Monday, April 1, 2013

Three for the Self Publisher

Okay, I'm gonna go on record here again, as I have on multiple occasions, and express my inherent distaste for self-publishing.

Now that I have, I will clarify that comment. I dislike self publishing done the wrong way. What's the wrong way? First, fail to write a good manuscript. Second, fail to first edit and then have properly edited by someone with a clue, that same manuscript. Then, for grins, make sure you get the worst possible cover, preferably something that reminds you of the crap you saw drawn in notebooks by the particularly untalented artists who were hanging around in high school and elementary school and even middle school/junior high depending on what it's called in your area. If you really want to go for the shock value, you can have it drawn by the local town drunk in exchange for the leftover water in that bourbon on the rocks you just finished. Then, because you know you want the full package, you should go to a company that promises all of the services you could possibly need fro a mere three thousand plus dollars.

That's what I mean when I say I have a distaste for self-publishing.

Now that I have finished my mini rant. Ahem. On the subject of self-publishing (DON'T DO IT!): there are right ways and wrong ways to do anything. I am what is now often referred to as a "legacy" writer. That means that I prefer to be a dinosaur and go old school. I prefer to have someone pay me up front, and then edit me, pay a cover artist who actually has a clue, work with their in house layout people, maybe if they're feeling generous advertise my book somewhere or even send out review copies and then publish my book for me and give me more money.

That last part? Yeah, that doesn't always happen. Heck, a lot of the middle parts are a crap shoot. But that's just because I've been at this for a while and I hate chance. The industry IS changing, by the way.  I accept this and have even dabbled in the self-publication market with some my reprints. Nothing new as yet. But time will tell.

So what do I recommend? What are the most important tools?

An editor. Seriously. Get an editor. Make your manuscript as clean as possible, just as if you were going to send it out for people to read and you were going to expect them to pay you for it. If I go to a pizza parlor and what I order is a pepperoni pizza and what I get is an anchovy pizza, I'm not thrilled. I'll likely even get annoyed. If I read a book that is hideously riddled with typographical errors, spliced full of tense shifts and random POV changes and then fails to actually have a plot? I'm never reading that author again. At that point, I'll likely stop referring to the offending party as an author or a writer. I have several other choice phrases in my thesaurus, thanks just the same. Think you don't need an editor? You're wrong. What's that? You went to college and majored in all the appropriate courses regarding the English language, grammar and the importance of proper plotting? Don't care. You're still wrong.

Get an editor. Hire one. Make sure said editor has ACTUAL credentials. Pay the editor. Know how you want to make a living as a writer? The editor wants to make a living too. Haggle if you must, but get an editor.

Get a cover artist. Seriously. Preferably one who can do layouts if you can't. Don't use your kid's picture. Don't ask your friend from high school to handle this for you. You can use a photo if you must, but get the rights and make it a decent one, and then find someone who can put all the pretty letters on there in the right order and not cover up your artwork. I know you think I'm being an ass. All  can say is go look at amazon or check out a few of the links you run across on Facebook and when you're done seeing what some of the finer micro presses can do in an effort to destroy a book cover, consider what I have said here.

Get an Amazon account. Go to and look into it. Why? because about 90% of all ebook sales go through Amazon.

I'm gonna give you a couple of bonuses.

First, here's Lynne Hansen's contact information. Need an editor and some cover stuff? Check with her. She rocks.

Second, here's J.A. Konrath's site.  Mister Konrath does NOT agree with me on how to get published. If you're going to listen to someone who actually disagrees with me, he's the one you should listen to, as he's making quite a lovely living as a self published author. Hell, he's making a much better living as a writer than I am.

That's it for me. You've been warned.

Jim Moore


  1. The thing with JA Konrath though, is he self-published with years of publishing experience behind him. He knew what it was like out there. Beginners don't. I almost self-published but got lucky and found a small press who wants to publish my book and am I ever grateful! There's so much to learn and I'm taking advantage of this incredible opportunity. I may not make gobs of money (although I hope I DO!), but how can you put a price tag on experience? You can't!

  2. Ah yes, a good editor is critical no matter which path!

  3. "Don't Do It" had me laughing.
    But I agree with you, I have been turned off by self published books. I read too many that were edited terribly (or some seemingly not at all), and the covers look cheap and the binding and paper (not that it really matters, but it does matter when I am paying for the thing) has the look of a workbook.

    I know I will pick up a self pub book again someday, but for now I have been burned too many times to want to jump back into them.

  4. There actually ARE a few good ones out there, but I need a bit more than a five star review from somebody's before I decide. Of course, the same is often true of books that aren;t self published.

  5. Very true. When I find a book able to transport me to an alternate reality, be it trad or selfpub, I get excited.

  6. First, cover matters. Period. I am a reviewer and when I browse the hundreds of books released I notice title and cover. Homemade covers don't get a second look from me. If someone I trust recommends a book with a terrible cover I will give it a try, but only then. There are just to many books to read for me to take a chance.

    There are two kinds of self pub beasts. Writers who have gone the trad route already and have experience with the industry and those that haven't. Lets call them the novice writers. Being with a small press doesn't mean your book will be good either. Some of them put out shoddy work. The big pub house tend to produce a more polished mainstream product. If you like that type of writing you won't be happy with a lot of SP work. I have also read some PNR from a big pub that made my eyes bleed with the stupidity of it.

    I don't think I actually made appoint here but there is a market for all types of writing. It is all relative to who is reading it and their standard of good writing, can you say 50 Shades? Cue eye bleeding!