Advice Isn't Worth The Price Unless It's Free

Two questions that keep coming up in my ongoing correspondence are:

1) Why can't you be more positive?

2) Why won't you charge for consulting?

I tried to answer the latter last year in my grumpy publishing consultant post, but I realize that even dedicated new readers are unlikely to read more than 100 posts backward in the blog. The two questions are closely related.

I know quite a few self publishers who are making a good living and in some cases growing their companies. I'm not negative about the future for self publishers, I think it's an open field and that every year a growing number of authors will figure out how to support themselves and build an asset at the same time. What I'm negative about is the idea that it's for everyone, and if you just get the right advice somewhere, you'll do well publishing the books you want to write.

My pessimistic outlook for the majority of authors who go into self publishing isn't based on the quality of their writing, that's a subjective matter in most cases. I'm pessimistic because I know that these authors, when they go looking for help on the Internet, are deluged with optimistic outlooks from people who want to sell them something. Of course the cover designer is going to say you'll get a great cover, and you may. Of course the editor is going to say the book will be New York quality, it's not a tough goal. Of course the marketing expert or publishing consultant is going to say their advice will help you sell more books. In all these cases, these experts know more about their field than you do, so it's fair for them to say they can help, but what does that mean?

Will the cover designer guarantee that the artwork will sell 1,000 books and make back the cost of the art? Will the editor guarantee that the polished prose will get mainstream reviewers to take notice? Will the marketing or publishing consultant guarantee that the additional profits you'll generate will pay for their services, and wait until you earn those profits for their paychecks? Too many authors confuse "professional" help with "useful" help, meaning help that will contribute value above it's cost to a positive outcome. If you want to succeed as a self publisher, you have to write books people will be willing to buy and figure out a cost effective way to reach those people. And that's a service I've never seen anybody selling.


Dale L. Murphy said...

Hi Morris you hit the nail on the head when you mention services. It would be nice if someone would provide their service and wait to get paid. Thanks for the Yahoo Group mentions I am going to check them out.


Morris Rosenthal said...


In case you have trouble finding them, I did a post about groups once: