Do publishers provide authors with enough value to justify traditionally publishing books? Seth Godin must not think so anymore—or at least that seems to be what he’s saying.
Yet, publishers do provide some services that independent publishers must then be sure to garner on their own or else produce a less-than-quality product. If they don’t, they can be sure their sales will not equal those reached through traditional publishing routes simply because they have not provided readers with the standards they expect. These services include book design, cover design and manuscript editing.
As mentioned in my previous posts this week, best selling author Seth Godin’s announced earlier this week that he would no longer use traditional publishing for his books. This was followed by a blog post by Shiv Singh, head of Digital for PepsiCo Beverages, which broke down what Godin’s action actually means—to Godin and to authors and aspiring authors. (Please see my last two posts for my thoughts on Singh’s post.)
Among other things, Singh wrote: “Seth Godin doesn’t believe his publishers provide him enough value. By saying that he’s going to sell his book online and directly to his readers, Godin is basically saying that his publishers aren’t providing him enough value. He appreciates the need to have a strong editor (and he’s going to hire one independently) but everything else is not valuable enough for him. Publishers should be worried, and so too should Barnes and Noble and Borders. If other leading authors adopted this model they’d all be in trouble.”
I’d like to simply focus on this part of Singh’s statement: “He appreciates the need to have a strong editor (and he’s going to hire one independently).” Over the years, many self-published authors have failed to hire an independent professional editor. As a result, their books have not achieved the same quality that would have been demanded by a traditional publisher. Thus, they did not achieve the same success (i.e. sales) as they might have with a traditionally published book.
I was just at a writer’s club meeting last week and a traditionally published author offered the group the same message: “If you choose to self-publish, be sure to hire a professional editor.”
There are lots of types of editing a book may need. I suggest you find an editor that does everything from line editing to developmental editing so you are sure that not only your grammar and punctuation are correct but that your book makes sense and has no gaps in content.
Yes, editing is expensive. It costs a lot more than electronically publishing your book. It costs more than publishing your book with a print on demand company.
A good editor costs more than a bad editor. (Duh.) A professional book editor will do a better job of editing your book than a college English major or a high school English teacher.
Do right by your book. Do right by yourself. Hire a professional editor for your book. If you’ve already gone to the time and effort of writing a full manuscript, get it professionally edited so your book has a chance of succeeding.
Oh…and then hire a proofreader. That’s a service a traditional publisher would provide as well, although the proof would still be given to the author for a final read as well. Some careful authors I know then give the proof to friends for help proofing to ensure the final published book has no errors.