“It is, but it’s not right.” I stared at the proof of Loyalties in my hands. Sometimes I hated having an eye for detail. “The title’s off center.”
“Off center?” I could almost see Wendi shaking her head on the other end of the line. “Looks fine to me.”
Nope. The main title was off center by a fraction too much to the right and it bothered me as much as a crooked painting hanging on a wall. In all honesty, no one would really notice. Except us.
We almost let that go. We almost settled and let a lot of things go just for the sake of getting the book out. But neither of us could. We had worked so hard on this for the last year. To just give in and say “Good enough” wasn’t good enough for us. No way was I going to have a product on the shelf that had anything about it to brand us amateurs. This book had to be the best we could possibly make it both inside and out. The whole world was watching and neither of us wanted to perpetuate the stigma self-publishers are fighting so hard to get rid of.
In The Minors
As self-publishing gains momentum I kind of see it as the minor leagues vs. the big leagues. All the traditional publishers are still looking at us like we’re second best. Maybe a few of us will have them looking over their shoulders, because after all, not everyone stays in the minors forever. There are a few of us out there who will give them a run for their money if they get cocky and don’t stay on top of their game.
This is why self-pubbers have to work twice as hard to look as good, if not better, than our traditional counterparts.
So Easy A Child Could Do It
Anyone can get published these days. You, your kids, your dog…seriously, anyone. All it takes is an account on Create Space, Lulu, Lightning Source or others. You don’t even have to know how to put a book together or design a cover when some places will do all that for you. All you have to do is write and someone somewhere will print it.
But therein lies the danger. Anyone can do it and no one is going to tell you you’re about to walk out onto the world stage with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
There are a lot of good writers out there who will benefit greatly from this new freedom. And there are just as many, if not more, BAD writers out there who have no right getting anywhere near a keyboard.
Why is there so much crap out there? Because the people who put that out are settling. They aren’t getting editors to edit their manuscripts. They aren’t hiring designers to create their covers or layout the book’s interiors. They think they can do it themselves.
They think they can do it themselves and IT SHOWS!
You May Be Talented, But You Can’t Do It All
I am a designer and a writer and a damned good one. Wendi is a writer and a very talented artist. We both know how to edit and structure a story. We’re also smart enough to know our limitations and when to seek professional help for ourselves.
Before Loyalties went to print, we had another professional book designer look over our layout. He caught a few things I either had forgotten from my years in publishing, or things that were outdated and could be changed. The spacing needed to be fixed just a touch, the headers adjusted…all very valuable information we took to heart. The changes were made even though that pushed our production deadline back more.
When it came to editing, we had enlisted several editors to work on proofing the book. Wendi and I both knew we would never catch all the typos and grammatical errors by ourselves. After working so closely with the material our eyes naturally fill in what should be there instead of seeing what was actually there.
And for the cover…yes, we went through quite a few proofs before I was completely satisfied it was the best it could be.
Learn From The Experience of Others
If you’re serious about your writing, get serious about your production. Get an editor, ask other professionals for their opinion if they’re willing to give it. And when they do? Listen to what they have to say, even if they say you really should hire one of them to do the job instead of you.
You want to be the best? Make that book of yours count in every way possible. From cover to cover it needs to shine. And when your book shines, so will you.