“I’m crazy for trying, And crazy for crying.”
-Patsy Cline, “Crazy”
The self-publishing process is attractive and intriguing, but not as beneficial and easy as one would think. Writers often, well not often, almost always have the desire to achieve complete flawlessness in their work in a way that only they deem adequate. The truth is that it will never be perfect in the eyes of the creator. God can probably vouch for that as well.
With that being said, though the word “self” is in the very popular form of publishing, there’s a need for support in other aspects of the process. It’s a difficult route, but also can be a rewarding learning experience, especially for ones vetting for discovery. If no one is going to offer you an opportunity to gain the all-important experience many houses wish you had, you may as well do it yourself. You’re a writer, you’re controlling, you shouldn’t have it any other way.
The writing process is similar to driving (you’re just saying that because you wrote a book on driving). Be that as it may, it’s true. An author can easily get into a routine just like a commuter takes the same route to and from their career at a fast food restaurant cash register at least 5 days a week. You become used to it, and very comfortable in your habits that it becomes a customary part of your daily life. Outlines, character development, draft after draft, edit after edit, re-wording, additions and removals, and so on. However, it’s your routine and no matter how you choose to approach your route, you perform with ease. Big house publishers are the other drivers, the ones that distract you with what they have to offer, the ones that force you to take a different approach or pace to work at, and other comparisons to what you experience on the road you can think of. I wrote a book on driving; it’s your turn to find the analogies.
Control is a key aspect for the writer. It’s difficult to accept changes, but we must realize that it’s necessary. You can do it all by yourself, it’s not a capability issue, but another eye or another perspective never hurt anyone (unless you’re one of those sensitive people). For example, editing is the most important service one can use. I edited “Driving: An Unofficial Guide” on my own and the 1st edition has typos. Of course it does! I know what I wrote, and I know what it was supposed to say, therefore I read through it quickly because the words were already processing in my mind before my eyes could catch up. In a paragraph near the beginning of the book a starting sentence reads, “Rushing a though process.” It was supposed to say, “Rushing through a process.” The obvious irony has already been noted and joked about, thank you. I’m a very good writer (conceded much), and my grammar is very good as well, but editing with fresh, unbiased eyes is essential. If I edit your work it probably would have no typos, constructive criticism, and productive suggestions. If I edit my own work it could be embarrassing.
Design is another factor. Make sure you do your research on trim sizes, font choices, formatting, gutter and margin positioning, and so forth. You even have to take into consideration the fact that a standard tab at the beginning of the paragraph won’t adjust after formatting changes. It’s not a big deal, but maybe 3-5 spaces will serve as a more attractive insert on a 5” x 8” trim size than a full standard indentation. A tab may look like it’s starting at the middle of the page. Take your time and play around with all these functions; it’s better to have an end product you’re happy with that will be on the shelves or in the digital world forever rather than a rushed draft. A couple more weeks of precise work isn’t a big deal considering you probably just spent months, if not years, doing the same obsessive process while creating your work.
Cover design is a big deal. The old adage goes, “Never judge a book by its cover,” but we all know that’s hogwash. My traffic school instructor (again with the driving, geez) was pretty assuming towards the lawbreakers I shared a classroom with over the weekend, just like you look at the illustration or fonts on the cover of written work or CD album (if you still listen to those things). There’s no reason not to judge a book (literally) by its cover because you can’t read the whole thing for free. Finding a contract illustrator or designer will definitely help, or even someone that you know that’s a great illustrator. You wouldn’t believe how many friends you have that can draw or digitally create; it’s just not a hobby most people feel they should share anymore. Ask around, networking is a big part in the process of self-publishing for reasonable costs.
For example: I spent a whopping $325 to self-publish “Driving: An Unofficial Guide”, and it’s a success (definitions of success may vary from person to person)!
We can get into copyrights, ISBN’s, and what not another time, but please feel free to comment if you have any questions about the process. As of right now, let’s worry about the basics. Take it from a writer who has experienced it; it’s fun and rewarding, but patience is necessary. You don’t want to end up going crazy; on the other hand, it does fit the profession.