The Importance of Partnering with Professionals
By Evan Braun

I’ve said before on this blog that you don’t know what you don’t know. This is a critical concept in editing. The reason writers need editors is because they may not recognize when they’re making a blunder. Even very talented authors don’t necessarily have the expertise necessary to see when they’ve inadvertently broken a rule, employed a cliché, or misused a word, phrase, or punctuation mark.

This isn’t a mark of ignorance, but rather a recognition that you may be operating outside your area of specialty. I own a car and know how to drive it quite expertly, but I don’t know how to change my tires or replace the oil. Some people know these things. I don’t. So what do I do? I hire a professional. Someone who can help me out when I’m operating outside my comfort zone.

It’s wise to get outside your comfort zone once in a while, and it’s also wise to ensure that you have the support you need when you’re venturing out. Drivers need mechanics (and maps). Writers need editors.

Of course, this concept applies far afield of just editing.

I recently had a really productive conversation with a close friend about the challenges of self-publishing. She had self-published a trilogy of fantasy novels and I was asking her about how she had found the experience of navigating the twists and turns along the way. The answer? “It was a lot more work than I was expecting.”

There’s a misapprehension that all you have to do is write a book, upload the eBook file to Amazon, and wait for the sales to roll in. I suppose you can produce a book this way. It represents the bare minimum of steps.

But let’s be honest. That book isn’t going to become a bestseller. At least, the probability is very low.

Because assuming that you’ve at least mastered the writing part of this publication process—which isn’t always a safe assumption—you would also need to be an industry professional in editing, cover design, and typesetting. It wouldn’t hurt to also be a great project manager. If you’re getting a print edition, then yes, you’ll also have to work with a printer to handle the production process. And that’s not even getting started on marketing and promotion.

It’s a lot.

When you’re trying to do everything yourself, you will end up making some mistakes or accidentally cutting a corner or two. It would be hard not to. Maybe you’ll choose a font that’s hard to read. Or maybe you won’t choose the right font size, or have the appropriate degree of leading or kerning. Maybe you don’t even know what kerning is. (Which would be understandable!) It’s easy to make a mistake with headers or footers, or get the resolution wrong with encoded graphics and images, or fail to save your PDF correctly to meet a printer’s specifications.

When designing the cover, you may not know which colour combinations will evoke the intended response. You may not place your title in the ideal spot, in relation to the cover art, or get the sizing right. Even if you’re eschewing a human artist and opting instead for AI-generated imagery, you might not know how to put all the ingredients together effectively.

By the way, please hire a human artist, if at all possible. At Word Alive Press, we’re hardly luddites. But we also believe that there is value in the human touch.

When it comes time to put your book up for sale, you may not know everything you need in regards to search engine optimization. You may not choose the right categories and keywords to ensure that your target reader is able to find your book on Amazon or other online booksellers.

Publishing is a minefield.

Fortunately, there are professionals who know what they’re doing. They’ve devoted a significant amount of time and energy mastering their craft so you don’t have to.

One of the key strengths of a hybrid publisher like Word Alive Press is that you will be connected to all the professionals you need at every stage of the publication process, ensuring that you don’t accidentally make critical errors that sink your dream. You can trust that you are in safe hands, and you don’t have to start networking from scratch. We have an experienced team.

You don’t know everything that needs to happen in order for your book to be a success, and you don’t need to know. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Even if you don’t go with Word Alive Press or a similar hybrid publisher, recognize your own limits and seek out the right people to partner with you. That’s the key.


About this Contributor:

Evan Braun

Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored three novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has released two sequels, The City of Darkness (2013) and The Law of Radiance (2015), completing the series. Braun is an experienced professional editor, and has worked with Word Alive Press authors since 2006. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.

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