09 November 2013

Self-publishing Need Cost Nothing

When writing I'll often have a podcast on the subject of self-publishing playing in the background. For some reason, hearing people talking about their (staggeringly high) average daily word count (among other things) assists me in increasing my own. 

The information imparted by such podcasts is often useful, and can even be inspirational, but there's one subject that always brings a scowl to my face, namely that of the costs involved in editing, proof-reading and cover design. 

We're told we should cough up the hundreds of pounds/dollars/euros needed to pay for these services. 

Well fuck that. 

Self-publishing is about not having to contend with the traditional gatekeepers of publishing, and that includes not having to pay 'professionals' large amounts of money for editing, proof-reading and cover designs. 

I mean, if you're going to fork out money for these 'services' before publishing your work (assuming you have the cash) then why stop there? Why not just pay somebody to ghostwrite the fucker to begin with and be done with it? 

Seriously, I rarely read a professionally published work that doesn't contain at least some examples of bad editing and bad proof reading. If that's the best the best can manage, why the hell would you want to pay for it? 

If you can write, you can read. If you can read, you can edit. Saying you need somebody to do it for you is like saying you're too stupid to do it yourself. Are you? 

Read what you've written out loud. Record yourself while you're at it. Listen back to the recording. It's a good way to discover where the prose flows and where it's clumsy (as well as how much you hate the sound of your own voice). Also, while you're reading what you've written, check for typos. Typos only occur when a proof-reader isn't paying attention to what they're doing, and the only proof-reader you can trust to give your work the undivided attention it deserves is you

As for cover designs, well, that's a creative art in itself. Maybe you don't want to do it, but don't let somebody tell you you need someone else to do it for you. If that were the case with all creative endeavours, you wouldn't have written a book in the first place. 

You probably scoured the internet for tips on how to write your book and how to self-publish it, so look for tips on cover design and find out how to go about that as well. It is in no way as complicated a matter as some people would have you believe. It might even be fun. 

If you're in need of an original image and you're absolutely convinced that you cannot produce it yourself, go out and find yourself a starving artist (the world is full of them) and ingratiate yourself (beer or wine backed up with shots of J├Ągermeister usually does the trick).

* * *

Apart from the views they may express on the subject of editing, proof-reading and cover design, the following self-publishing tipsters are ones I've found particularly useful:

Also (on the topic of writing) The Story Board


  1. Hey Simon, thanks for the mentioning the show :).

    >>Read what you've written out loud. Record yourself while you're at it. Listen back to the recording.

    Nice tip. I know some authors use voice synthesizers (like Microsoft Sam) or "Voice Dream" to listen to their own writing - makes any errors pretty obvious.

    Anyway, thanks for listening.


    Simon W

    1. Looking back at this, it's a bit of a rant, but it comes from the perspective of someone starting from nothing - both in terms of content and money. The last thing somebody without money wants to hear is "You'll need money to do that." Of course, paying for related services in the long run is the smart move - once the writer can afford to do so. I still can't imaging not doing the edits myself though - except when translating the final (self-edited) product into American English. As for book covers, fortunately I know a professional who's willing to participate. All I need to do now is finish the damn thing. :D