A guest post by Kyle Weckerly
Publishing these days is far easier to get into than it used to be. Traditional literary agents are no longer the sole gatekeepers to publishing a book. There are publishing platforms available to do every step of the process on your own.
The platforms that offer to create your book cut down the publishing process significantly. You only need to provide the requisite files. And the best news about it? Some of them are free!
It’s incredible when you have a chance to step back and admire it.
What is gained, though?
Most reading this will see that four-letter word, starting with an F, and stop right there. Free gives the impression that little to no effort will be needed. Or the effort will be without stress.
This leads to many authors believing themselves to be too clever by half.
One author, let’s call him “Alfred,” saw that four-letter word and decided he would be doing all the parts himself. Alfred had gone through the steps of creating the requisite files for one of those free publishing platforms. To do this, he utilized other websites that offered free programs too. Alfred was able to make files for the interior layout, cover art, and the like. He had templates to guide him on what was needed, and that’s where he started.
Many authors, like Alfred, don’t go much farther than that. And therein lies the problem that Alfred experienced. He’d created the files he was told would be needed. Then he went to upload them and work through the steps of the free publishing service.
Then he got an error message.
He tried again, repeating the steps.
Another error message.
Alfred was missing a vital piece of information.
There’s a riddle, you may have heard of it, where you’re asked a simple question;
“If a rooster lays an egg on top of a barn, which side does the egg roll down?”
It’s a classic and has stumped many people. For those readers who know the answer, keep reading. For those who don’t, keep reading.
Many first-time listeners believe the answer is a fifty-fifty guess. One way or the other. Then they start to overthink the question and introduce more and more variables.
But the answer is right in front of them.
It’s hidden in the question.
The listener, however, will consider themselves too clever by half. They decide they know the answer because of…whatever. They have their reasoning, and that reasoning is sound. They’re clever and a half by the way.
Alfred had similar reasoning. He wanted to make a book. There was a free publishing platform, he just needed to create and upload files. Click here, click there, and his book becomes a reality.
So why was it not working?
Golden Egg for All!
Free platforms for publishing are nice to have.
If you know how to use them.
Creating a quality book takes time. It takes discipline. Free publishing platforms have their benefits, but they require no discipline or technical know-how to get started. There are guides, which are helpful like there are guides on good driving. But if you spent any length of time driving, you know it is not as simple as a guide will make it out to be. Nor does it mean that all the other drivers on the road are good at it either. You could probably pause reading right now and identify thirty drivers who need their licenses revoked.
Driving and publishing require a lot of things to happen in a certain way. If done well, you get to your destination without hurting anyone or breaking the law. Publishing, while you don’t carry the risk of causing bodily harm to another, has many steps to it. A free program will not make it clear what you need to do with each step. Therefore, publishing is more like a riddle than driving. The answer may seem obvious but there is usually a clue right in front of you and you need to pay attention to find it. The excitement of a free publishing platform that lets you do everything to publish your book, and on your own, will distract you from finding that clue.
Roosters and Eggs
Remember the riddle? If a rooster lays an egg on top of a barn, which side will it roll down?
Roosters are males. They don’t lay eggs.
It is the hens that lay the eggs.
Free publishing platforms shift the amount of work required to publish your book from publishing professionals to you.
Alfred wanted to do it all on his own. He was too clever to listen to publishing advice.
But when he kept getting error messages, he finally reached out to 1106 Design for help. He stated that he had the files and that all he needed was someone to help with finishing the setup. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to complete. When that was done, he’d have his book printed.
The Truth Behind Free Publishing Platforms
Just because someone can create all the files for free and upload them themselves, doesn’t mean they should. This isn’t meant to say that nobody should be doing it. Instead, realize that there are experts in these fields for a reason.
Alfred’s files, in all likelihood, were not formatted properly. To fix this issue, a professional would be needed. A professional who had the discipline to learn how to format them properly would have to go through and correct the issues found. To do that takes time. And professionals don’t do this for free either.
When Alfred was made aware of this, how much time it would take, and what it would cost, he was upset. He even proclaimed it to be ridiculous.
Hopefully, he comes ‘round soon. Because his book will remain unpublished until he either takes the time to learn how to format all the files properly or he pays someone to do it the right way.
Until that happens, maybe he can raise roosters and sell the eggs.
Kyle Weckerly is a writer in progress. He produces content, maintains social media, and monitors SEO. Beyond that, he’s pursuing his passion to write novels and apply his writing skillset to help others.