DiY or Outsource? What Kind of Writer are you?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013



Thinking about writing as a business has made a big difference in my approach over the past few months. Ever since I started writing seriously, I’ve read articles and books to do with just about every aspect of writing. As you’ve probably gathered, I’m big on information. I also like new challenges. Lately, I’ve turned my mind to other things and have been studying how to:

                             1.    Make book covers
                             2.    Diversify my promo/marketing approach
                             3.    Navigate social media effectively (still at sea)
                             4.    Formatting books

I think it can only benefit writers to learn as much about the areas above as possible. I know writing is what we do best, but since I went indie, it’s become increasingly important for me to learn to do stuff like make covers and format books.

I’ve messed about with a cover or two and find that I like making banners and such—my semi-frequent header changes can attest to that. 

My next challenge is learn how to format books. To date, I’ve read a half dozen different sources of information, including the free Kindle and Smashwords formatting guides, as well as a series of articles written by Susan Kaye Quinn.

When I first looked at the Smashwords Formatting Guide, I wanted to pull my hair out, but over time and after reading other articles, it now actually makes sense. Hurrah for me. 

While time is always in short supply, I like having the option of knowing that I can do certain things for myself, if I’m so inclined. I’ve found that time I take away from writing to make headers and badges relaxes me while I’m enhancing my skills in another area.  

Haven’t tested out the book formatting end of things yet, but I will. I have more confidence that I can do it successfully, barring a hitch or three, of course.

So, have you added to your skill set lately? If not, do you ever plan to learn how to do any of this stuff?

25 comments:

  1. I definitely agree....the more we have in our 'toolbox' the better off we'll be...especially if indie publishing. You can never learn too much, I always say.

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  2. You're so good at research! I like the notion of a toolbox too. I think the challenge is there are so many aspects of this business that keep changing & it's hard to keep up.:)

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  3. Doubt I'll ever take the plunge, but I where to find help if I do.

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  4. I've been reading this kind of take on publishing and business on more and more authors' sites. I think this is the trend of the future. I worked a career in higher education for over 22 years and did much the same-- learned, read, kept abreast of trends, and tackled projects, deadlines, and budgets with a sense of "this is my job." Those same principles apply well with the business end of writing. Go Joy!

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  5. I think it's commendable all that you're trying to learn. These skills will only make you an even better writer and promoter.

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    1. Thanks, Sheena. I get bored when I'm not exercising my brain.

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  6. I am impressed with your enthusiasm and commitment to learn about covers, formatting, etc. I learned a lot about this end of publishing as an editor of textbooks, but these days I find it challenging to find enough time to write, read, and learn as much as possible about craft and marketing. So much to know, so little time. : )

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    1. True, Cynthia. I find that I'm not editing or writing at a reasonable pace, but I allow myself the leeway because otherwise I'll get burnt out.

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  7. I love that you're learning so much about the business side of things. It's definitely an important thing to build your books and career!

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    1. I like learning, so it's all good. Thanks.

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  8. I've never done anything like this seriously, but its fun to make book covers!

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  9. It's probably something I should look into. Maybe when I get closer to actually having a finished novel I'll start really studying it. Baby steps :D

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    1. As you said, baby steps. Do it in your own time. For me, learning something new can be something of a diversionary tactic.

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  10. BEing at sea can be quite a challenge. Seems you've got it under control. Good for you!

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  11. I started hiring out for my covers, and I'm glad I did. However, the author should understand his/her book and audience and convey the appropriate message with the cover to attract the correct audience.

    Formatting... I do it myself so far. Recently, it required assistance from my computer programming literate brother. Because I want to produce professional level formatting now... I'm looking into software programs so I can create epub and mobi files that pass all the tests. Harder than you'd think.

    But I enjoy wearing all these different hats and maintaining control.

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  12. Mary, I'm glad I came across your series of articles. Good stuff. It's a wonderful advantage to be able to do some of this stuff if the day comes when you have to and yes, after taking the traditional route, being in control of my work is something I treasure.

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  13. I enjoy learning new things and being on my own. Sure it takes time, but it feels good to own these skills.

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  14. I hope to start on formatting some time this summer, maybe during vacation. Have to admit I'm dreading it though!

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  15. Joy I so admire you for taking the plunge with regards to becoming techno-savvy! Especially the formatting which sounds like a nightmare!
    There's SO MUCH to learn. It's daunting.

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  16. Medeia, me too. I'm always on something new.

    Li, it's a lot clearer in my mind now that I've put my fear aside and plunged into a few articles and books.

    Michelle, it does tend to sound like a nightmare, but it's amazing what we can do when we tell ourselves were just gonna do it!

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