Self-publisher, anyone?

25 Aug


Managing Editor

Acquiring Editor

Copy Editor




Cover Artist

Blurb Writer


I’m probably not far wrong if I say these are the most important categories of people who work for a publisher. Of course there are others: accountant, sales, and probably others, too, but this is most likely the major list.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, should you decide to self-publish, chances are excellent that you’ll get to be all or most of them! What fun. Sort of.

Actually, you’ll probably not be the publisher, but you can and probably should be the others on the list, including accountant and sales. Lots of sales work, believe me.

Some of these positions may be unfamiliar to you. If you’d had your eye on being an author, you might know a few of them. So, just in case, here’s a short primer.

Managing Editor: An author will almost never meet this person, except perhaps at a conference, when there is a special publisher/author get-together. This editor supervises all the other editors and components of bringing the manuscript to book form and thus, to market.

Acquiring editor: This is the editor with whom an author usually has the most contact.  ‘My editor’ in other words. They actively seek out new authors and/or new manuscripts for their particular line, although they may also work across several lines or genres. Authors frequently stay with their original editor through changes within the company, and sometimes even if the editor changes houses. An acquiring editor may actually be any of the other editors, but not all of the other editors willl necessarily be of the acquiring kind. This is an important distinction!

Copy editor: This editor needs to be almost a walking encyclopedia, or at least a walking style book. There are certainly more than one per house that has more than a handful of authors. They have the final say (over line editors and authors) as to grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. All the myriad pains-taking details, in fact, which can make or break your book.

Proof-reader: Almost a dying art, but not quite, thank goodness! Time was when a single miniscule typo could prompt a re-print! Sadly, this is no longer the case, but a lot of readers become very irritated by the presence of such boo-boos! One goof is, I think, acceptable although regrettable. More than that is not a good thing.

Designer: Oh, wow! Look at a book – any book. The way the words are on the page, including chapter designations, headers, footers, page numbers, where on the page the chapter starts, or if there’s a blank page in between chapters – the font used for everything other than the actual words in the book – all this is the work of the Designer. It can be a lot of fun, but it is exceedingly pains-taking work! The prettiest book I’ve seen (style-wise) in recent years is Tasha Alexander’s And Only to Deceive from Harper. It’s also a crackling good mystery, and this author has quickly jumped to my favorite author list. But, while reading it, I kept drooling over the physical beauty of the book itself. A lot of care and attention went into the design and layout, and I highly commend the designer involved.

Typesetter: We’ve come a long way, baby, since the days of actual type-setting, which is probably almost never done any more. Computers are doing everything, and  it’s much easier and faster these days, but far be it from me to say it’s better. The best part of those older typesetting machines was the lack of a ‘delete’ key, which allows you to accidentally trash days or even months of work in the blink of an eye!

Cover Artist:  Oh, boy! Is this a hot topic or what? Actually, the poor artist usually catches all the flak, when it’s the marketing gurus who decide what will catch the reader’s eye and what won’t. The Author generally has very little, if anything, to say about what ends up on the cover – even though they are encouraged to fill out a form with their desired cover content, including descriptions of the characters and what clothes they are (or aren’t) wearing, plus background scenery – the whole thing. That’s also why you used to see a lot of readers with books wrapped in plain brown paper! Now that romance as a genre has become (mostly) respectable, covers just ‘hang out’ these days.

Blurb Writer: Believe it or not, this is not an easy thing to manage. Try describing your book in 50-75 SENSIBLE yet catchy words. There’s a definite trick to it – one most authors do not have.

So, what if you want to self-publish, but don’t think you can handle all these tasks? There are a vast number of folks out there in the world who’ll be only too happy to help you with any of these aspects. For pay, of course! (As I noted early on in this blog, I am one of them.) Select carefully, ask for samples or references before committing to anyone. It’s possible to do it all on-line these days, but if you’re fortunate enough to find someone locally with whom you can occasionally meet – so much the better! This should not be a painful process, although it will most definitely be aggravating on more than one occasion. Just hang in there and eventually you’ll have a book!

Once it’s out there, no one can ever take that accomplishment away from you.  Be proud of yourself and your accomplishment – you will have done what most people only dream of doing! Good luck and — Happy Writing!

As always, if you have questions about any of this or any other aspect of writing, please write to me –   Also, please do feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who might be intersted. The more the merrier, I always say!

P. S.  My baby (he’s now 6’7″) turns 48 today, August 25. My dear friend Ty is a bit older, if I recall, but he also has one tomorrow. And my cousin in Germany celebrates a wedding anniversary! Happy, happy, happy to all of you!


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