DIY Publish or Hire Help? The Self-Publishing Dilemma

QUOTE_DIYBy Karla Locke

When it comes to getting your book ready for the variety of self-publishing markets now available, do you do it yourself? Or, hire an expert?

Many authors want to save money and do it themselves. It is what I refer to as, the Costco/Walmart mentality, save money, buy cheap. But, do you really save money? Hiring an expert can save time, therefore saving you money, and ultimately costing you less in headaches. Each of the big eBook sites (i.e. Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc) all require different file formats. Each come with their own set of problems. This means having multiple versions of your book created and multiple formats to learn and fight with. No two are alike, nor does the process work flawlessly each time.

Many authors think they can just do a quick and easy conversion of their Word files. All you have to do is upload it and it will instantly look fantastic. If that were true, there would be no need for small businesses like us. Or, worse yet, there are the authors that don’t bother doing anything and upload their Word documents not caring how it looks.

There is actually a great deal more to the process then what you hear, or read. It isn’t quick, most of the time. And it most certainly isn’t always easy. Once in awhile, you will get lucky and it will be simple, but the next time it is maddening and uncooperative. Just avoid it all – hire someone.

Focus on what you do best – WRITE! Leave the headaches to the professionals.

Preparing for Print:

1. Hire a professional for the layout. A professional can do the layout, format it for print and work with the print company to provide a file that works.

2. Professionals understand page layouts, correct page numbers, chapter headings, headers and footers, table of contents, index, and more. If you have ever tried using Word to set margins or format, you understand what a pain this can be, not only for you, but even for the printer.

3. Different printers may require different file types. Hire someone that can work with the printer (this includes CreateSpace) to provide the right type of file for your project.

4. Fonts may not always match. The fancy little font you used in parts of your book may not always be compatible and would need to be substituted. This may throw of the format and the layout of the book.

5. Images, graphics, photographs – all create their own unique complications. You need someone well-versed in working with these specific file types. Preparing them for print requires another skill set best left to the professionals. You can’t just place an image and that’s it, there is print resolution, size, placement and more to consider.

Ebooks create their own set of problems and frustrations. Author friends may tell you it is so easy to do it yourself, just upload your Word document and it will be fine, but it is not always fine. Creating an ebook that is pleasing and easy on the reader is both challenging and critical. Good enough is not always good enough.

For you DIYs, more power to you. For those that just want to write – there are companies who specialize in services, they work with you to help create your MASTERPIECE.

Do It Yourself vs Hire A Pro! Frustration vs Peace of Mind! Either way, do what is best for your story, and for your readers.



me headshot

I love to read. I read everyday. I will admit it, I mostly read romance and the occasional thriller, or mystery. With my business, Armchair ePublishing, I get immersed into the world of writers. They inspire me, they educate me, they entertain me. I am surrounded by creative talent. I have discovered (or finally admitted) my passion  and it is WRITING! Still new to writing, I am eager to learn, I am passionate and I am hopeful. I look forward to this journey, may it take me to places I could only dream of.

>> Hire Karla Locke on Writer.ly


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  1. Formatting is not that hard if you know how to use a word processor and follow the guidelines from Amazon (for Kindle) and Smashwords (for everything else). My printer looked at my book file and gave me advice so I knew what format he wanted for print. And this was for a non fiction book with illustrations and endnotes, which I was told couldn’t be done in ebook.

    The biggest challenge for a writer when self publishing is editing and cover design. There is no substitute for professional work.

  2. I agree with Karla. I wrote an interesting book about cruising from Anacortes, WA to Princess Louisa Inlet in 1957. It has ended up including other trips to the Inlet up to 2012. While writing the book was easy, still I did not understand the many questions the publisher was asking. I could not do any of the technical work. In stepped
    tony Locke and his wife, Karla. They were just starting their business in helping others write their books and they learned right along as they produced my book. It is very professional. I’ve sold over 400 copies with many more yet to come. I could NOT have done it myself. It’s also been interesting to see the many new projects Tony and Karla have produced. Their growing skills have produced a great new company for them.