There's self-publishing, and then there's publishing. In an ideal world the quality of books produced from both routes should be of a similar high standard. But if you peruse the online shelves of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, or any online e-tailer listing and selling self-published books; the results can be very diverse when it comes to the quality of book covers and content. Add in the value for money you get with some dubiously priced editions, and, in short, you reach a conclusion that an author may be able to self-publish, but few can self-edit, self-design and self-market. You can come up with any other 'self' you'd care to throw into the pot. The truth is that almost all authors can and should benefit from using professionals within the publishing industry, whether those editors, designers or marketers are freelance or working for a reputable company offering publishing services. Sure, some authors may have a gift in design skills and are familiar with design and layout software, but few authors will have the whole gamut of skills required to write, polish, produce, publish and market their books.
I don't know of a single self-published author (including me) who sat back after publishing a first book and concluded that they couldn't have done it any better. We are learning all the time, and as long as we keep self-publishing, the book inside and out can always be improved. All too often with that first self-published book, we vastly underestimate what is required to compete with the big boys and girls of publishing.
Self-published author, Catherine Ryan Howard, in her blog this week asks:
Could Your Book Pass THIS Test?
'THIS Test' is Jane Smyth's The Self-Publishing Review.
Once upon a time, Lulu, which led me to CreateSpace, which started the wheels in my rejection-filled head turning…was 400 sheets of double-spaced text resting in a Muji kraft box under my bed and its destiny was to remain there forever. I had no intention of self-publishing it, not least of all because I figured self-publishing was for delusional losers who despite being rejected by one literary agent and five publishing houses just couldn’t take a hint.* But then a friend sent me a link to
Soon, the decision was made. I’d self-publish using the cheapest and easiest form of Print on Demand, or POD. I’d already checked the manuscript a few times during my agent/publisher hunt, so I was pretty confident it was mistake-free. All I had to do was re-format it and convert the Word document into a PDF. I could throw together some kind of cover using the software provided by CreateSpace and then point people in the direction of its Amazon listing. The whole thing might take a Saturday, a weekend at the most.
Um, no. Not even.
You can read the rest of Catherine's piece here.