Monday, September 30, 2013

Investing in your writing career

How much does it cost to self-publish? The question came up during my participation on a panel on self-publishing at the Northern Lights Library System’s (NLLS) convention last weekend.

The other panelists had invested little, doing their own editing, cover design, formatting, etc. They wanted their books out quickly, they wanted to have a book to sell to their friends and family who were asking for them. They felt comfortable doing the work themselves.

My dollar investment, however, is quite extensive. It dates back to my hiring a book marketing coach to set my feet on the path to becoming published. With an eye to tapping into the potentials of the online, international marketplace that was just beginning to explode, my goal is and always has been, to become more than a local celebrity. 

I haven’t got there yet, I’m not a best selling author. Not an award winning author. Not an international sensation...yet. But I’m still working on it, still investing dollars and time in my career. Still dreaming.

My investment started about five years ago with creating a website and blog. I was not techno-savvy enough to do this myself. Back in the time when I first set out to become published, the technology was not as user friendly as it is now. However, even now, I’d likely call on the experts for help.

My website and blog are portals to my career, they are my front-line staff, the ‘WalMart greeters’ that introduce people to me and my work. It is not just getting something up there and out there. It has to be an attractive design, the right colours, professional looking fonts, great graphics. It has to attract readers and lure them into staying. It has to be user-friendly and convince people to buy my books. It has to show up on the first page of results when people google my name or my books. I have nowhere near the expertise to do that. I can write the content, but the rest...

My investment also includes investment in learning. Learning not only how to improve my writing, but how to query, how to research, how to promote. I had to learn about the technology involved in the eBook revolution, the changes occurring in the publishing industry. I had to learn about genres, target readerships, writing back cover copy, eliciting reviews. I had to learn about ITNs, ISBNs and cover design. I paid to learn how to use Twitter and facebook to market my books.

My investment includes memberships in professional writing organizations, to network me to the industry, to provide me with support and information. That investment include supporting those organizations with involvement in their programmes, donations, and feedback and suggestions.

My investment includes producing two video promo trailers, hiring online press-release distribution services, traveling hundreds of miles to participate in conventions relating to my genre and many more miles to give author talks to my target readership.

I invested in bookmark business cards and in purchasing paperbacks to sell at local businesses and at my many author talks. I purchased two Kindles to use as prizes in my book promotions. I had a professional 'author photoshoot' done. 

For the actual production of THE TRAZ, I paid a graphic artist to design the cover, a formatter to prepare the manuscript to upload to the printer and online bookstores. I hired several editors.

On the hardware side of things, I invested in a new laptop, mobile internet key, a Kindle and a Kindle Fire. And several mouses (mice?) --as I drop mine a lot.

This month, I invested thousands of dollars in hundreds of paperbacks because I’m about to invest countless hours in a 23-stop library tour and hope to sell a good portion (if not all) of those books during that tour.

There have been people who have been very supportive during my journey and those who haven’t. There are those who view me as a successful author...and those who don’t. There are those who are optimistic about my career and those who point out all that is wrong with it. There are those willing to invest in my future with me, and those who think I’m wasting my money.

Special thanks right now to my family, my community, my online friends, the businesses in my adoptive home town and the Northern Lights Library System—for being on the positive side of that ledger.

To those less enthused with my journey? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if I’m able to prove you wrong. 

Investing in your writing career is brought to you by THE TRAZ , my first self-published novel.

"I loved this first book in the series..."

"It was a great adventure into the lives of bike gangs, and issues involving young people. Their grief, fears and their overwhelming struggle, to find their place where they belong, where they are accepted, and at what costs they are willing to pay!"

Eileen Schuh, Author
Schrödinger's Cat


Unknown said...

Great blog Eileen. Getting your book out in the public domain is not enough. Some books are not proof read, edited, or uploaded properly. I did all you did, to make sure my novel, Foxden Acres was as professionally presented as any book on the shelves of Waterstones or WH Smith.

I read the following quote somewhere. "The good thing about self publishing is any one can do it. And the worst thing about self publishing is any one can do it." With that in mind my second novel with go through the same process as my first. Great post. x

Melanie said...

I've heard that comment about self publishing, too, Madalyn.

Excellent post, Eileen. Definitely something for anyone who is contemplating entering the world of self-publishing should read.

Pauline Barclay said...

A great post and you can be certain I am one of your fans and I have no doubt you will make it big! I love your writing.

Elizabeth Ducie said...

Great post Eileen; such a lot of hard work. Most of the indie authors I know do some of the things you've done, but I don't know anyone else who's done ALL of this. You deserve to succeed. I hope the book-tour goes well. Ex

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, Pauline, Melanie and Madalyn for visiting and leaving such interesting comments and kind words. I'll carry your well-wishes with me close to my heart to refer to when I need encouragement and support.