Re: When would you give up?

#41

Ayer12 Wrote:
M.J. Wrote: I'm guessing the reason for so few sales is the fact Amazon doesn't recommend your book. Or at least I have never seen it on my recommendations list and I avidly read LIT RPG. I'm not sure how you would go about fixing that problem though. I imagine paying Amazon to advertise it is an option. God knows I've read some real shit books on amazon because they were front and center, making them seem like real gems.
Sadly, my book is not eligible for Amazon ads. Probably because of the VERY problematic childhood of my main character (In order for a book to be eligible, no children can be in any kind of harmful situation or near one, something like that). As such, that is unfortunately not an option.
So you put yourself in a niche market that Amazon doesn't want to advertise. 


Unfortunately, if you want to make money from someone else's platform, you gotta play by their rules. Perhaps leave out the content they find questionable in future endeavors or leave that strictly for patreons. It's unlikely to do anything for your current book though since it's already tainted in their eyes.

Re: When would you give up?

#42

M.J. Wrote: Unfortunately, if you want to make money from someone else's platform, you gotta play by their rules. Perhaps leave out the content they find questionable in future endeavors or leave that strictly for patreons. It's unlikely to do anything for your current book though since it's already tainted in their eyes.
I've got a suggestion on that front. You could make some of what Amazon considers more questionable into side stories and just post them on your personal site. You could make an author's note at the beginning of the story that side stories and the like can be found at your site.

Re: When would you give up?

#43
$400 in under two weeks. I have a indie friend who would kill to do that. She pulls in 200-300 a month pretty consistently, but churns out a book every month or two. 

Perspective is one thing, by tthe reason why you write and what will push you onward are entirely your own.
I'll tell you what I told a client of mine back when he was on the verge of quitting.
The business of writing is one part writing, one part branding, one part marketing. It's a business. Are you treating it like a business? In his case he wasn't. He was being hopeful and hoped that he was the next indie super star.
First thing I told him to do is to reduce the sales barrier - covers and blurbs. I'm hyper critical, which is only really good for certain personality types, but we went through how his covers were failing him, and I taught him how to research covers to find stuff that he was not only drawn to (to reflect his brand) but to start crafting covers that speak to the audience he was selling to. He had some covers, but they didn't really say anything genre specific, and didn't fit in the market expectations. He needed to stand out but be the same at the same time. A mind boggling concept. He did however hire a talented cover artist for his new covers instead of relying on friends or making them himself (he was no designer). 
This all about presenting a professional product - and we do judge books by their covers. I bought my fair share of crap books because of the covers too. Being an artist in a former life, I'm also drawn heavily to cover art as a storytelling vehicle (though not entirely). Another thing that gets massively overlooked is book typography - often I see these amazing covers with crap typography. It turns me off entirely - suggest they spent on istock or canva, but obviously don't know squat on how to make the cover cohesive. It hints at cut corners and unprofessionalism - which is unfortunate. In his case, I found out later he didn't have an editor, which came out in his reviews later after we 'fixed' his branding.

For my own stuff, I hire a designer and a blurb writer (I HATE blurb writing).

Marketing beyond the visuals is sooooo many things I could go on forever. But the immediate things are ads and communications (beyond buy my books). Places like RR is a great place to market if you're okay with low conversion rates (from free reader to paid reader). I got a fair few of my fans this way. Consider your communication platforms, and how you do out reach? Are you going to where your readers are? Or are you screaming in the void? Social media is terrible for the sense of isolation you can really feel when marketing. Spoiler: people don't respond to buy my book - so you have to engage your readership genuinely, no short cuts.

Business wise, consider your business model. Are you exclusive or wide? Have you left money on the table? My client was. He was only doing ebooks. I had him do print books, which is a whole other skill set and admin management, and now he does audiobooks (he pays folks for that as it's a huge series of skills needed to do a professional job of it).

I don't earn a living through writing - because I'm a slow writer. But I have been picked up by a publisher. I used to do ghost writing for blogs (which paid well), and I wrote a few best selling non-fiction ebooks as a ghost writer - I was paid in milestones, per chapter, and it paid the bills. If you want to make money writing, you may have to pivot your focus. Does it have to be writing your thing? Or can it be writing for someone else?

Oh and as for my client, it took 5 years, but he had a year where he earned some seriously high 6 figures on his books. He was very open to criticism, and he put all his efforts into making his business work for 2 years after we spoke and reassessed. He did not quit his job, he had a family to support, but he found blocks in his day/week where he could get writing in. By the time we spoke again, he was attending writing seminars and conferences - because he's a people person, and doing conventions like comic con across the country, seriously marketing his work. To churn out as many books as he ended up doing, he became one of 4 writers as part of a collective, writing for a series with split royalties. I think he's currently being optioned for a Netflix series... so he's doing amazingly well now. A spot of hopeful pride for my own work.

So remember:
  • Are you treating this like a business?
  • Are you cutting corners?
  • What is your branding saying about you? About your work?
  • Explore your marketing options: free and paid. Get the word out there through engagement not through buy my book posts.
  • Are you leaving money on the table?
  • If it's all too much, are you willing to pivot to explore writing for profit for other people? (A former coworker of mine is paid $100/hr per technical scripts)

Re: When would you give up?

#44

A Wrote: For my own stuff, I hire a designer and a blurb writer (I HATE blurb writing).
You're not really wrong for doing that though. That's almost as important as the entire story. First impressions are the most important. When I see a cover that looks like it's drawn by an 8 year old I assume about as much work went in to writing the actual story. I don't even think you need a pretty or detailed picture for your cover either. It just has to look clean and professional. Also, if I read your synopsis and I haven't the slightest clue what I just read you can pretty much guarantee I'll never touch your book.

Re: When would you give up?

#45

Ralen Wrote: You're not really wrong for doing that though. That's almost as important as the entire story. First impressions are the most important. When I see a cover that looks like it's drawn by an 8 year old I assume about as much work went in to writing the actual story. I don't even think you need a pretty or detailed picture for your cover either. It just has to look clean and professional. Also, if I read your synopsis and I haven't the slightest clue what I just read you can pretty much guarantee I'll never touch your book.
I am a designer by trade. In theory I could do my own covers. But honestly I suck at it. I'm a mediocre illustrator, even worse digital painter, and I have poor typography skills. I'm so selling my design skills here... turns out my strengths are in structure, flow of content, and formatting. 
I know all about art direction, concepts, and all of that fun stuff. I hate it. My artist costs me over $700 per cover, but the conversion rate from what I can produce to her version makes her worth every penny. Trust me, I've mathed my sales vs hers. 
Same with book blurbs. 50% jump in sales - the blurb writer basically re-wrote what I had said, but said better. Never again. 

I noticed the problem with covers particularly in the indie circuit, is that it's usually made by the author. If you've ever given feedback to a writer on their work, you pretty much get the same reaction when you critique their self-made covers. Creative work is a little too close to the soul, and people tend to take it as a personal attack if you tell them it's not working.

Re: When would you give up?

#46
This is my hobby - I write trade journal stuff for money.

If it ever makes money, that's very cool. Ditto garnering lots of readers.

But I write primarily for myself. I'm sure the issues are linked - I know how to write for an audience, but - with Thornsong - I'm the audience. It started off with a cold afternoon thinking about my childhood in SW Pennsylvania and an even colder evening wishing for a way to "play" a game that doesn't exist.

So, I don't think I'll ever quit :-)

Re: When would you give up?

#47

M.J. Wrote:
Ayer12 Wrote:
M.J. Wrote: I'm guessing the reason for so few sales is the fact Amazon doesn't recommend your book. Or at least I have never seen it on my recommendations list and I avidly read LIT RPG. I'm not sure how you would go about fixing that problem though. I imagine paying Amazon to advertise it is an option. God knows I've read some real shit books on amazon because they were front and center, making them seem like real gems.
Sadly, my book is not eligible for Amazon ads. Probably because of the VERY problematic childhood of my main character (In order for a book to be eligible, no children can be in any kind of harmful situation or near one, something like that). As such, that is unfortunately not an option.
So you put yourself in a niche market that Amazon doesn't want to advertise. 


Unfortunately, if you want to make money from someone else's platform, you gotta play by their rules. Perhaps leave out the content they find questionable in future endeavors or leave that strictly for patreons. It's unlikely to do anything for your current book though since it's already tainted in their eyes.

First I heard. On the ad you can't put child abuse or nudity, the content of the book can be anything. 

Re: When would you give up?

#48
Apologies, but I can't see how you can make a decision be crowd sourcing an answer. So many details. 

You said you want to do this for a living, so how determined are you? If you were a politician, you'd spend years doing work for others, and starting with low level stuff like a city council or school board while doing pro bono work for other peoples campaigns.

If starting a business you invest thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, work for a couple of years, and hopefully then make it a career.

Compare writing to other things and maybe it doesn't seem so bad to write several books before getting a hit. 

But if you need money to live on, and want writing to be your job, yet only made 400 on your book, then yes, time to give up. It's that or starve. 

IMHO, you should work some other job, write when not working. Keep plugging away at it. Read books or take courses on writing. Get better. Write more. Someday you might realize your dream and write for a living.

Re: When would you give up?

#49

A Wrote: So remember:
  • Are you treating this like a business?
  • Are you cutting corners?
  • What is your branding saying about you? About your work?
  • Explore your marketing options: free and paid. Get the word out there through engagement not through buy my book posts.
  • Are you leaving money on the table?
  • If it's all too much, are you willing to pivot to explore writing for profit for other people? (A former coworker of mine is paid $100/hr per technical scripts)
Thank you for the amazing advice as someone who's clearly experienced in the field. To answer your questions:

. Yes, I believe I am. I'm trying my best to obtain information from successful indie authors on how to make a living out of this. For instance, I joined 20booksto50k on FB.
. No, not really. I hired a professional artist that cost quite a bit of my budget for my artwork and a graphic designer for the typography. I plan to do the same for the next book. I also hired an experienced beta reader with a phd in literature for opinions and editing. It all cost about as much money as I made from this, which is why I'm slightly disheartened. My profit margin so far has been around 60 dollars.
. I try my best, but I'll only start paying for ads once I got more books under my belt. It's not cost-effective otherwise.
. Probably? I'm only doing e-books right now since the cover only requires the front artwork and they're cheaper. Might get into print books soon, who knows.
. I don't think so. The idea of ghostwriting doesn't please me.
Thank you again!

Re: When would you give up?

#50

Sake Wrote:
M.J. Wrote:
Ayer12 Wrote:
M.J. Wrote: I'm guessing the reason for so few sales is the fact Amazon doesn't recommend your book. Or at least I have never seen it on my recommendations list and I avidly read LIT RPG. I'm not sure how you would go about fixing that problem though. I imagine paying Amazon to advertise it is an option. God knows I've read some real shit books on amazon because they were front and center, making them seem like real gems.
Sadly, my book is not eligible for Amazon ads. Probably because of the VERY problematic childhood of my main character (In order for a book to be eligible, no children can be in any kind of harmful situation or near one, something like that). As such, that is unfortunately not an option.
So you put yourself in a niche market that Amazon doesn't want to advertise. 


Unfortunately, if you want to make money from someone else's platform, you gotta play by their rules. Perhaps leave out the content they find questionable in future endeavors or leave that strictly for patreons. It's unlikely to do anything for your current book though since it's already tainted in their eyes.

First I heard. On the ad you can't put child abuse or nudity, the content of the book can be anything.
There are guidelines for book content. Prohibited content and all that.

Re: When would you give up?

#51

The Wrote: Apologies, but I can't see how you can make a decision be crowd sourcing an answer. So many details. 

You said you want to do this for a living, so how determined are you? If you were a politician, you'd spend years doing work for others, and starting with low level stuff like a city council or school board while doing pro bono work for other peoples campaigns.

If starting a business you invest thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, work for a couple of years, and hopefully then make it a career.

Compare writing to other things and maybe it doesn't seem so bad to write several books before getting a hit. 

But if you need money to live on, and want writing to be your job, yet only made 400 on your book, then yes, time to give up. It's that or starve. 

IMHO, you should work some other job, write when not working. Keep plugging away at it. Read books or take courses on writing. Get better. Write more. Someday you might realize your dream and write for a living.
I'm not as much crowd sourcing an answer as I am curious about the different perspectives about this. I don't plan to give up just yet. I'm also a student and getting a job is not an option, so this is my only source of income. You're correct though, writing a few books isn't so bad.

Re: When would you give up?

#52

Ayer12 Wrote:
Sake Wrote:
M.J. Wrote:
Ayer12 Wrote:
M.J. Wrote: I'm guessing the reason for so few sales is the fact Amazon doesn't recommend your book. Or at least I have never seen it on my recommendations list and I avidly read LIT RPG. I'm not sure how you would go about fixing that problem though. I imagine paying Amazon to advertise it is an option. God knows I've read some real shit books on amazon because they were front and center, making them seem like real gems.
Sadly, my book is not eligible for Amazon ads. Probably because of the VERY problematic childhood of my main character (In order for a book to be eligible, no children can be in any kind of harmful situation or near one, something like that). As such, that is unfortunately not an option.
So you put yourself in a niche market that Amazon doesn't want to advertise. 


Unfortunately, if you want to make money from someone else's platform, you gotta play by their rules. Perhaps leave out the content they find questionable in future endeavors or leave that strictly for patreons. It's unlikely to do anything for your current book though since it's already tainted in their eyes.

First I heard. On the ad you can't put child abuse or nudity, the content of the book can be anything.
There are guidelines for book content. Prohibited content and all that.

if your book is published, then it can be on ad, right? 

Re: When would you give up?

#53

Sake Wrote: if your book is published, then it can be on ad, right?
I did check out the guidelines, and I think they just don't want offensive ads--not necessarily advertising content that some people may find offensive. If the entire book were about children being tortured, then yeah, that would probably be restricted just like straight up erotic / porn books are banned. Sporadic sexually explicit content in a book should be okay to advertise to--you know--like so many romance novels. From my reading of the rules, a book with a character's tragic backstory TM that happened as a child should be fine too. Just you can't have your advert depicting said things (which I mean, nor would you want to....)


Let's be real, Amazon doesn't know or care what's in your book as long as you pay them money to then get more money when people buy your book. 

Re: When would you give up?

#54

kieranpierce Wrote:
Sake Wrote: if your book is published, then it can be on ad, right?
I did check out the guidelines, and I think they just don't want offensive ads--not necessarily advertising content that some people may find offensive. If the entire book were about children being tortured, then yeah, that would probably be restricted just like straight up erotic / porn books are banned. Sporadic sexually explicit content in a book should be okay to advertise to--you know--like so many romance novels. From my reading of the rules, a book with a character's tragic backstory TM that happened as a child should be fine too. Just you can't have your advert depicting said things (which I mean, nor would you want to....)


Let's be real, Amazon doesn't know or care what's in your book as long as you pay them money to then get more money when people buy your book.


I gotta press that X to doubt the bit of info about porn books being banned. 50 shades of gray is purchasable on amazon, among others.

Re: When would you give up?

#56

Sake Wrote: 50 shades of gray is purchasable on amazon
50 shades was very heavily pushed by Amazon. I remember seeing commercials for MONTHs when it was released. Totally had a vested interest. 

I've had authors in the indie community who have turned to amazon when an ad got rejected and said pretty much "Hey, I pull in $$$ per month on KDP/Sales which makes you $$$. You sure you don't want to rethink this?" Having the reports and the data to support their argument goes a long way. Those people got through, but the threshold for profitability has to be rather high.

Sometimes I hate romancers. Meh, I don't hate them. I'm just jealous of how easy they make it look.

Re: When would you give up?

#57

Ayer12 Wrote: Yes, I believe I am. I'm trying my best to obtain information from successful indie authors on how to make a living out of this. For instance, I joined 20booksto50k on FB.
. No, not really. I hired a professional artist that cost quite a bit of my budget for my artwork and a graphic designer for the typography. I plan to do the same for the next book. I also hired an experienced beta reader with a phd in literature for opinions and editing. It all cost about as much money as I made from this, which is why I'm slightly disheartened. My profit margin so far has been around 60 dollars.
. I try my best, but I'll only start paying for ads once I got more books under my belt. It's not cost-effective otherwise.
. Probably? I'm only doing e-books right now since the cover only requires the front artwork and they're cheaper. Might get into print books soon, who knows.
. I don't think so. The idea of ghostwriting doesn't please me.


Okay so so let's go through your answers:

Yes, I believe I am (treating this like a business). 
Good. I'm pleased that you think/believe that you are (I know it sounds harsh but my job is about pushing people's limits). You've joined a social forum specifically on indie publishing. This is good. But it's not enough as evidence that you are treating it like a business. You have invested in your books. Fantastic. I'm pleased to hear that. So many indies don't even do that much. So you are off to a good start. But there's more to running a business than joining groups and investing in stuff you think you need (covers and editors are definitely a need - no argument there). 

Have you read about running a business? Copyrights, intellectual properties, trademarks? Do you understand how you file these business records with your taxes (even if you do not register an actual business - which is folly because I can write off my designers and editors - you still have to register the income regardless of profitability. If you registered the business as long as the numbers are supported, you're only reporting your profits for taxation - not the income.)? Do you have a record of accounts, or booking spreadsheet to track your spending and incomings? Do you understand the difference between cost per unit and production costs? That's just the tip of the iceberg. Not everything about business needs to be learned and understood (some people manage despite themselves) but it really does help to understand where your strengths are and where you are at in your business. There are a lot of hats to wear - learn them one step at a time.  There's also the chore of writing a business plan, which I don't really have all of one - these things are often geared toward attracting investors - but it is super useful to force you to think about gaps in your knowledge, the people you need to connect with for professional services, and explore various angles for potential additional revenue streams.

You're off to a good start at least in terms of mindset. But you have a long way to go. Keep learning.

. No, not cutting corners. I hired a professional artist that cost quite a bit of my budget for my artwork and a graphic designer for the typography. I plan to do the same for the next book. I also hired an experienced beta reader with a phd in literature for opinions and editing. It all cost about as much money as I made from this, which is why I'm slightly disheartened. My profit margin so far has been around 60 dollars.
Okay let's break down the cover and editor into different sections based on what you said.

Cover:
Art is subjective - always will be. Did you research your market? Did you look at the covers in the genre/niche you were going to sell in. I can tell you that while your cover is lovely, it does not meet the marketing expectations. The thing with covers is that it needs to speak to the genre/niche with an element of core tropes. It needs to speak to the reader.
I have no doubt that you hired a talented artist. But I wonder if you hired an illustrator then hired a graphic designer? You mentioned two people so I hope they were separate people. What happens a lot here, is that indies tend to hire an artist that they like. K. Cool - that's good. Mostly. What they NEED to do is hire an COVER artist who specializes in the genre you write in. Those artist have their finger on the market and you don't have to give them too much direction. 
The same with illustrator/designer combo. For my Fractured Memories series I hired a dark fantasy illustrator then I hired a cover artist to upgrade the cover particularly in typography. She did so much more for me without my having to ask. It was amazing - but she too was a fantasy cover artist. I sought people who worked in my genre.
If you're too close to the work, I would submit your cover for critiques - particularly for market viability. Don't want 'it's a nice cover' - that won't help you. You want things like 'the typography is not legible', 'the light grey on white is impossible to read', why is your author name in 5pt font in the corner of the cover? All true things I've seen and all just examples. 

Editors: PHD lit does not an editor make. I've experienced the PHD lit grad - stay at home mom - making money on the side - editors. It's a bad idea in almost all cases. Education isn't enough. Experience means so much more. I can tell you right now, for what you are claiming to have paid for cover + editor, you did not hire an editor. You maybe got a proof reader.

There are several kinds of editors. For first to third book, you will need a developmental editor. These cost between $200-$600 per 60K words. Then you will potentially need a structural editor - if you struggle with transitions, pacing, story beats/flow. It's not a bad idea to get one your first time round. I don't have pricing on these. Line/Copy editors are for readability of the work, the also check things like grammar and spelling. Line and copy editors are two different things, but what they do exactly varies from service to service. I paid $1,200 for mine for 60K words. She also works freelance for one of the big 5 in the fantasy division. See you also need to hire the editors who work in your genre, they will be able to help you connect with your market better.

But off all the processes, the editors are the most painful but worth while to get through when you are developing your craft. Do you NEEEED them? No. Will it improve your writing. Absolutely. Will it guarantee sales? no. That's the thing about business, you can do everything right and not get anywhere. But I can tell you this. Statistically, if you want to make a living income from writing - having a pro cover + getting your books edited properly will increase your odds. To throw more stats at you, 46% of indies make less than $100 a year. 24% don't even make a $1.00. Give yourself every edge over your competition that you can.

There are services out there that will allow you to submit X pages for editing. If you can find a dev editor in your genre - do that first. Those red comments will likely be representative of a lot of ongoing issues through out the whole story. It'll give you something to work on that's somewhat free-ish. Be careful about abusing this system because editors do talk to each other, and they don't like freebie seekers anymore than for-profit writers do.

To be direct and I'm sorry because this is going to hurt - yes, you are cutting corners. But not because you mean to. It's because you don't/didn't know any better. You thought you were going through the right steps. And you were, but sometimes the execution of those steps are emotionally driven over logically/business driven. This is where you fell short. Budget also plays a huge limitation as to how far your can reach, which I totally get (been saving for editors for 2 years). So don't give up. Be honest, which you have been, but also be aware that there's more to it. 

To be clear, I did the exact same thing you did with my first book too. I earned a profit from that series too, sold 2K books. I was lucky that I didn't get terrible reviews. I learned so much from the corners I didn't think I cut too (same as you, I hired an artist I liked but wasn't genre specific anymore than they weren't cover artists. I hired TWO editors, who were not editors). I was all I could afford. I spent $125 per book. I am SOOOOOO Lucky I didn't ruin my reputation because of it.  When I upgraded my covers (cost me $500 per cover + $250 for graphic design work) I sold a lot more. I hired a blurb writer ($125) - I sold even more books. I hired a copy editor $1,200 - my conversion rates from one book to the next went up. This is also called read through. EVERYTHING has an impact. 

If your budget is $340. then you'll have to accept that you're going to have limited reach/limited potential.

.ads (marketing)

I agree. You're not ready for ads. You have a ton to learn about marketing before ads should even be on your radar. Choose a social platform you like and find resources to help you develop a following there. Do not do any 'BUY my BOOK!' posts - they don't work.

. Probably? I'm only doing e-books (leaving money on the table)
There's a massive learning curve when it comes to developing books for print. Much like anything else in branding, if it doesn't feel/look right, it'll turn readers off. There are some amazing services available - Draft 2 Digital I think has formatted templates available, plus they do wide distribution if you're not exclusive to Amazon. If you are, you're going to have to learn how to drive kindle subscribers to read your book - which is where your strongest potential will exist. Unless you're wide. In which case, you're aiming for sales. part of running a business is understanding the business and marketing goals (which don't always line up), and how various business models will impact your brand, reach, and sales potentials. You want to invest in the highest potential for return (unless you have a history to work from, then you want to invest in the areas that HAVE given you the highest returns).


Okay... none of the above is said in mean spirited - it's just to make you aware that there's so much more to it. Hopefully, there's a lot there for you to choose a path, research, and implement. If you're willing to do the work you just might get somewhere, but as always there are no guarantees in business.

Re: When would you give up?

#59

A Wrote: Okay so so let's go through your answers:
I feel like I should be paying you for this. I am now feeling like I'm in way over my head but I shall try to address your points to the best of my ability.


A Wrote:
Have you read about running a business?
[...]
I'm going to skip this paragraph because the answer to every question is "No." Pain.


A Wrote: Cover:
Art is subjective - always will be. Did you research your market? Did you look at the covers in the genre/niche you were going to sell in. I can tell you that while your cover is lovely, it does not meet the marketing expectations. The thing with covers is that it needs to speak to the genre/niche with an element of core tropes. It needs to speak to the reader.
I have no doubt that you hired a talented artist. But I wonder if you hired an illustrator then hired a graphic designer? You mentioned two people so I hope they were separate people. What happens a lot here, is that indies tend to hire an artist that they like. K. Cool - that's good. Mostly. What they NEED to do is hire an COVER artist who specializes in the genre you write in. Those artist have their finger on the market and you don't have to give them too much direction. 
The same with illustrator/designer combo. For my Fractured Memories series I hired a dark fantasy illustrator then I hired a cover artist to upgrade the cover particularly in typography. She did so much more for me without my having to ask. It was amazing - but she too was a fantasy cover artist. I sought people who worked in my genre.
If you're too close to the work, I would submit your cover for critiques - particularly for market viability. Don't want 'it's a nice cover' - that won't help you. You want things like 'the typography is not legible', 'the light grey on white is impossible to read', why is your author name in 5pt font in the corner of the cover? All true things I've seen and all just examples.
I looked at a bunch of LitRPG covers after publishing (admittedly not before) and they're as varied as they come, though there seems to be a trend of "MC fighting something" that I unintentionally planned on following for my next book. I did hire two different people, not specifically cover artists though. Not even sure where to find them.


A Wrote:
Editors: PHD lit does not an editor make. I've experienced the PHD lit grad - stay at home mom - making money on the side - editors. It's a bad idea in almost all cases. Education isn't enough. Experience means so much more. I can tell you right now, for what you are claiming to have paid for cover + editor, you did not hire an editor. You maybe got a proof reader.

There are several kinds of editors. For first to third book, you will need a developmental editor. These cost between $200-$600 per 60K words. Then you will potentially need a structural editor - if you struggle with transitions, pacing, story beats/flow. It's not a bad idea to get one your first time round. I don't have pricing on these. Line/Copy editors are for readability of the work, the also check things like grammar and spelling. Line and copy editors are two different things, but what they do exactly varies from service to service. I paid $1,200 for mine for 60K words. She also works freelance for one of the big 5 in the fantasy division. See you also need to hire the editors who work in your genre, they will be able to help you connect with your market better.

There are services out there that will allow you to submit X pages for editing. If you can find a dev editor in your genre - do that first. Those red comments will likely be representative of a lot of ongoing issues through out the whole story. It'll give you something to work on that's somewhat free-ish. Be careful about abusing this system because editors do talk to each other, and they don't like freebie seekers anymore than for-profit writers do.

To be direct and I'm sorry because this is going to hurt - yes, you are cutting corners. But not because you mean to. It's because you don't/didn't know any better. You thought you were going through the right steps. And you were, but sometimes the execution of those steps are emotionally driven over logically/business driven. This is where you fell short. Budget also plays a huge limitation as to how far your can reach, which I totally get (been saving for editors for 2 years). So don't give up. Be honest, which you have been, but also be aware that there's more to it. 
  When I upgraded my covers (cost me $500 per cover + $250 for graphic design work) I sold a lot more. I hired a blurb writer ($125) - I sold even more books. I hired a copy editor $1,200 - my conversion rates from one book to the next went up. This is also called read through. EVERYTHING has an impact. 

If your budget is $340. then you'll have to accept that you're going to have limited reach/limited potential.
The guy I hired also does developmental editing, though I don't think he's genre-specific. The reason I only hired him for beta reading/proofreading and not for editing is because, well, I couldn't afford it.

I had never heard of those free-ish editing services before, but since my book is a sequel to the already-published first one which I talked about in my original post, I don't really think it would work. I'd have to submit the first one too so that the second one would make sense.
As of this point in time, I have made $516 with by book according to Bookreport, so that's the new budget I suppose. A cover is going to cost this budget at least $300, though I suppose it'll be more trendy since I'm going the "mc fighting something" route. My book is also over 120k words, so a developmental editor would at the very least go well above my budget. I could go above the $516 I made, though at that point I'll be at a loss and without a guarantee of profit.
Also, don't worry about hurting me with criticism, I'm very open to all kinds of it.

A Wrote:
Okay... none of the above is said in mean spirited - it's just to make you aware that there's so much more to it. Hopefully, there's a lot there for you to choose a path, research, and implement. If you're willing to do the work you just might get somewhere, but as always there are no guarantees in business.
Don't worry about it. I wish there was a way for me to repay you.

Re: When would you give up?

#60
There's almost no business which you can enter into without first taking a "loss", in hopes to turn it into profit

If you get reviews, and if they're good, your story will continue to sell for some time by the way. It's not fully done yet. And publishing sequels will also bring some new attention to the 1st book, as well