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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Self Publishing & Professionalism… The two CAN co-exist!


Everyone is saying it. “The market is over saturated with NON-professional self-publishing authors and it gives us all a bad name.” 
Whether that is true or not is for debate but I’d like to share some things I think can help the novice author.
It is important to use social networking for promoting. Whether it elicits even one sale is not as important as the exposure and familiarity you can create regarding your name, brand, title, etc. These are all ways you are going to get that recognition. Of course you want to be yourself; no one wants to be fake or phony. However, there is a time and place for everything and your ‘Author John Doe’ page is not the place for intimidation, disrespect, political or religious views (unless this is what your books are about), etc.  I’m not saying you don’t want your character to shine through. I am saying be mindful that other professionals in your industry may also be viewing these posts. You might say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me…” and that may possibly be the way you feel which is fine. But when you are not respected in your industry amongst your peers, it will only hurt you.  All of my blogs are just my opinions unless I state something as a fact and in my opinion; this is just not a good look. I know I personally will not bother reading anyone’s work that has been offensive on social networking and I may be missing out on some great stories but I don’t feel like it is a loss because they are many other great stories out there by people with pleasant positive attitudes who I am honored to support.
Respect those before you. I’ve heard it say several times how this established author or that established author thinks they are all that or they are stuck up and so on and so forth. That may be your opinion and that may actually be the case as well. Here comes my ‘however’… However, you have got to respect their hustle and when you have been in the business and the industry for as long as they have, people may be saying that about you as well. Unfortunately, this is not an easy industry to be successful in and it may harden a few people at times but the hustle, grind and hard work they have put in still deserves respect. You ain’t gotta like ‘em, but you should respect them. (And when you’re in the game as long as they are, see if your attitude isn’t a little different.)
Be leery of who you associate yourself with in the industry.  Don’t make someone show you who they are directly. If they show your neighbor, take heed. Anyone can be anyone they want to be on the internet.  Just because I holler out this or that authors name all the time doesn’t mean that author likes or respects me so don’t be misled by these people who holler every name in the industry on their tweets and FB posts like they are best friends.  Actually ask that person whose name they are hollering about them. You might have a whole different outlook after that. I see it all the time where someone is name-dropping another person’s name just to lend themselves some credibility. Don’t fall for it. Do your research.
Now for my favorite part of the process. Editing, proofreading and typesetting are all soo important to put out a professional product. Of course, I suggest 21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing (www.21StreetUrbanEditing.com ) *shameless plug* however even if you don’t use us, you have to use someone so here are a few things you need to do when searching out your editor.
The first thing you will want to do is figure out exactly what you are looking for in an editor. Once you do that, you need to contact them and get specific prices and details of the service they are providing. You will also want to check references by not only contacting the references they provide, but also view the work as well. Also ask around, this industry is very small and even people who haven’t directly used the service, may know someone who has. Make sure there is some type of formal training. Just because you can spot a typo in a book, doesn’t make you an editor. It is an extremely difficult, most of the time thankless job that takes a special person to do successfully. Research is very important and should be something you are doing to all of your service providers throughout your publishing endeavor.
You should also ask for a sample edit. I think pretty much any editor will provide you with a short sample edit so that you can get a feel for the process as well as their editing style. You need to know what the process is before it begins so you know what to expect.
Allow your editor time to work your script. If you are giving an editor a short period of time or constantly emailing them to find out how much longer, the work is going to reflect that. It may not necessarily mean they are sloppy or not competent to do the work, but more of them wanting to please the customer so the process may turn out a rushed finished product.  Schedule at least four weeks at a minimum for your books to be in edits but allow up to eight weeks if need be. If you are looking to use a well-established editor, you may not be the only one and she may be booked out for months so schedule ahead of time and don’t rush it for your own sake.
Some manuscripts (especially first time authors) need way more work than others and you need to have that time allotted. DO NOT schedule your book release party before your book is at the printers. Scheduling a release date is great, as long as you have also scheduled that time period for proper edits and typesetting to take place. Nothing is more annoying or a more telling sign of a novice author than someone trying to go to edits three weeks before their scheduled release date. I never like to give an exact release date until I get it the delivery date confirmation from the printer. There is nothing wrong with saying Fall/2011 or Summer/2012. This way, you are not looking like a dumb ass when your date comes and goes and you have no book or worse yet, you have a sloppy, unprofessional book.

I will revisit this again with more suggestions. I look forward to the urban genre getting the respect it deserves and that starts with us.