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When You Are Your Own Publisher

31 March 2014

From ebook designer and TPV regular JW Manus:

I get a lot of emails from people who are just starting out with self-publishing. For the most part I enjoy the conversations. Self-publishing isn’t all that difficult to do, but there is so much information available, so many options, it can be confusing as hell. I like to think I’ve set a few folks on a path that lessens the confusion and takes some of the mystery out of the process.

What I don’t enjoy are the emails that sound fueled by panic. I fear for the panicky folks–fear sets them up to be taken advantage of by overpriced “services” and vanity presses. These folks are easily led to believe that ebook conversion is too hard for less-than-technical geniuses and that distributing ebooks is worth an upfront fee and annual charges on top of retailer commissions. They are desperate for someone to take care of them–and taken they do get.

. . . .

The subtext is, “I am terrified of not doing this perfectly and so I need someone else to take responsibility.”

I’ve yet to see a perfect book–and I’ve read thousands. I’ve yet to see a perfect publisher. But that’s okay. Readers aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for entertainment and information and education. Publishers–self or otherwise–have a duty to those readers to give them the best value in exchange for their time and money. That doesn’t have to be perfect.

So let’s talk about the reality. When you are your own publisher, you’re in charge. Period. The book is yours. YOU decide how it is written. YOU decide how much editing is required. YOU decide on the packaging and formatting. YOU decide how much to charge and where and how to distribute. YOU broker deals for rights and editions and exclusivity or not.

. . . .

How does one get over the fear? First and foremost is realizing that with the great responsibility of self-publishing also comes almost unlimited freedom. Part of that freedom involves “do-overs.” If you screw something up–the editing, the cover, the distribution, the price–do it over and do it better. You don’t get that luxury if you turn your responsibilities over to someone else.

Link to the rest at JW Manus and thanks to Julia for the tip.


4 Comments to “When You Are Your Own Publisher”

  1. To paraphrase Voltaire: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    The myth that there’s only one drink at the publishing well is still going strong, I see. It’s a shame that so many works will never see the light of day because of the writer’s terror.

  2. There are certain beliefs left from the trad-publishing business model, here are just a few:
    1-Once a book is published, it might as well be imprinted in concrete. Not. Books can be revised, do-over, different covers, revise blurbs about the books, even change the author’s name or titles.
    2-If the first book doesn’t sell, you’re through as an author. Not. Your book doesn’t have to support Manhattan, just you. And you can publish as many books as you want.
    3-If I screw up, the ‘people’ in Manhattan will know about it until I die. Not. There are more people out side Manhattan then in Manhattan. Besides when you start who knows about you? And if they do, you can always pull the book out of ‘print’.
    4-Publishers take care of their writers. Not. As an Indie Publisher you take care of yourself.
    5-A book shelf life is three months. Not. A book shelf life is forever through POD and eBooks.

    If there are more of this beliefs, please add them to the list.

  3. I love the hands-on involvement and freedom of self-publishing as it exists now. That’s exactly what I was waiting for for more than 20 years, after deciding the trad publishing path just wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.

    Last night I dreamed about my first published novel. I was horrified at how lame it was and I was going to have to do a revised edition, and what a pain it would be updating everything… Then I woke up and realized the novel is actually nothing like how I dreamed it was, and it’s really much cooler than the revisions I dreamed about making. So, big relief 😀

    The point is, though, I *could* have done it, if it really needed to be done. And, in fact, I’ve just commissioned some brand new custom cover art for that very book, and when I go to update the cover there’s also a very minor editorial change I want to make in the book (a matter of one sentence, to add in something I forgot. No one else has mentioned noticing it, but it’s been bugging me).

    So, yes, the power, the responsibility, and the freedom are all mine. And I’m loving it. 😀

  4. Nice, solid post. I particularly liked the 5th point in the bullet list at the end.

    Anyone who promises you the moon is staring at your wallet and wondering how much they can take you for.

    Don’t set yourself up by hoping someone can give you the moon. Don’t get taken.

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