27 January 2012

Stop Hitting Yourself

This past week has been an epic failure for my writing. I've written. . .get ready for it. . .6,000words. Tragic I know, especially when I should be pounding out roughly 1,500-3,000 per day. Damn you work and the need to make money! Damn you Project Management masters degree!

Seriously, though, writing isn't a career for me (yet) and so finding time to write in life is difficult. I'm not complaining, just stating fact. I find ways to write (. . .not at work, of course. . .if my boss is reading this). I mute the TV and bang out a few dozen words at a commercial break. I become a hermit and lock myself in my room for an hour. But word count does suffer due to other activities.
I wil work on this.

So this week's blog? More lessons learned from my adventure self publishing. It's ADVENTURE TIME! (Algebraic!)

Don't Be a (Book)Baby!
BookBaby.com was my leap into self-publishing. I thought, "What a great service! For just $99 I can get my book published as an eBook to Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple! Gee golly!" And so I skipped along, my cheeks rosey, and handed BookBaby $99. . .to do what I can now do for FREE!

I'm really kicking myself in the ass on this one. It's not that they're a bad service, per se. They're not. The BookBaby team has been amazingly helpful along the way. My questions are answered in 24hours or less. They have an amazing site. They pay me the moment I hit my payment cut-off. But it's still $99 (or more) for things I CAN DO FOR FREE!

That's a huge lesson here. If you don't have to spend gobs of money on it, don't. If you can spend a fraction of the price using a service like e-junkie to distribute your books in PDF format, DO IT! That, and Amazon has the Kindle Direct Program, Barnes and Noble has the PubIt program, Apple has the iBook Author App. It's all FREE. Okay, yes, they do take a royalty from the purchase. But there is no upfront cost that hurts your wallet. That's the important bit.

Now, BookBaby has sweetend the deal by allowing people to publish to Kobo and Copia, and they have their new print service (I honestly don't know enough their print service to opine on it, so I won't). But CreateSpace has a pretty good deal for authors (have you seen Der Sternvolker on the Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million websites?). And watch, both Kobo and Copia may start offering services much like Amazon and B&N.

Now, if you so choose to use BookBaby, more power to you. They'll treat you right.
...but it's still $99+.

Pimp Yourself
Wait, no, don't pimp yourself. You're not a word whore! Or maybe you are.
What I mean to say is market yourself. And it can be done on the cheap! Facebook ads and Google AdWords are great advertising tools for very cheap. Bids for your advertisement to pop up can be as low as 5cents ($0.05). Budgets vary, but you can execute a very effective marketing strategy with these tools on the cheap.

But what's FREE?
A Facebook page for you as an author/your site. That's free. And getting your friends and family to 'Like' it is free. Because then other people see their 'Like', look at your page, and they 'Like' it. That is also free.
Creating a Sell Page for your print novel(s) to hand out to local book/comic stores with Microsoft Publisher/Scribus and Adobe Acrobat? This is free (Scribus is very free to download and use).
A Twitter account is free. Everyone has the Twitters! Follow other authors, publishers, agents, and stuff you like. I follow Woodchuck Cider on Twitter (I could use like ten Woodchuck Ciders right now).
A Blog account is free.
A YouTube account is free (although a digital camcorder isn't free, unless built into your computer). Microsoft Movie Maker is free. And there's a ton of stock music and images that are free online. You can make your own free advertisements!
Another great FREE thing: going up and talking to people about your stuff. Though comic/sci-fi/fantasy conventions aren't free, they aren't terribly expensive. Just stay local (ComicCon is definitely not free in any way shape or form...but if you can go, do so and network your little heart out). Book clubs are free. Business cards aren't free, but VistaPrint is $10 for 500 very nice, professional looking business cards. It's not free, but it ain't bad, either.

There are plenty of ways to market yourself for free, or for very little money.

Do Maths
I didn't do maths. That was bad. Want to see my cost v. profits so far?

Item                                         $
BookBaby service                   -$99.00
E-Book Profits                          $62.50
CreateSpace service                -$52.00
Book Profits                              $22.29
E-Junkie Subscription (to date) -$20.00
Total                                       -$86.91

That's bad. The red lettering and negative signs prove it.
If I were a multi-million dollar business I would not be too big to fail and my corporate empire would topple like a house of cards (Noooo!).
So do your maths. Make sure you can make a profit before you spend oodles of money. Then you won't be playing the catch up game (like me. . .shut up).

My action plan?
1) Stop spending money where I don't need to. Der Sternvolker will remain with BookBaby. I've already shelled out that money. But in the future I'm goin the free way. CreateSpace should be my only charges since there is no way to get a print service to print books for free. But I'll make sure there are profits to back that up.
2) Market like a boss without spending all the cash.
3) Write, write, write summore. . .to make more money (but mostly because I like writing. . .and money).

Self-Editing, or: How to Stop Worrying and Love Hitting Yourself
Self-editing is crucial to a good final draft/book. A lot of people are adverse to this. It forces them to analyze their work and admit it's bad. They're forced out of their comfort zones. They have to criticize themselves and improve. We, as human beings, are adverse to such stressors.

We must overcome that adversity and self-edit. Finished something? Drop it for 1-4weeks, then go back and look at it like it's not yours. Then DESTROY IT! Look at the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Balk at the horrible dialogue and terrible word choice! Force yourself to change everything to "said" and "asked" ("Oh no!" he ejaculated).
Wash, rinse, repeat self-editing process.

I would recommend doing this at least 5 times. Five. Fuenf. Sanqe. Cinco.

And then give it to someone else to ravage. A new set of eyes can make all the difference. Maybe they see something that you didn't because your eyes are bloodshot from staring at a screen for endless hours trying to turn your
crap into a diamond. Just make sure it's someone compitent. Run has been given to the wife of a friend of mine who has a degree in english and such. More to follow on that.

That's all for now folks. I'll be out of town and returning Sunday night, so have a good weekend.

"So remember, if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."
- Red Green

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