Author Topic: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free  (Read 11270 times)  

Offline Lynna

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #100 on: October 12, 2017, 01:24:09 PM »
Yes, so you keep saying.  But some people get around it.  You said earlier if you want to take longer... You know, sometimes it's not about WANT it's about NEED. 

And you know what, some of us need baby steps.  It's the simple. Some of us need to fall on our arses and pick our selves up to learn the ropes.  Some of us need to fail in order to succeed.

Kudos to those who have made it from the earlier days. But I also bet you were all told it's a pipe dream, or a nice hobby, or whatever, and yet you worked through it, pushed it, and emerged victorious. While you ARE right (if that's what you're all desperate to hear) that doing it professionally (meaning throwing money at things) is the way to go, some cannot.

I agree with something someone said earlier.  You do it with what you have.
Some of the most successful business people I've heard off started off at the bottom; stockroom boy, high school drop out, cheap market stall owner.  Some of them lost everything and rebuilt. Some did that more than once! 

Do it with what you have, and then when you have more, do it better!

Warning: bold opinion piece ahead. I probably won't be responding to comments about anything I say because I have a book to finish and I'm behind, but I felt a burning desire to write this and I'm not exactly full of self-discipline today (or I wouldn't be here when I'm supposed to be writing).

The only reason I'm even in this business is because it's the kind of business I can do my own way. I do everything myself. That's the way I like it and if I couldn't do that, I'd find something else to do. It's not about need for me, it's about want. I've bought custom covers from pros. I haven't used one of them on my books. They were an exercise in conforming and when it came down to it, after money had changed hands (you'd think I would have learned after one time, but I didn't), they weren't good enough for me. I wanted something I had created, that I controlled, and those covers weren't that.

I self-edit. I self-proofread. I'm told that's a huge no-no. IDGAF. Turns out I have an ego the size of Yellowstone. I've been making a living since 2013 sitting at home and writing 600 or so words a day on average. I mean some days are 2000+ and a LOT of days are 0, but that's how averages go. Anyway, I digress. Some of us chose indie because of the promise of not having to run a business the way most people think of business.

Some people seem to not like hearing that. Possibly because of how they think it reflects on them. They want all other indie publishers to treat the business just so, so that they aren't tainted by association. They want to control how everyone else does things so they're seen as professional, based on their own definition of "professional." It's just another way of seeking approval: If every indie is a pro, then people will believe I'm a pro. Maybe if they worried less about how everyone else chooses to do things, we could all be happy. It'll never happen though because the venue might have changed but the song hasn't.

In a different thread, there'd be nothing wrong at all with the advice you're responding to. In this thread? Those same comments are just rude and condescending. It's for the lurkers! they say. No, it's really not. It's for them--another opportunity to tell everyone else how to run their business and be a professional, remade in their own image. There are plenty of threads about the traditional business model here on the forums. But they always jump into these kinds of DIY threads to let us know we're all doing it wrong. When a DIY publisher shows up in one of the business threads, the sharks start circling. Conform or be success-shamed, especially if you're not making 100K thousand million trillion dollars a month publishing your way. It's ridiculous. And yet it happens over and over and over: We're just trying to help you poor little people who obviously don't have the common sense to know you're making the wrong decision when you don't listen to us really successful people.

Ignore them unless you've already tried things your way, whatever your reason, and couldn't find success. Then try a different path if you don't want to move on to other opportunities.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #101 on: October 12, 2017, 01:25:52 PM »

Surely the NFL player wouldn't tell a kid that he has to spend x money on his foot wear, or y money om his choice of hydration liquids. No, he'd say, hey kid you work hard and when you've put in the effort you'll get to be like me.

Nope.  In fact, I imagine there are many ball players who have gotten where they have by working hard despite starting with nothing.  Because, as with most things in life, hard work can often take the place of money.

I guess I missed the magic and fairy dust posts. 

As I and others have said on this board, being a one-person show isn't best practices.  It's a lot of hard work and you shouldn't expect to break the bank.  But you can totally do it until you have money to spend on best practices.  I don't think anyone reading this is under the misapprehension that being a one person show is a magic road to bestseller status.  But it isn't pay-to-win either.
              

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #102 on: October 12, 2017, 01:35:21 PM »
Ignore them unless you've already tried things your way, whatever your reason, and couldn't find success. Then try a different path if you don't want to move on to other opportunities.

Nobody is saying you can't do things your own way. What people are saying is that if you want to do it as a business, these are best practices as proven by a majority of the people who are making this viable as a business. If you aren't so concerned with the financial side of things, you can do it any way you'd like.

What people do or don't do doesn't reflect on me at all. I'm posting this anonymously (or semi-anonymously) after all. How could it?

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #103 on: October 12, 2017, 01:40:41 PM »
I am helping. Not everyone, or even most of the people here. But there are lurkers here who are reading and trying to think of this seriously like a business, and I imagine some of them are connecting with what I'm saying.

I am not saying that it's impossible to bootstrap, I'm saying that indie best practices involve investing in this like you would any other small business. Your best chance of success is professional covers, professional editors, and paying for marketing. Can one possibly bootstrap? Yes, but that is a less successful path on average.

There are risks at both ends of the spectrum, IMO.

If a newbie follows the "Hey, you can do it all yourself!" advice, they might end up not selling what what could've been a very successful book, just because it looks too amateurish to attract attention and/or puts off readers with poor editing. If a newbie follows the "This is a business, so invest in your product!" advice, they could end up sinking a whole lot of money into something that will never sell well because you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. The latter misstep seems like the worse of the two, to me. After all, you can always give a poorly covered, poorly edited book and a second life, but there's no recovering money spent on a story that's just irrecoverably bad.

People like you and Annie B and Monique may have found success by investing in your products upfront, but you weren't spending that money on sows' ears, so you're not a representative sample of what happens to people who invest upfront. You all represent what happens when you invest upfront *and* have a great story underlying that investment.

That's why I like Marti's caveat to be sure of the big-picture quality of your product before you invest money you can't afford to lose. To follow the restaurant metaphor Annie used, would you sink a lot of money into starting a restaurant if you and your Mom were the only ones who'd ever tried your food? No, you'd only rent your building and buy your silverware if you had some convincing evidence you could produce food people like a lot.

There are lots of ways to get reality-check feedback on your stories' quality, but publishing on a shoestring with a disposable pen name is one way to do it. If you get hosed for big-picture stuff like incoherence or boringness or whatever, then you know you're not ready to sink lots of money into editing and covers: you need stronger basics first. Really good beta-readers could also give you that message, but they're hard for newbies to find. Feedback from experienced, successful authors would also do the trick, but those folks tend to be very busy. For many of us, putting work out there for the public is the best real-work test available.

Once you're sure your product is basically sound, sure, invest. It'll still be a risk, but a somewhat more reasonable one.




Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #104 on: October 12, 2017, 01:47:34 PM »
Some fair points, Becca. I'm not in the "spend big money" crowd, that's for sure. Editing feels like a hard line to me, and pre-made covers can be had relatively cheaply. Fifty to a hundred bucks. I do think most authors should be able to teach themselves formatting without a huge amount of headache. It's easier than it used to be, because the tools are better.

Throw in some launch advertising, and you can do a release for a thousand dollars, then upgrade covers and advertising for future projects. That sum doesn't seem unreasonable when you've already put in hundreds of hours of labor on the project. Even if you only value your time at minimum wage, you're already into it for a good sum at that point.

Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #105 on: October 12, 2017, 01:50:06 PM »
There are risks at both ends of the spectrum, IMO.

If a newbie follows the "Hey, you can do it all yourself!" advice, they might end up not selling what what could've been a very successful book, just because it looks too amateurish to attract attention and/or puts off readers with poor editing. If a newbie follows the "This is a business, so invest in your product!" advice, they could end up sinking a whole lot of money into something that will never sell well because you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. The latter misstep seems like the worse of the two, to me. After all, you can always give a poorly covered, poorly edited book and a second life, but there's no recovering money spent on a story that's just irrecoverably bad.

People like you and Annie B and Monique may have found success by investing in your products upfront, but you weren't spending that money on sows' ears, so you're not a representative sample of what happens to people who invest upfront. You all represent what happens when you invest upfront *and* have a great story underlying that investment.

That's why I like Marti's caveat to be sure of the big-picture quality of your product before you invest money you can't afford to lose. To follow the restaurant metaphor Annie used, would you sink a lot of money into starting a restaurant if you and your Mom were the only ones who'd ever tried your food? No, you'd only rent your building and buy your silverware if you had some convincing evidence you could produce food people like a lot.

There are lots of ways to get reality-check feedback on your stories' quality, but publishing on a shoestring with a disposable pen name is one way to do it. If you get hosed for big-picture stuff like incoherence or boringness or whatever, then you know you're not ready to sink lots of money into editing and covers: you need stronger basics first. Really good beta-readers could also give you that message, but they're hard for newbies to find. Feedback from experienced, successful authors would also do the trick, but those folks tend to be very busy. For many of us, putting work out there for the public is the best real-work test available.

Once you're sure your product is basically sound, sure, invest. It'll still be a risk, but a somewhat more reasonable one.

+100

Offline evdarcy

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #106 on: October 12, 2017, 01:51:13 PM »
I'm not bothering posting on this any more. I'm repeating myself, which I get enough of in my day job. Clearly it has now just descended into a do this or don't succeed thread when it was supposed to be a support thread.

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Offline HopelessFanatic

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #107 on: October 12, 2017, 01:59:01 PM »
So here's an example of a cover anyone could make, and this book is currently #5 on the bestseller list. Oh sure, I know this is a top selling author, but if he paid a lot for this cover, I'd be worried about him.  http://a.co/h0lIVkT

This is also published by Simon and Schuster and isn't his first book. Comparing covers of trade published books and indie published books is really comparing apples to oranges. It's not the same playing field. Neither is comparing someone who has been indie publishing for years to someone who just started.

Covers sell books. There are other ways to sell books, but many of those cost more money or aren't available to everyone. Even books that take off (and they are rare) with subpar covers still have covers that indicate genre and tone.

I'm not saying someone can't make their own cover, just that this example isn't the best.

Personally, I don't think we can group authors into two categories based on how much they spend or outsource. It's not as simple as saying you're a hobby writer if you bootstrap, because that is where some people have to start.

It's about expectations. Don't expect to sell a lot of copies or even any without investing. Be that covers, editing, advertising, etc. Can you sell copies and do everything yourself? Yeah, it's possible, but unlikely.

Which means to me, if you can't afford to invest into your product(book), then there's no harm in making your own cover, using free beta readers for typos/editing, and all the rest of what is in the OP. Just be prepared not to move as many books and have a plan to upgrade when money becomes available. It doesn't mean you're a hobby writer versus a business author, just keep your expectations in check.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't invest in your product(book) if you have the money. It is better to get a pro-cover if you have no graphic and typography skills, and it is better to pay a professional to edit/proofread. Advertising is better than not advertising. There's a happy medium between bootstrapping and throwing 5k down on your first book.

I like how Patty Jansen explains the differences between essentials to pay for (and good ranges of prices for them) and non-essentials in her new self-publishing book. Invest what you can, when you can, and keep your expectations in check.

I don't want authors who have no money to publish not to. And I don't want authors who are publishing their book but are unsure if they should invest in a cover or editing or advertising not to invest in those things because they think they don't need to.

Offline Anarchist

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #108 on: October 12, 2017, 02:05:19 PM »
It's not an either/or question.

Some authors bootstrap, and knock it out of the park. Others spend big on covers, proofreading, copyediting, etc., only to hear crickets.

It's really about improving your odds.

It's like asking a girl for a date. Could I succeed despite not having taken a shower, failing to put on deodorant, and neglecting to brush my teeth? Maybe, especially if I have a magnetic personality.

But I'd improve my odds if I cleaned myself up and looked presentable.



« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 02:07:33 PM by Anarchist »
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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #109 on: October 12, 2017, 02:11:09 PM »
I think professionalism is key, whether or not you're doing it as a hobby or for money. Every writer wants a reader, especially if you are publishing your work. There's no point in publishing if you don't want readers. We get readers by being professional. At least that's my 2 cents. So whatever you have to do in order to produce work that presents well.

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Online Annie B

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #110 on: October 12, 2017, 02:17:34 PM »
So here's an example of a cover anyone could make, and this book is currently #5 on the bestseller list. Oh sure, I know this is a top selling author, but if he paid a lot for this cover, I'd be worried about him.  http://a.co/h0lIVkT
 

I hate to tell you that this is a trad book and his publisher likely paid somewhere around 5k for this cover.

Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #111 on: October 12, 2017, 02:26:16 PM »
If a newbie follows the "This is a business, so invest in your product!" advice, they could end up sinking a whole lot of money into something that will never sell well because you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. The latter misstep seems like the worse of the two, to me. After all, you can always give a poorly covered, poorly edited book and a second life, but there's no recovering money spent on a story that's just irrecoverably bad.

A good editor should tell a new author their story isn't anywhere near ready for publication. Of course some (most?) editors won't do this and they just pocket the money, do a bit of editing and then return a manuscript that's still nowhere near ready for publication.

On the other hand, the author might not listen to the editor and go ahead and throw a few thousand bucks out the window anyway.

All in all, this is the reality of the start-up business world. People who don't even know how to cook buy a restaurant and go bankrupt with it. Others move to a foreign country and open a beach bar only to realize there are 9 others doing the same thing in the same area, and not nearly enough tourists to share between them. What differentiates us from those folks is our community. We can list all the pros and cons, share our experiences, and then let everyone find the truth for themselves. They don't have to go into it blind. And that's the reason I love this forum.  :-*

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Offline jaehaerys

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #112 on: October 12, 2017, 02:28:56 PM »
A lot of correlation=causation happening in this thread.

There's no way to prove paying for professional editing (for example) will better your chances of being financially successful, just like there's no way to prove the opposite. It's all anecdotal.

Sure, a financially successful author can point to their financial success and say "I did 'x' and that's why I'm financially successful", but really it's impossible to know how much any one factor of their book's launch was the difference-maker because who's to say that same author wouldn't also have been just as successful by not checking one or two boxes on the ALL AUTHORS MUST DO checklist, such as paying a professional editor (again, just as an example)?

Short of a split test or double blind test or some scientific breakdown, there's no way to know what particular factors = financial success for authors...so it's a guessing game...hardly something on which to base concrete hard-and-fast rules.

How do you know you wouldn't have been just as financially successful without paying for professional editing but while still paying for professional covers, formatting, blurb, marketing etc? You don't know, no one knows. Sure, it sounds sensible, it seems logical...but to state unequivocally that it's a must? No.

A lot of authors assume you must pay for editing because professional editing has been de rigeur for the trads that we've all grown up with for decades. As authors we've had it drilled into us that pro editing is just "how it's done". It's how our heroes books' are put out into the world. Then we see financially successful indies stating that they always spring for pro editing and we look at that and go "oh, pro editing is part of why they're successful", but again there's no way to know if that's actually true, it's all based on assumption. A good assumption? Maybe. Still, it's an assumption.

Sure, any given financially successful author can point to their 5 top selling books and their 5 worst selling books and say that their 5 top sellers were all professionally edited while their 5 least successful books were not.

But even then, that still only counts as anecdotal evidence and doesn't prove anything because there are so many factors that go into what makes any given book a success and so many different aspects that you can point to outside of professional editing that makes a book take off versus the opposite.

Yes, pro editing CAN be one of those aspects that makes a book successful, absolutely true, but to separate that one factor out and say it is THE reason? No.

The point is, there's no way to know whether or not paying for relatively expensive professional editing is the difference-maker when it comes to the financial success of a book. Same for all other aspects of indie publishing. There's anecdotes, there's guesses...but in the end you should base your own personal financial decisions on your own instincts and don't make the mistake of placing too much credence in the assumptions of others...including me.  ;) 

Financial success in this game is elusive and not even the big authors get it right all the time. If any one indie author KNEW ABSOLUTELY the how's and the why's that go into financially killing it every time out of the gate - outside of cheating - they'd do it each and every time they launch. There is no hard and fast way, there's educated guesses that sometimes happen to be right just as there is also coincidence and good/bad fortune.

Sure, those top selling authors guess at what's gotten them to where they are and they repeat what they did before, but there's no way to know what combination of what is the key driver behind their success. Just like there's no way to know a given approach will continue to work with each launch. Things change, markets change, approaches change. There's a lot of trial and error and everyone's mileage varies.

Recognize that, a lot of the time, the consistent top sellers got there initially based on a myriad of factors that most of them probably cannot FULLY quantify themselves even if they try and even if they say they know, often they don't. Recognize that many of those who tend to sell consistently well nowadays may do so because of an audience and a readership that they'd built on that initial non-fully-quantifiable foundation. But even that's a guess.  ???

Does this mean you cannot point to a book's beautiful cover and logically surmise that that cover's beauty is one key factor in that book's success? Of course you can make that assumption...it seems sensible, that assumption might even be bang on the money. It's quite possible that book's cover is the difference-maker. But can anyone say it is definitively the reason? No, it's all theory.

It is impossible to say the beautiful cover is what did it for a book because there may be other factors that played even more of a role or played so much of a role that the beautiful cover wound up almost beside the point. Not every beautifully covered book sells. There's so much more to it than that...sometimes.  ;) Just like, a book might succeed based on its cover alone and the editing didn't even play into the book's success...that also happens...sometimes.

Point is, it's all just guessing. THERE IS NO KNOWING.

Likewise, does this mean you can point to the cleanliness of a manuscript and reason that the editing done on that book was a key factor in that book's success? Sure, it is more than plausible that the editing was the difference that made that book a financial success...but again, can we say it is THE definitive reason that said book succeeded? Nope. Again, we're talking theory here.

So, what do you do with all of this? Do you. Spend what you can on putting your work out there, or spend nothing. Listen to the financially successful authors if you want and determine for yourself how much stock you want to put into what they say and pick and choose from there what you want to emulate or what you can even afford to emulate.

BUT don't for a second think you HAVE to do any given suggested thing to be a financial success in this business - regardless of who is telling you that you MUST - because honestly, no one really deep down knows what the "MUSTS" are...everyone sets up 'systems' and 'processes' and does their best through trial and error and makes a lot of assumptions based on all of it. That's likely your best path to, but again, that's for you to determine. I can't tell you definitively your best course of action. No one can.

There are entire youtube channels and bestsellers lists full of self-publishing advice and more will continue to pop up and not one of them is the silver bullet because THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET. If there were, there'd be ONE BOOK, there'd be ONE VIDEO and that would be THE THING all indies would adhere to and voila, they'd be making a living from their fiction. It doesn't exist. Do you.

TL;DR - THERE IS NO KNOWING. Act accordingly.


Online Annie B

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #113 on: October 12, 2017, 02:30:48 PM »
There are risks at both ends of the spectrum, IMO.

If a newbie follows the "Hey, you can do it all yourself!" advice, they might end up not selling what what could've been a very successful book, just because it looks too amateurish to attract attention and/or puts off readers with poor editing. If a newbie follows the "This is a business, so invest in your product!" advice, they could end up sinking a whole lot of money into something that will never sell well because you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. The latter misstep seems like the worse of the two, to me. After all, you can always give a poorly covered, poorly edited book and a second life, but there's no recovering money spent on a story that's just irrecoverably bad.

People like you and Annie B and Monique may have found success by investing in your products upfront, but you weren't spending that money on sows' ears, so you're not a representative sample of what happens to people who invest upfront. You all represent what happens when you invest upfront *and* have a great story underlying that investment.

That's why I like Marti's caveat to be sure of the big-picture quality of your product before you invest money you can't afford to lose. To follow the restaurant metaphor Annie used, would you sink a lot of money into starting a restaurant if you and your Mom were the only ones who'd ever tried your food? No, you'd only rent your building and buy your silverware if you had some convincing evidence you could produce food people like a lot.

There are lots of ways to get reality-check feedback on your stories' quality, but publishing on a shoestring with a disposable pen name is one way to do it. If you get hosed for big-picture stuff like incoherence or boringness or whatever, then you know you're not ready to sink lots of money into editing and covers: you need stronger basics first. Really good beta-readers could also give you that message, but they're hard for newbies to find. Feedback from experienced, successful authors would also do the trick, but those folks tend to be very busy. For many of us, putting work out there for the public is the best real-work test available.

Once you're sure your product is basically sound, sure, invest. It'll still be a risk, but a somewhat more reasonable one.

I agree with a lot of this... but covers and fixing typos are easier to change and improve than the actual work, so that gets talked about more than base craft level.  Personally, I wouldn't want anyone to spend a dime until their craft is up to a point where people will want to pay them for their work, but I've found a lot of resistance when trying to say that aloud to people. We all want to believe that our stories are all amazing right out the gate, but... well...

So I guess I would advise if you want to try to be as sure as you can be of producing books people want to read, spend a few years writing lots of things, getting critiques from people who READ those kinds of things (not just any old reader, you want people familiar with the genre you are writing), and by the end of that you'll probably have work worth investing a few hundred into and hey... it'll have been a year or five, so you'll have had time to save up a few hundred to invest.

(and yes, I practiced what I preach (except the having money part, I used debt to fund my last chance at making this work because I was drowning in medical bills). I have six novels that will never see the light of day. Roughly 40 short stories that will also never see the light. Over 600 poems, most of which have never been read by anyone but myself. I stopped counting rejections from trad anthologies, publishers, and magazines after I hit 500 but I'm probably somewhere in the 600-700 range. All of this helped me get to the point that when I was broke, sick, and deciding to max out my last credit card to put wow-factor covers on my last-hope project and do it right w/editing etc... I knew that I could write work other people wanted to read, because I had already thanks to those years of rejections, the sales to trad magazines etc)

As for hobby... it's not a dirty word. There's nothing wrong with writing for a reason other than profit. I bow to Mr. Wonderful's wisdom from Shark Tank... he says that if you have been in a business for 2-3 years and aren't showing a profit, you have a hobby. And there are so many good reasons to write that have nothing to do with making money. It's okay to not maximize your potential in that way. Just manage your expectations in the returns and readership you'll achieve based on the decisions you make.  I think a lot of us long-timers get a little frustrated by things like this because we see people posting post after post asking what they can fix to make money/gain readership etc and so much of that stems from not investing in the business and your books from the get-go.


Final point.. yes, nobody knows what it takes to be successful. But we do know how to increase the odds. I think that once you have all the boxes ticked (great books, wow-covers, clean editing, etc) that then it comes down to writing the kind of story that strikes a chord with your readership. And that just takes writing a lot of stories with the understanding that sometimes you'll fail through no fault of your own and continuing to improve craft, take your storytelling to new levels, listen to your chosen audience about what they want to read and figuring out how to make that your own, etc.  I know a few writers who I think are one right book away from being huge hits, but they haven't written the killer concept yet. Some people have a gift for understanding what readers want, and that can't really be taught. The rest of us just have to keep paying attention and improving.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 02:34:30 PM by Annie B »

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #114 on: October 12, 2017, 02:31:55 PM »
Warning: bold opinion piece ahead. I probably won't be responding to comments about anything I say because I have a book to finish and I'm behind, but I felt a burning desire to write this and I'm not exactly full of self-discipline today (or I wouldn't be here when I'm supposed to be writing).

The only reason I'm even in this business is because it's the kind of business I can do my own way. I do everything myself. That's the way I like it and if I couldn't do that, I'd find something else to do. It's not about need for me, it's about want. I've bought custom covers from pros. I haven't used one of them on my books. They were an exercise in conforming and when it came down to it, after money had changed hands (you'd think I would have learned after one time, but I didn't), they weren't good enough for me. I wanted something I had created, that I controlled, and those covers weren't that.

I self-edit. I self-proofread. I'm told that's a huge no-no. IDGAF. Turns out I have an ego the size of Yellowstone. I've been making a living since 2013 sitting at home and writing 600 or so words a day on average. I mean some days are 2000+ and a LOT of days are 0, but that's how averages go. Anyway, I digress. Some of us chose indie because of the promise of not having to run a business the way most people think of business.

Some people seem to not like hearing that. Possibly because of how they think it reflects on them. They want all other indie publishers to treat the business just so, so that they aren't tainted by association. They want to control how everyone else does things so they're seen as professional, based on their own definition of "professional." It's just another way of seeking approval: If every indie is a pro, then people will believe I'm a pro. Maybe if they worried less about how everyone else chooses to do things, we could all be happy. It'll never happen though because the venue might have changed but the song hasn't.

In a different thread, there'd be nothing wrong at all with the advice you're responding to. In this thread? Those same comments are just rude and condescending. It's for the lurkers! they say. No, it's really not. It's for them--another opportunity to tell everyone else how to run their business and be a professional, remade in their own image. There are plenty of threads about the traditional business model here on the forums. But they always jump into these kinds of DIY threads to let us know we're all doing it wrong. When a DIY publisher shows up in one of the business threads, the sharks start circling. Conform or be success-shamed, especially if you're not making 100K thousand million trillion dollars a month publishing your way. It's ridiculous. And yet it happens over and over and over: We're just trying to help you poor little people who obviously don't have the common sense to know you're making the wrong decision when you don't listen to us really successful people.

Ignore them unless you've already tried things your way, whatever your reason, and couldn't find success. Then try a different path if you don't want to move on to other opportunities.

I have zero idea who you are, but I heart every bit of this post (including the bit that I should be writing, no, actually, I should be re-doing my borked Mailerlite autoresponder).

One thing that bothers me a great deal about the self-publishing world is that as soon as you mention that you self-publish, the sharks come out. They're circling your wallet and offer you little shreds of hope that if you only bought this ad or re-edited your book, or spent more on an even more awesome cover designer, your books would start selling.

Some of it is one the side of simply providing a service, some of it is purely predatory, only the smallest minute step removed from vanity publishers, which we all love to hate so much.

I applaud the OP for taking us back to basics. YOU decide where you spend the money, but by all that's dear, if you spend, spend it wisely and don't spend it on that fickle and nebulous thing called "hope" where you absolve yourself from the responsibility of taking care of your own book by investing heavily in cosmetic stuff because someone told you that you should, while the book does not have the legs to support that investment.

Re. cover design, some books sell well with what I think are godawful covers, so what do I know. I defy anyone to produce that cover, for that it looks simple, it's well-designed, if not traditionally indie but with a more design-y flavour. Often tradepubs will put daring unusual covers on books because they also compete for book cover design awards.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #115 on: October 12, 2017, 02:43:23 PM »
This is also published by Simon and Schuster and isn't his first book. Comparing covers of trade published books and indie published books is really comparing apples to oranges. It's not the same playing field. Neither is comparing someone who has been indie publishing for years to someone who just started.

Covers sell books. There are other ways to sell books, but many of those cost more money or aren't available to everyone. Even books that take off (and they are rare) with subpar covers still have covers that indicate genre and tone.

I'm not saying someone can't make their own cover, just that this example isn't the best.

Personally, I don't think we can group authors into two categories based on how much they spend or outsource. It's not as simple as saying you're a hobby writer if you bootstrap, because that is where some people have to start.

It's about expectations. Don't expect to sell a lot of copies or even any without investing. Be that covers, editing, advertising, etc. Can you sell copies and do everything yourself? Yeah, it's possible, but unlikely.

Which means to me, if you can't afford to invest into your product(book), then there's no harm in making your own cover, using free beta readers for typos/editing, and all the rest of what is in the OP. Just be prepared not to move as many books and have a plan to upgrade when money becomes available. It doesn't mean you're a hobby writer versus a business author, just keep your expectations in check.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't invest in your product(book) if you have the money. It is better to get a pro-cover if you have no graphic and typography skills, and it is better to pay a professional to edit/proofread. Advertising is better than not advertising. There's a happy medium between bootstrapping and throwing 5k down on your first book.

I like how Patty Jansen explains the differences between essentials to pay for (and good ranges of prices for them) and non-essentials in her new self-publishing book. Invest what you can, when you can, and keep your expectations in check.

I don't want authors who have no money to publish not to. And I don't want authors who are publishing their book but are unsure if they should invest in a cover or editing or advertising not to invest in those things because they think they don't need to.

It's the perfect example. It's a stupid green tree on a plain blue background. No talent wasted here, no matter who the author or publisher is. You could have made it and I certainly could have. Will his readers buy anything he writes no matter the cover art? Of Course, but that wasn't the point. The point is, how much did the publisher pay for this and is it the magic that sells his book? Nope.

On the other hand, it is different than the thousands of guys with no shirts, women in beautiful dresses, other worlds, dark covers trying to look scary. It's a trap, this, "what does it say about the genre" idea, because everyone ends up with the same old tired pictures.

I think it's more about color, but that's just me.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #116 on: October 12, 2017, 03:21:27 PM »
So here's an example of a cover anyone could make, and this book is currently #5 on the bestseller list. Oh sure, I know this is a top selling author, but if he paid a lot for this cover, I'd be worried about him.  http://a.co/h0lIVkT

Really? It bothers me more that you can't see why it's a good cover.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #117 on: October 12, 2017, 03:22:56 PM »
It's the perfect example. It's a stupid green tree on a plain blue background. No talent wasted here, no matter who the author or publisher is. You could have made it and I certainly could have. Will his readers buy anything he writes no matter the cover art? Of Course, but that wasn't the point. The point is, how much did the publisher pay for this and is it the magic that sells his book? Nope.

On the other hand, it is different than the thousands of guys with no shirts, women in beautiful dresses, other worlds, dark covers trying to look scary. It's a trap, this, "what does it say about the genre" idea, because everyone ends up with the same old tired pictures.

I think it's more about color, but that's just me.

That's one reason why we're better off hiring an artist to do the work. I'm not a designer, so my instincts are not always correct. I have thoughts on the thriller cover, but I'm not as confident about that. The "same old tired pictures" however, is about genre expectations. A cover is packaging, and should convey the product to the reader. It doesn't alter the story at all, only the reader's perception of it. Go against genre conventions at your own peril.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #118 on: October 12, 2017, 03:29:48 PM »
Really? It bothers me more that you can't see why it's a good cover.

Me, too, and I really defy anyone to just slap that together.

Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #119 on: October 12, 2017, 03:39:13 PM »
There are no guarantees in being a writer, or anything else I can think of. If you invest into your work as would any other business will you see a profit? Maybe not. You want promises and sure things, talk to a con artist. You want sound practices that are proven effective, talk to writers who have a good sales record.
I mean hey....for all I know the book could just be awful. If the writer isn't very good, money can't fix that. So maybe start with a bit of self-examination. In know, I know, how dare I suggest that the writer might suck? But in reality, that's often the case and often the main problem. So no. Don't spend your hard earned cash until you know at least that much.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 03:46:27 PM by This_Way_Down »

Online Rosie A.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #120 on: October 12, 2017, 04:41:52 PM »
Warning: bold opinion piece ahead. I probably won't be responding to comments about anything I say because I have a book to finish and I'm behind, but I felt a burning desire to write this and I'm not exactly full of self-discipline today (or I wouldn't be here when I'm supposed to be writing).

The only reason I'm even in this business is because it's the kind of business I can do my own way. I do everything myself. That's the way I like it and if I couldn't do that, I'd find something else to do. It's not about need for me, it's about want. I've bought custom covers from pros. I haven't used one of them on my books. They were an exercise in conforming and when it came down to it, after money had changed hands (you'd think I would have learned after one time, but I didn't), they weren't good enough for me. I wanted something I had created, that I controlled, and those covers weren't that.

I self-edit. I self-proofread. I'm told that's a huge no-no. IDGAF. Turns out I have an ego the size of Yellowstone. I've been making a living since 2013 sitting at home and writing 600 or so words a day on average. I mean some days are 2000+ and a LOT of days are 0, but that's how averages go. Anyway, I digress. Some of us chose indie because of the promise of not having to run a business the way most people think of business.

Some people seem to not like hearing that. Possibly because of how they think it reflects on them. They want all other indie publishers to treat the business just so, so that they aren't tainted by association. They want to control how everyone else does things so they're seen as professional, based on their own definition of "professional." It's just another way of seeking approval: If every indie is a pro, then people will believe I'm a pro. Maybe if they worried less about how everyone else chooses to do things, we could all be happy. It'll never happen though because the venue might have changed but the song hasn't.

In a different thread, there'd be nothing wrong at all with the advice you're responding to. In this thread? Those same comments are just rude and condescending. It's for the lurkers! they say. No, it's really not. It's for them--another opportunity to tell everyone else how to run their business and be a professional, remade in their own image. There are plenty of threads about the traditional business model here on the forums. But they always jump into these kinds of DIY threads to let us know we're all doing it wrong. When a DIY publisher shows up in one of the business threads, the sharks start circling. Conform or be success-shamed, especially if you're not making 100K thousand million trillion dollars a month publishing your way. It's ridiculous. And yet it happens over and over and over: We're just trying to help you poor little people who obviously don't have the common sense to know you're making the wrong decision when you don't listen to us really successful people.

Ignore them unless you've already tried things your way, whatever your reason, and couldn't find success. Then try a different path if you don't want to move on to other opportunities.
Thank you. I really wish we supported each other more. Truthfully, a lot of times I read posts on this site and I think that wow, if I had 3k to spend on a launch maybe I'd be doing better. But who knows? I've written short and haven't really promoted anything. That's been a kink in the process (although 2018 will be different so help me God!) What I'm saying is, it would be nice if others didn't assume that just because you don't hire professional editors doesn't mean you don't care about your work. Maybe you're a poor author, single mother, whatever, who doesn't have a lot of funds to work with. Where is the grace here? Where is the camaraderie? We're all on the same side.

Rose Andrews | Rose Historicals

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #121 on: October 12, 2017, 04:46:13 PM »
Thank you. I really wish we supported each other more. Truthfully, a lot of times I read posts on this site and I think that wow, if I had 3k to spend on a launch maybe I'd be doing better. But who knows? I've written short and haven't really promoted anything. That's been a kink in the process (although 2018 will be different so help me God!) What I'm saying is, it would be nice if others didn't assume that just because you don't hire professional editors doesn't mean you don't care about your work. Maybe you're a poor author, single mother, whatever, who doesn't have a lot of funds to work with. Where is the grace here? Where is the camaraderie? We're all on the same side.

I don't know who said anything like that. Who said $3,000? Who said if you didn't spend you didn't care? Maybe someone did, but I didn't, and that wasn't my takeaway from other advice, either. My takeaway is that if you want to make a living, your best bet is to treat it like a business and invest some modest funds. If you don't, you're more likely to see hobbyist results. Whether you are satisfied with those results or not is a personal decision.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #122 on: October 12, 2017, 04:53:20 PM »
I don't know who said anything like that. Who said $3,000? Who said if you didn't spend you didn't care? Maybe someone did, but I didn't, and that wasn't my takeaway from other advice, either. My takeaway is that if you want to make a living, your best bet is to treat it like a business and invest some modest funds. If you don't, you're more likely to see hobbyist results. Whether you are satisfied with those results or not is a personal decision.
Oh, no...$3k was just a number I pulled randomly out of my head!  :P  Plus I've also read on these forums of authors who spend that amount when it all comes down to covers, editing, promotion, etc. And as to everything else...none of what I said had anything with what you said. Heh. Merry go round of words. I tend to be general...and I'm also in the middle of writing a frustrating chapter. It might not be so frustrating if I actually concentrated on it.

I absolutely agree with your part in bold. For me, it's come down to just how much I can afford. If I had more to spend and work with, then I might be doing better. But that's a comment on my end, not saying it for anyone else here on their books, if that makes sense. :)

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Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #123 on: October 12, 2017, 04:53:41 PM »
Thank you. I really wish we supported each other more. Truthfully, a lot of times I read posts on this site and I think that wow, if I had 3k to spend on a launch maybe I'd be doing better. But who knows? I've written short and haven't really promoted anything. That's been a kink in the process (although 2018 will be different so help me God!) What I'm saying is, it would be nice if others didn't assume that just because you don't hire professional editors doesn't mean you don't care about your work. Maybe you're a poor author, single mother, whatever, who doesn't have a lot of funds to work with. Where is the grace here? Where is the camaraderie? We're all on the same side.

Yes we are, Rosie. :)

Author of Romances, Mysteries, Fairytales and Historical Non-Fiction.
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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #124 on: October 12, 2017, 04:57:59 PM »
I absolutely agree with your part in bold. For me, it's come down to just how much I can afford. If I had more to spend and work with, then I might be doing better. But that's a comment on my end, not saying it for anyone else here on their books, if that makes sense. :)

It does make sense. I spend more now than I did when I started. I think a good number for a new writer would be $500 for editing, $100 for a good pre-made cover, and $200-$400 for advertising at launch. I would cut advertising before I cut editing or the cover, and would advise learning formatting on one's own, since I think this is something that most people can figure out.

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