Friday, January 11, 2013

Do It Yourself



I’m beginning to hate those words.

“Oh, you’re self publishing! That is so great! You can do it all yourself and…”

Right there my brain starts to mount opposition. In so many ways I am a mountain of self confidence. In other ways, I’m Death Valley. And when it comes to doing it myself…I want to climb the mountain, but it’s a long way from the lowest elevation on earth.

Covers.

Oh, yeah, hundreds of people out there to get help from. Or do it myself! Just need a few hundred dollars for the digital software… And then there is all the different specs to be met by all the different platforms and the different files they want. Not to mention what is good and what isn’t.

I created a cover I liked, but I know it needs the professional tweaking. The high res stuff and the other artistic techno babble I know just enough about to be frightened about… But I thought it worth while to check out other options. Got one. Eh. Like mine better. But…is it better?

I. Don’t.  Have. A. Clue

ISBNs

One group says you need one for every platform. Another says, no, you only need two per title. Have you  ever priced these little f*ckers? I have 30 books in this series…

Formatting/Uploading/Tracking Sales

Oh, yeah. Like I’m up for all of this. I can pay someone to format for me. And I’m paying a copyeditor to look through it. But I’m gonna have to bite the bullet and upload. I’m thinking of paying someone to sit next to me and hold my hand at this point.

As for tracking sales? *SHUDDER

I really need to take a class on spreadsheets. I know if everyone has a different isbn, it will be easy to track sales, but come on! Who am I kidding! I’ll be lucky to keep track of sales per title, let alone per platform.

Marketing/Promotion

This is me, running away.
 

Doing it yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And though I am determined to do this, I am really up to my eyeballs in babble about all of it. And terrified to the point of being frozen. What if I do it wrong?

Yeah, yeah…I know. I’ll survive.

But I imagine it’s a lot like sewing. That first dress…that first whatever is scary. Know just enough about all the terms and ideas behind it that there is just enough self-confidence to think it’s all possible. And it is, if you have the patience, the time, the room to learn.

I’m honestly not sure I have any of that.

It’s a question of what I can pay for…to take all the idiotic set up stress out of things. I’m about ready to contact Createspace about the print edition of The Pirate Circus, which Decadent released to me, and paying them to do it. I downloaded the template, I tried! It isn’t gelling! Do I wait, and stress about it? Do I stand in front of those oncoming headlights and freeze? Or do I just shell out the cash and get it done?

Sigh.

I know there is pride in doing it yourself. But honestly, I’m dying here.

What about you? How far do you go in the self-reliance thing when it comes to doing it yourself? How far will you go so you can claim it was all yours, from start to finish?

18 comments:

Barbara Sheridan said...

Provided the fee is affordable to you, I'd opt for letting one who does it all the time handle the formatting and other technical end of things.

Marnee Bailey said...

I truly believe a lot of this depends on the person. I'd pick the aspects here that you feel are your strengths and pay someone to do the things that you feel are your weakest.

I think a lot of times I think of these things in terms of my hourly wage. Is it worth me using the time to do it myself? Will the outcome of my efforts be as good as what I'd spend someone else to create? And do I have enough money to pay someone else to do it?

I think these answers are different for everyone. If it means having to learn new programs and stuff to do some of this stuff and you're not comfortable with that, then I'd imagine you'd pay more to have someone manage those parts. Ya know?

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Totally agree with Marnee.

Each part of the process is different for each writer. Some might be more inclined to the art and other more so for the layout.

I do think having other options and opinions on cover art can never be a good thing - it's still you making the final choice.

As someone whose professional job used to be selecting covers for books, I do think you should make sure to think of what would appeal to your ideal reader. They don't know the story - not like you do. So don't assume they'll understand a cover the way you would either.

Honestly, our testing on covers time and time again proved the cover being eye-catching, interesting and appealing to the right audience was way more important than it actually "showing" what the exact story was.

My last tidbit of info - remember what you are good at. Just because you are doing self-pub doesn't mean it has to be DIY everything. Pick and choose your strengths. Don't rush to pay someone else either - sometimes you have friends who might help too or other authors who can give great advice. :)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Oh - BTW I have a friend who did self-pub and got an awesome cover...I'll ask her how she went about the process and share with you!

MsHellion said...

I'm all about a great pattern. I'm not just whipping something out of air. If I wanted to bind copies of my own books from my own printer and sell them on the street, I would, but it's not the kind of book I want. So I'd try to find something that was as close to my dream book without breaking me entirely.

And I agree with Marn and Sabrina...do what you're good at, finance the things you aren't...

Cracking up at the promotion thing. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Yeah, Barb, that's why I am paying someone to format for me...it's all the other stuff that has me spinning like a top!

Maureen said...

Marn - I tell my husband that all the time! That your time is worth more than the struggle to learn something new when you could pay someone to do for you.

I think I'm getting caught up in the do-it-yourself shame game...

Maureen said...

Thanks, Sabrina! The cover stuff is driving me a bit crazy. You saw the tests I'm doing. And I'm in a total twist about it. I'm paranoid about putting a cover on that won't deliver...sigh.

Maureen said...

Hels, yeah, some things I can do from scratch or near scratch and feel pretty confident that they are good enough...

And oh yeah, my fear of promoting and marketing at this point is legion...

Terri Osburn said...

Sorry I'm late. This morning totally got away from me. Pretty sure the first lesson in any course called "Self-publishing for the Timid" would be "You can't be timid." LOL! The truth is, you have to have brass balls to self-pub.

No idea where you buy a set of those though.

The advice above is sound. Pay someone to do the technical stuff. That includes uploading. I know I've sent you links for people who offer this service for a nominal fee. (Meaning: not breaking the bank.)

But that's the other thing. You need to set a budget. This is a gamble as much as sitting down at a slot machine. How much are you willing to put in? Set your number and then you just have to work around that, doing what you have to do to stay in that budget.

Don't look at me on the marketing/promo stuff. I'm still lost on that one. Though I've been collecting emails and page links for tips to review when the time comes. And the time is coming up quick!

Maureen said...

I was thinking a budget might be the thing to set.

Timid? Yeah, I suppose that is true. I know once the first is out there, the second will be easier and on and on...

Terri Osburn said...

You're going to have to stare this freezing fear in the eye and push through. That's the only way you're going to make it happen. That doesn't mean you don't ask for help. Send emails far and wide to get help, but you have to put something into action.

I weighed in on the cover and you didn't like my answer. LOL! Which is fine. So ask ten more people. Why not?

Maureen said...

I've been asking around... I think I need to work on a third option because I can't stand the one you liked, but I'm hearing and understanding the objections to the one I like! I may spend Saturday night looking at photos and opening up to new ideas...

Terri Osburn said...

By all means, nothing says you have to take the first idea. That's why it's called a mock up. If it takes 10 versions until you get what you want, then that's what it takes.

quantum said...

Maureen, as you are thinking of self-publishing more than 30 books I think that it is well worth the hassle of learning the DIY approach.

You only have to do it once to establish the procedure. It then becomes a production line with no profit going to the middle men. So you will make much more money and can set the price yourself.

I don't think covers are that critical for e-books as long as the title is attractively catchy. You could even copy the early penguin covers and not have fancy images, just a particular colour for each series and a Title. I liked those early penguins. LOL

There is a large community of Indie writers now, and I'm sure some must have posted detailed guides to publishing on Amazon and elsewhere. Your pirate colleague Donna Cummings has done it well and could surely help for an appropriate incentive!

Don't pay someone to do it for you, Get someone to teach you how to do it using incentives if necessary!

Lexi Revellian in London has blogged extensively on the subject of self-pubbing and at one time had a detailed description of the DIY process on her web site. You could check with her to see if it's still available. I'm sure she would be happy to give guidance if you contact her (mention me as I'm an avid beta reader of her books and often comment on her blog *grin*)

Wish I could help, but I haven't delved into detail on this.
Still, to see Miranda orbiting the globe has to be worth a major DIY effort.

Don't give up Maureen. Anyone who can write 30 novels and create characters like Miranda can do anything with books. Just stay positive and focus on one step at a time.

Good Luck *smile*

Maureen said...

Love you, Q! I know I can but the trick is how much do I want to do. I may start with a lot of paid help and then gradually use less and less...

I'll check out Lexi Revellian! Thanks!

P. Kirby said...

First, based solely on what you've said here, on FB, and in emails, I don't get the impression you are that techy. I am an uber nerd, so I'd eat the formatting, etc., up for breakfast.

But as everyone else has said, play to your strengths. If the nuts and bolts of different formats, spreadsheets, etc., boggle, get help. (Terri said she has some folks who can help you. I also have a buddy in fan fic land who is doing ebook formatting.) Otherwise, you're probably just wasting valuable creative energy.

Personally, because I've been drawn to books many times by covers, I think it's up there with good editing for a book. As in extremely important. For an ebook, it doesn't have to be flashy, but it needs to catch the eye, especially at thumbnail size.

Even though I have a strong background in graphic design, access to Photoshop, etc., I think I'd nevertheless hire a pro for this step.
I'd do this for the same reason, I'd hire someone to do the editing. (And I'm technically an editor.) I'm too close to the project. I think it would be worth every penny EVEN IF, my first few books lost some money in the process.

Also, I thought you could buy like 10 ISBNs for around $200. As I understand it, they are cheaper in bulk. Never heard of the "different ISBN for different sites" thing though. Both my books seem to have the same ISBN at B&N, Amazon, etc. ????

Maureen said...

It really is confusing, the isbn thing. And the cover! Argh!