https://www.facebook.com/groups/1921200231485411/ The Left-Handed Typist: Why Self-Publishing Shouldn't Equal DIY

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Why Self-Publishing Shouldn't Equal DIY

As someone who has self-published, I've seen a vast variety of self-published products on the market. Some are brilliant and could easily pass for traditional in both popularity and quality. (Hello, some are being made into movies now?!) Others sit in a dusty corner of Amazon and looking at them makes me think rightly so. That second category is part of why I would argue that self-publishing should not equal a DIY project.


The very things that drew me to self-publishing were the control, speed, and low cost. What better way to have even more control, efficiency, and savings than by doing everything myself? No. No no no. That thought never even entered my head!

I didn't set out to self-publish because I was a cover designer, editor, and interior formatter (all of which I paid for by the way). I set out to self-publish because I was a writer. Not just that, but a writer hoping to make her name for herself as an author.

In order to make a name for yourself, you have to make a good impression. As materialistic as that may sound, it's a reality. And to one degree, it makes sense because quality talks. I mean, Mary Poppins can sing "a cover is not the book" all she wants, but I'm here to tell ya that people are hardwired to think otherwise. Myself included.

I find it unfortunate that self-publishing often turns people into a jack-of-all-trades, because that often sacrifices quality. If you have true talent as a cover designer, then I think the argument can be made that you're worthy to do your own cover. Other than that, stick to writing and writing only.

I think everyone who publishes can say professionalism is the goal. (If it's not then you can disregard everything else I say here today.) This quite simply means that you should be paying the professionals. I don't mean spending $5,000 on a single book. There are talented people out there with reasonable prices if you look hard enough!

I die a little bit on the inside every time I see a new book with a pencil drawing cover. Or maybe it has a beautiful watercolor cover and the grammar rules have hit the fan. Maybe it's simply ugly to look at on the page. Whatever the issue is, it will have an impression on all your readers! I die a little bit not because it's so bad, but because it could have been so much better. Instead, it's wasted potential.

Even though I know it can be hard to consider having to pay for so much when the return may not be great, think about it like this. How much we value our book should show. I would argue that means we should shell out some money to make it look professional. You've worked hard on the words inside, so don't sell yourself short of the whole package.

As overwhelming as that may be to some of you new writers, have no fear! There's such a community to be found of people willing to give you a helping hand. Farming out jobs doesn't even always mean you're paying. I used my uncle who had tech/photo skills to do the font design on my cover. In future, I'll probably have photography friends help me put together a book trailer. By all means, use what resources you have. But please don't use resources you don't have.

After all, this self-publishing thing is a great opportunity, don't you think? As such, we should bring  a good name to it. Let's be honest, the bad rap exists because bad self-published books exist. But let's not do the snobs any favors by contributing the pile of "meh" self-published books.

Don't we want to give our hard the work the best leg up possible? Of course! To me, that means doing a stellar job on all fronts, even if it costs a little more time and money.

If that's not enough for you, I think we can all agree that writing is a gift from God. Don't we want to do our best to bring Him glory? Yes of course! It's simply the nature of the world that people will be more inclined to listen to your message if it comes in a pretty package. And it's simply the nature of God to expect nothing but our very, very best.

Now simple doesn't mean easy, so it's fine if this sounds like a lot to you. But, trust me as someone who's come out on the other side twice now, no one has ever regretted making their work the best it could be.
I hope that didn't come off condescending and instead gave you a perspective for why self-publishing can be so good! What are your thoughts on why quality matters? Does this seem obvious or was something new to you here?

17 comments:

  1. I LOVE THIS! <3

    I feel the same way about self-publishing. If you're gonna do it, DO IT RIGHT, for Pete's sake! I don't know when or if I'll ever self-publish (my goal is traditional), but I definitely want to look and feel professional if/when I do it. <3

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    1. Phew!! You have no idea how good it is to hear this from someone who hasn't gone through the process yet! Doing it "right" the first time is kinda unusual in self-publishing because we all grow and learn. So yay for you being determined to do this from the get go!

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  2. This is so true, Abi. God has given us all different talents and gifts, and it's vital to join together and share them! Easier said than done though. =) I love how I can see the truth of this post in your own life. ♥ Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, definitely easier said than done. Nothing about self-publishing is what I'd call "easy" haha. Yo're so sweet--I was really blessed with my first (and second) experiences!

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  3. These are so good points! If I self-publish one day, I hope that my book will go through enough polishing that it can be the best it can be! Great post!
    -Brooklyne

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    1. Absolutely! It requires more time, effort, and money, but I find it's worth it in the end!

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  4. I do plan to self-publish at least one of my books, mostly for the experience. (I'd like to be trad-published, too, if possible.) This is a great reminder for me not to just self-pub because I can, but to take my time and make this book the best it can be before actually doing the deed. :)

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    1. Yes, when people are self-publishing mostly for them or their family ... I understand not wanting to pay a lot for that. But I'm glad this helped your perspective a little, because I know from personal experience that I enjoy one of my published works more myself if it's well done to begin with. ;)

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  5. This is a really great message, Abi! I agree completely. And part of the reason self-publishing is so looked down on is exactly BECAUSE people try to go the cheapest route possible instead of valuing their work enough to make it the best it can be.

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    1. Woohoo! Self-published authors unite. :D I'm honestly just so tired of meh products taking away from the rest of us. Some people don't know better ... but I'm trying not to give anyone that excuse!!

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  6. Oh wow, yessss. Thank you for giving me, someone who likes to spend the least amount of money as possible, that extra nudge to not do 'cheap'. XD

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    1. Haha you're welcome! I'm glad it came off well instead of like I'm judging people for having a tight budget. I don't think anyone wants a cheap-looking product ... but we all want cheap, of course :P Finding quality for less can be quite the challenge, but it's more doable than people think!

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  7. I wholeheartedly agree! Sometimes it’s hard for us indies to decide to not do it all ourselves (for money reasons) but what’s the use if your book cover looks boring and the inside is cringe-worthy full of typos?

    ~Katja L.

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  8. I completely agree and couldn't have said it better! I see SO MANY indie authors who just decide to design their own covers and not invest in a good editor and proofreader, and I just sigh at it! I mean, if you're going to take the time to write something, then take the time to make it presentable. ;)

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