Sunday, September 18, 2016

Monetary Expenses

Part of the process in this whole indie publishing thing is getting started, and as with any venture, it can be expensive.  But just how expensive?  And how much into debt do you need to go in order to put out a decent product.

To start with, any fool with a computer and access to the internet can upload his or her work and call it an indie novel.  If success was that easy, there’d be a lot more Hugh Howey’s out there and fewer (insert anonymous writer’s name here).  The challenge here is to appear professional, and whether we like it or not, that’s something that matters in this business.

There are obvious expenses, like getting a good cover.  Don’t – repeat, DO NOT – simply put your title on a solid background, upload it, and think you’ve done anything other than shoot yourself in the foot.  Covers draw us in, and you need a good one, especially when you’re an unknown.  These can run around $500 for something decent, but this isn’t an expense you should skimp on.

ISBNs are next.  If you want to be taken seriously, and someday get into bookstores, you need your work to be available through an ordering catalogue, and you have to have an ISBN for that.  The number you get depends on how many versions you offer.  No, not versions where the hero is an albino in one and a lion in another, but rather your hardcover, paperback, foreign edition, ebook edition, etc.  Each of these requires an ISBN, so consider just how many formats you really want to be involved in.  Good thing is that ISBNs aren’t prohibitively expensive – about $50 a piece, and some bundles are available that reduce that cost in bulk.

Then we start getting into really expensive stuff.  Editing comes in many forms, and none of those forms is cheap.  Content editing is far and away the most expensive, and it will run you several thousand dollars for a competent job.  I use beta-readers for this since I think editors are usually no better than the intended audience for this.  That said, copyediting isn’t cheap either, as I found out recently on another project.  A good copyedit will cost over $1000 for anyone of competence, so the question necessarily becomes how much you need it.  I think professional copyediting is a must, especially for first time writers, but this one is difficult due to expense.

All of this comes down to expense versus profit.  How much do you think your project will reap?  If you’re not going to recoup your original investment, why do it?  Are you just looking to establish a fledgling base?  I set aside a little each month and have a nice little nest egg for publication, but it’ll cover maybe two books.  If my work doesn’t start to take off after that, further expense will be hard to justify, which will, in turn, harm the next product.  Threading this needle is much more difficult than writing the book, which while rewarding, isn’t exactly easy.

I never said this would be easy…just expensive…

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