Are you a professional author? Are you self-published? Are you a professional if you self-publish? Some people seem to think that if you self-publish, you are not a professional. I beg to differ. With the big publishing houses taking fewer chances on new writers, the chances of being picked up and published is smaller than ever. What is a writer to do? They could wait it out, forever revising and resubmitting their book. Or, they could self-publish. While self-publishing used to have a stigma, this is changing.
I was thinking about all of this the other day when I read an interesting blog post today at The Self Publishing Revolution that got me to thinking. The author brought up an excellent question: Are all self-published authors amateurs?
I agree with the author of the blog post; I don’t think you’re an amateur just because you self-published. However, I have a caveat on this. To be considered a professional, you must present your material in a professional manner. This means the book must be put together properly with all the appropriate front matter in the right order. The text of the book must be set up in a standard format making it easy to read. The book must be edited properly to eliminate misspellings and grammatical problems. Since you are self-published, all of this falls on you, the author.
When I buy a book by one of the big publishers and see errors in them (and I do see this… we’re currently reading one out loud to the kids and there are errors that should have been caught before publication), I get rather irate. In that case, it isn’t the author’s fault because the publisher takes responsibility to edit and produce the book.
In almost every industry, professionals are expected to present themselves and their work in a professional manner, and I don’t think that self-publishing is any different. I admit that I have bought self-published books that seriously needed the attention of an editor. In each case, the author hemmed and hawed about the errors and insisted that they were getting these problems fixed. Since I’m not going to pay for another copy, I don’t know if they ever fixed them or not.
If you are putting yourself on the line, make the effort worth it. Hire an editor to polish your work before you publish.
John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.