It’s a Brave New Self-Publishing World

Hello Fellow Scribblers, Katy Lee here and today, owner and editor, Victoria Wright, from  Bookmark Services, has stopped by to chat with us on her take of the ever-changing publishing industry and on what every writer needs to succeed. Welcome, Victoria! We’re glad you’re here! Now, take it away!

Self-publishing is the wave of the future. For a lot of rea$on$, the old days of agents or publishers finding and nurturing new talent are, with rare exceptions, gone. Thanks to technology, however, signing with an agent (which may take years), who sells your manuscript to a publisher (which may take more years)—is inexorably being undercut by self-publishing. It wasn’t so long ago that publish-on-demand (POD), the 21st century iteration of “vanity press,” still carried with it the stigma of failure, but an increasing number of success stories is rewriting that bleak tale.

It’s a thrilling new world, and it’s changing all the time. Smart authors understand what they need to make it in this new world: talent, polish, and the willingness to strike out in new directions.

1. Talent. Let’s face it. Desire is a given, but you’ve got to be good. If you’re not good, then take classes, take advice, and work very, very hard for as long as it takes.If you’re not sure you’re good, find an editor who can help you develop your work. If you’re good, have the confidence to find an editor who can make you very good—at least—and maybe better than that.

2.  Polish. Your friends and family have their role—to support you and make you feel good about yourself. By all means, let them read your manuscript. Unfortunately, though, your relationship with them absolutely excludes them as editors. They may find a few typos (which is good), but they won’t find the fixable flaws (which is essential). And they won’t say anything that makes you feel bad.

To be taken seriously in the free-wheeling market of the millions of books now available online, you’ve got to make a good first impression. Packaging matters. Plot and consistency matter. Details matter. Hire a cover artist who “gets” the book and can make it stand out from the crowd. And remember to look beautiful inside, too. Typos—not okay. Misused words—not an option. Bad grammar—strictly amateur. Poor punctuation—forget it. Neatness counts.

3.  New directions. It’s not enough to put your book up on Amazon. Make sure you have an e-book, too, and make sure it’s done right (digital neatness counts, too). Find someone to make a video ad for your book. And consider having your book recorded so that “readers” can listen to it on their iPods (in the coming weeks, we will be introducing this service to our clients). Offer snippets on your website. Send them to local radio stations. Audio is the new print.

Writing is a solitary affair, but producing a good book takes a village of professionals. Take the time to research and find the best. Invest in yourself. A good editor can lead you to the rest of the folks who want to help you succeed.

Remember:  Good editors don’t want to change your book. They want to fix the flaws. They want exactly what you want: to make your book the best it can be. It makes everyone look good. What could be better?

Victoria Wright

Bookmark Services is a full-service editing company. For 17 years, Victoria and her merry band of experts have provided assistance ranging from coaching, transcription, developmental editing, and ghost-writing to book proposals, interior layout and cover art, e-book conversion, recording audiobooks, and to a growing extent, social media marketing consulting. “Also,”Victoria says, “and this is partly in my self-interest (because I get a lot of manuscripts that are in need of combing out) I help writers learn to use Word effectively, instead of fighting with it. In other words, I help them with Word and words.”

Readers: Any questions? Victoria would love to chat with you.

Writers: Are you looking for help with your maunscript? Victoria could help you.

Thank you, Victoria for being here, but also, for the joy you have for the written word, and your desire to help the writers in the world get their words down perfectly. It’s a satisfying feeling as a writer when you know you said what you wanted to say, and you said it in the best way possible.


9 thoughts on “It’s a Brave New Self-Publishing World”

  1. Great advice, Victoria. I’m a self-pubbed author with a third book about to release this month. You are soooo right on all counts. Producing a quality product in every aspect is what makes authors successful. I would love to look into making my books available on audio. Can you give me a ball park figure on what it would cost? My novels are approximately 80K words and are contemporary YA. Is there a big market for YA audio books?


  2. Thanks, everyone, for your positive comments. Confident writers are not afraid of editing — they welcome it.

    With respect to audiobooks, there is a huge and growing market. Speaking just for myself, about 75% of the books I “read” now I listen to on my iPod, and given the way the young people are always attached to some form of electronics, it seems to be an easy and logical next step. They could listen on the way to school, when they’re driving (which would definitely beat texting behind the wheel!) as they’re going to sleep.

    We are just investigating local studios, so I can’t yet give you a price, but if you email me via my website, I will let you know in a couple of weeks. Thanks for asking.

  3. Fascinating post. Thank you, Victoria, for visiting the Scribes. I’m thinking about the audiobook possibilities, too. I know that, as a consumer, I want choices in how I enjoy my media entertainment.

  4. It is a lot of fun to be here and I will be happy to answer any questions either here or through my website. Self-publishing, and all its evolving forms, is a subject that means a lot to me. I’m grateful to be around as it is emerging, and I love helping writers achieve their dreams.

    And thank you, Katy, for inviting me!

  5. Thank you for all the good advice. I love your statement,
    “It takes a village of professionals to make a good book.” I have a wonderful editor waiting for me to send my manuscript. There are only a few weeks left before the deadline. I want to multiply my 31,000 words into 100,000. That number would give the editor flexibility to easily edit. Finding the writing time is a tough job with all the other parts of life stealing me away from writing. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. A few things. First, get into the habit of writing at the same time, and every day, and let nothing deter you. Second, resist the urge to self-edit — just keep going. Third, instead of worrying about word count (either for yourself, the editor, or the finished product), just write and see where you end up. You may write a terrific book in 75,000 words or it may end up well over 100k. But your editor is more than the person who cuts stuff out, so don’t be concerned about having “enough” to send her. Send it in stages if you have to.

      That said, if I could follow any of these rules for myself, I’d probably write more! I hope some of this helps.

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