Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Hello everyone, and welcome to my first ever post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

In case you're reading this and you don't know what that is, it is something that comes up every first Wednesday of the month, and was started by Alex Cavanaugh, whose blog I'd discovered during the Blogging from A-Z Challenge this past April. It is a platform for writers to talk about, you guessed it, their insecurities, and how they plan (or were able) to overcome them. So without wasting much time, on with the post!

Right. Where to begin? Well, it's been roughly six months since I put my 3 science fiction novellas up on Amazon. And since then, I've somehow managed to sell some 50 or thereabouts copies of these books, with little or no promotion to boot. Not bad. Sales could be better though. WAY better. But I'm in it for the long haul as the saying goes.

During the intervening months since publication, I've been hard at work on a 6-part epic fantasy series called Guardians & The Lost Paradise. Uhm, actually, I've been working on this for close to 6 years now, but I've made tremendous progress in recent months. As things stand, I am now a climax and denouement away from completion.

The plan is to self-publish the entire series over the course of the next 6 months. Very ambitious, I know. But quite doable. The main consideration though is getting these stories ready for prime time. I am already in talks with professional editors and cover artists, and quickly discovering just how much money I would need to pay for their services. A staggering $3000! [insert appropriate whistle sound here]

There are very few avenues for me to raise that much money within a relatively short timeframe. I could always sell my dog; but after investing all those years in schooling it in the art of Jiu-jitsu, that would seem like such a huge waste, wouldn't you agree? One avenue I've found myself constantly dwelling upon is the possibility of crowdfunding through websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But then my production costs would have to go up to $5000, when you also factor in the need to fulfil perks/rewards.

So what do you think? Is Kickstarter/Indiegogo the way to go? Or should I just self-edit and knock out the book covers in my graphics editor of choice?

39 comments:

  1. Hi Michael. Please don't sell your dog. They are hardly every worth what you think their worth, plus the Jiu-jitsu fighting dog could save you money later on security when you become famous.
    I have been thinking about the additional cost of self publishing as well. I am not at that point, yet, but I know that I will be calling in a few favors. Good luck with the series. I will keep a look out for them.

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    1. Wow. I never actually considered that my dog could act as a personal bodyguard once the time came and I am regularly besieged by adoring fans. Or maybe I did. Subconsciously. Thanks for pointing it out though. :))

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  2. No advice, but not a bad choice to have. Good luck with that and oh, keep the dog.

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    1. Okay. I'll try my best not to have to resort to selling the poor thing. Thanks.

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  3. Hi Michael and welcome to IWSG! Keep the dog. :) On FB there's a group called Indie Writers Unite that is a wonderful source of information for book covers and editors. Pre-made covers can be had for $25 - $50. They also have editors as members.

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    1. Thanks Laura. I just joined and would be sure to explore all the information I can find there. :)

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  4. Don't sell your dog!
    That is really ambitious. If you can find a way to raise the money so you can hire editors and a cover artist, that would be better for you. They do say the more books one has the more one sells. Obviously there is a method to the madness!
    Thanks for participating in the IWSG.

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    1. Yeah. Apparently. That is one of the reasons why I've been working towards increasing my digital shelf space, with a goal of having 9 titles available by year's end. Thanks, once again, for creating this group.

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  5. How cool that you have some novellas published! It sounds like self-publishing works for you. Just kick the marketing up a notch! The plot of the Mediator sounds incredible.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

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    1. Thanks Maurice, and I guess it's high time I start doing more to market these books.

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  6. Just came off a failed project at Indiegogo. If you are going to do the whole crowdfunding thing, choose Kickstarter. I couldn't because I'm not in the U.S. The projects that do the best on crowdfunding sites are games. Intellectual and arts - not so much. I also suspect that most of the more obscure projects that get funded are funded by friends and family.

    As to Editors, be careful. A tip for your cover art - go to DeviantArt.com and browse, that's how I found my cover artist. Some really good artists don't even charge, they just want the exposure and credit in the book.

    Good luck with all your projects.

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    1. Thanks Wendy. That's precisely what I did for my science fiction novellas; I searched around DeviantART to find some decent artist who were willing to let me use their existing paintings as part of the artwork for my book covers, in exchange for due credit. I've just been too preoccupied (or lazy perhaps) to update those books with the new covers. But these new books of mine simply demand original artwork/commissions.

      Sorry to hear about your failed project. I'm currently based outside the US, so I guess Kickstarter might be a no-go for me as well. And I have also noticed that most of the success stories come from the gaming projects, backed by members of the various gaming communities. If only we had such parallels in the writing communites... *sigh*

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    1. Thanks, man. Lord knows I'm going to need it.

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  8. I've never heard of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but adding more to your start-up costs sounds a little risky. Then again, what do I know. I really wish I could be more help. But I would really love to read your six-part series though, so whatever you have to do to get it published, DO IT!

    Apart from selling your dog of course. He sounds too cool.

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    1. Thanks. At least the cat is out of the bag now. ;)

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  9. Welcome to the group, Michael! Congratulations on all of your success so far. That's fantastic!

    I don't have any advice to offer, but wanted to wish you good luck. Please keep us posted!

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  10. That's a lot of money. Is that average costs or just one guy? You might find if you put a shout out on your blog you'd find a slightly less expensive editor?

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    1. Most of the cost would go towards the covers actually. An original painting from a professional at a place like deviantART costs anything between $200 - $2000. Times both numbers by 6 and, well, you get the picture.

      As for the editor, I'm in talks with three of them at the moment. Estimated charges for all 6 books are $600, $900 and $4,000 respectively. I just got back sample edits from the first two and might be contacting a fourth real soon.

      All in all, let's say it would cost $500 to produce each book. $500 * 6 = $3,000. Hence my estimate. :D

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    2. Ah, that makes more sense now. I hope you find an editor you can work with soon! Good luck.

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  11. Ambitious goals! I know that professional editing can make a huge difference, so I would recommend shooting for that if you can afford it. Best of luck!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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    1. Thanks. I will be getting all 6 books professionally edited, and hopefully without having to sell the dog too. :D

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  12. Hi Michael! I'm new to the IWSG myself this month and I just have to say... 3 science fiction novellas already published on Amazon? You're light years ahead of me and off to a great start it seems! The fact that you're willing and searching for ways to self promote and self fund the continued success of your work is inspiring as well. And lastly, how could you be "insecure" having trained your dog in the art of Jiu-jitsu? Couldn't your pet just kick anyone's butt who didn't help you out at a discounted price? Maybe you didn't train him/her well enough... yet.

    Anyway, about kickstarter - from what I've read, it doesn't seem like too high of a risk as long as your financial planning and goals are solid. If you don't raise all of the money you've requested or fullfill your promise, you just have to give the money back. I think the tricky part would be how to sell your "product". With an independent film, investors get to be "producers" or at least get their name in the end credits. You have to think about what you're offering as an incentive to get money for your publishing and art costs... how would you go about that?

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    1. Very true. I've spent a great deal of time studying both successful and failed writing/publishing projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The rewards/perks for backing a project typically go along the lines of getting the finished book (or books in this case) in electronic format, getting it delivered in paperback, getting it delivered in hardback, getting thanked in the acknowledgments, having a character named after you etc.

      The key to success (like you said) lies in the presentation of the project. And in getting word out to as many potential backers as possible. Or at least trying to go beyond telling/depending on your family and circle of friends. ;)

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  13. Michael,

    You could always have a yard sale/garage sale to raise the first $500 for the first book. Our throwaways are indeed another persons treasure. From there you could get a good idea of what you'd be getting and then make a determination of how to proceed from there.

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    1. Sounds like a solid backup plan. The problem is I don't own much stuff of value, aside from the dog of course. But thanks all the same. :D

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  14. Jeremy I'm impressed that you've self-published already. As for the next steps all I can do is wish you luck with your decision. I'm not anywhere near being finished with anything, so I have no experience. My intuition tells me that you should self-publish again, without going into debt or anything. I tend to play it safe. But I sure wish you luck, whatever you decide.

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    1. Thanks. I'm still open to exploring the traditional publishing route for my future works. But for this particular series, which I very much want to put out there before the Mayan calendar runs out of days, it has to be self-publishing.

      Now... who's this Jeremy...? He sounds like a really hard-working fella I must say. ;)

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  15. Personally, I think if you're going to go the self-pub route, you should do most, if not all of the work yourself. As far as editing goes, if you have enough critique partners going over your work, you won't need much editing. That's been my experience anyway. You can design your own cover using stock photography and photo manipulation software. And all the online pub sites have free software for formatting. You shouldn't have to a dime. But you should take your time to do it right if you are going to do it yourself. I think you are entirely capable of it.

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    1. Yep. This is the exact route I took for my 3 sci-fi novellas. I did pretty much all the work myself: self-edits, covers, formatting etc. The thing is each individual book/project is different, so what worked for one (and in this case barely worked) might not necessarily work for another.

      MG/YA epic fantasy books (like these ones) simply demand original paintings for theirs covers, which is why I feel I might not get away with using a bunch of stock photographs instead. As for the editing, I am doing all I can to keep the cost down, and the editor I am currently leaning towards has estimated a charge of around $100/book, which is on the low end. I will handle the formatting myself, since I already have all the experience I need in that area (being a website developer).

      I really believe in these books and I am merely trying to give them the fighting chance they deserve. But I'm still going to go ahead and self-publish all of them, whether I am able to raise the money or not.

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  16. Just saying hi from the IWSG. I say trust your instincts on this one and do what you need to do to get those books noticed!

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  17. Stopping by from IWSG. Yeah, the pricing for editing, cover art, etc. can be high and I'm not sure what I'm going to do when the time comes when I'm ready to publish. Whatever you decide, do what's best for you and the books, and don't give up. And be sure to keep us informed as to what you eventually decide to do. There are those of us who might want to follow your footsteps.

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    1. Thanks Ken. I'll keep you posted. :)

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