Saturday, October 27, 2012

How much do you care about Quality in the Fiction you Read?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about quality books in today’s market. I read eBooks here and there and the variety of writing is truly all over the map.

Some Authors have taken their time to write a compelling story, edit that story several times (perhaps even send their MS to a professional), and release it with no fear because it stands out as a wonderful piece of fiction writing.

I try to release work like that and have spent the past three months sweating and bleeding over my computer daily to get my manuscript pulled into shape. It is very important to me that I release a well-crafted story with no plot holes and as few grammar/spelling issues as possible.

My three months seemed like years due to the hours invested. But I felt the time I spent was required in order to put out a well written novella.

So don’t mind me if I cringe a little bit when I come across things like this:

I'm in the market for an editor for my self published [books]. They are sci-fi/fantasy, and I've been publishing about one a month (I have a day job. I do not have a life)

[...]They would be relatively short, about 25-30K per book, but there would be one of them a month. I'd be especially interested in a long term relationship with an editor.

Sorry but did you just say you can complete a 30,000 word document and edit it to the best of your own ability, with a day job, in only one month?

I don’t know this Author, I don’t read or write their genre. I'll also never be in direct competition with this person for sales of books.

But regardless that we’d never be in each other’s ‘You might also like…’ lists, we are in competition.

We’re both Indie Authors. We both self-publish our work. We both want to sell as much of that work as possible so we can pay our bills and put socks on our feet by the time winter rolls around.

And the truth of the matter is that unless you have product out there to peddle, you aren’t selling much. I think a two book a year schedule could be insane if under the right circumstances.

I cannot compete with a twelve book a year Author. Nor will I even try.

If I were to try to pump out 360,000 words in a single year, then format all those words into separate titles, not only would I lose my damn mind but I’d be broke!

Rough & dirty math

For an Indie author publishing 12 books a year it's not just the time to produce. The costs can get prohibitive as well.

Ten ISBNs from Bowker are $250, additional will be sold at $125 each. You’re up to $500 already.

Maybe you sell eBook only so the upfront cost to produce is low (no barcodes required and you can upload for free in some cases).

But if you’re concerned with protecting yourself and your intellectual property you should at least ship the manuscript off to the Library of Congress for copyright protection.

At $35 a pop that’s $420 total.

Then let’s consider virtual tours as a way to promote your work. Each one could run about $100 on average. Maybe there's a discount for that many a year but let's suppose there isn't.

You’re at $2120 and you haven’t even hired the requested editor.

And that's where authors should be spending the bulk of their production cost because a well edited book is gold. Even a 150 page novella should run in the neighborhood of $1/page. At $150 per novella that adds $1800 a year.

Before you've even started thinking about advertising or advanced marketing your annual cost is already close to $4000.

If you're lucky and/or independently wealthy maybe you can afford to hire a PR firm or Social Media Marketing Manager but most of that stuff is going to be done by the author.

So here's my question

If that person is marketing and promoting each book, plus working a day job too, where do they find the time to actually write anything?

Or maybe the better question is:

Can you honestly say you produce books that add value?

Twelve well-written manuscripts complete, edited, and released each year?

Perhaps I sound snarky with my obvious disdain for this person’s attempt at flooding the market and that’s because I am.

I just can't wrap my head around being able to get that much work out no matter how well you know your characters or how formulaic your stories may be.

There are indie authors out here in the trenches, people trying to write books and stories that the general public can enjoy. Those of us trying to do it the old way - with well developed stories and characters - suffer in ranking because we have fewer titles.

Perhaps even better written stories but far less to sell means far less eyes on what we sell.

But you know what? I feel accomplished knowing full well that I worked hard for my product. That I put in the time and effort needed to create a quality piece of fiction.

Because I don’t need to win a Pulitzer for my work but you can be damn sure I’m going to be proud of the books I release.

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1 comment:

lettersfromlaunna said...

I agree with you Jenn, quality is so much better then quantity... I cannot believe someone could write 12 quality books per year and I don't even write.