When we talk about seeking help in the world of self-publishing, we come up against a struggle almost right away—a struggle almost as old as the indie publishing world itself: that inner debate between going it alone and creating the best possible book, a goal which in reality sometimes requires us to go very much not alone. A reality which requires us to seek assistance. And when you face up to that question, what you’re really asking is something else entirely. Something even more important:
What can having an expert in your corner do for you?
There’s great value in seeking personal help when it’s called for, just as there’s great value in considering all of your options and pursuing only those which benefit you more than they cost you. And really, when you think about it, pretty much every option costs you something, even if we’re talking about intangibles like time and energy and creativity instead of tangibles like hard cash. (But even hard cash is largely symbolic, isn’t it? That’s another story for another blog, though.) Often, the costs are ones we don’t think about, beyond the surface-level acquiescence of I guess I have to do this thing or this other thing, so here goes. I’ve spent many an evening on the floor of my living room snipping out shapes from craft paper only to sit back after hours of sweat (and the occasional tear, if I’m honest) with the lightning-strike realization that I could have just ordered these shapes online or something. But for one reason or another, I had already sunk a great deal of labor into the craft while assuming that I had no other option.
Many people have the same kind of AHA! moment when it comes to self-publishing—only, most of them have it too late, after they’ve already agonized through the various minutiae of picking out a self-publishing package, maybe even designing their own book cover or conscripting vaguely interested friends into copyediting, and even chasing down local distribution options to no avail.
Here’s the thing, though:
Help, in the world of self-publishing, is abundant. And it’s readily available. If you know where to look, and if you’re willing to look. There’s definitely a bit of resistance to giving up the solo attempt, stemming partly from the legacy of indie being tied to a flat rejection of the traditional publishing model, with its teams of marketing aides and editors with gatekeeping tendencies. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with questioning the need for help. Question away! Just know that it’s out there, and that true to the indie mindset it is as myriad and adaptable as the self-publishing process itself.
Thinking of my own personal experience in the world of self-publishing, I know for a fact you can find help with:
- Choosing a self-publishing company,
- Choosing which self-publishing package you want from that company,
- Cover design,
- Interior design and formatting,
- Illustrations (as Kelly mentioned yesterday),
- ISBN acquisition and Library of Congress listing,
- Publicity campaigns,
- Creating a distribution plan,
- Press releases,
- Setting up and executing book readings and signings,
- Author partnerships,
- Making a mark at national and international book fairs and expos,
- Registering your eligibility for awards,
- Creating a brand and merchandise,
- Forming a cohesive social media presence, and
- So, so much more.
The true value of personal help in the self-publishing process is in knowing you have an ally. Many allies. All of the time. They might come in the form of a Publishing Consultant or a Personal Marketing Assistant, or something else entirely. They’re out there on message boards, email, and of course you can catch them over the phone. They’re even out there lurking in live chats.
You are not alone. ♣︎