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When You Self-Publish, You're Starting a Business

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Steerpike, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Mythopoet, I understand that this is a passionate subject for you, but I don't think you're understanding what Michael has written, nor do I think you understand that Michael has succeeded through both methods. He started off as a self pub author, became a traditionally pubbed author, and is now a hybrid of the two. Don't you think that fact adds tremendous weight to his advice? Don't you think that his words are closer to the truth than what you perceive it to be?
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I know that things can get heated, but I want to remind everyone the importance of a civil community.

    There's a lot of poorly written books out there, self-published or otherwise, and that only makes it more important for us to help sub-par authors improve and quality authors to stand out. We need every voice and idea at the table in order to build a community here which helps to do that.

    I'd ask everybody to remember that, and to treat other members with respect, even while fuming over your disagreements.
     
  3. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    I love the Passive Voice - it's a great site. It's true that I really can only discuss my own personal experiences, and those of the authors I talk to (which is quite a few). So let me rephrase. I've never heard of an author who has received an advance of $5,000 or more say they get NO editing whatsoever. Does it happen. Probably, but I think it would definitely be the exception not the rule.
     
  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Small question: do you use a freelance editor for your self-published work or do you just do it yourself? I think this is a common issue with self-publishers because it's expensive to hire editors and some think it's better to not go for that and instead go for better cover art if they're on a budget.

    What expenses would you say you notice most self-published authors put into producing a quality book? That is one with clean, polished writing, a professional looking cover, etc.
     
  5. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Well there's what I used to do when I was just starting out...and there is what I do now. In both cases I used freelance editors. When I was just starting out I did a lot of shopping around and was able to get really good editing for $350 -$400. On some occasions I would hire two lower cost editors rather than one higher cost one.

    Now that I have more money I just hire the same editors that edit for the traditional publishers. I'm not so concerned with price as I was when I was starting out and poor so I pay $1,000 a novel for copy editing. For Hollow World (as it was my first book coming back to self-publishing, I also hired Betsy Mitchell (former editor in chief at Del Rey for over a decade to do structural editing - but that was more of a sanity check than anything else. Doing so confirmed what I already suspected, which was that the book was in really good shape. She is VERY expensive, and I had Kicksterater funds to burn, so it was something that I did - but I'm not sure I would recommend it to others.

    I've seen some incredible covers that people have gotten for $150. I think a more standard rate would be $350. Again, for Hollow World I hired Marc Simonetti (who has done covers for my french publisher and also Rothfuss, Sanderson, and George R.R. Martin). I don't want to "out" him so I'll just say I found it to be worth the price, but I probably wouldn't recommend it for new authors. So putting those two things together I say you can get a well produced book for $500 (if you shop carefully) and $1,500 if you are price insensitive and want to go with the top of the line.

    When budgeting a first book - it's important to keep costs in line - otherwise it will be really hard to make a positive ROI so I think $500 - $700 is a good thing to shoot for. The important thing is to focus on quality and if that means beating the bushes a bit then it will be time well spent.
     
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Thanks for the details. I think the sense that self-publishing (as the thread title suggests) does need to be treated like a small business in some regards. That means you have to put in money to make money so to speak. I do find that self-publishing tends to be perceived as a low risk investment for some that attempt to do the editing and cover art by themselves. I'm not sure what percentage of writers who go it "completely alone" (meaning they create their own cover art and edit everything themselves or with the help of critique partners/beta readers) is that actually becoming relatively successful, but my eyes tend to go towards the stuff that's professionally done.
     
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