Book Publishing: Everyone is a Publishing Consultant/Professional … really?

Years ago, I was a financial planner … before financial planning was a profession. Starting as stock broker with EF Hutton, I learned that savvy investors did something besides buy and sell stocks and bonds. An early bird in the CFP arena (Certified Financial Planner), I eventually left Hutton to start my own company, where I specialized in overall financial planning. Then a national study was done on up-and-coming professions … and being a Financial Planner (now with caps!) was at the top of the list. In fact, the fellow who headed up the study was so impressed with the results that he quit his day job and became a Financial Planner.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been coaching and shepherding authors for almost 20 years now. But it wasn’t until last year that I formally tossed in the day-job towel and embraced Book Shepherding full-time.

Ironically, I’m now hearing more and more people saying that they are publishing consultants. With the explosion in the self-publishing fields, it seems as though everyone and their distant cousin is laying claim to being an expert. But are they, really?

The answer is a resounding NO. Someone who wrote a book a year ago is not an expert—or even ten years ago if that’s their solo effort. Sure, lessons have been learned throughout the process. Usually, those lessons are one-dimensional, their own experiences. They haven’t walked the paths of others that, guaranteed, deliver a variety of twists and turns.

In financial planning, I always warned clients to never, never, never trust someone with their money unless that person had been in the “business” for a minimum of five years, be it stocks, annuities, insurance, real estate, commodities, fill-in-the-blank. Why? You want them to make their learning curve mistakes with others … and their money, not yours. Most people in the “advising” professions don’t survive—80 percent drop out the first year and another 10 percent the next. That’s why I’ve always recommended the five-year mark. There’s a reason they are still there.

The same principle holds true in publishing. You want to work only with someone who knows the path, has worked the journey, has survived through the maze of obstacles and detours that surface. This applies to a printer, publisher, designer, coach or consultant, or anyone else in the book business. Are there new entries into the field? Absolutely! Just think of the electronic publishing world. Even with that, eBooks are not new … they’ve been around for many years. It’s just now that the world is paying attention.

Don’t get suckered in to someone’s siren call to you. The odds are that they don’t have the depth and moxie to get you through the ups and downs that are sure to come your way. Never, never, never trust someone with your publishing issues unless they’ve been in the business for a minimum of five years.

Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd ( and the Founder of Author U (niversity (, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 28 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at