Because a reader doesn’t invest $800+ into your art!
I saw this question in a writer’s group I am a part of. Along with the question, there was a long rant about how real authors don’t ask for advise on finding ‘free’ ways to get their book published. They are willing to spend anything to make their work amazing and get it out there. It’s an opinion I can understand; he or she has a point. If you won’t invest in your work, why do you expect others to?
However, this also uses the assumption than an author MUST invest a lot of money in their work. I would disagree. You don’t need to invest a lot of money to get amazing work. That is why I started this blog. I believe that anyone can make an amazing book and get it out there. It shouldn’t make you broke doing it. The truth is, you don’t need to invest that money into your work to make an amazing book or article.
J.K. Rowling is one of the best selling authors of all time. How much money did she put into her work? I can’t find a definite number, but I can assure you it wasn’t near $800+. Likely, from my research and experience, I’d guess she spent about $100-$500 on getting her book out there.
Yes, I am well aware that people would argue that the publishing company put a lot more into the books then she did, and she is not self-publish, but the same principle applies.You are the publisher when you are self-publish. That’s why it’s call self-publishing.
However, that being said, publishing houses have people on retainer who do editing and book art for them. Meaning to get just the Harry Potter books out there they maybe spent $200-$500 dollars, just on the Harry Potter books. Most of all as in England, because the pound is stronger than the dollar, so in pounds it was likely less. Mmmm… where did we see that number before? Oh yeah, how much J.K. Rowling likely put into her own writing.
So we can actually make a good book out there and not for as much as we often expect to spend.
You can spend a lot of money getting your book out there and perfect. If you can, and if you want to and can afford it, go for it. But let’s face it. Most authors don’t have that kind of money, and most of us are not going to see a return on that kind of investment. Most of us are closer to J.K. Rowling’s situation when she published the first Harry Potter book. We don’t have much.
Going back to the original question, if we aren’t willing to invest in our work, why should our readers? At the beginning, I gave a very exact answer. “Because a reader doesn’t invest $800+ into your art!” The truth is, our readers aren’t investing $800+ into our books. They pay the price of the book, so let’s say $10-$25. That is not that much, most of all if you compare it to the money we put into it.
So I agree with the premise of this question. If you aren’t willing to put $10-$25 into your art, why should the reader? They shouldn’t. If you aren’t willing to spend at least a little to get your book out there, I doubt it’s worth the time for a reader to invest it.
That being said though, we also don’t need to spend hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars in your work to have it noticed. This blog is all about finding cheep or free ways to help us do publish for as little as possible. Why is that a bad thing?
In most every post I make, I do make it clear that often – if not all of the time – a small amount of money is needed to do these things. Even in my last post, “7 Ways to Market Your Book for Free” I point out there are places and ways to spend money. In fact, to get more out of it, a little money will be needed. I do put a disclaimer on it.
This is a business world, money is needed to invest, but I feel strongly you’re work isn’t only as good as the money you put into it.
For a final example, I have a chart of books and their readability. Readability is made by using a mathematical formula. This gives us a number or percentage on how easy or hard it is to read the work. Readability has a bit to do with how well the book sells. If the story is clear and easy to understand, it sells better, because people enjoy it.
There is a pattern here. The ones in red are books that bought their way onto the best seller list. Notice their rating is really high ? That means it’s hard to read. That means without that extra help, the book wouldn’t sell and odds are the books aren’t very good. (Not that they are horrible, just odd are it is.)
What does this show? That even if you put millions of dollars into your book, doesn’t mean it’s a good book. It may sell better, but that’s like paying people to buy your homemade cookies. You don’t really make money, and if you have to pay them to buy it, clearly they aren’t good cookies.
So maybe it ‘sells’ better, but it won’t make your more money. I will just make your pockets empty and boost your ego for a month or two.
So should we invest in our books? Yes. If we want others to invest some money into it, we have to invest some ourselves. But we don’t have to sell the farm to pay for it. We don’t need to spend $800+, which is what the writer who posted this question paid for their book.
Will it help? Maybe, but it is not necessary. There are better ways, and on this blog I try to help you find them. I think our books deserve to be on the shelves with everyone else’s. There they can be put to the test of their real quality. I believe we shouldn’t become starving artists to do it.
There are lots of people who make money off our hopes and dreams by charging more than they need to. I’ve seen cover artists (who aren’t that good) charging double or triple more than what the work is worth, but authors are paying it! Because they feel they ‘have’ to or the more money they put in the better. This can be true, but not always.
I’d give examples, but this blog is full of them. Take a look. Many authors are able to get their best work into the world and pay only a few hundred for it. So don’t spend more than you can afford just because the more you invest the more others will invest. It’s not true.
Spend what you want to and can afford. If you can’t afford it and need to find other ways, please subscribe to the blog, subscribe to our e-mail list, (Subscribe) get these tips, so your work can be amazing, and you can have food on the table.
You invested your time into the book, if nothing else. So don’t think you MUST invest a lot of money to sell. You did invest in your book. You took hours upon hours to write it and edit it. If that investment is done enough and well, your readers will invest too.
PLEASE! Don’t spend an arm and a leg because that’s the only way to be a ‘real’ writer. Spend what you want, spend what you can, and know that doing your very best with what little or a lot you have, makes the best work.
Disclaimer: I did not calculate the marketing cost for the Harry Potter books for two reasons. 1. It depends on the country. The American publisher spent a different amount than the English company did. 2. With the movies that came out, the price changes even more. So unless your book turns into a book, the prices wouldn’t equal the type of work we are discussing. 3. I’m talking about money JUST to get your book published. Marketing is a whole different ballgame when it comes to marketing.