At a recent social gathering I met a seasoned book publisher. Considering the turmoil the publishing industry went through: the introduction of e-publishing and the countless writers who went that path, it would seem that book publishers should have been all but extinct. That apparently is not the case; at least not for those who managed to adapt and change.
Being that I am an aspiring writer who ended up going the self-publishing route, I gave this matter more thought. I realized that even though I can, and in face had, quite easily self-published, it is not what I wish to do; it is not what I am good at and not where I wish to spend my time.
I currently make my living developing online businesses and web sites. With close to 20 years’ experience I am quite good at it; there is something to be said about gaining invaluable know-how and understanding what works and what not. Over the years I have watched with a wary eye various platforms for “build-your-own-website” popping up – Wix and the likes. Yes, with a few clicks of a mouse, one can easily create a template site that will have some content and images. If you are building a web site just to blog or for your kid’s Scout Troop, that may suffice. But if it’s your business, livelihood, that you need to present online, is that really what you want to do?
It reminded me when desktop publishing became popular in the late 80’s into the 90’s. Suddenly every man and his dog became a self-proclaimed graphic designer. While you can play with a graphic software to produce an invitation for your dad’s surprise birthday party, do you really want to create a logo and brand identity for your business on your own, professionally knowing just about zilch about typography and branding? Furthermore, do you really want to spend hours producing something that will likely hurt more than help your business?
Just because it is out there, available, accessible and seemingly easy, doesn’t mean we need to do it all on our own. But it seems that with the blessings of the internet, along came a few curses, including making laymen medical experts, architects and investment specialists. On occasion a story floats around about a person who, with no prior related education, made it big due to spending time digging information online. What is not disclosed is that for every such lottery winner, there are plenty who end up doing much more harm than good.
At any rate, I have decided that once I meet a professional publisher that I can connect with, trust and respect, I rather have her or him handle the publishing aspect of my writing. I prefer to spend my time imagining fiction rather than being one.
Learned from: an afterthought for an encounter with a publisher.