Publishers and the benefits of specialization

I read yet another article recently about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. I won’t bore you with the details, as it had nothing new to say that hasn’t already been discussed here. The bottom line is that if you’re going to self-publish you’d better be prepared to do a lot of work.

But in thinking about the article it occurred to me that there’s more to it than that, even. It’s not just that you can expect to either pay for or be prepared to do the editing, layout, cover design, marketing, and accounting. You DO have to be ready to do all that. In doing it all yourself you’re likely losing out on the benefits of specialization. It’s hard enough to be a good writer. Many of us may even have an additional specialty we can draw on. But how many of us are professional level writers, editors, graphic artists, marketers and accountants at once?

Nobody, obviously.

Certainly you can learn to be passable in each of those areas. You might even one day be good at many of them. But if you can get a publisher on your side you’ll get some of the best in every area AND the networks and contacts that publisher has established through the years. You get their reputation. You get the attention of other people in the industry, including critics that people listen to.

Sure, you can do it alone. People have, do, and will. But there is a reason why most of those people, when offered a publishing contract, jump on it immediately. It leaves the writer a lot more time to do what they WANT to do as their specialty: write.

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