Frustrated Self-Publisher Escapes DIY Trap

POSTED ON Jun 4, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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I got caught in the trap. The trap I’ve warned you about, the trap that waits for anyone who takes control, decides to be the media instead of relying on specialists to decide whether our story is worthy, whether it should be published.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with doing it yourself. That’s what the self in self-publishing is all about. I’ve even written about the trap, because I see it so clearly in my clients and friends who publish a book.

I thought there must be a reason. Did I fall into this trap, or was I pushed? I suspected social media.

How Does Your Schedule Look?

I have two jobs: book designer, and blogger. Like a lot of others, I’m both a consumer of social media, and a creator of it. I blog. Like you, I spend time on Twitter every day. Okay, I do belong to half a dozen ning groups, and blog occasionally at several. Yeah, I check my Facebook page every once in a while, and correspond with people through their email system. Sure, I’m building a Squidoo lens and trying to figure out Stumbleupon. Even so, I think I’ve shown remarkable restraint.

No, the trap I’ve fallen into wasn’t laid by my attraction to social media.

Here’s the trap:

When you decide to be a self-publisher, when you decide to “do it yourself,” for some reason you subconsciously think that means you have to do everything yourself.

You’re the author, and now you want to be the publisher. Does it follow that you have to be

  • The book designer?
  • The typesetter?
  • The person who writes the press release?
  • Sets up the website for the book?
  • Plans the book tour?
  • Gets printing estimates?
  • Edits and corrects the manuscript?

No, of course it doesn’t. And how are you going to learn how to do all those things? If you’re the studious type, your book may never get published, because you’ll still be studying how to set up the margins in InDesign, or studying press release samples, or watching webinars about ePub conversions.

Does this really make sense? Do you want to learn how to style, convert and correct the ePub files for your book, when you are only going to do one book?

This is the trap.

How I Got In, How I Got Out

I’ve had two books under development myself, in two completely separate niches, and I’d been making exactly no progress on either.

Why? Because I’m the expert, I know how to edit, design, market books. So I should do it myself, right? That’s where I fell in, because I have no time to sit down and start editing a couple of hundred pages of transcripts to make them suitable for publication.

But thinking that I ought to be doing it myself put me in the situation of not reaching my goal of publishing these books.

When I realized what had happened to my book projects, I almost laughed out loud. I said, to no one in particular, “And I’m the guy people call to find help when they need it!”

I actually experienced a rush of excitement when I thought of turning both these projects over to a couple of the terrific editors I work with, and teaming up with them to get the books ready to publish.

I knew right away this was a winning strategy. Committing the resources upfront would be an investment. I know that as soon as I can get these books onto the market, they will start earning back that investment. The longer I wait, the longer I delay that investment paying off.

Publishing for profit, no matter how big your publishing company, is a business. Success in business arises out of smart, timely use of your resources and an understanding of your market. I had to learn again to switch hats, from being the author, to being the designer, to being the publisher who’s in charge of the show.

Now I’m busy looking for other areas where projects are stuck, and how I can find the talent to get them moving. That’s exciting.

How can you unstick your business? Do you try to do everything yourself? How is that working out for you? I’d love to know.

Takeaway: Being a self-publisher doesn’t mean doing every task yourself. It means you’re in business, and business ought to guide your decisions.


Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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