Thursday, November 20, 2014


Self-published: Snuffy and Vroom Vroom
by Elizabeth Lavine
As I zigzag around the webs, there is interminable discussion in the writers' dens of iniquity--daring, futuristic, optimistic hipster-writers going the self-pub Indie route... and antiquity--the stay-the-course old-school-types who adhere to the format of agent-to-publisher-to-distributor publishing.

This blog is in five parts, each comparing self vs traditional publishing. One, your manuscript. Two, getting your manuscript onto a bookstore shelf. Three (if your book is a kids' book) choosing an illustrator... or a cover artist for a novel. Four, marketing, marketing and more marketing. Five, what's the answer...?

As both a writer/author with my name on the covers of a few bestsellers and with countless other discarded manuscripts languishing amid the dust-honey-badgers under my bed or in various socks or knickers drawers; and as an illustrator/painter with many a picture book gracing the shelves and digital space of retailers across this great continent, I too am wrestling with the question of self vs traditional publishing.

Self-published: Where
the Lost Things Go
By Barbara Farnsworth
So... You have a fantastic and mesmerizing story. Hopefully you have put that bad-boy on your hard drive and backed it up in several ways... and printed it out... and emailed it to yourself. If not, get busy!

*gives a hard stare through the monitor*

Right. So you've written a bestseller. You can feel it. You know how stunningly, splendiferously, awesomely excellent it is. You know it dang-well is the unparalleled next great American novel or children's classic...

Or is it? How do you really truly know? Has anyone else read it? Has anyone, especially an editor, critiqued it? If no one but you have read your masterpiece, Keyboard-Chimp, and you in your infinite wisdom have declared it stellar... whaa, whaa. Your head is somewhere north of, and residing up your nether-regions. Dark in there, isn't it? Not so easy to read or see what might be wrong with your manuscript, IS IT?
Illustration from Snuffy and Vroom Vroom

Now, let's leave that dark place and get back to the Indie vs traditional publishing debate. If you want to be published by a reputable house they will most likely edit your manuscript. Great, right? You won't have to pay for your editing. However, there's a chicken/egg dilemma here. It may behoove you to have your manuscript edited anyway because to any agent or publisher, grammatical screw-ups and typos aren't just innocent mistakes. Nossir. They are a bad stench, flies in their soup, roaches... a pestilence, a plague, something to be killed off.

(BTW a kernel of info here... While you write your masterpiece it is referred to as a manuscript, but once you print it up as a finished book, but it's still unpublished, those pages are referred to as galleys. Therefore your editor is your galley slave. You know you secretly always wanted a galley slave, so get one.) 

If you are going to self publish you definitely need a galley slave, partly because we don't need more junk on the market, especially junk that weighs down the endeavors of the rest of us, giving self-publishing a bad name, but also because recently I've noticed that some previously anti-Indie book awards have softened to admit self-published books to be entered, but only professionally edited ones. So find a galley-slave and put her/him to work.

Illustration from Where the Lost Things Go

KIDS BOOKS TOO! Don't think that because there aren't many words in a kids' book that you can edit it yourself.

*shakes finger accusingly*

Choose the most brutally honest,  uncompromising editrix you can find, preferably one that uses whips and wears very tight leather and tall boots... What?...

Do this immediately after you get the meat on the page of your first draft. This is when they can steer you onto a good path if you have lost your way--and let's face it, first drafts are usually like a maze. And when you get the markups back... remember, there's no crying in publishing, pantywaist.
My editor is the highly talented, intuitive, smart, open minded (and ruthless) Joelle Yudin (who did NOT ask for a plug).  You'll have to ask her yourself about the tall boots... Kidding, stalker! Here's my testimonial that you'll find on her website...

"As my editor, Joelle Yudin wears many outfits. She's a cartographer mapping the overview of my novel—its character arcs, timeline, and continuity. She's a detective hunting down pesky inconsistencies, a surgeon using a finely sharpened scalpel to excise my verbal cancers, and a builder who not only keeps a keen eye on the foundation but supports my unique voice. Thanks Joelle for your dedication, your expertise, and your unflinching honesty throughout my projects

The takeaway: with a traditional publisher you'll most likely save $$$ on editing. But maybe not if you want your manuscript to be the best it can be before you submit it.

Thanks for stopping by.
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1 comment:

  1. Sheila, I LOVE your blog! You provide valuable information in a fun and easy-to-read manner, spiced with your charming personality. :)