I’ve been writing for publication since 1973. Over the years, when life got crazy, work piled up and deadlines loomed, I often hired someone to help out. I’ve hired housekeepers to keep my world outside the office organized and to give me more time for my work. Before the computer and the Internet, I hired someone to help me mail out queries to magazine editors. I’d give her a list of names and addresses and a stack of query letters on various topics and she would prepare my self-addressed-stamped envelopes and send them with the letters. I once hired someone to type an entire 360-page book into a computer so I could revise it and reprint it. I’d written that book on a typewriter in 1983.
Years ago when my grandchildren were younger, I’d hire them to help me handle and move boxes of books, prepare large mailings and so forth. And I still find it necessary to hire help. We all need someone outside of ourselves and our circle of friends to edit, proof and/or critique our book manuscripts before they go to print. Some of us need to hire a cover designer and a page layout person.
Many authors today, however, believe that they can do all that is necessary to prepare a book for publication, except, perhaps, publish the book. They self-edit, which is a good idea. We all need to self-edit. But we also need to turn our manuscripts over to another set of eyes before we consider them finished.
Some authors today design their own covers—they have a vision or they just want something simple. And many of these do-it-yourself covers are inferior in design.
Many other authors turn their manuscripts over to the first company representative that expresses an interest and the author trusts them to handle the editing, formatting, cover and publication. They might pay more than they would had they used qualified professionals or they might pay less. In either case, they are likely to get an inferior product in the end.
What is an author to do?
- Study the publishing industry—read books on publishing early in your writing process, subscribe to magazines and newsletters and read them, join organizations and clubs and participate. Know something about the industry before you get involved.
- Start saving up your money to hire a qualified editor. If you plan to self-publish (establish your own publishing company) or go with a pay-to-publish company, commission a cover designer, and, if necessary, a page layout person.
For an in-depth understanding of the publishing industry and your responsibility as a published author, read Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author.
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