I’ve done a lot of observation of traditional publishing and indie publishing from the peanut gallery. You all know how I started with aspirations of traditional, shifted totally to indie, and have swung back to some moderate position in between the two. As self publishing has caught on, more and more traditionally published authors are putting their backlists out in e, following Joe Konrath’s example. Which is great. It’s good business sense and is going to help them continue to make a living as their profits from traditional tend to narrow.
But one thing has jumped out for me among this crowd of traditionalists starting to stick a toe into self publishing waters:
They all seem to be TERRIFIED of doing anything beyond the writing themselves.
I keep hearing refrain after refrain from this corner that all the formatting and stuff is HARD, and they’re outsourcing, paying people hundreds, sometimes thousands, to do it for them.
My mind is utterly boggled by this.
I’ve talked about this before, and I’ll talk about it again.
Now I totally get that not everyone wants to be a publisher and not everybody wants to actually DO the work themselves because they’d rather be writing. If that’s the reason you choose to outsource, cool. One of these days I will be in a position where I can afford to outsource some stuff too.
But if the reason is that you think that formatting your book is hard–dude, WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING? Do they give traditional authors some special koolaid that makes them think that it’s all some mysterious process that requires a PhD in astro physics? Is it an age/generational thing? I mean, not anything against these peeps, but a lot of them seem to be 40s + age-wise and less techno-savvy than my generation tends to be.
Why are they so afraid to just Google stuff and learn how to do it themselves? For FREE?
Whether you start out traditional or start out indie, I am a firm believer that you should know HOW to do all of this yourself (whether you ultimately hire out or not). It’s part of being well-informed. Part of it is knowing all the stupid mistakes the average person makes using Word (or their chosen word processor). Once you learn these, you train yourself out of them, then the formatting process goes easier for whoever has to do it. Part of it too is, I think you should be aware of what you’re paying for. I cannot fathom paying someone hundreds of bucks to do something I can do myself in a few hours. Just sayin’.
I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but I do offer plenty of free resources explaining in detail how to do this. As I said in my comment over at Storyfix this morning:
The very best FIRST STOP resource is the Smashwords Style Guide, provided by Smashwords founder Mark Coker (who is da bomb) for free on the website here.
Start there, read it from cover to virtual cover, and you will learn all the things you, as a writer and word processor user, are doing wrong on the front end (which will save you a lot of time on the back end for future project), and how to fix it. Which then leaves your book in nifty shape to move on to the Kindle and Nook versions, which I explain in great detail how to do here for Kinde and here for Nook.
Take the time to educate yourselves, people. Knowledge is power.