It struck me the other day that I don’t show ‘me’ enough here. I may explain how I can help and what I can do for fiction authors, but not why I do it. And whether you choose to believe me, my motivation isn’t actually financial. I have to put a charge on my time to be able to do what I do and not be destitute, and I know what I’m worth – but that’s just to exist. It’s not what makes me get up on a morning.
This is not because I’m a multi-millionaire with a mansion, swimming pool and helicopter; I couldn’t live more meagrely if I tried. It’s because it’s not the driver. If money was that important, I’d chase executive jobs with people I know would pay me a damn good living. Instead, I own a small, independent publishing house that also offers assisted publishing services. My business is definitely not going to have Jeff Bezos quaking in his boots.
I spend a lot of time helping authors improve, as writers, and consequently, their books. Seeing writers – some of whom may not have dared share their work before, or budding authors overwhelmed by all that’s involved with the self-publishing and printing of their title – hold their very first printed copy in their hand, is the biggest kick that exists for me.
I love to write, and have written books. It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was ‘ickle’, but even THAT doesn’t compare to helping someone else become a fully-fledged author. Their book, that I had a hand in creating, always looks better and far more accomplished than anything I could produce on my own. Two heads are better than one, and all that.
It took me years to realise I don’t ever want to be an employee again. No one but you values the effort you put into something – ever. But the books I help produce are a physical reminder of what I can do: find the story and push it to its very limits. It’s written. It’s recorded.
That the author gets the recognition is fine, I’m more chuffed for them than I would be for myself – I’ve helped someone realise their dream. Can you imagine how that feels?
I’m being very open with you here: professionally, I’ve been disappointed at a couple of points during my career, where the ethics of those in charge were way off my own. It’s made me more driven to not let others down, and to meet their expectations, even if it means ‘resetting’ their idea of reality. Perhaps I’m not the ‘business owner’ I should be, because I don’t look at authors as ‘units’ or income generators. It may mean I don’t get the mansion, swimming pool or helicopter. But there are books out there that wouldn’t have as good a story, or authors with a shakier knowledge and less confidence as a writer than they do, and I know it’s because of my intervention.
It seems my business approach means I’m a longstanding member of a certain band of entrepreneur: mission before bank account. We may take forever to get a little further forward, but we’re remembered by our clients, for the right reasons. Keep the big houses and fancy cars – I don’t want to trade my soul or change who I am. If life allows me to do so, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing, bringing joy to those with a similar love of the written word.
I’ve now purged, forgive me. This is something I’ve wanted to say for a long while. Just know that your book – the one that’s your baby – is my baby too. That’s all.
Developmental editor and publishing consultant Diane Hall is the author of three books; she has also ghost-written books for others and created a plethora of content, on more subjects than you could care to imagine, for numerous clients since the beginning of her career. She is proud to have fundamentally shaped series of books and more than a hundred individual titles over the last decade with various authors, nationally and internationally.
Among her editing qualifications, she holds a linguistics diploma, which involves the study of language and speech. Diane employs this knowledge in the forensic linguistic work she sometimes undertakes.
Diane has seen the introduction and subsequent rise of self-publishing, and passionately keeps abreast of its disruption of the publishing industry. She is a thought leader when it comes to the future of book marketing, fuelled by the poor results authors see when employing traditional techniques.