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Outsourcing Pt. 1 of 3 - Identifying the Steps to Publishing Independently
Your business is writing, and then publishing that writing. It's that simple...
*throws head back and cackles maniacally* I'm totally kidding! It's SO not that simple.
There are like a bajillion steps in between those two things, and a bajillion more after. For the sake of not getting bogged down in minutia and/or triggering a nervous twitch, today we're going to take a look at the broad checklist for publishing your own work.
These are the big-picture, guidepost things that you can tack to your office wall and work your way through--or at least know you'll have to address them at some point.
But before we do, I want you to promise to shout these words infomercial-style after you read about each of these steps: QUALITY MATTERS! Got it? Good, let's get to it!
1. Write - Simple in theory, but the Devil is in the details as they say. So make sure you do all the things those books on writing, critique partners, and teachers tell you to do to not suck at it. When you're pretty sure you don't suck, move to step two.
2. Edit - You're writing MUST be edited. And I don't mean your sister reads it and squeals at the kissy scenes. You cannot consider yourself a publishing professional unless you do a little quality control on your product. People aren't paying to read your misspelled words, runons, cliches, etc. Well, they might be paying for it, but they'll be pissed about it afterwards. You've been warned.
3. Cover - Every book distributor (see - 5) I know of requires a cover image to be uploaded before you can publish. The catch is that other than basic resolution requirements, there's no rule to say it can't be a really crappy cover. So there's some judgement to be made here.
4. Formatting - Whether you plan to publish your book electronically, in print, or both, some formatting must occur. Now, this can sometimes be done by "massaging" a Word document, and it can also be done by myriad other methods (learning some HTML, becoming a wizard, etc.) Basically, all those awful images conjured by the expression "many ways to skin a cat" should be springing to mind now. You're welcome. :)
5. Distributing - Once steps 1 - 4 are completed in some order (4 might be slightly reliant on 5 btw), you need to upload your book to Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Oracle (totally made that one up)--wherever. The point is, until you give your book to retailers, readers won't be able to buy and read it--which is kind of the point of this little rat race of ours.
6. Marketing - This technically can--and probably should--start before now, but especially after you've published your book. You need to figure out a way to let readers know it exists.
Oh, and the days of being able to shuck your britches and run through the town square shouting your author name, book title, and genre are long past. Well, you can still do that, and if someone uploads a video of you doing so to YouTube it might even work. But you'll most certainly also spend some time in jail. Plus, there are easier ways, which I'll get to.
*squints* Yep, I think that about covers it. Now, if you've actually done this Indie thing, you're probably flapping your arms up and down saying, "But, E.J.! You didn't tell them about the snuffles, the blithertoos, and the jumbles. And you definitely left out the bandysnatch, the widdersnaps, and the scuffles!" (You all speak like Dr. Seuss in my imagination... just go with it.)
I haven't forgotten at all! It's just that it would take SOOO much time to go into the detail of each of those steps, and Good Blogging Digest says I should keep this to around 500 words. (Completely disregard every other way I defy the rules in Good Blogging Digest...)
So, if I might, I'd like to offer you a simpler solution: Outsource it. Let someone else do the work.
Most small businesses are small for a reason. It's because they don't, and can't, do everything at an efficient or practical level. They aren't Amazon, Walmart, or Huge Corporation X with the stupid amounts of money needed to control every aspect of running a business. So they assess things they can do, and the things they can't, and then turn those can't things over to those who can.
Independent authors are no different. In fact, Steps 2 - 6 above can all be outsourced. Heck, you can probably even outsource 1, but we'll pretend you actually want to be a writer and not just call yourself one. Personally, I've had to pick and choose the things I've outsourced, so you can definitely do the buffet approach.
Maybe you're not made of money, and that's okay. There are lots of places and people who do some of these things on the cheap--and aren't bad at it to boot.
Yes, almost all of the items on that list can be learned with enough time and perseverance. (I'm going to rule out editing... please don't self-edit. Especially at the copyediting stages.) HOWEVER, always keep in mind that as a small business owner, your time = $$$. And depending upon your knowledge base going in, it can take a LOT of time to learn these things.
Remembering always that quality matters!, and that time = $$$, be brutally honest with yourself about what you can and can't do.
Done that? Great! Hope you'll come back for part 2 of my outsourcing discussion. I'll go into detail on what to look for, where to find it, and how much you can expect to pay.
"When you hit PUBLISH you're no longer just a writer or an author, you're a publishing professional." Click to tweet.
"-quality matters and time = $, so be honest with yourself about what you can and can't do." #IndieLife Click to tweet.
"You cannot consider yourself a publishing professional unless you do a little quality control on your product." Click to tweet.