I don’t really care which side of the digital/traditional line you’re on in terms of what types of books you like to read, and i don’t care which side of the indie/traditional line you’re on in terms of where you think the future of publishing lies, and i don’t think paper books are going away anytime soon, and i don’t think it would be a good idea for Amazon to rule the world but i don’t lose any sleep over that because i don’t think they’re ever likely to.
But speaking exclusively as a writer and editor for a moment, i’m getting tired of two things. 1) Having to listen to many writers talk about how traditional publishing is the best and only means of access to proper editing and cover design; and 2) The much more annoying flip side of the same coin, having to listen to many writers talk about how they reject indie writer/publishing because they don’t want to deal with the additional things an indie publisher has to deal with. I just want to write, they say. Let other people deal with the rest of the shit.
(When i say “many writers”, i’m talking about people talking about the publishing industry. If you’re someone i know who happens to be a writer who happens to be reading this, i’m not talking about you, because for the most part, the writers i know are more forward-thinking than the “many writers” i am talking about.)
So here’s the deal.
Saying “I reject indie writer/publishing because it involves things other than just writing” is like saying “I reject the baseline idea of being a writer because writers work on computers, and if my computer breaks down, I don’t know how to fix it.”
If you’re a writer, your computer is a means to that end. If your computer breaks, you don’t give up writing. You pay someone to fix it.
If you’re a writer, having your work edited is a means to that end. Having a cover for your book is a means to that end. And finding someone to edit your work and design your cover is the same fucking process as getting your laptop fixed when you drop that third latte of the morning straight into the keyboard.
You pick up the phone. You compose an email. You say, “This is what I need you to do for me.”
Here’s the deal.
When the outline is done, you hire a story editor to analyze the mechanics of story, helping you take the outline apart and see things in it that you can’t see because you’re too close to it.
When the draft is done, you hire a line editor to analyze the mechanics of the writing, helping you clean things up that you glossed over because you know the story in your head so well that you sometimes disengage with the story that’s on the page.
When the page proofs are done, you hire a proofreader to check for the last little glitches that always show up on paper to someone else’s eyes, but which will always unfailingly hide from you on the screen.
While the line editing and the proofreading are being done, you hire a cover designer to create the icongraphy that will capture the story and create the vanguard imagery of your promotional effort.
Every part of the publishing process consists of specialized, professional work that not everyone can do. But your access to that specialized, professional work is the easiest thing in the world.
Writing a great book? That’s the hard part. If you’ve already done that, you own the fucking world. So why are you balking at the easy stuff that comes afterward?