I recently heard about a group of self-published authors who criticized other self-published authors for having professionally designed covers and hiring editors. They accused them of selling out. They claimed it wasn’t truly self-publishing if you didn’t do it all yourself. Rubbish.
No one can truly self-publish a book all by him or herself. Will you buy a printing press to print copies? Will you cut down a tree to make the paper? Will you hand mix the ink? Will you ship boxes of books to each retail store and personally deliver a copy to each buyer?
Even if you skip printing and go the e-book route, will you only sell the book on your website? Who designed your site anyway? And if you did your own, who wrote the software you used to create it? If you put your book on e-book platforms, how many programs, online resources, and intermediaries will you use to make that happen?
If you look at the theoretical meaning of self-publishing, no one can truly self-publish a book. Every self-published author needs the help of others; much of the work must be outsourced. While prepress, production, and delivery are all obvious areas requiring assistance, other items are likewise worthy of outsourcing to professionals. These include cover design, editing, interior layout, and so forth.
Just as you could design your own cover, you could also make your own paper, mix your own ink, and hand print each page on a printing press you built. All of this would be foolhardy.
Self-publishing isn’t doing everything yourself. Instead, self-publishing is taking control of your book production and distribution, tapping experts along the way to make it happen in the most professional, effective way possible.