for good editing. Unfortunately, we are living in a world where anyone can upload his or her book and call himself an author.


Susan G. Weidener said...


Amazon's Search Inside for eBooks is a good tool. The problem is that the market is inundated and the reader doesn't know where to turn because there is so much "stuff" out there posing as legitimate books.

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the frustrating things about writing - that so many people think they can write because they've gone to school or have been told they write a good letter.
Others think because they have a good story to tell, they should write a book.
And as we all know, writing is as as much an art as playing a musical instrument or painting or sculpting. The same people would never imagine they could play a violin because they liked a piece they heard on the violin, and could see that their painting is no good, but they think that they can write.I could write a whole blog on this subject but I won't. They are probably the same people who think they can do without trained professional services to produce a book.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Valerie, welcome fellow journalist. I think you are accurate. The people who think they can write are often the people who don't want editing. I remember one person telling me no one "touched" her writing. It would lose its authenticity or something to that effect. Meanwhile, a sample of her work showed numerous syntax and grammatcial errors, as well as problems with sticking to a clear story without numerous sidetrips. As you can tell, I can write a blog on this too!