As more and more people venture into self publishing, I’ve noticed that for many, it’s a rude awakening how much help they actually need even though they’re thinking of it as a DIY project. I think that’s because, with traditional publishing, most writers are somewhat shielded from the number of people whose work touches their book somewhere along the line. And now that authors are pressured to think about promoting their own books, they’re even more aware of how much work it takes to actually get people to buy.
There persists this romantic fantasy of the writer as a loner, holed up in his/her writing cave, emerging to deliver a masterpiece to the publisher, then retreating once again to remain forever invisible while the book took care of selling itself.
It got me to thinking about one of the truths of publishing that doesn’t seem to be addressed or acknowledged often enough:
We have this fantasy of a book as the product of a single brilliant individual. I think we all love this fantasy, the readers most of all. Even those of us involved in the business of creating books can succumb to it – because after all, it’s the writer on whom everything hinges.
The book is primarily the product of you, the author. But in general, I’d say that most books end up to be roughly 75% the author, 25% everyone else involved in bringing the book to market.
Yes, you may spend months or years of your life digging that book up from deep down inside you, and wrestling it to the page. You may have birthed it in pain and agony. You’ve given it your all.
But when you’re done with it:
→ An editor will edit it.
→ A copyeditor will copyedit.
→ A proofreader will proofread.
→ A designer will design and typeset the interior.
→ Another designer will create a cover.
→ A marketing team strategize and execute a marketing plan.
→ A publicist will promote it.
→ A sales team will pitch it to buyers.
→ A printing company will print your book.
→ Bookstores will sell your book.
By the time your book arrives in the hands of a consumer, dozens of people have played an important role in getting it there.
You’re the most important part of this collaborative team. Without you, no one else on the team has a job.
But it’s good for us to remember the collaborative nature of this art, this business. Don’t get too used to the fantasy of the solo artist in a cave, toiling alone. If that’s the life you want, well, not even self-publishing will provide that for you. If you want the lone ranger life, you and your family members may be the only ones reading your book.
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