In my last post I talked about the main differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. I also said that there was a third, hybrid option that I would talk about in this post. First, I want to clarify a few terms that I used fairly loosely in my last post, and to give a quick recap.
Publishing is a daunting process, and can be complicated and confusing from any angle. So in order to keep things as simple as possible for those who are still working it all out from scratch, I actually lumped in this third option with self-publishing. See, self-publishing itself comes in two forms all on its own, however most don’t understand or even know there is a difference.
So to clarify/recapp we have ‘traditional publishing’ which is when you hand your book and rights thereof over to a publishing house and they have everything handled by professionals to a high quality standard.
Then we have ‘self-publishing’ which is when you do everything yourself, from cover design to marketing. Though you also have the option to wrap your book in a black cover with a white text title and click publish on Amazon.
Then I mentioned the term ‘hybrid’, which to me means an author who has multiple books published in different ways. Not to be confused with ‘Independant publishing’.
Like I said, I lumped some terms together in the last post for clarity’s sake, but now I want to delve deeper into the road between self-publishing and traditional publishing, the process, and why I went with this option.
Independant publishing in a nutshell is basically being your own publisher, which is not really the same as simply self-publishing. I know, it seems to be a contradiction to the definition, but really it's more of a misnomer. See, as an independently published author, you have taken the steps necessary to bring your book to the same standard a traditional publisher. This means paying the same list of professionals that a publishing house would have. That means having an ISBN, hiring a professional cover artist, professional editor, paying for proper e-book and physical copy formatting, etc. It means that the minimum standard your book ends up being is the relatively high-quality product that a traditional publisher would produce, only you front all the costs and do all the work. Which is not for everyone, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to start out on the cheaper side of things.
But this is what I did, and I could only do this by borrowing money from mine and my wife’s long-term savings — which again, is not something everyone can do. However, this whole thing was made a lot easier with the use of a partnership with a 'publishing assistance’ service. There are a few out there, and to be honest there are probably more than not that are less than trustworthy, and although I recommend their use, I want to disclaim very clearly that you should do your research before getting into bed with any of them. If they “cold-contact” you, I’d recommend staying away, but that’s just been my experience. I’ll leave a link below to the website of the Alliance of Independant Authors, which is a organization who helps to regulate various things for indie authors, mostly in a way to keep its members to a certain standard of ethics, and that of the people they work with. Specifically, you’ll want to check out their Watch Dog Desk’s list of service ratings which is their results of vetting various services you’re likely to use as an indie author.
I knew about this list, and so when someone recommended I check out “Book Reality”, the first thing I did was check them against ALLi’s watchdog list and was pleased to see they were a recommended service, and even more pleased as the months have gone by to find how accurate and dependable that recommendation is.
So what does a publishing assistance service do? Well, for me Book Reality worked with me to first outline a clear and cut idea of each thing they do, and a rundown of the costs associated with those things. Everything I mentioned above that is necessary to bring your book up to a high standard, they do for you, or have contacts and connections with professionals that do. All except editing. For that Book Reality instead picked out an editor from the ones they know are of high quality and value. Not only that, but they picked an editor for me that suited the genre I was writing. There’s no point hiring an editor who has no interest in fantasy books to edit a fantasy book. It’d be like having a tennis instructor coach a football game. I’m not sure about other services of the same kind, but Book Reality also has the option to open and then manage all your accounts across multiple online storefronts such as Amazon, Kobo, Ingram Spark etc, for a two year period. This option does mean they are entitled to a 40% take of your profit, however it is still far less to give away than traditional publishing and it means all the profit that does come your way is streamlined and accounted for properly so you don’t have to be overwhelmed by managing so much at once and can instead focus on marketing your book. Though again, it’s optional and not something Book Reality pressures you into whatsoever.
Now, in my last post I also said I’d go over the importance of editing. I know many will roll their eyes and insist they’ve already gone over their work a hundred times and all their test readers say it’s great. Here’s the thing; it’s not. I mean yeah you’re writing and story very well may be, but the necessity of a professional editor (emphasis on professional) is not indicative of your ability to write. It's hard to get out of the mindset that editors exist to just fix your grammar mistakes, and can you can find yourself automatically defensive when someone tells you that you NEED an editor. Anyone who has glasses, which if you’re reading this is probably most of you, then you probably remember that moment you first put them on. Likely went years with no issues, thinking your eye-sight is fine because you didn’t know any better and you could go about your day-to-day just fine. But then you go in and get an eye exam and get given a prescription and suddenly the world is in HD. Everything is just that little bit more crisp, you can see that little bit further, and everything is just that much more defined. That’s what an editor does for your writing. Sure your story is probably great without one, and you’ve probably found all the grammar mistakes and consistency issues in your one-hundred read throughs, but without a professional editor it will never be as good as it could be. It won’t have that high definition made up of a hundred little changes that make a massive difference. So if nothing else, find a way to afford one.
Perhaps I overthink it, but to me writing is something that we need to put our whole selves into, or not at all. Our tears should flow into that first draft as we struggle to piece all those ideas together. Then our blood when we sacrifice things to chop it up and edit it to make it the best it can be. And then our sweat when we put it out into the world and continue to work hard to share it with people who love it as much as we do. Pride in one's work is important as it shows pride in ourselves, and that's not a bad thing. Finishing a book isn’t easy, and it’s something you should be proud of and how you present that book should reflect that pride.
“Publication is a marathon, not a sprint. Writing the book is only the start.” ― Jo Linsdell
ALLi Watchdog Service List: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishing-service-reviews/