In my former life, I was an attorney and college economics professor. Writing books was pure happenstance. I had no training in writing fiction and it took me a while to learn the rules and publishing. (And I’m still learning!)
Seven years later, I’m a hybrid author which means I am both a traditionally and self-published author. I started as an indie author and never gave a thought to going with a publisher to put my books out in the world. But that’s where I ended up and I’m enjoying sharing my books in both worlds.
I often speak about the difference in the two, and which I think is better. And to answer the latter, I think there are pros and cons to each. Money. Control over the process and choices and the marketing available to you. But what I’d like to speak to is the changes there are in self-publishing since I started writing.
When I first started publishing my books, self-published authors weren’t given a lot of favor in the literary world. It was often bandied about, if you weren’t traditionally published it meant you weren’t a good writer. And of course, that wasn’t necessarily true.
Self-publishing allows anyone who wants to publish a book. Which is great. Lots of people have great stories to tell and share with others. But publishing also comes with a learning curve (true for both publishing arenas) and what’s good can be subjective.
Publishing has certain standards that should be adhered to when considering publishing your own book. And, in my opinion, it’s when they aren’t followed is what gives self-publishing a bad reputation. But poorly formatted manuscripts, bland covers and editing missteps are not the norm in indie publishing. And certainly “bad” books are published by even the Big 5 publishers.
It’s probably true that everyone shouldn’t try to write a book, at least not on their own. But even with self-publishing there are tools available to help to make your book look as good as those that have been published by the large publishing houses.
My advice to self-published authors is to take advantage of the things to make your book library worthy, but don’t spend a lot of money. There are many things that you can learn to do yourself. Like formatting. Or even covers. But one thing to remember, you can’t edit your book yourself. Always get beta readers, proofreaders or an editor to help.
If you have a book in you, write it. Even if it is never published. But if you do decide to publish, do your research, check out what makes up a “good looking” book, both inside and out and take your time to get it right.