a think about | self-publishing like an artisan & an entrepreneur

I’ve not yet read one of Guy Kawasaki’s books but many people have, especially those interested in entrepreneurship & startups. Alan Rinzler over at The Book Deal blog recommends Kawasaki’s latest book: APE, Author, Publisher,¬†Entrepreneur¬†. How to Publish a Book.

Rinzler explains that Kawasaki has coined the term artisanal publishing to describe a form of self-publishing where the author lovingly crafts a book without the restrictions of traditional publishing. I wholeheartedly agree with that approach.

I don’t mean for this post to be a promo plug but it’s relevant to this very topic: my wife is a book designer. Her clients are almost exclusively self-published. They all seek her out because they want a particular style cover or page layout. And she stays fully booked (which is why she hasn’t blogged in almost two years). I’ve closely observed the process and interaction between her and the authors. Many of those authors are clearly entrepreneurs and have been successful with their books (as success is defined by them). Others have been a bit naive about the challenges of marketing. It’s clear in their discussions with the designer that these authors really care about making a wonderful book. All of them embrace the spirit of artisanal publishing. And, I have to say, that my wife is pleased and satisfied to give them a lovely designed book.

Any great product takes a team, finally. Often the author, though, isn’t the best person to manage that process. Some authors can’t make decisions or they want to try everything. That brings up where the author needs to act like an entrepreneur. Self-publishing is a process that needs to be managed. Craft your book, be careful about who you hire, but trust the professionals you engage to aid you in the publishing process.

That brings up Rinzler’s lament that Kawasaki doesn’t even bring up the topic of a developmental editor. I totally agree with Rinzler about the importance of a developmental editor. Unfortunately, many self-published authors are so emotionally invested in the manuscript they’ve written that they feel almost offended if an editor suggests changes. Sadly, that’s the behavior of an inexperienced writer (the very kind that most needs a developmental editor). Authors – listen up: an editor simply wants to help you make your book better. Really.

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