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Author Topic: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free  (Read 19641 times)  

Offline alawston

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #50 on: October 12, 2017, 01:42:16 AM »
I'd strongly encourage bootstrapping authors to consider taking their own photos for cover images, to avoid any concerns about rights. I was able to get print quality resolution with a BlackBerry five years ago, and that's like a century in mobile phone generation years.

It's an idea that comes with certain genre limitations, but with a bit of photo manipulation, and potentially a willing friend or two to model (though make sure they understand exactly where you're intending to use the image beforehand), or getting the friend to take the photo of you if they're not happy being on a cover, you can potentially create your own free image for just about anything short of science-fiction, or a book set in a farflung locale.


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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #51 on: October 12, 2017, 01:44:01 AM »

I can't cite it so I won't post it.. lol
Well, I could, but I won't. Will that do you?


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Offline mias

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #52 on: October 12, 2017, 02:08:51 AM »
This is the kind of advice that comes with caveats.

It all depends on your existing skill-set, being able to recognize your limitations, how much time and effort you're willing to put in, and what you're willing to do yourself vs outsource. Necessity is the mother of invention.

For my first book (published late 2015), I was in a sticky situation and desperately needed to establish some side income. I spent $10 for a stock photo, used GIMP and Canva to make my own cover (after carefully studying other covers in the genre), chose a lucrative subgenre, studied the heck out of the market, and took some time to understand the popular tropes. Did my own proofreading. Spent hours researching on Kboards. What I didn't know, I looked up. Made $500 in my first month on that single book with no promo apart from adding my book to some 'lists' on Goodreads (I know authors who have done this kind of thing in 2017 and made much more, but they are very rare exceptions).

This approach is not for everyone. If you have a couple hundred dollars to spare, by all means get a decent premade cover and some professional proofreading, but if you're in a tight financial situation, don't let lack of funds hold you back. If you make a couple hundred bucks in your first few months, that's your seed money right there. Remember, you can start new pen names later on.

The experience and skills I gained by launching that first pen name serve me very well 2 years on. I'm making a very comfortable living nowadays. I guess what I'm trying to say is, even if you don't have a lot of start-up capital, don't be afraid to have a go, but do your research. I've seen many authors upgrade covers and editing later on as funds become available.

My suggestions for shoestring budget publishing:
Covers: Study the heck out of covers in the top 100 of your selected genre. Download GIMP. Play with Canva. Watch some youtube videos about book cover design (particularly typography). Find some free stock images (but research carefully), or consider taking your own, or purchase a one-off image for around $10.
Formatting: Word>D2D>epub.
Proofreading and editing: This is the tricky one. As others have mentioned, this would be the priority if you have any cash to spare, but get your manuscript as clean as possible before sending it out. Lots of grammar and craft resources out there. Willing beta readers can help pick up typos and other errors. In certain genres, readers can be forgiving of typos if the story's good.
Promo: Network on facebook, join author groups, set up your FB author page, start a blog, network on Goodreads, put your book in your kboards signature, set up an ARC network (there are specific groups for ARCs on Goodreads, or you can target certain Amazon/Goodreads reviewers in your genre), mailing list. All of this is free.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 08:24:52 AM by mias »

Online Doglover

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #53 on: October 12, 2017, 02:14:49 AM »
First book, not sure it will make you a bundle of money, don't have a lot to spend anyway?

Here are a few tips.

You don't need a fancy program to write your book. Word.docs work just fine.
Spend time learning how to make a free website (Google Sites are free). You'll need to know how to make corrections and additions anyway, once you start churning out more books.
Formatting? Draft 2 Digital will do that for you for free.
Uploading your book? Don't let anyone do that for you. They'll have access to your password and bank account information if you do. Besides, publishing is a breeze.
Cover art? Search for free cover art, find a picture, download it, and then use Paint to add your title, etc. You can always buy inexpensive cover art and let the artist add the title, but I wouldn't spend a fortune on it. Changing your cover art after the book is published is fast and easy. Beautiful cover art may attract attention, but if you don't have a bestselling novel behind it, you're wasting money -- and you won't know if it is a bestseller for a few months at least.

What have I forgotten?

Marti

All anyone can do with your bank account details is pay money in. Anyone who wants to do that, is welcome.

You have forgotten editing and proof reading. Strange as it may seem, there are vast numbers of educated adults who have no idea what to do with a full stop (period) or a comma and cannot spell if their lives depend on it. That is the one thing that cannot be got round, if you are so handicapped.


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Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #54 on: October 12, 2017, 02:18:33 AM »
Well, I could, but I won't. Will that do you?


 :P  I had written something about the 20% rule, which I couldn't verify.. so I took it out.
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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #55 on: October 12, 2017, 02:20:39 AM »

 :P  I had written something about the 20% rule, which I couldn't verify.. so I took it out.
I know I am age and heading toward senility, but I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.


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Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #56 on: October 12, 2017, 03:39:53 AM »
Okay, let's be realistic here. A good cover is not as expensive as all that. Not these days. So there really is no excuse for a crappy cover. I love it when I see someone write, "I did mine at home." Yeah...it shows. Good on you for saving that $100. A pity that it could have been the difference between someone reading your book and someone shaking their head and moving on. But there is more to a cover than the cover if you are writing a series. There is branding. If you look at the OP's covers, the font style and placement are not uniform. There is nothing to indicate that the books are in any way connected. That alone would make any advice given suspect.
Of course if your book sells, there is the licencing of the images to take into account. Your best bet is to use original images that you own outright. But this can be very expensive - well beyond the financial means of most. It involves photo shoots, contracts, blah, blah blah. I would not suggest this to a new writer. If your book does in fact take off, you can always use the money you earn to make new covers once your licencing reaches its limit.
Formatting is not hard to learn. But designing the interior of a paperback or hardcover is another matter. Not that you can't learn to do it. But it's time consuming and compared with other expenses relatively cheap.
What has the OP forgotten? Quite a lot. If you think it's an accident that successful indies spend substantial money on a new release you're mistaken. And yes, I'm measuring success with the only yardstick that matters - money. Successfully writing a book doesn't make you a successful writer. Selling the book does. And though there are ways to save money along the way, you can't avoid that some things you will have to pay for if you want to release a good book and not some half-edited, poorly proofed, piece of feces.
Writing is a business. So unless you want to spend the next ten years frustrated, you had better treat it as such. Learn from people who sell books. Improve on your skills. Otherwise the only thing you write that people read will be these posts.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 03:50:51 AM by This_Way_Down »

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #57 on: October 12, 2017, 04:17:50 AM »
Writing is a business. So unless you want to spend the next ten years frustrated, you had better treat it as such. Learn from people who sell books. Improve on your skills. Otherwise the only thing you write that people read will be these posts.

Harshly written, even though I agree with most of what you posted. I see so often on this site all advice being weighed equally. There are people giving advice who have one book and $127 total royalties, some who are still working on their first novel, people who have three books and $9700 in earnings, and people who have sold 1M+ copies and made a full time living every year for several years. It's the ones in the later category who, pretty much without exception say that you need to have a professional cover, pay for editing, etc.

Not all advice applies to all people. There is room out there for people writing for fun or for a small side income. It would be really helpful to know what advice is coming from what type of writer, but that's hard to do. Instead, we get a lot of "This worked for me!" without knowing the definition of "worked" in this particular context.

Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #58 on: October 12, 2017, 04:30:37 AM »
I know I am age and heading toward senility, but I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.


Some designers go by the rule that if you change 20% of the font or picture it is no longer copyrighted, but yours to do with as you wish. (with some exceptions) there is case study on it, but no laws have been changed to reflect a change in protocol so I figured I would leave it out for another day/another post! ;D
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 04:35:14 AM by Pandorra »
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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #59 on: October 12, 2017, 04:41:48 AM »
The OP's point that you can do all of this yourself is perfectly valid. If you should is what everyone else is talking about.

For the record, my best-selling book was self-edited. My expenses before publication were: $210 for a full cover design (print and ebook). And before anyone says 'things were different back then' the book came out December 2015.

The book's earnings paid for its own bookbub ad, and the sales from that paid for its audiobook, and the sales from THAT paid for all of my other audiobooks.

Now, having said all of that, i'm working with a copy editor nowadays.

Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #60 on: October 12, 2017, 04:44:04 AM »
Harshly written, even though I agree with most of what you posted. I see so often on this site all advice being weighed equally. There are people giving advice who have one book and $127 total royalties, some who are still working on their first novel, people who have three books and $9700 in earnings, and people who have sold 1M+ copies and made a full time living every year for several years. It's the ones in the later category who, pretty much without exception say that you need to have a professional cover, pay for editing, etc.

Not all advice applies to all people. There is room out there for people writing for fun or for a small side income. It would be really helpful to know what advice is coming from what type of writer, but that's hard to do. Instead, we get a lot of "This worked for me!" without knowing the definition of "worked" in this particular context.
Sure, not all things are applicable. But some things are universal. We talk about them all the time in out Hybrid group as a matter of course. Can you tell that I know who you are?  ;D Flip over there in a minute and I'll do the big reveal!
Successful indies repeat advice like the need for pro-editing, proof reading, and the other aspects, all of which cost money, because they are essential. Granted that some books are just BAD and no amount of editing can fix them. And I would never tell someone to sink their life savings into a marketing campaign or spend money traveling to attend conventions.
If a writer doesn't have the funding to put out a professional product, they can do what I did and save their nickles and dimes for months, in the meantime networking online. If a writer is asking for money in exchange for their product, it should be as good as possible. Otherwise they're little better than a flim-flam artist.

Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #61 on: October 12, 2017, 04:44:13 AM »
Harshly written, even though I agree with most of what you posted. I see so often on this site all advice being weighed equally. There are people giving advice who have one book and $127 total royalties, some who are still working on their first novel, people who have three books and $9700 in earnings, and people who have sold 1M+ copies and made a full time living every year for several years. It's the ones in the later category who, pretty much without exception say that you need to have a professional cover, pay for editing, etc.

Not all advice applies to all people. There is room out there for people writing for fun or for a small side income. It would be really helpful to know what advice is coming from what type of writer, but that's hard to do. Instead, we get a lot of "This worked for me!" without knowing the definition of "worked" in this particular context.


I think the rule for everyone should be to do the very best with what you have at every stage of the process. I would definitely say reinvesting the money you make from each book is just good business sense, as others have pointed out it IS a business, regardless if they have people breathing down their necks or are simply working at their own pace. But when you're starting out, sometimes you just have to start small while thinking smart... nobody wants to buy a clunker when shiny and new is listed at the same price.
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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #62 on: October 12, 2017, 05:01:30 AM »
Can you tell that I know who you are?  ;D Flip over there in a minute and I'll do the big reveal!

Oh, I know. ;)

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #63 on: October 12, 2017, 05:05:39 AM »
For the record, my best-selling book was self-edited. My expenses before publication were: $210 for a full cover design (print and ebook). And before anyone says 'things were different back then' the book came out December 2015.

The book's earnings paid for its own bookbub ad, and the sales from that paid for its audiobook, and the sales from THAT paid for all of my other audiobooks.

1. What are the numbers? Without them, "best-selling" is only relative to other books in your catalog. How do they compare to the people earning a professional living?
2. Would numbers have been even better with professional editing? No way to know, but I'm confident they wouldn't have been worse.
3. There will always be outliers. In general, the more professional the writing, cover, editing, etc., the better the results. Doing a survey on KB, I'm convinced that paying for professional services tracks very closely with sales and income.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #64 on: October 12, 2017, 05:12:55 AM »
The OP's point that you can do all of this yourself is perfectly valid. If you should is what everyone else is talking about.

For the record, my best-selling book was self-edited. My expenses before publication were: $210 for a full cover design (print and ebook). And before anyone says 'things were different back then' the book came out December 2015.

This wasn't your first book, was it? The thread title explicitly aims the advice at new authors. Who probably aren't experienced enough to do those things by themselves (in my humble opinion, anyway).

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Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #65 on: October 12, 2017, 05:24:28 AM »
I hate to say this (being one of those new authors and all ;) ) but even the best authors here didn't get where they are without hitting a few snags and having to climb the ladder like everyone else. It's easy to give advice from the top, which is really and truly appreciated from those at the bottom, but hitting new authors where it hurts just because they don't do everything perfectly isn't helping anyone.

I appreciate constructive criticism, I really do. But telling/deciding for someone what they should or shouldn't do for a living, based on your own experiences or not, is not exactly constructive. So why is it even a question here?
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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #66 on: October 12, 2017, 05:30:48 AM »
I hate to say this (being one of those new authors and all ;) ) but even the best authors here didn't get where they are without hitting a few snags and having to climb the ladder like everyone else. It's easy to give advice from the top, which is really and truly appreciated from those at the bottom, but hitting new authors where it hurts just because they don't do everything perfectly isn't helping anyone.

I appreciate constructive criticism, I really do. But telling/deciding for someone what they should or shouldn't do for a living, based on your own experiences or not, is not exactly constructive. So why is it even a question here?

Answer:

Publishing is a business. If you want people to pay you for your work, ie this is not a hobby to you, you cannot treat it like a hobby. I mean, you can... but you will reap hobby rewards. The start-up costs for doing this are super low compared to almost any other business out there. You can get going and do a good job for a couple hundred bucks (a proofreader and a nice pre-made cover, for example).

It's okay to publish as a hobby, btw. Not everyone wants or needs to make money or have a lot of readers. But if that is your goal and you are expecting readers to pay you with their time and hard-earned money... please please don't make them eat off the floor. Nobody wants to do that and you will be severely disappointed with your results.

Nobody says you can't do what you want. Just that you shouldn't expect a professional's income if you do.

Back when I first posted my covers on kboards, someone pointed out that the light effects on Transition's cover were going to look like wings at thumbnail size. I ignored them. And guess what, now I have an UF book that shows a 'fairy' with luminescent wings at thumbnail size. This isn't the only newbie mistake that ended up hurting my sales, but I'm sure it had an impact. And now I have to shell out another 1000$ for new covers.  :-[
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:34:30 AM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #67 on: October 12, 2017, 05:34:45 AM »
Answer:

Nobody says you can't do what you want. Just that you shouldn't expect a professional's income if you do.


That's common sense, I don't have to hit the top 100 to know that part is true. But I do have to work my butt off to get there and that means I may have to scrimp or DIY in order to make enough to reinvest. That's also common sense.


 I know there are risks, but they are mine to take.. I try not to hurt other author's by making a totally bad show of it but I won't know if I can do it (or not) until I try. Right?

« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:41:36 AM by Pandorra »
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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #68 on: October 12, 2017, 05:40:52 AM »
I spent a few years saving up for professional editing, and in the meantime I published free web fiction with 0 production costs. I'm by no means well off. If I can do it, anyone can. I get angry when people with good jobs (earning upwards of 5 grand a month) tell me they can't afford professional covers and editing. I did it, and I earn less than what is considered the minimum standard for living in my country. If I have to live off soup and sandwiches and never go out so I can pay an editor, I will.

Note: This isn't aimed at Pandorra by any means, just a general comment on the subject of 'I can't afford to approach this as a professional'.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:43:54 AM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #69 on: October 12, 2017, 05:46:13 AM »
I spent a few years saving up for professional editing, and in the meantime I published free web fiction with 0 production costs. I'm by no means well off. If I can do it, anyone can. I get angry when people with good jobs (earning upwards of 5 grand a month) tell me they can't afford professional covers and editing. I did it, and I earn less than what is considered the minimum standard for living in my country.


Which is great, but I get angry when people tell me I can save enough to do it in five years.. I don't have five years, I am not even sure I have one... and even if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford saving over those years, everything I have goes into necessities.. my hope is that if I can manage to grab a small bite of knowledge from this and do it right, it will pay for some of the things I need, like the dead weight on a much needed surgery... not the other way around. I love writing, and right now its what I have after giving up a hell of a lot more.. don't judge every book by its cover.. we don't all have the same story inside.


and this is me at the situation lol .. I am NOT angry with you, I am just trying to muddle through all of this without getting slapped down at a low point of all the publishing fun...
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:47:46 AM by Pandorra »
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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #70 on: October 12, 2017, 05:47:06 AM »

That's common sense, I don't have to hit the top 100 to know that part is true. But I do have to work my butt off to get there and that means I may have to scrimp or DIY in order to make enough to reinvest. That's also common sense.

Know your goals. If your goal is to succeed as an indie, that's a business decision, and you should do the same things you'd do for any other business. If you were to start a small restaurant, you'd need to invest up front. There's a very low bar for entry into this business--it's an order of magnitude cheaper, at least than opening a restaurant--but there are still some up front costs.

Also, you've already invested hundreds of hours of your time on learning the craft, asking questions on KB, writing the actual book, etc. If what it takes to then put that book out there professionally involves some money, why not find a way to do that, too? Work a temp job for a couple of weekends, if that's what it takes.

If you're looking at it as a hobby or a fun little "who knows WHAT might happen???" project, then that's a different situation.

Quote
I know there are risks, but they are mine to take.. I try not to hurt other author's by making a totally bad show of it but I won't know if I can do it (or not) until I try. Right?

Don't worry about hurting other authors. Do the best you can ethically do for yourself and let the others worry about their own careers.

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #71 on: October 12, 2017, 05:49:59 AM »

my hope is that if I can manage to grab a small bite of knowledge from this and do it right, it will pay for some of the things I need, like the dead weight on a much needed surgery... not the other way around.

If you need money for surgery, but don't have funds to invest, there are a lot better returns on investment than the time you'd spend writing. This is a very chancy business under the best of circumstances. Going into it needing to make money and being unable to invest in covers, editing, marketing, etc., is only a step up from going to Vegas, IMO.

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #72 on: October 12, 2017, 05:52:48 AM »
I love writing, and right now its what I have after giving up a hell of a lot more.. don't judge every book by its cover.. we don't all have the same story inside.

No one said you should stop writing. By all means, keep at it. You have the love, so you don't need a top 1000 author's income to motivate you.

And because I mentioned free web fiction above: some writers make several hundred bucks a month that way - using Patreon. Happy readers and enthusiastic comments are quite rewarding in their own right.

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Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #73 on: October 12, 2017, 05:58:05 AM »
If you need money for surgery, but don't have funds to invest, there are a lot better returns on investment than the time you'd spend writing. This is a very chancy business under the best of circumstances. Going into it needing to make money and being unable to invest in covers, editing, marketing, etc., is only a step up from going to Vegas, IMO.


Except I can't get on a plane, or ride in a car for any distance or be around crowds lol .. I CAN sit at home and try to do something for myself though, rather then waiting around for nothing or begging for a hand out. As I said, I love to write, if it helps then it helps, if it doesn't then at least I go out doing something I love and with the satisfaction of knowing I didn't give up because someone told me I could do better elsewhere when they can still walk and see and breathe on their own, having no idea what its like to lose those things...
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Offline Pandorra

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Re: New authors - almost everything you need, you can do free
« Reply #74 on: October 12, 2017, 06:02:41 AM »
No one said you should stop writing. By all means, keep at it. You have the love, so you don't need a top 1000 author's income to motivate you.

And because I mentioned free web fiction above: some writers make several hundred bucks a month that way - using Patreon. Happy readers and enthusiastic comments are quite rewarding in their own right.


I didn't mean to high jack the main topic lol .. I just finished my first book and published it on the 1st, I am getting mixed reports from KU but I was hoping to get some viability form it before I released the second at the end of the month and a stand alone about the same time. I took my renew button off earlier today for KU and will prbly end up putting that first of the Elera series in the Patreon to see how it does so thank you for any advice you've given there.
Fate\'s Fallen: 100%

Legends of Elera - Covenant: 54%

Evolution\'s Child: 100%
Dean Rencraft | Website