Re: When would you give up?

#61

Ayer12 Wrote: Don't worry about it. I wish there was a way for me to repay you.


Ditto. I'm happy to help, even if it's a little overwhelming. 

Start with learning your business skills - not 100% needed - but OH MAN will it save your tax dollars! And put a lot of other practices into context.

Searching for genre artists/editor can be a pain. I hired a few artist from Deviant Art. I got one cover artist from upWork, and another through an indie connection I had. It's all a matter of keeping an eye out and not being afraid to ask questions. Some covers I really like - I'll ask the author if they're indie who they hired. Sometimes if they're good peeps they even give cover credits to the artist on the copyright page. From there it's a google search. 

I can't afford of all of the maps I want done, so in the meanwhile i bookmark artists and pieces where i like the map styles/art. Maybe one day I can afford them. when i can, i'll reach out. 

Editors I use reedsy after getting stung a few dozen times with upWork. Reedsy vets their editors so they all have credentials in the field, from there it's a matter of vetting for genre specifics.

You're off to a good start - but publishing can be a massive learning curve.

Re: When would you give up?

#62
You've gotten a lot of good advice so far.  I am totally agreeing with the never give up. If it's your dream to write for a living, then I'm all about it.  Cause, me too!  Lol

One of the things to keep in mind tho, is that not every story will be received as well as you might want it to. If you don't think your current project is going to propel you into a writing career - cut your losses andd start a new one.

Don't leave current readers hanging on the hopes of you coming back if you aren't, of course.  Just  ya know, be upfront and honest.  

You can do this!

Re: When would you give up?

#63

A Wrote:
Ayer12 Wrote: Don't worry about it. I wish there was a way for me to repay you.


Ditto. I'm happy to help, even if it's a little overwhelming. 

Start with learning your business skills - not 100% needed - but OH MAN will it save your tax dollars! And put a lot of other practices into context.

Searching for genre artists/editor can be a pain. I hired a few artist from Deviant Art. I got one cover artist from upWork, and another through an indie connection I had. It's all a matter of keeping an eye out and not being afraid to ask questions. Some covers I really like - I'll ask the author if they're indie who they hired. Sometimes if they're good peeps they even give cover credits to the artist on the copyright page. From there it's a google search. 

I can't afford of all of the maps I want done, so in the meanwhile i bookmark artists and pieces where i like the map styles/art. Maybe one day I can afford them. when i can, i'll reach out. 

Editors I use reedsy after getting stung a few dozen times with upWork. Reedsy vets their editors so they all have credentials in the field, from there it's a matter of vetting for genre specifics.

You're off to a good start - but publishing can be a massive learning curve.
I'd say my current main problem is budget. I don't live in the US or in Europe, for that matter, so you can think of everything as around 6 times more expensive for me, while the income is not increased. $1200 for an editor? Make that like $6500 and you have a better idea of what it would cost me to do the same. Even if I go over the budget (that being everything I make from the first book), I can't go over it that much. Spending $750 on a cover is simply not an option.


Thank you for the advice and website suggestions. I suppose an option for cover artist is finding one from my country who's not paid in USD, therefore likely lowering the cost of the cover. However, that would create a disconnect between the first cover and the second one unless I change the first one as well, since it wouldn't be the same artist.

Re: When would you give up?

#64
With regards to the ability to afford and hire editors, a good way to do something within a budget (albeit this is cutting corners) is finding an author in similar shoes and do edit swaps. You'll have to read somebody else's story and give feedback--high quality feedback, the type that you want to receive so it takes effort--but if you can find a good partnership, then it can obviously be a really good experience. Emphasis on the good partnership because you would want to disengage with anyone who is trying to leech off your efforts and not reciprocating in return.

But yeah, when you're looking for editing in the future, do NOT be afraid to reach out to the forums again. Say you're looking to swap a high quality developmental / line edit / proofreading whatever in preparation for publication. I'm sure you could find some lovely people to work together in the same goal of creating a quality product and keeping your own costs low. I would totally be up for this anyway, assuming we work with each other's projects and I'm not dying from work at the time!

Unlike A.V. Dalcourt, I'm lowkey a supporter of cutting corners, laying that out there straight-up. (With that said, I'll probably do this as a hobby forever, and I like the idea of a hobby that you don't put money into. Businesses, you do put money in up front, and whoever said that most businesses run at a loss before turning a profit stated a true fact. The advice to hire quality professionals is better if you really and truly do want to be a professional, and I'm the little devil whispering on your shoulder trying to lead you astray.)

The worst thing in the world is saving up for editing, and then burning it on somebody who didn't even jive well with your story or care enough to give the sort of help you were actually paying for. Some of the impressions that freelance editors made on me in digital spaces were.... definitely not good. Like I'm not paying somebody to tell me to remove non-optional occurrences of "that" in my prose. You can learn lots of obscure grammar rules like when "that" is optional vs. not optional, and also recommended. 

On a similar note, nor do I want to pay somebody to parse down my writing to painfully skeletal in order to "tighten" the story. (There's a good tightness and a bad tightness, and based on what I've read--indie stories after their line editing... I couldn't say that I liked it.) I've definitely felt sad that they PAID someone to tell them to make the choices that they did.

In contrast, I'm honestly so impressed by how amazing this author friend was able to make his story based on his own ideas for a rewrite and all the feedback that I gave. I've definitely appreciated his feedback in return, and he has helped make my story stronger likewise. My story is still having... issues that need a full second draft to fix. (I have lots of comments for feedback from super kind readers that I'm looking to implement--crowd-sourced developmental editing basically, another way to get some janky editing done on a budget.) His story, unlike mine, I honestly don't think that he needs a developmental editor anymore because the story pieces are where they need to be--it's amazing.

Why can this actually work sometimes?

The single person who will care most about your work is YOU. It will always be you (unless you get an uber hit like Harry Potter or Twighlight--pretty sure some of those fans cared about the story more than their authors. XD)

Also, you can find some really awesome people to partner with here on RR, and credentials like PhD in literature honestly just don't mean anything for what we're trying to do with genre fiction. I experienced that on a smaller level in the literature classes that I took in college for my degree requirements. In my opinion, they were kind of bs.... Fine, bs is a harsh word, but they were very focused on thematic sorts of things because literary fiction. No one is assigning your book in a classroom to be read so we should not be taking inspiration from those sorts of (painfully boring) stories. As I think A.V. Dalcourt already pointed out, experience is way more important!

Editing is the thing that you really need outside eyes for, just because as much as we creators care about our work, we're also too close to it to see through all of our own bullshit.

On a last note, let's talk about cover art. It is possible to develop more than just your writing and editing skills, but also design skills. You have to go through an insane amount of dedicated effort just like when learning how to write. The problem with a lot of author-made cover art is that they don't actually spend the time to develop the skill. They put their terrible first attempts out there in the world, just like how the first draft of a first novel is in all likelihood, really honestly terrible for most of us. THAT'S the equivalent for the cover that they just made.

I'm definitely not showing my first attempts at cover art to the world lol. In my signature is old cover art that I made for my story--romantic fantasy genre. (I took off the typography since I observed that just the art performed better here on RR for getting follows.) It's just alright. That was what I could do when I was using terrible, free software. Krita has nothing on Photoshop; it's a janky alternative, but Photoshop is literally so powerful and definitely worth the added dollars. As much as I like cutting corners, that's one I don't recommend to cut lmao. I have much better cover art lined up for my rewrite--different pieces that will appeal to the RR audience and an eventual paid readership for published novels.

This is coming from someone who thought that I didn't have a creative bone in my body outside of creative writing. I can't draw; I'm not artistic. I can look at the covers in my genre and emulate the things that are selling well and other things that catch my eye. Sometimes I spend days making art instead of writing. That's just the reality of it if I ever want to get good at it. The art endeavor needs a similar level of effort as the writing endeavor. 

I think it's worth exploring with these different things and seeing just how much you can manage for free. Look at what you just did and recognize it for utter crap when it is. Don't kid yourself into thinking you can do everything yourself if you can't, but yeah, I just wanted to give some thoughts on how to potentially keep costs low.


When A.V. Dalcourt or whoever else feels compelled to counter some of my points, remember that I do acknowledge that I'm the devil on the shoulder so please don't stress too much on your forum reply.  peoapproval

Re: When would you give up?

#65

kieranpierce Wrote: When A.V. Dalcourt or whoever else feels compelled to counter some of my points
Actually I was going to say I agree with you 100%. (and I love discussing this stuff - so no stress) What you're talking about at its core is mindset and intent. I focused on the fact that OP appeared to expect to do better in sales, so assumed that hobby was not the path they had chosen. My advice reflected that. But it's perfectly valid to say to a client, you aren't ready for this just yet - you're going to need to take a step back think long term and plan your phases. It comes back down to mindset.


If the OP changes their intent, instead of making a livable income in 10-days and considers moving through the publishing for-profit in phases say over the course of 5-years, it'd be a lot easier on them. 

None of my advise is 100% necessary, nor is it 100% right (what's right for me, may not be right for you. There are also a million ways to reach the end goal. I provide advice on data I've collected, and through observation with my clients.) Everything I said is optional.

You choose if you want an editor, if you're going to follow editing advice, if you're going to do the cover yourself or not, and what your budget is. Everything you chose to/not do and how you go about it will have an impact on sales. This is the thing I really want the OP to be aware of. I also wanted to be aware to a degree where their knowledge gaps are so they could start on it now, rather than give up in 6 months because no-one said anything. It's a long journey - there's lots of learning involved, lots of skills to gain. 

But being aware of what you need and what the budget is - means you are going to find some creative ways to buffer the blow. You can't afford editing - it's f-ing expensive. So the advice  kieranpierce provided is perfectly acceptable as a short term solution. You're often choosing between investing time and focus, or money. Remember the best way to sell your book is to write another book. But that in of itself is also not necessarily enough if you're not learning from the publication process of the previous book.

I've got a client story for you:
I knew an author who published 25 books, back to back for 2 years, and had sold 10 (total). I read up to chapter 10 (1 page chapters for the win when it's hell to read) and asked if she hired an editor. She was a English grad - didn't need an editor, she said. I could tell you why her sales from book 1 to book 2 didn't exist. Her sentences were tight... and boring, in the modern style of writing which is to a grade 8 level,  which oddly tends to gear toward 'See spot run' style of prose. It's what I call superficial writing. (as an FYI, I chose NOT to write to a grade 8 level, so I'm cannibalizing's sales by aiming for grade 10-11. It's a bad business move for profitability, but it's one that suits my brand)

Now you may ask - how do you mess that up? When you have lines like: "He walked across the floor muscularly." Now I'm picky to begin with (I'll admit to dropping books after the first line in both indie and trad), but please trust me when I say that the writing was terrible. I was reading a first draft and I knew it. So confirm, I asked: "how many drafts and revision passes?" Drafts mean different things to different people, but what I learned was that often in indie circle the first draft is the only draft, and then they do a light revision, then self-edit, then publish. As an avid reader, it shows. Paying customers are varied in their opinion of quality. BUT because they ARE paying customers they ARE entitled to their opinion. This also something that creatives forget. Readers aren't buying your book to praise you, they buying your book to be entertained (speaking about fiction in this case).

Anyway, I made the mistake of being honest that romance wasn't my thing, but with a cursory overview of my findings... She cut me off. BECAUSE I wasn't a fan of romance, therefore my advice the problems I was finding were no longer valid according to her. My advice to her, according to her, came from a place of hate. (Because I want to see you fail? That's a waste of energy). The other problem this author had was that she was advertising as a thriller writer, not as a romance writer.... so the story itself was a bait and switch. Had she opened herself up to feedback, she wouldn't have published another 10 books that didn't sell before quitting in the most amazing dumpster fire I have ever witness. 

This story highlights a few things about mindset. And a few marketing/branding things you should take with you as you work your series. She was definitely prolific, but didn't seek or follow advice in ANY respect, including editing, story craft, and so on. With clients I made a point of looking through their brand, socials, and watch over the course of a month to see how they engaged with people. (A people with poor people skills advising on people skills - the irony).

You have to choose your own path. There are a million ways to get to where you want to go, but you may have to pivot, and you have to be prepared to slow down, make changes, and temper your expectations. You also have to prepare to redo a lot of the work you thought you were done with. I redid Awakening Fractured Memories 3 times - not full re-write mind you. Once I got that manuscript off to the editor, the stories itself were done! Dead to me! But I still had plenty to upgrade over the course of the year. Covers and blurbs to name a few. I think I did the covers twice that year. 

You don't need to be perfect now, you can advance and tackle things in phases. I advise the free developmental pro service for your first chapter because it'll give you something to refine and practice with book 2, 3, 4, etc. It's unlikely they'll do more than a chapter (sometimes it's just a few pages), but that first chapter is important to hook your reader. Then I'd follow up with group editors and swaps - though my experience with that was pretty dicey. Different writers, especially if they're new to the writing and don't do pro-editing for their own manuscripts, don't know the different phases of editing. I ended up with line editors when I needed dev editors. I had one guy re-write my whole story to his liking. As  kieranpierce advises make sure that you find a good match. There are all sorts of personalities out there.

Re: When would you give up?

#66
I'm not too sure on the author-editing-swap deal, and I won't speak on the quality of feedback received, since I'm sure there are authors out there who can give incredible advice. Rather, I'm unsure of the quality of the feedback I'd be able to give. I don't have any experience in editing or anything like it, and my experience in beta reading is limited.

As for designing my own covers, I'd trust myself with that even less. I think that's honestly better to be left to a professional, or, at least, to someone capable enough, and that certainly isn't me. I've never been an artist and starting now would be a lot of time investment that would be better put in my writing, which is something I know I'm already minimally ok at.

On to some better news, Amazon rounded up the number of stars in my novel's review average to 4.5 instead of 4 (The actual number is currently sitting at 4.3 at 26 ratings/reviews), which saw an immediate spike in page reads. Yesterday was actually my best day in terms of that, with 9.4k page reads. Today is on track to be a good day as well, with 6.5k PRs as of this moment in time. I have now earned $560, which means my budget is consistently expanding. I can only hope this rate will be maintained.

Thank you everyone for your kind words and invaluable advice.