by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson
As most of you know, I am a great proponent of self-publishing. Almost every book I do these days is self-published through my company Sefkhat-Awbi Books, though there are a couple of traditional publishers I am still happy to work with.
That doesn’t mean self-publishing is perfect. Or anywhere close to it.
I realize that self-publishing is not for everyone. You have to be tough, dedicated, and – because it is a heck of a lot of old-fashioned work – tireless. You have to be both sides of opposing forces – the author and the publisher. It’s your book, so as the author you have the power to keep it safe from the ‘writing by committee’ attitude of traditional publishing, where each step from agent to first reader to acquiring editor to content editor can require rewrites. Sometimes many rewrites, so many that you almost do not recognize your own book. Release is at your convenience, instead of having to wait an average of a year or more before your book comes out.
If you self-publish, you have to switch chairs and regard your brain-child, your magnum opus as a product instead of an automatic classic and best seller. You have to have it edited by a professional, for content and for mechanics – and pay for it. You have to lay out the book the way you want it to appear – table of contents, copyright page, dedication, other books by, about the author, whatever. Then, unless you are gifted in the computer arts, you will have to hire – and pay – a formatter. You will have to work with – and pay – a cover artist, hopefully choosing images that will sell your book easily. If doing a paperback, you will have to do all this in paperback format as well as electronic. Also, if doing a paperback, you really should order – and pay for – proofs to make sure everything looks the way it should. For electronic versions, you need to check on their viewers before uploading.
And all this takes time – but you do get 60% plus (depending on outlet) of cover price instead of 6-8% of whatever the traditional publishers decide is the current norm.
Whether you are self-publishing or traditionally publishing, publicity will be your responsibility. A traditional publisher will put your book in a catalogue and maybe send out a press release when release day finally rolls around. Pretty much everything else is on you however you are published.
I’ll admit I’m a control freak. I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to keep my vision, my book, the way I see it. Yes, I work with a wonderful editor and sometimes I have to ‘kill my darlings’ but my word is the final one. I make the decisions on cover art instead of just giving a few recommendations and having to accept whatever the publisher’s art department comes up with. Pricing and distribution are my choice. Format is my choice. This is my book, doggone it, and it’s all my choice. And my responsibility.
Like I said, self-publishing isn’t for everyone. I like it, though.