Category Archives: Business

The Cost of Being Independent

The May 2017 issue of The Writer is chock full of helpful and interesting articles! Since I’m working to pay off debt incurred from e-publishing Perceval’s Secret, I was particularly interested in the article, “Going Rogue: Is Self-publishing right for you?” In this article, Kerrie Flanagan compares the traditional publishing model and the self-publishing/independent model, covering all aspects of production, publication, marketing/promotion, and distribution. I recommend this article highly, highly, highly — especially for anyone who believes it doesn’t cost much at all to self-publish.

It depends, of course, on what you want. If you just want to publish an e-book, your costs may not be that high compared to a paperback or hardcover.  I took the advice and suggestions of others, some were writers I knew who’d been successful with self-publishing, and made certain that I found a good-to-excellent editor and a collaborative cover designer for my e-book. Editors can be expensive, anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on what you want and who it is. Shop around, but also shop local if you can. I’m fortunate to live in a literary urban area full of colleges and writing resources. The cover design for me was actually the least expensive cost. I went with a designer who’d done a friend’s book covers. There are writers who are talented in design also, and they can design their own covers, saving money there.

My next expense was to turn my Word document into ePub and Mobi files for Kindle and other e-readers.  For me, this was a painful learning experience. Fortunately, I found an excellent and very patient formatting company, BookNook.biz. Because I had not cleared my Word document of all icky formatting glitches, and Word is notorious for them, there were all sorts of issues with the electronic formatting that cost me more to fix than it would have if I’d cleared the Word document at the beginning. I didn’t know. I paid for my ignorance.  It won’t happen again.  Some writers know a lot about formatting or aren’t scared off by the conversion process. They will save some bucks by doing the conversion themselves.

Flanagan doesn’t go into the cost of ISBN numbers, registering your novel with the US Copyright Office, and marketing/promotion costs.  The last can cost you significantly more than producing the book, depending on what you want, of course.  I worked in advertising at one point in my life and know a bit about marketing.  The most important thing about marketing that you need to know is that unless you are famous or have an irresistible platform, it’s going to be very difficult making yourself heard in the cacophony of promotion at any given moment. In the US, at least 50,000 books are published every year. You’ll be competing with all of them for readers’ attention and hard-earned money. Adjust your expectations for sales accordingly.

With traditional publishing, the writer has no up front costs as with self or independent publishing. The writer also doesn’t have the control that she has as an independent publisher. Traditional publishers take over all the production, with some limited input from the writer about covers, titles, and then proofing galleys. They will also provide very limited marketing and promotion, but are honest with writers that they depend on them for the bulk of this work. It can take up to 2 years for a traditional publisher to publish your book.  If you do it yourself, it can be done in 3-6 months. Perceval’s Secret took 8 months because I slowed the editing and revision process at the beginning.

Photo: aliyasking.com

There is one important thing that traditional publishers (and literary agents) do that writers cannot really do on their own. That is: tell a writer if a book is in publishable shape or not. Even before I contracted to work with my last editor, I’d already been through several edits including a really close line edit. I knew that there would be no major changes or issues for that last edit. There was polishing, however, and that is an important process also. In the last few years, I’ve been asked to read self-published books on occasion. I love helping out a fellow writer, especially if a book is truly worth the attention my review might be able to get for it.  But in all cases, the books were in such terrible shape with grammar, language, sentence and paragraph construction, narrative structure, and in one case, checking facts,  I was shocked. How could a writer allow their work to be published like that? So I’d caution anyone thinking of going the self-publishing route to be absolutely certain that their writing is the best it can be, and do not depend on self-publishing services to provide competent editing for you.  Find your own professional editor.

As I mentioned at the top, I’m still paying off the debt I incurred for publishing Perceval’s Secret in digital form.  I’m coming up on the end of the promotional period on July 1 for the 0% interest rate from the credit card I transferred the debt to (it was originally on another credit card with high interest). I set up a GoFundMe project to raise the funds to pay off this debt, so if you’d like to help out, every $10 or $20 will be a big help. It’d be great if I could raise another $600 in the next couple weeks.  The GoFundMe page is here.  Thank you!  Or please buy Perceval’s Secret at Amazon or B&N, and leave a review there after you’ve read it.

Taking Perceval to the Next Step GoFundMe Page

A Brief Hiatus

At least, I hope it will be brief!

On Monday, I begin a new job.  It’s fulltime. And for the first three days, I’ll be at the headquarters office in another city for training. This past week I’ve been busy trying to get my life organized and finish up some things so I won’t feel that I have lots and lots hanging over my head during the next few weeks. I have several blog posts in the pipeline but need more time to finish them, and I’m running out of time this weekend.

Transitioning from part-time work to fulltime will involve a major adjustment, I’m certain, in all areas of my life. The schedule will be the first big adjustment. I expect to be especially tired for at least the first month. I have no idea at this point how much writing I’ll get done, but my plan is to write blog posts at a minimum and perhaps return to journal writing. Getting enough sleep and my health will be my first priority during this transition.

Generic Office Receptionist (Not me!)

The new job is far from writing or anything creative — I’ll be the firm’s front desk receptionist, work I was doing at the part-time gig and really enjoyed. Having a regular paycheck will be most helpful in getting me back on solid financial ground. It won’t be enough, especially before July, to pay off the debt from e-publishing Perceval’s Secret, so unless I win the lottery some time soon, the GoFundMe fundraising campaign will continue. I also have substantial personal debt that I’ll be paying off for a long time.

I will be reading a lot during this transition, however, and I’ve already gotten some ideas for how to solve various problems with short stories I have in draft form. In the meantime, please watch for my return, and please help by donating to Taking Perceval to the Next Level!

Update: Taking Perceval to the Next Level

After 27 days, my Taking Perceval to the Next Level fundraising campaign at GoFundMe has raised $530. I need another $8370 to meet my goal.

My deadline for paying off the debt is May 30. The $0 interest promotion ends shortly thereafter and I’ll be back to paying off interest as well as the principal.

I’d love nothing better than to put this baby to bed sooner rather than later. Not long after I launched this campaign, I received an e-mail that still haunts me, calling this campaign “online begging.” Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it’s an opportunity to be generous, to do something nice for someone who is in need, or to invest in a writer who’d really like to get Perceval’s Secret published as a paperback.  That won’t happen until I’ve paid off my debt.

Taking Perceval to the Next Step GoFundMe Page

Click HERE to donate!

At this blog, I have an Appreciation page where I’ll list everyone who has helped with donations. I’ve run a promotion with giveaways at Facebook, and I plan to run another one soon. I’ll let you know when the next Facebook promotion goes live.

In the meantime, please consider a small donation to this campaign. Every little bit helps!

Thank you!

C. C. Yager

Taking Perceval to the Next Level

230px-gofundme_logo_april_2012This past Monday, I launched a crowdsource funding campaign at GoFundMe to raise the money to finally, FINALLY, pay off the debt I’ve accumulated from the publication of Perceval’s Secret as an e-book. As part of this campaign, I’m also raising money to publish Perceval’s Secret as a paperback, and to pay the fee for a review for it by Kirkus Reviews.

Taking Perceval to the Next Step GoFundMe Page

Taking Perceval to the Next Level GoFundMe Page

My regular readers may remember that in the fall of 2013 I launched a crowdsource funding campaign at Kickstarter where their policy is not to pay out any of the funds raised unless you make your goal.  I raised over $3000 but did not make my goal and therefore did not receive any of the money I’d raised.  I published Perceval’s Secret in March 2014 and have received wonderful reviews at Amazon since. Sales have not been so wonderful.

But the debt never just went away, of course. I’ve been paying it off, a little every month, and as a result have depleted my bank account. I should have launched this campaign a long time ago, but it’s painful and embarrassing to ask for financial help.

I’ll promote this fundraising project for as long as it takes to raise at least what I need to pay off the debt. Please help me by promoting it to your friends and family as well.  There’s also other ideas to help, if you don’t want to donate money, at the project page.

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I’ll also be setting up a promotion on Facebook for this fundraising effort. Go to The Perceval Novels public page for the announcement!

And what will I be doing while this fundraising project is running?  I have a couple urgent writing projects, nonfiction, that I’ll be completing as I continue to work at my part-time job and search for a fulltime job. Fiction writing has landed on the back burner for the moment since dealing with paying for basic living expenses has taken priority.

Life has once again intervened to force me to set aside my fiction for a while. If, after perusing the GoFundMe project page for Taking Perceval to the Next Level you find it in your heart to help out with a donation, every little bit will help!

Thank you!

C. C. Yager

 

Establishing Priorities

Power of WordsThis is driving me crazy right now! How to establish priorities when several merit “first”?  I am left feeling exhausted. Nothing accomplished. The hamster wheel of frustration. It occurred to me, maybe others have had the same experience?  Here’s what I think I need to do:

Make a list: Commonsense, right? I am the kind of person who needs to write things down to get a handle on them. The problem is that I’ve been writing lists up the wazoo for the last 18 months and it hasn’t seemed to help. Or maybe I’m just looking at it wrong?  For example, I made a list of revenue-generating work tasks:  Yager Editing Services (my online freelance editing business), Part-time job, hospital volunteer? for networking, and Indiegogo crowdsource funding project.  What happened with this list? Well, I launched the website for the editing business and have been promoting it sporadically.  I need to promote the heck out of it, of course, and see if I can tap into my contacts to get referrals from them.  I have the part-time job. I decided against volunteer work of any kind, including writing for free (blogs are my only exceptions, and the Eyes on Life blog is in the Adsense program; wish more people would click those ads!).  The Indiegogo project has languished, mostly because I don’t want to make a video for it but I know the video would enhance the fundraising effort. This project is to pay off publication production debt I incurred for Perceval’s Secret. Paying it off has been truly killing my budget. An addition to this list: search for a fulltime job. Maybe with a fulltime job, my financial strain would ease.

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OK. I’ve been working on that list. I think what has been bothering me is that my writing (creative: fiction and nonfiction) has fallen to the bottom of my priorities list, as well as taking care of my health more. Generating revenue has been my first priority because I want to keep my apartment and eat.  The rest of my list includes in order: Marketing my writing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GoodReads, get book reviews, maybe blog tour? contests?), Selling my possessions (eBay, Facebook, Amazon), Writing new stuff (freelance essays for pay, short stories, work on memoir, revise Perceval’s Shadow, transform Over the Rainbow screenplay to novel). And I have been working on each item on these lists, getting book reviews for example, and starting to sell my possessions (what a time-consuming process to document everything for the IRS).

My mind lives in a jungle of ideas for writing. I want to spend all my time writing.  Missing from any list I’ve made are activities related to supporting good health (walking, energy exercises, meditation, having a social life, taking care of my home so it doesn’t make me sick).

When I’m not writing, i.e. being creative, for several hours each day, I start to feel like I’m sick. My body feels the imagination’s frustration. My imagination just wants to play. I recently hit on a couple ideas for future writing projects that harken back to my childhood. That was a surprise. How do I channel all of this mental energy into productivity?

My thinking the last few days has revolved around re-arranging my priorities. I need to put my writing and health as the first two and revenue generation third.  After all, how can I work effectively if I’m not happy or feeling well? I hate getting caught up in the rat race of making money. But I do need to work a job in order to pay my living expenses. It’s really the pits being a member of the Working Poor, and I know I’m not alone in thinking that.

Photo: Michael Nichols/National Geographic

Photo: Michael Nichols/National Geographic

I reassure myself that I am doing everything I can to move forward with my writing, to sell my writing, and to earn the money to pay my bills, given health challenges. I’ve even been creative at times in how I’ve approached a problem or in a situation’s resolution. But I must acknowledge that I’ve still been ignoring my imagination and her needs most of this year, and it’s time to make a change for her.

Anyone else dealing with this issue of establishing priorities?  How do you deal with it? How do you reassure yourself that it will all work out for the best?