What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Self-Publishing: 1 of many to come

I'm not sure why I'm writing this now. I'm actually experiencing a burst of energy here a little after midnight and should be applying myself to getting books off my desk, but. . . .

I'm going to take up the subject of self-publishing in small chunks. So much to say.

It used to be that self-publishing was the last refuge of the unpublishable author. No more. My favorite story about self-publishing (formerly known as vanity publishing) is that Vantage Books, which runs a regular ad in the New Yorker and probably has for decades, was in the 1960s a CIA front operation. What better way to find out what crazies are thinking than to publish the books they are paying their own money to publish that no other publisher would touch?

These days, self-publishing has been made quite easy because of technological advances, such as print on demand. You don't have to have five thousand copies of your unsold book deteriorating in your garage anymore. Also, given that royalty houses expect authors to market their own books anyway, especially if you don't have a platform (note to self: future blog entry on platforms), why not publish the book yourself and get back some money -- like 40 percent or more of the cover price as opposed to a percentage of a percentage of the wholesale value minus returns, etc.? If any royalty publishers happen to be reading this blog, feel free to argue with me on this point.

There are so many ways to go with this, but let me step on my primary soapbox: If you are self-publishing, it doesn't mean that your book has to look like crap, and many self-published books do. The key is to find proper vendors, just like the big companies do, and put out a proper product that you won't be ashamed of in two years time. Ideally, your self-published product can look and feel as good as the best of the best. Like anything else, it's a matter of time, effort, and money.

Sure, you can put out a book quick and easy and dirty and cheap. And you'll get exactly that kind of product.

If you are self-publishing--and yes, this comment is as self-serving as it sounds--make sure that it is still professionally edited and proofread and indexed, if an index is necessary; the other two functions absolutely are. Make sure you have someone good design the inside pages in a proper book design program, and pay to have a good cover design created. Work with a printer (or have your book designer work with one) and use good paper and good cover stock.

Will all this drive up your costs? Yes. Will all this give you an infinitely better product? Yes.

I've seen so many locally self-published books that are obviously the output of someone who didn't know what to do or who to go to. Don't double-space after periods. Don't design your book while you're writing it. These types of books end up looking like fifth-grade class projects. Is that what you're hoping for?

Some people--I've worked with them--just want to die with "author" on their tombstone, and these days, it's easier and easier to accomplish just that. But once you're composting, what type of book are you leaving behind? People aren't going to be reading your tombstone.

Back to work.


NYD said...

No offense taken! We are frightening!!

moi said...

Separated. At. Birth. You two.