Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How many hats can you wear?

Last week, I talked about the business of writing, meaning taking a businesslike approach to the process of getting your writing out there into the big wide world. Even if you don't intend to create an officially registered business, it's worth asking yourself how serious you are about the whole process and how businesslike you want to be.

Being businesslike simply means applying suitable disciplines and making informed and deliberate choices to stack the odds of success in your favor.

As I've researched the ins and outs of self-publishing, it's become clear that an independent writer hoping to make a serious go of self-publishing has to juggle an awful lot of hats along the way.

That doesn't mean you actually have to wear all these hats, but you should at least be aware of them and decide what (if anything) you need from each.

Skipping the rather obvious role of actual writer (which is probably what most of us would like to concentrate on and skip all the rest), there are other obvious roles directly related to writing a novel, such as researcher, editor (in various flavors) and critiquer. Many of these, you may well do largely yourself or with the help of critique buddies.

These get you the meat of your product - the words on the page. To turn this into a marketable product (assuming you don't have a traditional publisher to do this for you) you need to throw in things like cover artist, graphic designer, book designer and formatter. Most of us would do well to get some expert help in these areas.

That gets you the content, and from there it seems a deceptively easy step to publication - pop it up on Amazon in a few minutes and wait for the $$ to roll in.

Yes?

Wellll...you certainly can do that, and therein lies the problem. It's so easy, and a lot of people are doing it. Trouble is, will it achieve your publication goals - and do you even know what those are?

To be businesslike in all this, there's a milliner's paradise of ancillary hats to consider. Just from a quick brain dump I came up with: business owner, business planner, project manager, accountant, resource manager, lawyer, contract manager, promoter and sales person, web site designer and administrator ... maybe you can suggest some more that I've missed!

Of course, as I said earlier, you may not actually need all (or even any) of these. But before you discard them out of hand it's worth understanding what they might bring to the table and whether or not they might help you reach your goals. Some might be useful disciplines even with a traditional publishing deal. After all, the publisher's first interest is their own bottom line. Who's really looking after the dreams and ambitions of you, Solitary Author Inc.?

The question to ask in each of these roles is: how much (if anything) do you need to support your publishing efforts, and how much can you/should you do for yourself?

14 comments:

  1. It's pretty exhausting when you self-publish. Wearing all those hats is extremely time consuming and yes, I'd rather be writing. Alas, that isn't the reality. Some authors seem to be better at it than others. It's hard to establish a fan base when no one knows your book exists!

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  2. I think I'll just stick to blogging.

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  3. Its all those hats that discourage me from self publishing. However, going with a small print publisher can have an author doing much the same as inde-pubbed. I don't like having to hunt down - or choose - editors, cover artists, and other such marketing.

    However, I do believe you are correct that writing is a self employment business. Authors don't just write the novel, they have to be prepared with marketing plans, self promotion schedules, uck; I'm getting a headach.

    .......dhole

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  4. Too dizzying for me to think about at this stage. Ask me again in, uh ... 4 years! ;)

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  5. Wendy, that's the problem. We are writers, yet that alone isn't enough these days :(

    Delores, that's certainly a tempting thought!

    Donna, even the big publishers these days seem to expect the author to do a lot more, especially the dreaded marketing *Shudder*.

    David, why do you think it's taking me so long to pluck up the courage?

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  6. I know I do way too much myself--that is, everything. But what can I say? I;m broke, and I'm a glutton for punishment. ;)

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  7. Carrie, I'll probably end up doing too much myself, too :)

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  8. Time for marketing is one thing, but all the formatting, cover and want of professional editing wihout shelling out cash upfront is keeping me in submissionland for now.

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  9. Jean, I've lived in submissionland far too long. I'm growing old too fast to wait on the whims of the traditional industry any longer :(

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  10. Submissionland is killing me. I don't know if I'll ever write something that an agent will sign me for. I don't think it has anything to with skill. I've had agents tell me that me writing is good. EBooks will probably be the only way to get my work out there.

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  11. I I don't think I have the patience or attention to write a whole book. The editing process alone would drive me mad.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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  12. Stella, hellooooo!!! So good to hear from you again. Lost in submissionland, huh? Yes, you have to know how to write but after that it seems to be more of a lottery than anything :(

    Valerie, it's a bit of a marathon, to be sure. Biggest source of madness is actually writing a whole book and then realizing you've only passed the first checkpoint and have most of the course still to run!

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  13. I chose to sign with an indie publisher because I didn't have the money to buy all those hats.

    Now I'm writing and marketing. The rest I have help for.

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  14. Misha, that's great if you can sign with a good publisher who'll do a lot of that work. I find it's hard to weed them out from all those that are little more than vanity presses :(

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