Last week, I gave an interview to Inkspokes, a website dedicated to independent authors and their readers. The interviewer, Nelson Suit, who is one of the editors at Inkspokes, asked me a number of questions about my own experiences as an author who published his own work, but then asked me — as both a writer and a publisher of others’ writing — what would be my advice for folks who were looking at self-publishing. Well, a lot of people who are smarter than I am have given thought to that subject, but after considering the question for a bit, here’s what I came up with:
DK: My two biggest pieces of advice will both seem a bit heretical.
The first is that self-publishing doesn’t mean that you have do everything yourself — or that you should. The chairman of Penguin/Random House doesn’t copyedit every book, nor does he try to design his own covers. He’s your competition. Budget in the time and (if you can) the money to outsource the parts of the work of publishing that you really can’t (or as I said shouldn’t) handle yourself.
The places where you will really serve yourself best by finding someone else to help out? Highly technical processes like print layout and cover design. It’s possible to create your own ebooks if your work is narrative and doesn’t include much in the way of complicated formatting or images.
You should absolutely have editors at each of the three stages of editing — development (before the “final” draft is finished); copyediting (after you’re done developing the book but before you’ve had it laid out); and proofreading (after layout/conversion and just before publication). Do you have to hire professionals? I’m not unbiased, I recognize, but I highly recommend it.