Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Things I Am Not

In my life I am and have been many things. Husband, father, brother, son. Friend, student, educator. Before my time is up I hope to experience many more things. One of the things I choose to call myself these days is a writer.

I’ve had jobs in a variety of sectors, and those jobs have required me to do many things at different times: Fire warden. Historian. Public speaker. An actor, a Master of Ceremonies.

But there are things I am not. Last week I invoked Dirty Harry: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I invoke it again. This morning Rachelle Gardner posted “6 Reasons Why Authors Still Want Publishers.” She closed by asking Why are YOU pursuing traditional publishing? Here are my reasons:

I am not an editor. Yes, I edit my work. I look for continuity errors. I look for plot holes and logical gaps. I constantly ask myself if my characters are behaving, well, in character. And I look for typos and grammatical miscues, analyze word choices. I proofread and line edit. But I am not as quick and efficient at it as a professional, nor as proficient. I am not an editor.

I am not a graphic designer. In my life I have created many things. And I have done layouts and project design on printed pieces, and I’ve done some pretty nice work, thank you very much. Can I choose the right font? Can I get the page numbers just exactly where I want them? What I end up missing all the time are the little details, the things that allow you to show paged numbers on these pages but not those, without losing the sequence. I can do a passable job, but the finished work will lack “polish.” I’ve worked with a lot of design people and I’m amazed at what they can do, the way they make things ‘just right.’ I can carry a project so far, but I am not a graphic designer.

I am not a cover artist. Hey! Check this out at The Bookshelf Muse! Simple truth, once upon a time I was considered to be very good at drawing. Now, I’m not. I can doodle a mean doodle, but I can’t draw pictures, and I never really learned to paint. If I’m doing the work, my books will look like The White Album or Spinal Tap’s Smell the Glove. I am not a cover artist.

I am not a marketeer. Okay, any agents considering my query who may have found this blog have just crossed me off their list. What I mean is this: I can market. I can plug. I can do events. But I’m going to have a hard time convincing Ye Olde Bookstore in Fargo to carry my book. Traditional publishers have connections and ins and knowledge of the industry that I just don’t have, because I am not a marketeer.

One of the commenters on Rachelle’s blog, who chose to ignore Rachelle’s entreaty to not “get a whole “us vs. them” thing going here” called traditional publishing “a v expensive EGO boost IMHO”. Maybe there’s some ego involved, but it’s not my sole motivator. If you have what it takes to take total control over your book publishing, good for you. I give you a lot of credit and wish you the best. For me, I will seek out traditional publishing, because I am not a publisher.

11 Responses

  1. Well said. I'm hoping to go the traditional publishing route too – for these reasons. I don't know the ins and outs of too many layers of publishing. I could learn some of them – but I'd rather spend my time writing 🙂

  2. I'm none of those things either, but I've got connections to people who are. So my options a little broader than they used to be.

  3. I'm an artist and my background is in marketing, but I'll need to outsource some things if I decide to go the self-pub route. Great post, Jeff! 🙂

  4. Being successful at Self-pub takes a lot of work and yes talent. Or money. Not everyone is suited for it, just as not everyone is suited for traditional publishing.

    I think the choices out there help fit the multitude of writers. Great post!

  5. Yes, it's great that the choices exist. There are a lot of options out there, and self-pubbing is a great option for many people. I just don't see myself as one of them.

  6. I agree with you. It takes a lot of energy, skill, and time to accomplish all that must be done to publish a book–and do it well. I'm not sure I have all those talents. I'd rather put my energy and time into promoting my books and writing more. : )

  7. I am right there with you! I totally respect people who ARE all those things, and can do it all themselves. I know I am NOT all those things. Or at least not on a professional enough level. And really– to get myself to a professional enough level– I'd have to sacrifice getting better at the writing part. And I'm not willing to sacrifice that.

  8. Yes, all good, valid reasons. I've never considered self-publishing, and I'm very much a do-it-yourselfer. But self-pubbing is too much work with very little payoff if you don;'t do it all perfectly. And with all the time and energy spent on my novel, I just couldn't do it justice by self-pubbing.

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