After 4 years of struggling as an author, I’m spending the next two days writing a short primer for beginning writers. Most of us who write won’t make money from our work, but there are plenty of “experts” who will attempt to make money from our aspirations. They’ll be happy to sell us books, tape, seminars, tutorials, conferences on how to publish and sell our creations, none of which are guaranteed to bring us a single reader. Ironically, the 3 experts a writer needs are often considered extravagances. They aren’t. Allow me to introduce you:
1. A good book editor. Most people ask their friends to read, make comments and otherwise edit their books. Bad idea. Even a person with a PhD. in English may not be competent to tell you how to grab and hold a reader’s interest. Find an editor who has publishing experience. If you don’t know one, ask the local writers’ association in your area. They can help. Average cost for an editor is about $3.00 per page. There are good ones and poor ones so look for long resumes and a list of satisfied customers.
2. Book cover artist and designer. Good book covers sell books. Main stream presses provide them. Indie presses sometimes give you an option to provide your own. If you’re self-publishing that expense is baked into your costs. Plan to spend $300 for a decent cover, including cover design, font, and print layout. One caveat: because the market is moving into the electronic world for purchases as well as publishing, keep the design simple. What most buyers are going to see is a postage size image on an electronic screen.
3. A journalist to develop a PR packet. This packet doesn’t have to be a huge cost. The world is awash with unemployed journalists so find someone who knows “media speak” and can assemble your bio and promotion materials in an electronic format that won’t get the information deleted in the first 5 seconds of being viewed. Consider paying about $35 per hour. A finished piece should be doable in a few hours.
Marketing is the new name of the game in publishing. The three experts listed above are critical. A fast paced plot will perish without good editing. Once a reader decides your presentation is amateurish, that reader is lost forever. A poor book cover might as well be a “plague” sign hung upon your masterpiece. And failing to package your promotional materials in a way that gets favorable attention is like going to a ball wearing a bib. I know what I’m talking about. If mistakes were money, Bill Gates would be the second richest person in America and I’d be the first.
(Courtesy of freeleaners.wordpress.com)