Be a Boss



1. a person in charge of a worker or organization.

One of the most satisfying things about being an independent author is making every decision about your book. When I hold my book in my hand, I look at it with more pride than a traditionally published author probably does simply because I was the one pushing the book forward and I’m the one that put it out.

Me. Me. Me. Me.

No, I’m not practicing my scales here. My point is that self-publishing can be a little vain sometimes. Look back at that first paragraph, I’m completely wrapped up in myself. When publishing, I’m doing it all. Which can be a little lonely sometimes. Maybe your friends and family don’t grasp the severity of each milestone to help you celebrate (or maybe they’re still stuck on the self-publishing myth: “But…it’s not, like, really published, is it?”). Maybe your sales at first tank because nobody knows who you are (yet you just slaved for the last few months—years?—putting together your masterpiece and there it is being ignored on Amazon because you’re the only one that worked on it and, therefore, cares about it).

Besides the vanity, doing everything yourself can be hard. You’re just a writer. Sure, it can be exciting and rewarding to learn every aspect of the publishing industry (and you should be aware of it), but there’s a reason major publishers exist: each part of the process is a full-time job in itself. If you’re doing everything by yourself, when are you going to have time to write? To live?

As I go through this publishing journey, I’m discovering my weaknesses. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t stand a chance making an eye-catching cover. Nor did I want to. So I paid someone to do it for me. No, I didn’t physically put it together myself, but I gave the designer the concept and other feedback to shape the cover I envisioned all along. He took my idea and used his skills in a profession he’s passionate about to help me along with my ultimate goal.

The same goes for editing. Each manuscript goes through many, many, many rounds of edits by myself before I pass it along to my editor and even then she has a laundry list of suggested changes. Maybe that’s because books are never perfect and there’s always room for improvement and maybe it’s because I’m too close to the manuscript to consider the style and grammar changes that need to be addressed. Either way, I can’t edit the manuscript completely by myself. I need help.

Beyond the cover and editing, I’m discovering even more weaknesses that can get a newbie author down who thinks they should be able to do it all themselves. First off, I’m horrible at blurb writing. I know a lot of authors complain about it too, yet most of them can pull it off. I managed with my first book, but that was after years and years of whittling down the story to its core. (Maybe I just got lucky?) But when I go to write blurbs for my second book and short stories, I’m coming up empty. I’m either giving away too much or not saying enough to hook readers.

I’ve watched videos, read books, and asked on KBoards, but I still can’t master the art of blurb writing. (I should cut myself some slack, though. I do only have one book out so far…) Luckily, there are people who are great at blurb writing and actually like it. They offer their services for relatively cheap, so if you’re like me and aren’t good at writing book blurbs, there’s a resource!

The same can be said for any other part of the publishing process: formatting, uploading, keywords, etc. Wherever you have a weakness, there is someone out there who is offering a service to compensate your weakness with their strength.

The downside to this is that it’s another expense in the process which means you need to sell more copies of your books to break even. But if you have shotty packaging, you’re never going to sell books to make up the cost anyway. As indies, we’re competing with major publishers. And we have the ability to put out work that’s equal to that of major publishers, but that doesn’t mean we need to do it on our own.

Major publishers have collected a team of people who specialize in each step of the publishing process. Essentially, each self-publisher is a publisher themselves. Find your team.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try these things on your own first. I found out I’m horrible at blurb writing by trying to write my blurbs. I found out I enjoy formatting because I tried formatting my book. Maybe down the line I’ll be too busy writing or working on other parts of the process that formatting my own books just isn’t feasable anymore and I’ll have to hire it out. But at that point, if I’m that busy, I’ll be selling enough books to afford the extra expenditure. At this point in my career, I can take some extra time to format my own books.

Find your strengths and weaknesses and assess them often. Are you spending more time on the publishing “extras” than on writing? Can you afford to have all of your “extras” covered by others and leave yourself open to write? (That’s the dream, isn’t it?) Maybe you enjoy the break in writing and want to design your own cover or format your own book? There’s nothing wrong with that.

In the end, no matter how much or how little you hire out to others, you get the final seal of approval on your books. Every detail needs to be approved by you. You just need to dole out the tasks and give orders. In other words, be a boss.

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