Indie Life 01-08-14

It’s time for another edition of Indie Life, hosted by The Indelibles. You can sign up by clicking the graphic!IndieLife7

There are so many benefits to going indie but the truth is there’s also a lot of responsibility. To yourself, to readers. We’re not just writers but we’re business owners and as important as it is to put out a well-written book it’s just as important to put out a sophisticated and attractive product. Which is why cover design is such a big source of contention within self-publishing. And despite all we know about reader expectations there are still people out there attempting to make their own with no knowledge of or experience in graphic design. Indie is short for independent but let’s not push it. There are still things we must and should pay for which is why among talent and drive and all of the other requirements for self-publishing there is also money. It’s unfortunate but it’s true. You shouldn’t self-publish unless you can afford it. Which brings me to today’s gripe about being an indie author:the cost. And not in the emotional and intellectual sense but in the literal sense. Self-publishing is expensive.

I haven’t published anything new since September of last year and while I was planning on publishing something in early spring, I’m just not sure if that’s going to be possible. See, I’ve spent the past nine months working on my first series. The first book is pretty much finished, the second is embarking on its third draft, and I’m slowly working my way through the first draft of the third. I had a plan–to finish all three by mid-2014 and then publish them over the spring/summer months in conjunction with my first attempt at a professionally hosted blog tour. Something that would add another $150 to my overall costs. Something I could realistically afford until last week.

But then things changed, I had some unexpected expenses, and now I can barely afford my beloved kettle corn! And I’m angry–at the world for being so unfair and at myself for being in this position–but more than that I’m just really disappointed. Because this is one of those times when I’m not only faced with the reality of my choice to go indie but almost on the verge of kind of, sort of regretting it. Not really though. I don’t regret a thing I’ve done in the past year. But am I upset about potentially having to push back my release dates just because I can’t afford it? Absolutely. But the real reason I can’t afford it right now has more to do with the fact that I’m adamant about doing things the right way rather than the easy way and at least that’s something to be proud of.

And I will do this the right way. Even if that means waiting. Even if that means eating rice cakes for dinner every night for the next month. Even if that means realizing that even though I’m the one in control, that I still can’t control everything.

Fellow Indies, how do you manage costs, especially unexpected ones? And what’s your trick to planning a book tour on a budget?

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12 thoughts on “Indie Life 01-08-14

  1. Kate Sparkes says:

    My big expense coming up is editing. It’s expensive (I’m having everything from content editing to proofreading done), but I’m looking it as an educational expense and an investment in myself rather than a business expense, because there’s almost no chance of me earning that money back on the first book. Or the second, for that matter. I know how lucky I am that I’ll be able to pay for it from our tax refund. Otherwise, couldn’t afford it at all.

    It’s interesting to see what different authors choose to spend money on. Some will spend $500 on a cover but won’t pay for proofreading, others will hire editors but not do paid promotions. However you do it, it can get expensive.

    • In a previous post I discussed how far in the “red” I am after putting out three books last year. I’ve always tried to adopt the same mentality you have about every expense being an investment in myself and therefore being not only mandatory but worth it. It’s getting harder to hold onto that perspective though when even after three books I still haven’t managed to recoup what I’ve spent. And what’s worse is that I know that if I wasn’t struggling financially, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the money. But because I am, that anxiety is starting to seep into other parts of my life, causing doubts where there were none before. I guess it’s just time to exercise that other indie virtue–patience. I just hope things can come together eventually.

      • Kate Sparkes says:

        I hope so, too!

        Without a financial miracle, I won’t be able to invest as much money in later books as I am in the first one– that’s part of why I’m hoping it will be an education for me. I can’t afford to go any more into the red than I’ve got planned now. If only there were guarantees. :/

        • I know what you mean! But at this point, luck is really the only thing that can help us conquer obscurity. Here’s to hoping 2014 is our lucky year!

          • Kate Sparkes says:

            Lucky high fives!

            I’m reading about people who put out books every five weeks and make full-time incomes. I shouldn’t read that stuff when I can’t operate like that. I’d be happy to break even…

            • Tell me about it. Whenever I hear authors complaining about only selling one copy of their book a day I feel like someone just punched me in the gut. I’d love to be in that position. I’m attempting a rather ridiculous release schedule this year myself actually but I could never actually write/edit/re-write an entire novel in just five weeks. It takes me on average 8 months from start to finish. I’ve just been holding onto things since last spring in an attempt to gain some more momentum this year, hence why I was planning a few massive blog tours.

  2. Aubrey Cann says:

    Thanks for this post, Laekan. I appreciate your honesty about the difficulties of self publishing. When people find out I write novels (particularly my mom’s friends, for some reason), they all say “Why not self publish?” as though it’s the easiest thing in the world. I don’t think most people (even some people who self publish!) understand that self publishing is not the “easy” way. It’s not some backdoor to publishing success that only means you don’t have to split profits with a publisher. I get so annoyed when people suggest it to me as though I’ve never heard of it before. I’ve made a conscious decision to pursue traditional publishing (though I’m just now realizing what a small percentage of profits the author gets. Boohiss).

    I’ll be crossing my fingers that you get a jump in book sales this year. I don’t know what the answer is to make that happen except to keep writing and keep publishing. Good luck!

    • Thanks Aubrey! You’re right, there are a lot of misconceptions about self-publishing out there but what people who’ve actually gone through the process of writing an entire book eventually realize is that there is no one size fits all method. Not when it comes to writing and not when it comes to publishing. The industry has evolved and even though we now have more choices than ever before none of them are in any way easier than the others. Self-publishing and traditional publishing both have their own unique sets of challenges and that’s what you’re really choosing between when you choose to go indie or not. Even though it’s been a hard couple of months I still stand by my decision and I think it’s courageous of you to do the same. These are our dreams after all and you can’t just abandon a dream.

  3. A good decision you’ve made to take your time and do it right. In the long run it will pay off.

    • That’s what I’m hoping and it’s actually this very thought that’s allowed me to be so patient. I know that when I finally find my audience (or should I say when they find me) that they won’t discover an insanely long backlist of mediocre books but a thoughtful collection of the best stories I’ve ever written.

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