The Dilemmas of a Struggling Writer, Part the Fourth

For any of you who have been following my blog (thank you to you all), you know I have pretty much decided to go the non-traditional route to publish my novels. To recap for anyone who’s new here: I’m fed up with the waiting and uncertainty of trying to publish through a traditional publishing house and have decided to opt for the immediate uncertainty of self-publishing on-line.

“So what’s the dilemma, Mr. Struggling Writer?” you might ask. “It sounds like you’ve got your mind made up.”

I do, but the dilemma is this: it costs a lot of money to self-publish.

“But what do you mean, oh dilemma-ridden man of struggles? Don’t you simply have to up-load a book on Kindle, Smashwords et al? How much could that cost?”

Well, it costs nothing for the upload, what does cost the money is making the book as professional as possible. Even for a ridiculously low price (many self-published e-books can be purchased for only $0.99), readers expect quality for their money. A wise man once told me: exploit your strengths and hire your weaknessess.  Here’s an idea of some of my weaknesses and approximately how much it’s going to cost me to hire someone to make them go away:

Front cover design. So far, for the short stories I’ve published, I’ve done this myself (you can get art cheap at places like iStock photography). While I think the covers look pretty good, I wouldn’t consider them to be up to the quality of what you see on the shelves of your local Chapters (if you’re in Canada) or Barnes & Noble (for my U.S. friends). In fact, for an electronic book, the cover is even more important because a tiny thumb nail has to attract the readers’ attention. Weakness. Cost to hire: $300-$500.

Interior layout. Again, this is something I’ve tackled myself with my short stories. I’ve looked at them on my computer and they look to have come out fine in terms of the layout, but I don’t own an e-reader (gasp!), so I can’t say for sure they are right for the majority of people who read e-books. Layout issues is something that will keep readers from buying a second book from you as they’d rather skip good writing if it means they don’t have to deal with frustration. Weakness. Cost to hire: $300 +

Professional manuscript evaluation. I am a writer. I know about punctuation, I know about grammar (she’s married to my grammper) and I like to think I can turn the odd snappy phrase. However, I have gone through seven re-writes of my novel Harvester. You read correctly: 7. Seven. The number between six and eight. Truthfully, some parts are probably many more times than that, but the entire thing as a unit is 7. I like the book. I think it’s a good read, but after going through it that many times, I’m blind to it. I need someone to look for the little mistakes: spelling, punctuation, etc. but, more importantly, I need someone to look at the novel as a whole, someone who can evaluate its cohesiveness, character and story arcs, motivations, setting, dialogue. In short, I need someone to evaluate all the things that makes good writing good writing. This is not something my wife can do for me (sorry, honey. I love you). This is not something my mother-in-law, God bless her, can do (I won’t apologize to her, she doesn’t read my blog). This requires a professional. Weakness. Cost to hire: a good, reputable editor is going to run around $2000.

Total cost to self-publish a book? Approaching $3000.

Books this struggling writer has finished and wants to publish ASAP? 2.

Number of novels nearing completion of the first draft? 2.

That makes four novels I’d like to have published by the end of the year, for a total cost of around $12000.

If writing was a hobby to me, it would certainly be an expensive one, but it’s not. It’s what I want to do full-time and it is a willingness to do things others aren’t that often separates someone who is successful from someone who is not. I will be successful.

Anyone want to make a contribution to the arts?

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