Do you require assistance?

Lemur giving hands
Lemur Giving Hands by Tambako The Jaguar courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

Making the decision to self-publish is only the first of myriad decisions that will flow from that first one. One of the early ones will be how indie do I want to be? Am I going to make my own covers, do my own editing and proofreading, do my own formatting or am I going to seek assistance with some if not all of these tasks? Even deciding to get assistance is not as straightforward as it may appear. A whole new series of choices flow from that decision – am I going to hire professionals to do some of these tasks for me or am I going to hire a middle man to co-ordinate the project and hire those professionals on my behalf albeit with my approval?

Choices by Dan Moyle courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

Some would say you are not truly indie unless you handle the whole project yourself. I would disagree. It’s all about knowing your limits and everyone’s personal circumstances will be different.

Last year I put in a new kitchen. Well, when I say I put in the kitchen – I researched kitchen fitters, found a good one, decided what appliances I wanted and the kind of worktop, flooring and tiles and then I hired him to get on with it. He project managed the job for me, bringing in his own trusted electrician and tiler. I got a fabulous kitchen at the end of it. Is it any less my kitchen because I didn’t hang those tiles myself or fit those base units? No, of course not.

Could I have hung those tiles and fitted those base units? Probably. I like to think I’m a reasonably intelligent person. I could have read books on DIY and watched endless YouTube videos and then had a go. Would it have looked as good as it does now? Probably not. It would have had a homespun charm, possibly but it wouldn’t have looked as professional.

Cracked tile
Cracked tile by Jon Jordan courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

I decided I wanted a professional look to my kitchen and I also knew that I didn’t have the time or inclination to put the research in and do the job myself.

I made a similar decision about my first self-published novel. I wanted a professional looking product at the end of it – the best version of my book it could be. That took care of the decisions regarding covers and editing and proofreading. I also had zero inclination to learn how to format my Word document. Like so many writers I juggle a day job with my writing. I also have caring responsibilities. Add all of that into the average week it doesn’t leave a lot of hours left for “me” time. It is a scarce resource. Do I want to use that precious time researching e-book formatting? For me, again, the answer was easy: No!

This was the story of huricane
This was the story of hurricane by Ulisse Albiati courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

I take my hat off to those writers who have the need to do everything themselves. I can appreciate the huge level of pride they will take from producing a book that way and I respect their approach. I also understand that for some people there is no choice. They may have very limited financial resources and even if they scrape together the money for an editor there is nothing left in the pot for covers or formatting. Those writers have no alternative but to learn how to do those tasks themselves. I have huge respect for all writers who take on these new skills either willing or unwillingly. I always knew, however, that it wasn’t for me.   I have never been one of those people who has to “look under the bonnet or hood” to see how things work. I don’t have a burning desire to micro-manage.

Classic and sports cars by the lake 2012
Classic and sports cars by the lake 2012 by David Catchpole courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

The logical solution for me was to hire a middle man. Someone who could project manage the job for me and guide me through this new and challenging world. I did my research because these are shark infested waters. When I found a reputable company I negotiated the price I was willing to pay. I have had the final say on the hiring of all the individuals I have gone on to work with and I have had a person of knowledge and integrity to answer my copious questions. Have I paid a premium for this service? Absolutely. That is why this choice is not a choice everyone can or would want to make. For me? It was the right choice. The premium I have paid was worth it in the hours I have gained with my family and friends as a result. Let’s face it, writing is hard enough!

So is my first novel, produced via this route, any less my novel because of its method of production? Of course not. It’s my novel as completely as my new kitchen belongs to me.

We must all make the choices that suit our circumstances the best and that means what fits writer A may be anathema to writer B. Do your research. Be aware of the choices that exist and then seriously consider the time and the money you have available for your project. Whilst it is noble to try to do everything – are you going to find yourself mired in a half-finished project in two years’ time because you underestimated the commitment you were making at the start? Be realistic and remember a few years ago none of these choices existed for writers. We are so lucky to be writing right now.

However you decide to take your project forward have fun with it. You are a writer and you are writing – what could be better than that?

Today’s blog is the third in my Flower Seller Thursday collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my first novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June #FlowerSellerThursday

The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes




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