Thursday, November 20, 2014

Not All Indies Are Created Equal: DIY-Pub Vs. "I Run My Own Publishing Company"-Pub

Once again, I see folks on the message boards complaining about "self-pub" or "indie" authors and how shoddy "those" books are.

Problem: You can't clump every self-published book and author into the same bin.

Just as you can't clump every traditionally-published author/book into the same bin.

I just read a Harlequin filled with typos and errors.

I also read a self-published book filled with typos and errors.

I also read a trad book that was well-executed and produced. AND I also read another self-published title that had excellent quality writing and production.

So what's going on?

As far as trad-published books...the big pubs are clearly cutting editorial corners. As well as digital formatting corners. That's nothing new.

But what I would like to really address today is the whole "indie" thing because not all indies are created equal.

I own a business. A publishing company. For me. I make all the decisions. And because I want to produce a high quality and professional product, I hire professionals to help me with this business.

I hire a professional cover artist.

I hire someone to format my books for print.

I hire someone to format my books for digital release.

I hire someone to professionally edit my books.

I have a crew of beta readers who edit for content.

I pay money for ads and other promotional options.

Is this expensive? Maybe. It's an investment in MY business.

There is a very big difference between a publishing business (whether it's run by a New York company or a smaller company or a single person) and a DIY-pub.

A DIY-Pub could be your Aunt Ethel who wrote a family history and wants to throw that baby up on Amazon so she can say she "published" a book. Good for her. I have no problem with that.

However, if you...

--make your own book cover

--do NOT hire a professional editor

--do NOT hire professional formatters

--promote yourself by fighting with peeps on message boards

...I do not consider you a professional publisher.

That's a DIY project.

Maybe you're awesome at formatting. And maybe you have a graphic design background and can whip off a gorgeous cover. Fine.

But even the most experienced authors--who have been writing for YEARS--need an editor. They just do. I can tell when the big-wig NY-published authors are skipping the editing portion of the equation. It's glaringly obvious and pretty embarrassing.

Once again, the bottom line is JUDGE EACH BOOK ON ITS OWN MERITS.

Clumping all self-published authors together into the same barrel is ridiculous.

Feeling irked,


Laura K. Curtis said...

LOL! As a hybrid author, I feel like I get crapped on for both of the decisions I've made regarding my career. Self-pub people have literally said to me that I am "stupid" for choosing traditional whereas trad pub people make the assumption that my self-pub work is less important to me. It's not. It's just completely different.

Like you, for the self-pub books, I hire everything out. I know my limits. Have I made back the money I've spent? Nope. But the self-pub portion of my business is in its early stages yet, so I consider all those expenses an investment I've made into the business.

Heidenkind said...

There there *pats*

Penny Watson said...

Hi Laura! I fully support hybrid authors...I think that's the best path--you're not putting all your eggs in one basket. Good for you! I might even join you.

I also think the whole "front-loading the investment" idea is a good one. For one reason. If you skimp on your first book, you won't get repeat readers. If you invest in the beginning of your career, your readers will follow you.

Penny Watson said...

Tasha...I need the pats. And maybe a glass of Merlot, too.

Julia Barrett said...

Amen, sister.

Jessi said...

Yep. I agree. Wholeheartedly.

This makes me kind of glad I don't spend more time on the message boards. If indie-bashing and hybrid-bashing and trad-publishing bashing is going on, I might as well be watching Fox news all day. It's so negative. You're damned if you do, double-damned if you don't.

One thing that really stands out about this post is how I'm doing all the same things as you, so I guess that makes me a publishing business. This is validating, and it helps me feel good about the money I spend, even if not all the investments pan out in royalties. It's all for the longterm health of my business. So thanks for that reminder!

Silvia Ami said...

"Once again, the bottom line is JUDGE EACH BOOK ON ITS OWN MERITS."
You nailed it!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julia! *waves* Your self-pub is the one that was BRILLIANT! In every way. Thanks!

Penny Watson said...

Jessi--I agree it's a good idea to avoid negativity. Some days I have to step away from the computer.

I like the whole concept of "investing" in your career. It doesn't only involve money. It's also about self-respect, investing time and energy and care to nurture your writing career.

Keep up the good work!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Silvia! Just because I adore an author doesn't mean I will love every single one of her books. I judge each one accordingly. Regardless of how long the author has been writing, how successful, the path to publication, etc.