I entered into the independent book publishing business with trepidation just about this time last year. This is after the publication of about eight books the old-fashioned, more traditional and more accepted way. And after a year, what’s my prognosis? Great for some, terrible for others.
As for me, I follow in my father’s footsteps. He classified himself as a jack of all trades, master of none. He was self educated, could do anything having to do with machinery, electrical, stuff in the shop or stuff around the house. And he expected me to learn it too. He held the belief that a real man doesn’t ask for help, but takes care of it himself.
Well, I went through a period where I felt if I couldn’t fix my recalcitrant transmission or rewire my house, I was a failure. But soon enough I learned that different people were wired different ways. I still maintain a lot of the independence he had instilled in me, but it is leavened with a bit more common sense. In other words, there are some things that in the long run is cheaper to let a professional do.
And having been a professional–editor, that is–I have an advantage to some others when it comes to independent publishing. Ten years as a book editor has shown me the process of making a book on the professional level. I had the privilege of serving as a book, magazine and newspaper editor, and my favorite is magazine editing. The reason? The newspaper has too many deadlines, and the book editor has less say in the final product. Magazine editing allows you to leave your personal mark on your product.
That’s why I think I enjoy publishing my own books. I’ll be the first to admit that I still need to find a reasonably affordable way for someone else to edit my books–I still haven’t found the right editor–but I think I have worked the rest of it out, by hook or crook. My son Matthew is happy to design covers for me, and with the hiring of starving artists for cover illustrations, we have made a lot of progress.
Right now I am negotiating with a couple of artists overseas (one is in Croatia, but I’m not sure where the other is) to purchase use of the illustrations (already made) to use as cover art and promotional material. It’s important that you get that last caveat in your agreement, because if you can’t use the art in promotion, that hurts when you try to put ads or trailers together. In addition, we found a couple of other illustrations that the artists refuse to sell to us, and so we are taking the concept and recreating it in a studio via photography and Photoshop. It’s perfectly legal to take someone else’s concept and reshoot it; it’s the art itself that belongs to the artists. The shoot is this Sunday; I will tell you how it goes. In fact, I will try to get some behind-the-scenes photos and share them here.
In the long run, if your love is simply writing great prose and you have no interest or ability in promoting your work, designing covers or formatting interior pages, then independent publishing may not be for you. But if you are fascinated with the whole process, as I have always been, and willing to learn from your mistakes, then I highly recommend it.