Tag Archive | authors

Can you afford to be a writer?

Everybody and his uncle is writing books and self-publishing. While it is exciting to be able hold your own book in your mitts it will be expensive to get to that point and it is a gamble. Don’t kid yourself. The odds against you being able to recover your costs, let alone turn a profit, are astronomical. You need to know that. You need to be prepared to deal with that, and absorb the loss if you are determined to brave the fray.

Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose

Thousands of new books hit the market every single day. The market is saturated. If you want to stand a chance of success you  must invest. It is imperative, however, that you not invest your retirement funds or education savings. Don’t put your nest egg into the self-publishing basket.

NEVER count on book sales to bring you income.

Counting the cost

There are things on which you dare not scrimp. Once your book is up on Amazon you will have a difficult time recovering from a dreadful first impression, although I know authors who have managed to do it by pulling the book down, having it edited and releasing it again with a new cover. With all of the additional costs involved. But those success stories are rare. The fickle reading public will not buy twice from a writer with substandard work, and they post bad reviews, too.

Cover art, editing, PR coaching/marketing, technical assistance

Editing is not optional. I am not saying that because I am an editor. The quality of English knowledge and usage is deteriorating and you may believe you have written a manuscript which is error free. Please believe me, you haven’t. Don’t assume you have “dumbed down” readers who won’t notice. Don’t insult your audience and don’t set your standards that close to the ground.

Cover art is your greatest selling tool and it has to be top-notch. I have seen some covers with lousy drawings and graphic design and I scratch my head and say, “Are you serious?”. Don’t get a friend or neighbor or computer geek to do this for you. Hire professionals with a proven track record.

Know this: 100% of the marketing and publicity is your responsibility. You must attract attention, do interviews (yes, even radio and TV) and connect with people who can help you make this happen. You will need to devote at least half of your time to marketing. Even big publishing houses are leaving more and more of this to the authors. You are on the hook. It all is riding on you.

If you cannot figure out how to upload your PROPERLY FORMATTED work to Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, Amazon and others then you must hire people who can. I know a handful of authors who have sweated this out successfully, but most cannot or simply don’t want to. (Hint: Don’t expect your editor to do this. I can’t, nor do I want to pull time from my field of choice to do the technical stuff.)

Try publishing the smallest run possible through outfits such as Lulu and see how well you do at lining up your own launches and book signings. Find out if you really have what it takes to market yourself aggressively.

Manage your own Amazon account

Know how to check your stats, your royalties, know the tax laws in the countries you market to. Yes, you will have to answer to their revenue people. Unless you have an agent or a manager who can oversee this for you, you are on your own.

Freelance individuals or full-service companies

I am a freelance fiction editor. I edit. That is all I do. If you are hiring individuals for every specialty (I can’t believe I am about to say this) you may not be making the best use of your dollar. You can find full-service businesses which provide editing, cover design, formatting and uploading to multiple marketing venues.

Beware of any person or business which guarantees success

There is not a person alive who can promise you success. In fact, the truth is that you are unlikely to recover your investment costs.

We all post platitudes on Facebook about chasing your dreams, never giving up, not becoming discouraged, not letting others rain on your parade. The philosophy is positive, but may not be realistic. If your self-esteem is riding on this venture please pull out now.

Spare your words, save your money.

Dollars and Sense

Dollars and Sense

Word Count

I see dozens of authors posting their daily word count on Facebook. I understand the sense of accomplishment and I know the precarious perch of self worth on which most authors are balancing. But volume is not necessarily productivity. Quality over quantity.

Editing Budget

Independent authors usually have day jobs. There are mortgage and car payments, daycare, food, utilities…red ink. It is easy to hope you can get by without professional editing, but if you ask a few who have done it and then had to eat crow while pulling their books down and reloading them after an edit, you can grasp the fact that you are much better off to do it right the first time. Which does cost money.

How much?

Please fix this permanently in your mind. Every word you use is a cent you spend. It doesn’t matter if your editor charges by the hour or by the word. Tightening up writing consumes time. If your editor has to do it for you, it will show on the bottom line. I charge a cent per word of your original word count. I just did a 2000 word sample edit in which I deleted over 500 dead-weight words. See what I mean?

Readers become bored quickly. Keep the action moving along. Don’t waste time and space with inner dialogue and musings in your characters. This is not a journal or diary. Don’t get bogged down in flowery descriptions. If it is not critical to the plot the fashion commentary is just so much bilge.  Details about decor are superfluous. Keep it simple.

You work hard for your money.

Everybody is a critic. Even the cream of the crop get unfounded nasty reviews.

This was posted on Facebook by author Lacey Weatherford, USA Today Best Selling Author,  this morning, Saturday, July 13, 2013

I am blogging it, verbatim, with permission and gratitude.

USA today bestselling author LACEY WEATHERFORD

USA today bestselling author
LACEY WEATHERFORD

Editing. It can be such a touchy subject. First off, let me clarify. Yes, I believe all authors should spend the money and take the time to have their book professionally edited. It’s an investment that can largely pay off in the long run, and can make the reading experience much more pleasant for both the AUTHOR and the READER.

However, there are many new authors in publishing today that can’t afford to pay for a professional edit. Unfortunately, many, many, new authors—myself included, with some of my earlier work—paid what they could to editors in their price range, usually a price ranging anywhere from $200-$600. Believe me, when starting out, that seems like an outrageous sum to pay. Now, after having my first series edited FOURTEEN different times, by FOURTEEN different editors, I STILL receive bad reviews stating what a terrible author I am, and how horribly my books are edited.

You know what? They ARE badly edited!! BUT it’s not because I didn’t try to get them perfected. I paid for what I could afford at the time, and sadly, most editors available in that price range are going to be more on the order of proof readers. They are people who are usually pretty good at catching errors, or have some sort of English education, and they feel they can do a good job as an editor, so they start up a business. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying anything bad about these editors. I’m only saying that having the title of editor doesn’t mean one has a degree in it. However, after fourteen edits, I’m thousands of dollars in the hole, and still without my one of my bestselling series being properly edited—which is why my current editor is redoing them for me—one last time.

What irritates me is, despite my success and the fact that I now pay THOUSANDS of dollars for each of my books to be professionally edited up to Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, I still get reviews from readers calling my NEW professionally edited books UNEDITED.

Granted these reviews are few and far between—most reviewers comment on how nice it is to read a well-edited book. However, as I look around, I see reviews on many other author’s pages stating the same thing. Some of those books I’ve read, and they were edited very well, other’s I haven’t, so I can’t speak to them. The point is, when it comes to editing, everyone has a different opinion, or they follow different rules and styles. I have YET to see one of my fifteen editors edit in the same style as another one, and each one has tried to “teach” me conflicting rules.

If you’re reading a book and you don’t agree with the way something is done grammatically, it doesn’t mean it’s not right according to a different rule somewhere else. My current editor spends HOURS researching anything she has a question on in the Chicago Manual of Style. She is ALSO a member of an elite discussion board of editors who help her find answers to more difficult questions. She takes SIX WEEKS to edit each of my books and ONLY EDITS MY BOOK in that six weeks. I receive a 1st edit, a 2nd edit, a 3rd edit, for BOTH CONTENT AND GRAMMAR, followed by a repeated word edit, then a final edit, which is THEN SENT OFF to ANOTHER EDITOR for a PROOFREAD, and when it’s returned, the FINAL read through is done by my editor, and sent to me for publication.

Does this mean my manuscript is perfect? NOPE!! Why? Because we are human, and humans make errors—not to mention the fact that after writing, reading, and rereading a manuscript a billion times, the brain starts seeing/comprehending things the way it knows it SHOULD be. In spite of all that, my books are still bestsellers and carried by one of the biggest agents out there, who also has 30 years of editing experience in the business, has commended the writing style of my books, and has sold my manuscripts “as is” to traditional publishers.

PLEASE—don’t leave reviews on books saying they aren’t edited.

You have NO IDEA what the author has gone through to bring you that work!! Instead try something like, “According to what I’ve been taught,” or, “In my humble opinion, this book could use some editing,” or something like that. This will tell other readers you aren’t a professional, but you disagree with how it was done. I’ve seen other authors crucified by readers jumping on the bandwagon to proclaim a book horribly edited—when in fact, while it may have needed a little housecleaning, the story still read well. AGAIN—I’m not saying to overlook bad editing—all I’m saying is that MY EDITOR, and I’m sure many others, puts her blood, sweat, and tears into my books. You don’t have to like them—that’s fine. I’m a big girl, and I can live with reviews from people who hated my story, but please don’t trash/undermine the hard work of my editor. We both spend countless hours trying to put out amazing products for readers, trying our absolute best to give you error free projects.

It’s getting to the point where people can’t even type an error in a post on Facebook without being attacked by someone. It’s quite disheartening. They are WORDS, people. In the grand scheme of life, is it REALLY going to matter if someone said “its vs. it’s, or your vs. you’re?” I don’t think so. Better, I think, to treat people with kindness. And honestly, if something bothers you that badly, use the PRIVATE MESSAGE button to let an author know, instead of forming a public lynch mob to get them. Authors/editors are still people too, and despite how you liked their book, they deserve professional respect and decorum.

Never assume you know what is going on.

As always, I thank you for your support. You may feel free to disagree with me—that is YOUR RIGHT—sharing this is mine.

My WISH for EVERYONE: May only the books you LOVE find their way into your hands!! Ha ha

**I feel like I should give you a reward or something if you actually made it to the end of this!!

https://www.facebook.com/laceymweatherford

http://www.laceyweatherfordbooks.com/

Just FYI: I do not have an English degree. ~ Wendy

Author Reviews: Totally Taboo

If you are an author and you are in the habit of reviewing other authors on Amazon, beware. It is against official policy and it can cause you all kinds of grief.

I was not aware of this rule until I inadvertently broke it and was reported. I am not an author, I am an editor, but I am considered to be benefiting from book sales, although my own paycheque/paycheck does not increase one iota. I told the truth, I reviewed the work honestly, and I refused to review dozens more books than I penned a review for, none of which matters to Amazon. I always used my own name and never attempted to deceive. Doesn’t matter.

Even big names selling of millions of books, John Locke being one of them, has been caught using   pseudonyms  [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudonym  A pseudonym is a name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from his or her original or true name (orthonym)] to write themselves glowing reviews while trashing the competition. (There is some doubt that this works, and may work in the favour/favor of the maligned author.  See quote below.)

We are not talking about fraud and deceit here, we are discussing people writing honest reviews of other books.

Even if you are not an author or editor if you are asked to write a review be careful not to allow yourself to be influenced to increase the star rating at the request of the author. That clearly is fraud.

We are at the point where all reviews are suspect in many ways, which is a sad state of affairs and only increases the degree of the angle on the slope Indie authors are struggling to ascend.

Interesting and revealing on this subject:

http://www.latimes.com/features/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-why-is-amazon-deleting-writers-reviews-of-other-authors-books-20121102,0,7028228.story

I would be for winnowing out the five-star reviews by sock puppets and writer friends (though arguably the latter is basically what most book blurbs are these days) IF Amazon was also removing one-star reviews from jealous and spiteful competitors. That would even things out. As it is, things are in favor of underhanded competitors now who don’t understand that sales of competitive books often boosts the sales of similar books as readers get hooked on a subject and look for other titles on the same subject or in the same genre. Sadly many in publishing operate on the notion that there is a limited readership, when in fact Amazon is giving us a worldwide reach into markets most of us never even dreamed of reaching before. . ~ Author Duncan Long  https://www.facebook.com/DuncanLongIllustrator