When I first heard the term I wondered why some people seemed to hold it in such awe. That is, until I decided maybe I should try my hand at independent publishing myself.
Let me just say, the exercise (which I wholly recommend, btw) is scary and invigorating and terrifying and exciting all at the same time. It has also given me new respect for publishers.
All of those things are important.
I say that because, challenging myself is the only way I will get better. Understanding what my publishers go through makes me understand the business side of writing/publishing.
Both are huge wins.
Lessons that have been reinforced for me?
- Publishing a good book is hard. Anyone can publish a crappy book. Creating the quality book takes hours of work, talented editors and equally talented cover artists. The actual writing seems almost easy by comparison.
- Did you notice in the first point how I mentioned talented editors? Yeah, that wasn't an accident. Make sure your book goes through a proper editing process. In my case, I had several steps: wrote initial draft, let it soak, edited it, sent it to my beta reader community, revised some more, sent to my first developmental editor, revised and finally sent it to a developmental/line editor. Oh yeah, then I revised it again. If I'm going to publish something, I want it to be at least as good as any other big press book.
- I also mentioned talented cover artist. I happen to know several excellent cover artists and, I've got to tell you, a cover can make or break a book. Give your novel the best chance possible.
- Book layout isn't an accident. Talk to people who have done it before and take any lessons they've learned to heart for your own.
- Don't make your timelines too tight. Getting the book printed can also be time-consuming. Make sure you read all the printer criteria a few times before creating the files for them.
There were more, smaller things to consider. I haven't mentioned promotion or marketing (which any author needs to do, neither of which are small or unimportant). Suffice it to say, the actual creation of the book takes time, effort and money. Yes you can do it for almost nothing, but chances are good the quality will be equal to what you've spent (in that case).
Was it worth doing? Absolutely. And soon I can share my efforts with my readers. That will be the best part of the whole ordeal.