Self-Publishing: It’s not DIY


It’s that time of the month again, first Wednesday, which means, it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


A few weeks back, I was talking online with a group of writers. Someone new expressed an interest in indie publishing her book but wasn’t sure how to go about it. She then asked, “I have to do everything myself, don’t I?”

I remember thinking along these lines when I first started writing. After all, the term self-publishing, or indie (independent) publishing suggests a certain degree of autonomy. The thing is, this is not to be confused with DIY (Do-It-Yourself). In fact, an author who is starting out will be doing herself a disservice if she tries to publish a book with no other help. She may think she’s really good at what she’s doing but it will show (it always does).

Let’s look at some of the steps towards self-publishing that might be better to be hired out:

  • editing
  • cover art and design
  • formatting and typesetting

I would say that hiring a professional editor is one the most important steps in self-publishing. There are many options available nowadays and I suggest you ask around for recommendations, do your research, and send for free editing samples until you find and editor that is right for you. It’s an investment that you won’t regret.
A book really is judged by its cover. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the reader and a professionally designed cover is another step worth the investment.
Formatting and typesetting may seem like cosmetic choices, but presenting your book in the most attractive, professional fashion will only increase its value. Plus, readers nowadays are very savvy and demanding, and details do matter.

You may be in a position to barter for some of these services, or even form a cooperative of writers with different skills: one who’s good at editing, another at proofreading, yet another who can format book interiors, someone who’s good with photography and Photoshop. You get the idea. Pooling skills and resources benefits everyone in the group without having to make a monetary investment. Or, you may also take the time to learn some of these skills, with the knowledge that your investment in time is a medium to long term one and that you can’t expect to do it in just a few weeks.

Let’s not forget about  other steps not directly related to publishing a book but more on the business side:

  • marketing and advertising
  • blog/website creation and hosting
  • copyright
  • business license
  • taxes

Some of these you may be able to do yourself, or learn how to do, and others you might actually need to get help for. Or again, a cooperative with a few business-savvy individuals would be a good idea as well.

My point is, self-publishing your book is not an occasion to show off your scrimping. You want to publish the best product you can show to the world, and sometimes that means hiring out others who are better than you at things you can’t do.

Concentrate on writing the best story you can. Then, surround yourself with people who can help you make it shine.

Insecure Writer #213



What are some services you have hired out to indie publish your book? What are some you wish you had hired?

  • Loni TownsendJuly 2, 2014 - 10:09 AM

    You hit a lot of good points in this post!

    I hired an editor, but the rest I did myself. I actually enjoy the formatting part, because it hit close to my day job (computer programming). I also made the cover, but it was after much trial and error, and testing it with my target audience. I’ll probably hire out next time for that.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 2, 2014 - 3:03 PM

      Thanks, Loni. I like to do ebook formatting so I’m doing that myself, but I hired out for the paperback formatting, as well as an editor and proofreader.ReplyCancel

  • Diane BurtonJuly 2, 2014 - 12:20 PM

    I agree. I’m a former English teacher and would never edit my own work. Geez, I completely miss missing words and the wrong homonym. Or the glaring hole in the plot. I have zippo artistic talent so a cover artist is worth every penny. I have learned how to format my books but the learning curve is steep.

    You’re absolutely right that you have to present your work the best you can.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 2, 2014 - 3:02 PM

      Thanks for the visit, Diane. The truth is we can’t do it all, so hiring out only makes sense.ReplyCancel

  • emaginetteJuly 2, 2014 - 3:42 PM

    I think your mixing up self-publishing with indie publishing. I’m with two indie publishers and they do most of the work. I still have to help promote my work, but with their contacts and reviewers it’s far from Do It Yourself.

    Anna from Shout with EmaginetteReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 2, 2014 - 4:52 PM

      Thanks for the visit, Anna. I know the difference between a small indie publisher and an author who’s self-publishing. My point was to show that many writers today are under the assumption that they have to do everything when they’re self-publishing, and that’s not the case.
      And as for marketing, even authors with big name traditional publishers do most of their marketing work.ReplyCancel

  • Julie MusilJuly 2, 2014 - 11:12 PM

    I hired an editor and cover designer…money well spent! I formatted myself, though. A steep learning curve, but I’m so glad I learned how to do it.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 3, 2014 - 12:28 PM

      I’d say cover designer and editor are good investments. Thanks for the visit, Julie.ReplyCancel

  • Patricia LynneJuly 3, 2014 - 4:27 PM

    Great points. Self publishing doesn’t equal DIY.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 4, 2014 - 11:45 AM

      Thanks for the visit, Patricia. I think it’s easy to forget the options are out there.ReplyCancel

  • Kim Van SicklerJuly 3, 2014 - 6:29 PM

    Your post is so appropriate to me right now. I am self-publishing my debut novel and am learning all of this as I go along. What a fascinating journey!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 4, 2014 - 11:47 AM

      I’m right there, Kim. I’m also self-publishing my début novel, and I’m trying to learn all I can about it. Thankfully, the resources available online are invaluable. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

  • AJ Lauer (@ayjaylauer)July 5, 2014 - 6:06 PM

    You are totally right about needing to have others participate in the process of making your book the best it can be! I lucked out in that my co-author is also a graphic designer, so he took care of all the appearance-related stuff. We did most of the editing last time, with just minor help from a writerly friend, and I think we might want to get a professional editor this time. This book is just so much more complicated…

    Visiting from IWSG,
    ~AJ from Naturally SweetReplyCancel

  • Michelle WallaceJuly 6, 2014 - 5:51 AM

    I always think about the saying: First impressions are lasting.
    So yes, a professional cover is a must!
    I read somewhere that according to a study on consumer behaviour, a potential buyer holds a book in his hands for approximately 3 to 5 seconds. So your cover, which is the first thing he sees, has about 5 seconds to make an impression.
    Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen SteeleJuly 10, 2014 - 2:13 PM

    So true! If you want your self-published work to be successful, you’ll need to hire out help. You might be a great writer, but that doesn’t mean that you are a great editor or cover designer. The investment is worthwhile because your end product will be that much better.ReplyCancel

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