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Bulletproof
05-26-2013, 01:48 AM
Imagine you've got the basics covered. The money can only be spent in ways that will help your sales, either directly (like ads) or indirectly (writing retreats or a weekly cleaning and laundry service). What would you do? What would you buy?

Hire translators?
Make audio versions?
Bribe editors to prioritize you? (Is this done, btw?)
Spiffy new webpage?
Major PR campaign?
Hire blogger/tweeter to impersonate you?

When I started publishing I resolved to invest a certain percentage of profits back into the business, so I'm looking for practical suggestions. But it's kind of a fantasy question, too, so I'm not specifying a budget.

Polenth
05-26-2013, 02:03 AM
Education. The more skills I have, the better job I can do at putting books together. This isn't entirely a dream, in that I'm planning to sign up for an art course next week. But if I want to continue to a higher level, I'd need more funds.

In the short term, it can seem like a big expense to take a course. But I'll make the money back in being able to do more cover and interior design work myself. As it stands I can do some things, but I need a better range for the future.

Ann Joyce
05-26-2013, 02:55 AM
IF I had the extra dough, I might look into trying that NetGalley Co-op or if there were venues to place ads that were proven effective, perhaps I would throw some bucks there. I would never even consider your #3 or #6. For anyone that does, I believe it will come back to bite them in the keester one day. That's my $00.02 worth. Beyond that, hmmmm... *shrugs*

JoAnn B.
05-26-2013, 05:31 AM
I'm hoping more people will offer suggestions. I have actually started a fund as I work on revisions for my first novel. So far, the only realistic thing I have come up with is how cool it would be to participate in book signings in towns I have resided in the past. The money could go toward gas and lunch, lol.

RLMcKeown
05-26-2013, 06:21 AM
I'd probably get a professional website made for me. Then I guess I'd spend it on advertising.

profen4
05-26-2013, 06:46 AM
If I had the extra money, I'd spend it on daycare so I could write faster. The best advertising is another book.

Websites don't need to be fancy. They need to be a well organized placeholder to direct readers to your books and tell them a bit about you. You can get those for free. Book signings, if you're not well known, are not very effective for promotion. If you're still revising your novel, does that mean you're not published yet? Have you hired editors and cover artists? Those can be pretty pricey.

Use the extra money to make your next book even better than your first.

Good luck!

shelleyo
05-26-2013, 08:09 AM
A lot depends on your genre. I'm assuming genre fiction at novel length written to a professional level. (If you're not sure about the professional level of writing, then that should be a priority, and that involves lots of time working on writing.)

Translations and audio versions are good ideas once your books are selling well enough to warrant it. Before that, I'm not convinced it's a worthwhile investment. But this is an opinion.

I think money should be invested in a professional-looking cover that measures up to others in the genre, proofreading at a minimum but line-editing + proofing after if possible. If you have a catalog of books to warrant the time, approaching bloggers for reviews can help you get some. It might not, though, and that's not something you can control. If you get good reviews, then you have a chance at a paid ad that's effective.

There's a scant handful of paid ads that do any good at all, Bookbub being one of them. They also turn down most people who want one. Good reviews and a catalog of other books with good reviews is helpful. That could be a good investment, depending on your catalog. All in the same genre, preferable with at least a trilogy or sequel in there, if not a series, is the best bet.

Whatever you can pay for that gives you more time to write so you can get the next book out sooner rather than later can also be useful.

Most other things that people spend money on are incredible wastes of cash and time.

shaldna
05-26-2013, 09:56 AM
mostly i'd buy more shoes.

triceretops
05-26-2013, 09:59 AM
I'd get my own domain website and boot that damn, embarrassing piece of crab freeweb blob that I have now. Everything else is in order but that.

merrihiatt
05-26-2013, 10:04 AM
I'd have my work edited professionally and quit my day job so I had more time to write.

Old Hack
05-26-2013, 10:57 AM
Imagine you've got the basics covered.

Much depends on what you consider to be the basics, and how well you have them covered. Most of the self-published books I've been sent for review, and the ones I've seen in bookshops or sampled online, have not come anywhere close to being fit for publication: they have all needed more editing, better editing, better design and/or better production values. If any one of these is lacking, readers will be put off.


Hire translators?
Make audio versions?

Neither of these two are things that can be done well on the cheap. If you want to produce quality books, don't try to publish foreign or audio editions without experienced, specialist help. You'd probably be far better off directing your efforts and money elsewhere.


Bribe editors to prioritize you? (Is this done, btw?)

Which editors are you talking about? The ones who work for trade publishers, who you'd like to sign your book? If so, what are you doing self-publishing it? How about editors who you'd like to edit your work? If they're the ones you're thinking of, why not just hire them? Or perhaps it's editors at periodicals who commission reviews: if it's a good periodical then you're not going to be able to bribe anyone there, and if it's a bad publication, why would you want your work associated with it?

People do offer bribes: for example, I've been offered money to guarantee a favourable review (yep, that ended SO well for the writers who tried it with me...!). But for me to risk losing my reputation there'd have to be a serious amount of money on the table, and it would be way out of proportion to the return which could be expected.


Spiffy new webpage?

This is always a good idea, and getting one designed and set up is usually much cheaper than people expect.


Major PR campaign?

It depends on what you mean by this. Remember that if you're running a campaign you have to also ensure that your book is easily available to the people you're targetting, which means that as well as it being online you have to make sure that it's on the shelves at bookshops when your campaign is running. Which is not easy if you've self-published.


Hire blogger/tweeter to impersonate you?

That's a great idea. Deceive your potential readers! It works every time!

Seriously, no. Don't do this. Ever. And don't pay for reviews, either. It's sleazy.

Old Hack
05-26-2013, 10:59 AM
I'm hoping more people will offer suggestions. I have actually started a fund as I work on revisions for my first novel. So far, the only realistic thing I have come up with is how cool it would be to participate in book signings in towns I have resided in the past. The money could go toward gas and lunch, lol.

Book signings can be fun, but they can also be absolutely miserable. And as they're not very effective in selling books, especially not for unknown writers, they're only really a luxury, not a good promotional tool.

shelleyo
05-26-2013, 07:20 PM
I'd get my own domain website and boot that damn, embarrassing piece of crab freeweb blob that I have now. Everything else is in order but that.

You can get a domain for ten bucks. Use Hostgator to host it and you can get that as low as $4 a month if you pay for the whole year at once or around $10 a month paid monthly--crazy cheap--and make yourself a decent-looking blog-style webpage with Wordpress for $0.

profen4
05-26-2013, 07:34 PM
You can get a domain for ten bucks. Use Hostgator to host it and you can get that as low as $4 a month if you pay for the whole year at once or around $10 a month paid monthly--crazy cheap--and make yourself a decent-looking blog-style webpage with Wordpress for $0.

Are you able to direct your domain to open at a free wordpress site? I thought you couldn't do that. I used Wix.com for mine with the idea that one day I will have an actual site and not a slow one from Wix...

shelleyo
05-26-2013, 08:07 PM
Are you able to direct your domain to open at a free wordpress site? I thought you couldn't do that. I used Wix.com for mine with the idea that one day I will have an actual site and not a slow one from Wix...

Yeah, Wix is a nightmare that can make any site look unprofessional with its overlays about how you too can get something free. Definitely doing yourself a disservice by putting your awesome covers up there.

I Googled, and it says says you can forward URLs to Wordpress.com for something like $13 a year. That's cheap, but because of the way it's done, too restrictive for me. I create websites on my own hosting account and install Wordpress there. This gives me the most control and things like ftp upload, visitor stats, ability to add databases, ability to forward to URLs, etc., but some people might not care about that.

I don't think you have ftp access to your files with Wordpress.com, and they're restrictive about what you do with it. No advertising, for instance. Whether that matters is an individual thing and might not matter to you. As far as speed, I don't know. I wouldn't assume it's fantastic, but you'd have to ask someone who uses it.

You can also use domain names with blogger and other sites. I think you'd be better off with a free blog at blogger without a domain than a Wix site, personally.

thothguard51
05-26-2013, 08:45 PM
For most self published writers, money is better spent on professional editing and cover design.

Studies I have read have shown that unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on promotion, advertising does not equal the return.

Blogs, are basically useless for new writers, to find new readers. They are fun for the fans a writer already has, and a way to keep those writers up to date, but generating new fans, is a very slow process and if the book is poorly received...

Basically, if I had the spare dollars, I would take continuing education classes and upgrade my computer system for the long haul...

shadowwalker
05-26-2013, 08:58 PM
In order of importance, I'd

1. Hire a good copy editor

2. Hire a professional cover designer (one who knows how art works in publishing)

3. Hire a marketing consultant/professional to make sure my time/money is getting the biggest bang for the buck (and it would be nice if they were prestigious enough to open a few doors along the way :D)

Then again, if I was making enough money for #3, I probably wouldn't need them...

Nightmelody
05-27-2013, 04:49 AM
I'd hire a part time asst. to keep track of the calendar, tweetdeck, spreadsheet the promo events and sales, schedule my blog hops, perhaps do proof reading/beta, scour twitter/loops for promo opps etc.

The best thing I could do for my writing career would be to quit the day job--but until we have a viable health insurance alternative to my employer's plan, I'm hitting the time clock. But the bulk of my future earnings are based on writing new content.

LBlankenship
05-27-2013, 05:33 AM
If I had a chunk of change to reinvest in my business, I'd hire an accountant to hash out all the bugs in my current (ancient, surely half-assed) accounting software set-up.

And explain it all to me, which might require judicious use of a clue-by-four on my head. I don't know why my brain locks up when it comes to accounting.

RLMcKeown
05-27-2013, 05:48 AM
Are you able to direct your domain to open at a free wordpress site? I thought you couldn't do that. I used Wix.com for mine with the idea that one day I will have an actual site and not a slow one from Wix...

My website is a free Wordpress site. For this one, I believe I just bought the domain from Wordpress, but I've also directed domains purchased elsewhere to free Wordpress.com sites before, too. To do that, you have to pay another fee, though (I think it's a new requirement as I don't remember doing that a year or two ago), so it's best to just buy through Wordpress if you can.

aikigypsy
05-27-2013, 04:03 PM
My most-wished-for big ticket item is a good developmental editor for my epic fantasy series, followed by a good copy editor and cover art. Since it's looking like a 5-book series, that would be a lot of money! I'm sure I could also use a publicist or marketing consultant.

I'm fairly happy with my website, but wouldn't mind bringing in a pro to clean it up and make sure it works well on mobile devices, etc.

As for daycare, the little guy starts preschool in September, so I feel like there's not so much of a crunch on that any more. In a few months, I'll have regular, reliable writing time. Yay!

ebbrown
05-27-2013, 10:14 PM
I would hire an assistant to handle everything-my schedule, my accounts, emails, hiring out editing services/covers, promotion, formatting/uploads, all of it.
That way I could just write. I enjoy doing it all, but I simply could be much more productive if I only had to approve/check in on things with a reliable assistant.That's my ultimate goal.

girlyswot
05-28-2013, 05:50 AM
Just so you know, if you're using a free wordpress.com site, the reason you can't have advertising is because wordpress insert ads themselves. You will never see these ads if you are signed in to wordpress, so most bloggers there don't realise that their readers are seeing them. If that's a problem for you, you can now pay to go ad-free. But by the time you've paid for domain redirect and ad-free, you might as well host yourself and have access to all the great themes that aren't available through the .com site.

I used to hang out at the wp.com forums a lot a few years back and the question of ads was one of the most common things that came up. Everyone was shocked when they found out that their blog had ads on it they hadn't put there.

Medievalist
05-28-2013, 05:58 AM
I'd probably get a professional website made for me. Then I guess I'd spend it on advertising.

Both these are wastes of money.

Medievalist
05-28-2013, 05:59 AM
Are you able to direct your domain to open at a free wordpress site? I thought you couldn't do that. I used Wix.com for mine with the idea that one day I will have an actual site and not a slow one from Wix...

I wouldn't use Wix if you paid me.

RLMcKeown
05-28-2013, 06:58 AM
Both these are wastes of money.

I agree on advertising, since most everyone on the forums say it isn't worth it. But if I had a bunch of extra money to spend, and losing a bit wouldn't hurt me too much, I might try an ad on Goodreads to see if it helped sales. Right now, I don't have the money, so it's not even an option, even for curiosity's sake.

The website, though... I'm picky about websites. I changed my current layout and background several times before I was OK with it, and it's still not exactly how I'd like it. If I had the money to pay someone to make my site look exactly how I wanted and function exactly how I wanted it to, I would. It's not even about thinking an attractive site will sell more books, but more about me wanting to have a site I'm completely happy with. So I guess that's not so much "investing back into the business" as it is pleasing myself :D

Some of the ideas about quitting jobs and hiring babysitters are good ideas, though. Anything to help me write more...

profen4
05-28-2013, 08:17 AM
I wouldn't use Wix if you paid me.

Why not? Just curious. I'm new to web-design, and Wix was the easiest to put something together. I tried about a dozen of them. What makes it bad compared to the other free web builders.

Also, I'd be interested in knowing which one you might recommend.

ebbrown
05-29-2013, 09:42 AM
Also, I'd be interested in knowing which one you might recommend.

I like webs.com. They have free websites, I believe, along with the paid ones. I started out with the free version and upgraded, and I am very happy with it. It is very user friendly. You can check it out in my sig if you like.

WeaselFire
05-29-2013, 09:44 PM
I'd go on a promotional tour of breweries, barbecue joints and topless bars promoting my work. :)

My wife would work twice as hard, even though it would cost more money, promoting my work at shoe and handbag stores...

Jeff

AngieDixon
05-29-2013, 10:03 PM
If you search on Google you can find Godaddy coupons for a $0.99 domain, and set up something simple using WordPress on your domain. If you need help, PM me and I can recommend some free resources to help you do that. It's not at all difficult.

DeleyanLee
05-29-2013, 11:44 PM
Housemate and I are looking at this already, and we fully expect to be putting money back into the business for at least the first year, probably two. It's a given when starting a new business.

What we're putting money towards:

1. Accounting needs, including how to do basic accounting, the actual journals and setting up sheets in Excel. When the publishing is bringing in some funds, we'll look at getting Quickbooks or some other accounting problem.

If this starts making money, we'll have to run it by an accountant to make sure everything's covered and legit, just in case the IRS or state decides to come back to it at some point.

Reasoning: If this takes off on any level, we'll have to be paying self-employment taxes, etc, and we need to be able to keep track of how much we made vs. how much we spent. As we also will have contractor expenses (ie: copy editor, art needs, etc), we'll also have to deal with those legal issues at some point (when we start making money).

2. Legal fees for "doing business as".

Reasoning: Since we're not doing this as just us, but as a business, we're registering a "doing business as" with the state. At the moment, we're just running with the business privately, but since Housemate is getting Social Security, she's limited as to how much she can make in a year. At some point, we may well have to incorporate in some form, and we'll need funds for that.

3. Web presence. We're looking at buying and holding several websites in the near future (the name of company--both .com and .net, and one for each of us as an author). Housemate is reading up on creating webpages (she did it back in the 90's, but things have changed dramatically), and will do all the design herself. (If it was just me, I'd be paying someone to do this.) We're also looking at Amazon author pages and whatever presence the various sites offer (ie: Smashwords, etc.)

Reasoning: As epublishers, we feel some kind of web presence is a good thing. As we've both tried the blog, FB, tweeting thing and pretty much fail at them all, this is the one thing we've got a shot at. We figure a little good web presence is better than a lot of poor, y'know?

That's the first couple years' plan of action. If wanted to get into dream-worlds, we'd start with housekeepers and chefs for all our meals, but we figure that's a ways down the line yet. ;)

Medievalist
05-29-2013, 11:54 PM
Why not? Just curious. I'm new to web-design, and Wix was the easiest to put something together. I tried about a dozen of them. What makes it bad compared to the other free web builders.

Also, I'd be interested in knowing which one you might recommend.

Because you don't actually control the content on a Wix site (notice that the images and CSS are entirely in their control?). It looks amateur, as well, to be hosting a business on a site like wix. You can't even backup your data really, and it's non-standard HTML and CSS.

You'd be better off with a free blogger or wordpress.com site, and you'd ultimately have more control.

Both Blogger and WordPress offer ways to connect your site to a domain. You can get a domain for under 10.00 at GoDaddy or Name.Com (my preference, but it's very much a matter of personal choice.).

profen4
05-30-2013, 12:01 AM
Because you don't actually control the content on a Wix site (notice that the images and CSS are entirely in their control?). It looks amateur, as well, to be hosting a business on a site like wix. You can't even backup your data really, and it's non-standard HTML and CSS.

You'd be better off with a free blogger or wordpress.com site, and you'd ultimately have more control.

Both Blogger and WordPress offer ways to connect your site to a domain. You can get a domain for under 10.00 at GoDaddy or Name.Com (my preference, but it's very much a matter of personal choice.).

Hmm, now you got me all questioning myself. I only went with Wix b/c it was so simple to put it together (my website is wix) and my only complaint so far is that it takes a two or three seconds from click to load, and that drives me nuts.

I wonder how much it would cost to have someone create my exact site on another site. I have a domain that I direct my to the Wix site, so I don't think anyone would know that I'm using wix, but maybe they can?

I have a lot to think about . Thanks for answering my questions, I really appreciate it.

Medievalist
05-30-2013, 12:11 AM
I wonder how much it would cost to have someone create my exact site on another site. I have a domain that I direct my to the Wix site, so I don't think anyone would know that I'm using wix, but maybe they can?

Yeah, they can. And if you're visually disabled and using a screen reader it tells you it's a Wix site. It loads very poorly on iOS.

Were I you, I'd go create a free site at wordpress.com and at blogger.

I'd set both of them as private.

And I'd try creating the Wix there as a test. You can take your time about it.

Because of the way both Blogger and WordPress (or Square Space or Typepad) work, it's fairly easy to change the appearance without losing data/content.

Have some fun with it; don't pressure yourself. And there are people in the Blogging forum who will hep with questions.

And were I you, I'd invest my money / save it for a rainy day or think about applying to a writing workshop or taking some classes from an accredited school with a teacher who writes the kind of thing you write.

I'm not a fan of spending a lot of money on a Web site for most people. That said, if you are going to spend money, I'd talk to a bunch of authors first.

There's a tendency for people to call themselves Web designers, when all they're doing is slapping some art on a pre-built template. That isn't what a Web designer does; a real Web designer knows and hand-codes CSS, HTML, Java Script, PHP or a similar language, and can create a template from scratch. That's worth paying for.

You might just need some help with graphics, or maybe a little tech support. You might be better off just hiring a graphic designer, frankly. There's so much you can do easily with Blogger or WordPress or TypePad etc.

profen4
05-30-2013, 12:42 AM
Thanks, Medievalist - I'm going to play around on those sites again and see if I can make it happen. I tried Square Space b/c everyone raved about it, but frankly it was over my head. Couldn't figure out how to change the graphics. But you're right, I won't pressure myself to get 'er done quick.

Thanks again!

BAY
05-30-2013, 08:16 AM
profen 4

My 2 cents: With Wordpress if you find you don't like the theme you first choose, you can import another one in minutes from the dashboard. I'm not kidding, it's easy like trying on new clothes.

If you move to a host, most will import the WP theme.

Bulletproof
06-09-2013, 01:40 AM
These responses are great. Lots of food for thought. I'd like to know more about how to justify shoes, please?


In order of importance, I'd
3. Hire a marketing consultant/professional to make sure my time/money is getting the biggest bang for the buck
Do you know anyone who tried this?


I would hire an assistant to handle everything-my schedule, my accounts, emails, hiring out editing services/covers, promotion, formatting/uploads, all of it.
That way I could just write. I enjoy doing it all, but I simply could be much more productive if I only had to approve/check in on things with a reliable assistant.
In my fantasies, this is what I do. But part time could be affordable. I'd love to hear from someone who is making this work...



As we've both tried the blog, FB, tweeting thing and pretty much fail at them all, this is the one thing we've got a shot at. We figure a little good web presence is better than a lot of poor, y'know?
I suck at social media (probably because I hate it) which is why I'm seriously considering hiring someone to do all my blogging/tweeting/updates etc. Why did you fail at these other things and why do you think a website would be different?


Thanks, Medievalist - I'm going to play around on those sites again and see if I can make it happen. I tried Square Space b/c everyone raved about it, but frankly it was over my head.
As an aside I have to say I LOVE YOUR COVERS. I see them all the time on kboards and drooooooool.

Someone asked about the ethics of bribing editors, but I didn't properly multi-quote. I meant editors that I've hired to edit. Sometimes I want to go to the top of the pile so I can get it back NOW NOW NOW. Do that many self pubbers really want to get their work to a publisher? Most of the spubbers I know are unwilling to give up digital rights, and very few of us can command those sorts of concessions. Or has that changed? Maybe in another year...

DeleyanLee
06-09-2013, 03:07 AM
I suck at social media (probably because I hate it) which is why I'm seriously considering hiring someone to do all my blogging/tweeting/updates etc. Why did you fail at these other things and why do you think a website would be different?

I had one where I posted "you can do it!" and such uplifting writing essays. I'd intended to update it at least once a week, preferably two or three times a week. I managed about 3 months of that schedule, mostly because I had a vast amount of material ready to post from other sources. Then it dropped down to about once a month. Then that one post a month turned into more kvetching about things I saw in the writing community than anything positive. Then it got to a post every two or three months. At some point, I completely forgot I had a blog and stopped posting for a year. So I gave it up.

The whole twitter thing is something I just don't understand at all. I don't DO anything interesting in my average day, so what am I supposed to say in that 100-and-whatever characters? I have opinions, but since I don't really have an interest in strangers opinions, I don't see why anyone should give a whit what mine is. (And I already know my friends--we do things like talk, so we don't need twitting. And I have my fiction to express my views in.) So it just doesn't make sense to me, so I'm not willing to do it.

As for Facebook--I don't trust them with my personal information, so I won't give it to them. No discussion. I have friends who are on it, who have given me access via theirs, but I generally don't bother going on (which is probably why they gave it to me, heh).

Thus, me and social media isn't a happening thing.

And why is a website different? I don't have to do anything for it except occasionally supply content when prodded. Really easy. ;)

profen4
06-25-2013, 01:59 AM
Just wanted to come back here and say thanks to all you guys for suggesting I change my author site to Wordpress it's way faster now, and responsive to different devices. Really happy with the decision. Still have a bit of tweaking to do, and moving over some info from other sites, but I think it's an improvement.

Took about a month though...

girlyswot
06-25-2013, 02:36 AM
Looks great.

(I love those covers, too. It's not my genre at all, but they are so eye-catching.)

Old Hack
06-25-2013, 11:08 AM
Good branding, too.

profen4
06-25-2013, 12:31 PM
Looks great.

(I love those covers, too. It's not my genre at all, but they are so eye-catching.)


Good branding, too.


Thanks so much, I appreciate that.

Andrhia
06-26-2013, 04:47 AM
Hmmmmmm this is an excellent question. I already had a professional site for myself hosted by Squarespace. LOVE Squarespace, BTW. It's a little on the pricy side, but on the other hand you don't have to sweat the constant security exploits and malware I've experienced with Wordpress-based sites.

Specifically for my self-publishing endeavors, I've made a secondary dedicated site for my new series, too. Cover illustrations are probably my biggest expense for the whole project -- she gives me the art, I turn 'em into covers. I also spent money on props when I was doing my Kickstarter-promoting video series. I'll probably be buying odd bits of stock art for puzzle design, too.

I'm pretty happy with how my covers and site have turned out; I guess I could've paid to get a better Lucy Smokeheart series logo? But I don't think any of it would actively hurt sales. (Though... you tell me! O_O )

The main thing I feel like I should invest in is promotion. I've been toying with spending some money on advertising, but it sounds like that's a complete waste, so I guess I won't bother. It sounds like there's not much worthwhile promotion you can buy for $50 or $100. It's all either free stuff like Tweeting, or all-in for a publicist.

I'd love to engage an editor, and I'll be chewing my nails and maybe looking for a cost-effective way of doing that sometime soon. Alas the quote I have for editing is too big a chunk of my overall budget... but on the other hand, I hate asking someone to do work on my behalf for anything less than a fair rate, and especially with the snappy turnaround I'd need. (It's a thing.)

Beyond that, though, I figure money spent on stuff that goes into my brain is well-spent. Research! Books, games, experiences.

I also have a bunch of expenses for my freelance career -- PO box, business cards, conference travel, software (Scrivener, Billings.app, MS office, Sanebox) and hardware (computer to write on, backup systems) -- but I don't think any of it is particular to the self-publishing part of what I do. :)

LOTLOF
06-27-2013, 02:55 AM
1) Professional editor.

2) Professional cover artist.

3) Assistant who will beat me with a stick and yell at me when I try to avoid writing.