I have noticed something strange among people I know (or follow online). It transcends age groups, social groups, and economic groups.
There seems to be a collective “looking down the nose” towards people who don’t do it themselves.
How did this come about? I’m not sure. I assume it’s the backlash to big businesses selling and doing everything (and doing it as cheap quality as possible); the same backlash that has seen a resurgence of crafts people and small businesses.
But when did, “Oh, that’s hand-made? Where’d you get it?”, turn into disdain because we didn’t make it ourselves?
Maybe it’s the hundreds of DIY shows that make it look like people who know nothing suddenly can do amazing things. Reality (show) check; they’re coached and taught by professionals.
Because there is so much information on the internet about everything and a lot of websites that trick you into thinking you’re doing it yourself for cheaper, people assume that they can do anything.
And that might be fine for a drywall patch or a regular dessert or even setting up your television system. However, no one is perfect or good at everything. When I make a cake it tastes good and looks like something a toddler put together. I know so little about drywall that if I tried alone I’d probably just screw it up.
It’s ok to admit that you don’t know everything and can’t do everything.
Small Business and Freelance Professionals
There are certain things you might be good at and that’s wonderful, work on those and improve yourself. Maybe you have the persistence to turn it into a career.
As a Freelance Layout Artist, I have worked on my profession for years. I did my first professional book layout 17 years ago and I’ve been doing it for private and government for 10 years. I have tools, tricks, and resources that most people don’t. The same goes for your friends and family who are professionals in their trade.
Do you know the downfall of most freelancers and small businesses? It’s not that they suck at what they do or that they aren’t skilled in their craft. It’s the business part that’s hard. It forces us to stop working on our passions to become salespeople.
She and I get plenty of emails that start with or include, “Sorry for bothering you” or “I know it’s a hassle”. It’s NOT, it’s our job and we love it.
If I could lay out fiction books for the rest of my life, I probably would never retire. It’s my passion and something I enjoy greatly.
My wife relishes finding the best price for someone. My photographer friends love taking pictures. My baker friends love baking. My clothes making friends love making clothes. My graphic artist friends love art-ing. Etc. Etc. Etc.
No one starts a small business, or goes freelance, unless they love what they do.
It all comes down to money. Some people DIY because they can’t afford anything else… or can they?
I understand that not everyone can afford to buy coffee from JenEric Coffee. It’s a luxury item and I don’t get annoyed seeing people drink Starbucks.
I do cringe when I see friends and family booking cruises or vacations “on their own.” No one books travel “on their own”. They use online sites with catchy names. These sites charge you for the privilege of searching for your own travel. Good travel agents make their money by taking the commission from the vendor not the traveller. That means the cruise ship pays commission not you. (Airfare is different and requires a small fee but is usually cheaper than doing it yourself.) So you don’t pay for a travel agent and they can get you better deals than doing it yourself.
Every profession is different but most don’t, or shouldn’t, charge a fee for discussing what you want. And if they do charge a service fee, they are obligated to tell you so at the beginning of the conversation. We love our jobs and are more than willing to discuss things with you. I’ll talk margins, kerning, and fonts all day (and I have).
Before you waste long amounts of time, get a quote or extra information from your friends who do it for a living. You might be surprised at the amount of frustration and money you’ll save in the end.
And if you truly want to do it yourself, ask us to teach you. I’ll gladly teach you how to roast your own coffee, or work with InDesign.
Today I want to talk to all you authors, publishers, and people who want to make books. Formatting a book, even something as simple as a novel, isn’t just knowing a few things in Microsoft Word. It’s also knowing industry standards, font combinations, typesetting, and the difference between a print and electronic book.
That’s not going into the little flourishes like separators or the difference between different genres. For example, a fantasy book is more likely to have a classic font, while a horror novel might have a more modern font.
A good layout artist will walk you through the process and help you choose the best options to make your book look as good as it deserves. The process should be painless and you should get unlocked copies of your document after you’re done.
I can hear you thinking, “I already have to pay a cover designer, editor, and printer for my book! I’ll just do it myself.” That’s a perfectly logical and understandable thought. However a layout artist is worth the cost if only in saving you time and frustration. What will take you weeks of research, and even more in applying the format, will take a layout artist days.
They can also help you avoid legal issues with fonts, since most layout artists collect them like they’re going out of style.
If you do a search, you’ll find people charging up to $2000, and you’ll find some that charge $50. What should you be paying? That depends on the size and complexity of your book, along with the experience and skill of the layout artist. I was told at a writer’s convention that you should be paying around $300 for a good sized novel.
If you take into account the time saved, (which you can use to write) the step by step guiding, and the fact that your book will look amazing; I think it’s certainly worth it. (I might be a little biased)