I just read a post by Alisa Valdes on Publishing Perspectives about her forays into self-publishing. Alisa is the author of a popular novel called The Dirty Girls Social Club, that did very well with a traditional publisher. She is self-publishing the third book in the series.
What struck me was some fear-mongering responses in the comment section. Yes, it's true that many self-published authors don't expend enough care on getting their work edited or getting a nice cover, but instead of offering helpful hint, the commenters slam the idea all together.
Why is that?
I think in some part it's fear for their own jobs. An editor writes in to say it's not fair to use your mother as an editor. A cover artist thinks only professional artists can do a good job. Sounds to me like sour grapes.
Back when I started my audio book company I put out a call for audio editors and sent out descriptions of the tasks I'd need done by whomever took the contracts. An established audio editor read this description and sent back a furious letter detailing me all the ways I was "doing it wrong." Evidently, the tasks should have been broken down and handed out to about six different people, all of whom needed to be paid around a $100 an hour.
Guess what? That was the old studio system. I use a new system - one in which a person sitting at their own home computer can get the work done in a fraction of the time with free software. I understand why that man was angry - he'd probably spent years building that big studio, and as a man in his 50s I'm sure it was intimidating to think of changing careers.
I got the message back in college that I should be prepared to switch careers a number of times in my life, and I also believed from day one that Social Security would be gone by the time I hit retirement. I feel lucky that I heard and absorbed these ideas because it's set me up to not be so afraid of needing to rethink the way I work in the latter half of my life. I am watching my industry change daily. I know for a fact that what works today won't work two years from now and I'm preparing for that. I don't want to be like the angry man I referred to above, watching a new generation speed by me and having no idea how to catch up.
I actually already have a plan for my late sixties/early seventies. I will downsize and cash out, live in a small apartment in a town that's set up well for walking, and take care of two babies for spending money.
Now I only need to come up with the five careers I'll need between now and then.