I make it no secret that I am not a fan of The Publishing Industry ™ . But the truth is, I LOVE publishers for a lot of the things they do. Yes, some bumbling idiocy* of the industry bothers me a LOT, but what industry doesn’t have their fair share of bumbling idiocy?
Truly, I have OCEANS of appreciation for publishers because bringing a book to market is HARD.
Writing a novel is difficult enough, but turning it into a business? PFFFT!! I did NOT decided to be a writer because I was a business genius. Making a product presentable and then actually selling the damn thing is so hard that, for much of history, authors just couldn’t do it alone, period. That’s changed with the dawn of the internets, which is great but also means that now we just have to do it all ourselves! ALL OF IT. That means…..
- Editing – And that’s not just the minutiae, like spelling and grammar. It’s the intensive overhaul of story, the high-level plot doctoring, the harsh and objective second look (and third, and fourth, and fifth, and…)
- Formatting – Not only do we have to figure out how our words look on paper (and know all these weird foreign words like trim size, typesetting, and bleed), now we have to make sure all the various ebook formats and reading platforms aren’t spewing out illegible garbage. And yeah, that doesn’t always work out so well.
- Presenting – Writing a great story and delivering a great product are two very different tasks. Without stunning cover art, pro layout, and irresistible back-cover blurbs, no one will even get to Page 1 of the next great American novel!.
- Marketing – Even after writing a great story and building a great product, actually getting a book to readers is one high hurdle. And when the big book stores won’t even take calls from a self-published author, having a publisher by your side can be truly essential.
Care to guess which of these is my particular, personal nightmare?
I don’t generally have much trouble with the non-writing side of writing. Editing’s a bitch, yes, but I’m pretty shameless, so putting myself out there to get ripped apar–er, I mean, constructively critiqued– is an amazing help. Formatting is tedious, but I’m from the Internet so it’s ok. Technology is not a mystery to me. And marketing……. well, I never shut the hell up anyway, so “marketing” just kind of happens organically.
That just leaves…….. the visual stuff.
I am not a visual person.
When I say I am not a visual person, I don’t mean heehe, I’m soooo bad at this, tell me I’m not! I’m not being modest, humble, or cute and self-deprecating. I mean, I am batshit crazy awful at visual/graphical tasks.
It’s not my skill set.
I mean, hey, I’ll do it. I actually spend a lot of time on visuals for my books and, like with the stories themselves, I edit in many, many passes (and a lot of trial and error). Occasionally, I even wind up with something presentable!
But not having a publisher whip up a gorgeous cover for me is still the worst part of self publishing for me. No matter how much I practice or improve, I’ll always prefer to spend the bulk of my time bringing my fiction to the next level, rather than scrape my visual skills up to basic.
Of course, professional work is not entirely out of reach for self publishers. I’ve paid for cover art before and loved the result. Getting a good cover is my #1 priority for reinvesting revenue into my writing. But when the revenue isn’t quite there, I just have to keep bumbling through the world of stock photos, free fonts, and GIMP updates.
And hey, that’s really not that bad 😛
*If you want to know more about the behaviors of the industry that actually harm authors, others have explained very well. No need to rehash history.