Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beware the Experts

Experts. They’re everywhere. Self-publishing experts, social media experts, writing experts… the list goes on and on.
How can you tell if someone is an expert in their field? Anyone can claim to be an expert. Not everyone who claims to be an expert is an expert. They lack credentials, experience, and sometimes integrity. They sell services to unsuspecting authors and pad their own pockets by destroying a writer’s dreams.
I know an author who paid a “professional” to edit and format her book. When she tried to upload the book, it looked a mess on Kindle. It wouldn’t pass Createspace’s review. Her “formatted” file was useless. When she asked for help in a writer’s group we both belong to, I offered to look at her file. Wow. Not only was the formatting horrible, the editing was a mess too. When I skimmed the document in an attempt to clean up the formatting, I found dozens of errors. I don’t know if the author was able to get any of her money back, but I hope so. Whatever she paid was too much.
Fake experts can come in the form of cover artists who don’t secure the necessary licensing requirements before using a stock photo to make your book cover.
Fake experts can come in the form of editors who don’t understand the basics of grammar and sentence structure. They charge authors hundreds, or even thousands of dollars and leave the author with a poorly edited manuscript.
Fake experts can also come in the form of formatters. Book promoters. Public relations professionals. Writing coaches. They’re everywhere!
Beware the experts. Not only those who are selling services, but those who are selling “how to” books or classes. Don’t part with your money until you’ve checked references and consulted helpful sites such as Absolute Write and P&E. Who has the editor worked with? Checked out the books they claim to have worked on. Does the author mention the editor in their acknowledgments or somewhere else in their book? Do customer reviews mention editing issues? Ask the cover artist where they get the stock photos they use. Ask to see the licensing agreement on any images used on your cover. Research, research, research.
Beware the experts who offer free advice too. Their advice might work for some authors, but will it work for you? Their expert advice might be based on their experiences as a bestselling romance author, but some of their advice might not apply to your epic fantasy series or your non-fiction work. Different authors are going to use different strategies to market their unique books. And just because something works for one author doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Learn to pick and choose which advice suits your needs. Writer’s blogs (even this one!) are full of advice, but not all of it will be useful to you. Some of it contradicts. That doesn’t mean one author is wrong and the other is right – it just means they have had different experiences.
Always trust your instincts as a writer. You are the expert when it comes to doing what is best for you.

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