The tidal wave of self-published books inundating the reading public the world over may seem like the result of a do-it-yourself earthquake. But in today’s world, large and small publishers alike are part of a long and complex chain. Quite simply, self-publishing is not solely a DIY enterprise. You may be cutting out the gatekeepers by self-publishing, but to create your own professional book still requires more than just yourself . . . unless you’re a professional at every aspect of the publishing process, which very few are.
As a self-publisher, you need service providers to help you create and publish your book (e.g., writers, graphic artists, people who know how to track down and secure permissions). You need editors to shape up the manuscript, designers to create a beautiful cover and interior design for your book, typesetters to layout the book, people who know how to produce e-books and audiobooks. You need printers to manufacture the physical product, book marketing and publicity to get the word out and get people interested in your book, trusted reviewers to critically evaluate your book, and distributors and retailers to make the book available to customers. And those are just a few links in the publishing chain. No one who wants to be in the publishing industry can go it completely alone or do it all by themselves. Self-publishers are well advised to build a network of partnerships to help them achieve their publishing goals.
The problem with building such a network lies not in a lack of information, but having to sort through too much information. Search the Web for “self-publish” and you get 13.9 million hits; “self-publishing” returns 12.5 million hits. That’s a lot of information to sort through to find what you need to self-publish your book. Especially when you are a teacher, accountant, sales person, homemaker, lawyer, or student by day, and an author by night, you simply don’t have time to find all the partners you need to publish your book. Plus, you may not know what you don’t know, and therefore are uninformed about what you should be looking for or asking about in your attempt to piece together the right combination of partners for your book to succeed.
Then there is the difficult challenge of determining whom you can trust. Most likely, you trust the advice of your friends, but do you have friends with experience in the publishing industry? A well-respected figure within the publishing industry who has years of experience and a track record of success could be trusted, but how likely is it that you have the phone number or e-mail address of such a person? That’s where existing networks of people with a shared interest in publishing come into play.
Thankfully, in our Internet age, it is relatively easy to find self-publishing associations and networks of writers, authors, and others engaged in the publishing business, as well as their publications about self-publishing. People just like you are members of these organizations or networks. Publishing has its fair share of charlatans who will sooner rip you off than help you out. And although on first blush you may not be able to tell whether someone you encounter by joining, or following blog posts, or even e-mailing these people is actually trustworthy, at least you have a contact. After that, you can use your own good sense to discern who could become a trusted partner on your publishing journey. Further, books and magazines about self-publishing abound, just look in your local library or browse a bookstore.
Publishing is a do-it-together venture, not solely a DIY venture. Find the help you need to self-publish professionally, build a network of trusted partners that will help you achieve your publishing goals, and your hard work will pay off. You are not in this alone.
Note: This post was first published on the IngramSpark Blog, Thursday, April 06, 2017.