Writers want to grow in skills, become more professional, and be published. Some of us may still be amateurs, but all of us want to improve in every area of the writing profession.
Whoa! Wait a minute! Every area? Is that realistic? Is that doable? Is that even wise?
I know some people are described as “Behold, He hath done all things well.” But most of us know that although we have definite strengths, we also have some definite weaknesses.
During my decades in leadership, I followed the mantra, “Train and work in the area of your competence, and staff for the areas of your weakness.” I cast a vision, made inspiring, story-laced speeches, and wrote all kinds of promotional articles. But accounting and numbers? Not so much. I told the accounting staff, “Talk to me in words, graphs, and pictures, not numbers.”
“Hire a good editor before submitting your manuscript,” we are advised. A fresh pair of well-trained eyes can see things that we, who have written and rewritten the stuff, just can’t see.
But editors don’t work for free, nor do cover artists, website-developers, logo-designers or any of the other experts who are as good at their job as we are at ours. So, how do we pay all these fees if we don’t have the money? Some Inscribers can’t even afford to come to conference. And our fees are comparatively low!
Here are four ideas for staffing the areas of weakness which I have personally practised:
Use Volunteers: My first book was edited by the publisher. But for the second book, I needed an editor. I contacted the head of the English department of a local Christian college with a proposal. She accepted and assigned her two best students to edit my book for class credit and to get their names mentioned on the acknowledgment page. I followed the same route for the third book, even though the department head was now working in a large Christian liberal arts college in California. She assigned her top three students, heading for careers in publishing, to edit my book. They were delighted and excited. So was I.
Budget Money: Months before I needed a new logo for my business card, I started to save money for it. A local artist eventually designed the WordMan logo for a modest fee and I had the money saved up to pay for it.
Swap Services: The covers for my first three print books were designed by the publisher but I was responsible for my two ebooks. A local designer produced the cover of my first ebook with a design similar to those of the print books. He waived the fee, since months before I had written a foreword for a devotional book his wife had written. This opened the door to the whole idea of swapping my writing services for designing and other services.
Pre-sell the Book: My second ebook needed a completely different cover. The designer who had done the first ebook recommended a colleague. During the months I was finishing the ebook, I pre-sold enough orders for it that I had funds to pay his fee when he completed the design.
We don’t need to be experts in every area of our writing profession, nor do we need to have unlimited funding to pay for outside expertise.
What creative ways do you use to get your work edited and to mobilize experts to staff the areas of your weakness?