The experience of working with a publisher, versus self-publishing a book, is very interesting. I might even say it’s relaxing by comparison.
Last week I was reminded of how much work is involved in self-publishing, and how stressful it can be, when I spent a whole day re-formatting the manuscript for the paperback version of my first book, Susan.
I originally published the book on Amazon KDP in 2017. Last year I corrected a few typos and added a couple of sentences to the text. They were such minor changes that I didn’t think it necessary to order a printed copy to check it, after I’d uploaded it to Amazon. That was naive of me.
It was only when I bought a copy to give to someone else that I discovered the “corrected” version was full of unexpected and unexplained formatting errors. It was still readable, but certainly not presentable. In the end I had to strip all the formatting and start from scratch to get it right. Then I had to remember how to upload it again. Now I’m waiting for a printed copy to make sure it has stayed properly formatted this time.
The pros and cons of self-publishing
Many authors have moved into self-publishing because it gives them more control over their work, and the royalties are better. I decided to self-publish Susan because I didn’t think it was the type of book that would appeal to traditional publishers. I was also curious to know what self-publishing a book involved, from woe-to-go. It was worth doing, and I don’t regret the decision.
But although self-publishing probably becomes easier the more you do it, I’ve found it has a steep learning curve. Every stage – editing, formatting, publishing, publicising – involves acquiring new skills, both technical and personal. Getting it half-right is relatively easy. Getting a professional-looking product into the hands of readers is more difficult. Writing the book was definitely the easiest part! (I suspect getting it right would be easier with fiction than a non-fiction work with references, like Susan.)
At first, working with a traditional publisher on my second book seemed a very long, slow journey. But I’ve come to appreciate having someone else to work with at each stage of the publishing process. I still have some say in the editing, formatting and art work, but I’m not responsible for the technical side of setting up and distributing the book. I feel confident that every aspect of The Edward Street Baby Farm will be well-polished when it’s finished.