This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Good Training for Self-Publishing

            Back in the day, when I was editing a daily newspaper, I didn’t have a secretary. The company I worked for wasn’t terribly keen on spending money for anything, so they decided the general manager and I could do without. If I needed to photocopy a document, I had to walk out of my office in the newsroom, walk across the building to the Classified Advertising department, and make the copy myself.
            That was because the only photocopying machine in the building was in Classified. Also, I had to put my name down on a sheet of paper with a clipboard that sat atop the copier and record, with tally marks, how many copies I had made.
            As I said, the company didn’t like to spend money on anything. And don’t even ask what was involved in getting a replacement typewriter ribbon in the days before we switched over to computers. You don’t want to know.

If You Want It Done, Do It Yourself

            Spending 15-30 minutes a day doing my own photocopying was probably not the best use of my time, but I’d never known a different way of doing things, so I didn’t notice all that much. When I left the paper and went out on my own as a freelance consultant, I had to do everything myself as well.: Go to the post office every day to get the mail, go to Staples to get office supplies, write the checks to pay the bills, lick the envelopes and put the stamps on.
            In any given eight-hour day now, I figure an hour to an hour and a half of it is going to toward doing those kinds of things. When you’re self-employed, it comes with the territory.
            Much as I’d like to say that this sort of self-reliance builds character, I have my doubts. But there is one good thing that has come of it. It definitely has prepared me for my venture into self-publishing. The authors who have big contracts with the publishing houses can let those institutions take care of a lot of detail work while the author gets going on the next blockbuster. The self-publishing author doesn’t even begin the next book until all the detail work is done on the current one.

Having a Lot of Contacts Helps

            Two weeks ago my second mystery novel, Wash Her Guilt Away, went up on Amazon. For months beforehand, I was immersed in not only making the final revisions to the book, but also in working out all the details leading up to publication.
            I had to decide what the cover would look like and who should do it; I had to write a script for a video trailer and get someone to film and edit it; I had to get an author’s photo ready; I had to rework the website for my books; and, because I don’t have a publisher with in-house editors, I had to hire someone to give my book the final once-over before I thrust it upon an unsuspecting public.
            Owing to my years at the newspaper and doing PR work in the community, I at least have the advantage of knowing who’s good at doing those sorts of things, so I’ve been pleased with the results. And even working with people I know and trust, there’s a lot I have to do. I don’t know how someone less connected would go about it, but at least I can be grateful for all those years of working without a secretary. If I’d had one then, I’d be lost without one now.