Self-Publishing: The Myth and the Reality
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There was a time–and not all that long ago–when self-publishing was considered nothing short of blasphemy. So-called “vanity houses” would, for a price, produce your book. The costs varied, depending on the length, whether the work had photos or illustrations; a book of poetry or a novel would run about $5,000–$7,500. For that, an author got his work edited, copy edited, proofread, designed, and cover artwork was supplied. The author got, for his investment, 100 complimentary copies and promises of promotion, advertising, and marketing. Review copies were duly sent out to print and all media outlets for consideration. Sounded great, looked good on paper. Authors had dreams of fame and glory and riches and of being on Oprah. Sure, a small percentage of vanity house authors who just wanted a book to give out to friends and relatives and had no illusions. Which was fine. Unfortunately, 99% of these self-published authors either didn’t read or didn’t understand the small print and few, if any, understood how the publishing business worked.
Publishers still exist for many reasons, the most important being the editorial relationship that develops between the editor and the author. Writing can be a very lonely business. A good editor works closely with the author to help shape the story, serve as a sounding board, pep the author up when necessary and pull him down if the author goes too over the top. During the writing process, an editor serves as a father-confessor and cheerleader. Once the book is ready to go, the publisher gets behind it with marketing and publicity efforts, and has already given the book the best cover and cover copy that money can buy. The publisher’s money, not the author’s.