Editing Costs

From a post by Alan Rinzler, veteran editor:

[A]uthors are discovering that agents and publishers now insist on a polished manuscript that’s ready for production, and won’t accept a draft that still needs work. And since most big-company acquisition editors don’t edit these days, that leaves the author without any (developmental) editor at all, whether going the traditional route or self-publishing.

via The Book Deal: A Publishing Blog for Writers and Book People.


One of the disadvantages of taking the self-publishing route is that authors will incur significant up-front costs. Developmental editing is a must, and it is probably the largest single cost you will incur. If Alan’s observation holds true across the board, the cost differential between self-publishing and traditional publishing becomes dramatically smaller – and that weakens the economic argument for taking the traditional publishing route.


There’s an excellent post by Kris Rusch – Writers Will Work For Cheap. It addresses issues in both the traditional and self-publishing sectors. An excerpt from the SP section:

So, you indie writers who’ve self published, you’re feeling pretty smug right now, aren’t you? You’ve read this post, you’re thinking, I’m glad I didn’t walk down that road.

And yet, how many of you have novels selling for 99 cents? How many of you have all of your novels priced at 99 cents? How many of you have a novel up for free somewhere, even though you’ve published fewer than ten novels? How many of you have nothing priced over $1.99? $2.99?

How many of you fled all of the other e-publishing platforms so that you could be in the Kindle Select program, just because they give you five days when you can market your book for free?

In some ways, you guys are much worse than the traditional writers. You have no vision and no understanding of business. Most of you are running around the internet, promoting your one novel, following some kind of crazy Get Rich Quick scheme. According to Michael Cader’s figures, only 20 self-published ebook authors made the bestseller lists in 2011. Only 20, out of the hundreds of thousands published.

You’re gambling on a wave that won’t ever reach you, wasting all your energy on one or two or three books rather than doing the one thing that will guarantee you more readers: Writing (and publishing) the next book.

Most books—whether traditionally published or not—never ever ever even sniff at a bestseller list of any kind. To pursue that as your goal is like trying to win the lottery. You’re better off writing the next book, getting a lot of books out there and making money on all of those books over time.

But you guys are typical writers, looking at the business upside down, and as a result, selling yourself short.

It’s as if writers stand on a street corner with a sign in front of them. That sign doesn’t even say Will Write For Food. It says Will Write For Acclaim. Whatever that means. To some writers…  it means hitting some kind of bestseller list. To others, it means getting 5-star Amazon reviews.

Writing is a business. You should be building a career, working on a profession, and building your brand. You should have a long-term view, not a short-term one.

via The Business Rusch: Writers: Will Work For Cheap | Kristine Kathryn Rusch.


SP pricing makes little sense to me. Lower than trad – yes. SP authors don’t have the overheads. But current levels are economically unsustainable in the long term, and I suspect that most SP authors will have very short careers if these levels continue.


What’s your view?

SP Stats

X books were traditionally published in 2011 – and X times 200(?) were self-published. I read the numbers recently but can’t recall where. The point is that self-published works exceeded traditionally published works by a huge factor – factor, not percentage.

The slush pile is moving to self-publishing. Unfortunately, what that means is this:

  1. The crazies are self-publishing. “God told me to publish” worked for Moses, doesn’t cut ice today. They are out there.
  2. Bad books will be self-published. It’s one thing to be self-confident in your writing skills, and another to be blind to your own limitations. Some writers believe that their masterpieces only need a wee bit of tweaking. The truth is otherwise.
  3. Average books will be self-published. Please use a professional editor. There are no free lunches. You have to be brutally honest with yourself. If your book isn’t selling, it may not be because of poor visibility or [insert excuse] – it may simply be that it isn’t good enough. Write another.
  4. Good books will be self-published. Unfortunately, many (from the limited sample I’ve seen) will contain typos, be poorly formatted and the cover art sucks. “Traditionally published books contain typos, yadeyade,” is NO EXCUSE. You chose to self-publish. It’s your responsibility. If you can’t be arsed to pay attention to detail, I ain’t interested, mate.
  5. Excellent books will be self-published and they will fail because shit happens.
  6. Some average to excellent books will succeed, but the percentage is likely to be much lower than the 10% seen in the traditional publishing sector.

Bottom line: Self-publishing is not a get rich quick scheme. It is an exciting new alternative open to any author, but you need to view it as a business – and take full responsibility for every aspect.

Publishing Stats

90% of traditionally published books fail to earn out their advance, and the average advance is $6000. Now a lot of figures about the published industry are bandied about, so I’m not sure how much credence to give either of the numbers I mentioned. However, assuming they’re roughly accurate, and assuming they apply to works of fiction (my interest), then that doesn’t inspire much confidence in either agents or publishers.

If the ‘gatekeepers’ only get it right one time in ten, that tells me they don’t understand readers. And perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider that publishers are at least one step away in the supply chain from readers. I’m trying hard to think of any industry that makes a loss on 90% of its products – and survives.

What are your views? Are the numbers I mentioned in the right ballpark?


Like it or not, self-publishing is here to stay. Just a few years ago it was an expensive vanity to self-publish. Today it is a valid alternative to traditional publishing, and authors owe it to themselves to understand the ins and outs of this nascent industry in order to make informed choices. Google self-publishing and you’ll find a myriad of sites offering advice. And, as ever, some will be extremely informative and some will be misleading, less than useless. I’ve done a fair amount of research, and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. Still, these are the blogs that I have found to be the most useful, and I hope you do too:

The Passive Voice
Passive Guy is a lawyer, but his blog covers writing, publishing, contracts and disruptive innovation. He posts daily and provides a lot of links to useful posts, along with his own dry comments. I spent hours reading his archives, and I’m glad I did.

David Gaughran
David is the Irish self-published author of works of fiction and Let’s Get Digital – a must-read. His blog posts are thoughtful and well worth reading.

Kris Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning writer. She has a foot in each camp – self-publishing and traditional publishing. Her Business Rusch posts are excellent.

Dean Wesley Smith
A best selling author, Dean has also been an editor and a publisher. Look at his blog and you’ll see pages entitled ‘Think Like a Publisher’, ‘Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing’, and ‘New World of Publishing’. He posts regularly, is often quite sharp, is always insightful.

Joe Konrath
Joe is a strong advocate of self-publishing. His blog is a must to follow. His language is OTT at times, but go past that and you’ll find lots of keen observations and advice.

There are more blogs that are worth following, but those five will give you a good insight into self-publishing. Just bear in mind that, with the exception of Davud Gaughran, all those bloggers are American, so some of their advice/observations will not apply to Europe (where I’m based) or the rest of the world. That said, self-publishing knows no geographical boundaries. So far, Amazon is dictating the pace of change, and their primary market is the USA. They are gradually rolling things out across the globe, so we can expect the experiences of self-published authors in the USA to be closely replicated everywhere else.

What are your experiences of and observations on self-publishing? Are there any other blogs out there that you would recommend? If you’re not based in the USA, do you feel that self-publishing will take the same course or a different one in your country?

2012 Goals

Happy New Year! May this year bring you health and happiness.

It’s the time of year when people make all sorts of resolutions – and promptly forget them.

So I’m going to keep it simple and set myself a few key writing goals.

Words per day
My current writing speed is around 1,000 per day. That’s nowhere near enough to achieve my goals, so my stretch target is to increase that to 5,000 per day by the end of the year. Yes, yes, I know – quality v quantity. Let’s see if both can be done. There’s a great post by Rachel Aaron entitled How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. It’s well worth a look.

Finish the book!
And that means everything necessary to get it to a stage where it’s ready either to be self-published or traditionally published. With all the changes going on in the publishing industry it would be premature to choose now. Rampage Rising is the working title.

Short Stories
Write and self-publish six short stories set in the fantasy multiverse I created for Rampage Rising. From time to time I’ll refer to past events in RR, or say that Tanix told the tale of X. It adds to the depth and gives a sense of history. Interestingly, a number of beta readers and critique partners have said they’d really like to read about those tales. Why self-publish them? To familiarise myself with the process from start to finish, and to establish a presence.

Write the second book
Yes, I plan to write a series. *g* I do have an outline for the series, and I’ve written a fair few chapters from some of the books, so I have a pretty good idea of the key series arcs.


And that’s it. Two novels. Six short stories. If I manage that I’ll be a very happy lad.

How about you? What are your writing goals for 2012?

The death of classroom textbooks is predicted today by the new leader of the country’s top girls’ schools. In future, pupils will access texts through smartphones and e-readers, Louise Robinson, the incoming president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said in her first interview.

“Taking on board the fact that textbooks will be on your mobile, whatever shape, name or type of fruit your mobile relates to… anywhere, any time, any place – it’s a huge possibility,” she said. Pupils could learn more from the “magic” of using smartphones and tablets than from simply reading a book, she argued.

In addition, they can access information in advance of lessons. “If you say: ‘The next lesson is going to be on the skeleton’, what you can see online now in terms of the skeleton and where you can go with it makes children have far more control over their learning that they ever could do before. One click and you’re into another world,” she added.

She continued: “When you see a young child on their tablet, or internet, the magic they are seeing in that information, the way that they absorb it and reflect it back at you is just wonderful.”

via Schools head hails ‘magic’ of learning via smartphone – Education News – Education – The Independent.