When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn, but also execute every day after that. To keep from getting ulcers (jury is still out on that) I told myself that if I could just learn one new thing a day, I would be okay and I wouldn’t get so stressed out that I wanted to quit.
Well, that kind of worked. Ha! But I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way on this blog.
Sh!t I Learned Today: Mistakes of a New Author (Part 2) – Financial Mistakes
So yesterday, in Part One, I talked about all the financial mistakes I made with publishing my first book. I explained why these were bad business decisions. If you haven’t read that part, start there. Or else this post might be confusing.
I’m going to list those mistakes again here. And I will talk about them all individually below.
1. Over spent with editing costs
2. Didn’t shop around for costs of covers, and spent too much again
3. Spent WAY TOO much on professionally designed swag
4. Spent WAT TOO much on a blog tour that was mediocre at best
5. Over bought swag (t-shirts, book plates, bookmarks, etc)
6. GAVE AWAY TOO MUCH SHIT!!!!
Now let’s start talking about what new writers SHOULD do. Or at least in my opinion.
1. Shop around for editors. Most charge by the page (based on 12pt, Times New Roman, double spaced, OR 250 words per page). Some charge by the word. Or some have a flat rate for the whole book. Remember: You get what you pay for. If you are looking to have your first book edited, then you might need developmental editing, which is where an editor reads the book for plot issues, character issues, pacing, etc. This type of editing is just to make the story stronger. And I needed A LOT of this with my first book. I was switching POV’s like no bodies business. WHICH IS BAD. Anyways, developmental editing can be more expensive than copy editing or proofreading.
Minimize developmental costs by:
a) finding another author to be your critique partner. Don’t ask your best friend. Ask an author who is on the same level as you, writing-wise and career-wise. Make sure they will be honest with you. In exchange for them reading your book, you will read theirs. Help each other with this developmental stuff and whatever grammar things you can. This is an invaluable tool. I LOVE my critique partner. She’s the best decision I ever made. Besides marrying my husband.
b.) Get beta readers. This is a little easier than finding a good critique partner. You can ask friends and family, but I would suggest asking people on your Facebook page or on Twitter. You want other writers and people who read a lot. You want good folks who will be honest with you. I LOVE my beta readers. They are good friends now, who happen to enjoy what I write. Which still surprises me.
I think it is entirely possible to get a good editor who will do a copy edit and some developmental stuff for around $650. This really isn’t much for editing. But I think for new writers, this is ALL YOU SHOULD SPEND.
Because that’s a lot of books you need to sell to earn that money back. And here’s where I insert my very flagrant opinion: I think it’s better in the long run to have a book that might have a few editing issues or typos than a book that is perfect and will never make a TRUE profit. I also think it’s more important to start building a following and fans, who love your work though it may have a couple flaws. Don’t sink your ship before you even get out of the harbor.
2. Shop around for book covers. You want a NICE ONE. Duh. It’s the one thing that readers see first, so make it a good one. Here’s where I insert another opinion: DON’T SPEND MORE THAN $150 BUCKS ON A COVER. This seems to be a pretty standard number. And you can get a really nice cover package that includes a full print cover (front and back) and an ebook cover. I would also suggest finding cover designers and looking at their pre-made covers. There are a lot of really nice ones that you can get for cheap. Like $60 bucks cheap.
3. Dear all things holy, you DO NOT NEED professionally designed swag. Now if you’re lucky and you find a cover designer who will make your covers AND bookmark designs or whatever for less than $150, you’re golden. The only swag you really need right now is bookmarks. Don’t get all that other crazy stuff. That will come later. Bookmarks are easy to get (Got Print) a lot of them for cheap. And they are easy to make. Buy some stock photos to use or take a slice of your cover to make a book mark. I have Photoshop, so this is easier for me, because I can layer pictures and text easier. There are programs and picture editors out there that can do what Photoshop does (on a less complicated level). I totally get if you think you can’t design something or can’t find a good program to use. Trust me. I get it. But remember it doesn’t have to be the prettiest thing you ever saw. If you’re worried, skip swag. Right now, it’s not a necessity and you can save the money.
4. You don’t need to pay someone to do a blog tour for you. Especially don’t spend hundreds of dollars on one like I did. It was stupid. You can do this yourself. I will do a separate post on doing one of these things, because it’s involved. So check back. J
5. This kind of goes with #3. You only need bookmarks right now (if that). Bookmarks are great because you can mail them in a normal envelope with a normal stamp, which REDUCES YOUR POST OFFICE EXPENSES. Some of my highest costs come from the post office, which is crazy. And you can get HUNDREDS of bookmarks for super cheap (Got Print). So you can easily mail them out to fans for giveaway prizes. But if you’re scared to design them yourself, skip swag. Pinch your pennies.
6. I kind of explained this earlier, but don’t do giveaways just to get more likes or whatever. I have a hard time with this one, because I want to do a million giveaways all the time. It’s been really hard for me to do, but I’ve cut down A LOT on this. It’s a hard mindset to stay in when you see all these other authors giving away so much stuff. But right now, with your first book, you want to minimize costs. Maybe your Facebook page won’t have thousands of likes right off the bat, but you will still find good fans and friends. Those are the people who should win giveaways anyways. So save your money for them.
Okay. So there’s all that. Whew.
After writing all this, I realize that some people don’t want to invest anything in the books they publish. They want to have friends and family edit their books, or they might not even think they need to edit their books. And they’re going to design their own covers. In the end, they will have spent nothing just so they can have a book on Amazon.
That’s fine. Maybe you just want to write just to write and share your work. I get that. I do. Or maybe you don’t have the money at all to invest in a book. And I get that too. I really do. So I’m not being all judgy here.
If that’s you then, I hope you didn’t waste too much time reading this post! This post is more for the writers who are just starting out and trying to figure out how much to spend.
This isn’t the Bible for cheap publishing either. I want to make quality books with good editing and good covers. It’s a hard balance to strike. And I’m still learning. So please take this post with a grain of salt. This is what I learned, and how I’m doing things differently now. That’s all.
But I hope this helps someone out there!