Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nobody wants to hear this about self-publishing "tools"

It's not easy at a table full of authors to have to state the most unpleasant reality of self-publishing tools like Lulu or Lightspeed or even Smashwords or Createspace. No one wants to hear it. They especially don't want to hear it with their self-published, print-on-demand book in their hands. Now you might construe my points as self-promoting, but I'm being honest and blunt, it is what is ...

First and foremost, those "tools" ARE NOT publishers. They do not provide professional editing, proofing (yes, proofing is a whole other process), graphic design, or even truly "publish" your book.

Second (and people especially don't want to hear this one), I can tell a self-published book just at a glance. I don't have to scrutinize or even analyze. Lulu looks a certain way as do all of the others.

Third, unpleasant truth: if I can tell it's a self-published, print-on-demand book within seconds, the critics (who have equally critical and experienced eyes) can too. Your book will come across their desks (if it even gets that far) and be passed over just as quickly.

Authors who don't care about those detractors and have specific reasons for using those services, can nod and move on. Authors who are simply misguided and don't understand those realities should not get angry with the messenger. In fact, they should be glad someone said something who has no vested interest in whether or not feelings got hurt, because I just said something they didn't want to hear. If you just wanted an inexpensive "tool" to publish your book doesn't mean my points are nullified and lack merit.

I can't wave a wand and change industry perception -- and there are good reasons for that perception in a market glutted by the "anyone-can-publish-a-book" mentality. The people who suffer on the other end are those who put down valuable dollars only to get books riddled with mistakes, poorly written, and not vetted for quality in any way, shape or form. And for me as a true professional and writer, I found that mentality disrespectful to my profession and pretty insulting. It's like a doctor being told, "Hey, anyone can treat me. Your MD means nothing."

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