Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
2 Things Every Self-publisher Should Have
When I first self-published Adventure Hunters, I pretty much made every mistake a first-time author could make. I had no pre-launch promotion, almost no online presence outside of Facebook, a lousy cover, and no editor. It is the last two I want to talk about.
Self-publishing initially had a bad reputation.Part of it was because self-pubbing is easy. Write and upload. Unlike the movie and TV industry, there are no backstage shows detailing how a book is made. Novels don’t come with behind-the-scenes extras showcasing the writer struggling with a particular scene, or an editor brutally marking up the manuscript with a red pen. Most people think the book-making process is mysterious but at the same time easy. But that isn’t true. Sometimes books take years from inception to print. There are many steps in between.
Self-publishing and the digital revolution are changing a lot of that and taking out the middleman. In some cases, that is good. Some books that may never have seen the light of day with a trad publisher can be released. But one things that every trad published book had was an editor, and every self-pubbed book needs one as well.
Editing isn’t just about finding grammar and punctuation mistakes, of making sure it’s “They’re here” and not “Their here.” It is about content and story and character. It’s about making sure there are no plot holes, that the characters are believable, and that the story is smooth and consistent. It’s about making the novel the best it can be. In the music business, you wouldn’t put out a CD if you never practiced the songs. Hours of rehearsal and fine tuning go into the finished product. Why should you put out a book that hasn’t been through the same process? That’s what editors are: they are the producers who go through the work and try to coax it into being the best thing it can be.
The old saying “Never judge a book by its cover” seems to apply to everythingexcept books. Books are judged by their covers. It is the first thing readers see on the shelves, both the virtual and physical kinds. It makes an impact. The cover must be good enough to make them want to pick up the book. They may not buy it; maybe the blurb was boring or it just didn’t suit their tastes, or the book is too expensive. But if the cover got them to pick it up and at least look at it, then it served its purpose.
If the cover needs to look professional, then it needs to be done by a professional. There are websites devoted to terrible book covers. As an author, do you want your book there? It’s the literary equivalent of the Razzie Awards. And in this case, the original creator doesn’t always know best. Just because you can create the language of the Dark Elves doesn’t mean you know anything about cover design and composition. Give your ideas to a designer and let the professional work.
These two people, editors and cover artists/designers, are expensive. I know that, which is why I didn’t hire either of them for Adventure Hunters. I suffered for it. My sales have been dismal. But I’m getting a second chance with a pro editor and a pro cover designer. It may hurt you financially in the short run, but it will pay in the long run. Along with a writing schedule, try setting up a writer’s saving account. Put in a little bit of money whenever you can to hire editors and cover artists. Look at the other entertainment businesses. Would you buy a CD with a hand drawn cover and unrehearsed songs? How about a movie with a Photoshop cover and unedited material? If you’re unlikely to buy such a product, so are your potential customers.