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LOTLOF
08-25-2013, 02:48 AM
I have self published one novel.

I did it bare bones on Createspace and then uploaded the ebook to Amazon. I used the free Createspace program to produce a crappy cover and edited it myself as best I could. Lord knows there are plenty of sites out there that are happy to help you publish your book. They all require hundreds of dollars though. I honestly didn't expect to make any money and so couldn't see the logic in spending so much money on something that was mostly done for self satisfaction.

Now since then I am happy to report my novel has sold a few thousand copies and has earned me roughly about $7,000 so far. During this time I got a much improved cover thanks to a friend who is an artist. Sadly though I have no friends who are English majors.

While most of my reviews on Amazon have been positive, the one complaint that has come up regularly has been the grammar. I have gone back over the manuscript and reedited and re-uploaded. To no avail apparently as the complaints about grammar remain.

I am currently working on my next novel which is a sequel to my first. It will have a quality cover from the start, but I am not going to hire a copy editor. The reason is I just don't think it makes financial sense for a self published book.

The first novel was a little over 120k words and I expect this one will be as long or longer. Most editors appear to charge either by the hour or by the word. The standard hourly rate is $30 hr. The usual per word rate is at least $0.01 per word. Either way would cost me over $1,000. I just don't think the difference between my best efforts and what a freelance editor would do is worth that much money.

My books have my name on them, and so of course I want them to be the best they can be. But I just don't think it is worth it. If I expected to sell say thirty thousand copies it would be different.

At what point would most of you think it worth it to pay a thousand dollars or more for editing?

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/edit.gif (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/editpost.php?do=editpost&p=8388213)

justbishop
08-25-2013, 02:55 AM
If you had grammar issues with your first release and made such a large profit, why wouldn't you invest in making your next one even better?

K.B. Parker
08-25-2013, 03:20 AM
If you had grammar issues with your first release and made such a large profit, why wouldn't you invest in making your next one even better?

This, of course.

I wouldn't say that having an editor is mandatory. It's not. But an editor can take your good book and help make it great.

Now, I assume based on your price point you quoted that you are referring to just grammar. If you had typos or flaws in your first novel, why wouldn't you take this opportunity to correct it? Typos and grammatical errors are a huge red flag to a reader, they could get an otherwise amazing novel thrown in the trash bin.

LOTLOF
08-25-2013, 03:24 AM
If you had grammar issues with your first release and made such a large profit, why wouldn't you invest in making your next one even better?

Because I don't believe it would make a big enough difference in sales to justify the cost. My own editing was far from perfect, but it was passable. There were complaints, but none of the reviewers ever claimed it was unreadable or that the issues ruined the experience. I want to make my next novel better and am working hard at it. But I am not willing to spend that much money when I don't believe the results warrant it.

merrihiatt
08-25-2013, 04:07 AM
If I knew I would make $4,000 or more on a title, I would gladly pay $1,000 for editing. Taxes are almost 25% and I pay them!

ETA: I just wanted to clarify something after I posted. I would love to have all my books edited by a professional. There are a lot of folks who believe books should not be released if they haven't been edited by a professional. I do not lean that far. I know the expenses involved in self-publishing and I believe there are ways to make your book better than simply using spell-check and saying, "Let's see how it does." There are a lot of us who are in between. We have beta readers, we use stock photo images for covers (with some tweaking), and we proof and edit ourselves many times before sending anything to anyone else to read. We edit again and again and again until we are so sick of our book we want to scream, or at least throw it across the room.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to make the distinction between those who write and upload immediately and those who keep fine tuning their book. I think it is because self-publishers sometimes are portrayed as simply throwing words up on Amazon, then using reviews/reviewers to report where they see mistakes in the manuscript.

I am babbling now, so I will end this.

djherren
08-25-2013, 04:22 AM
While most of my reviews on Amazon have been positive, the one complaint that has come up regularly has been the grammar. I have gone back over the manuscript and reedited and re-uploaded. To no avail apparently as the complaints about grammar remain.

I think a valid question to ask yourself is whether you feel these complaints about grammar have cost you sales. If so, why wouldn't you pony up for, at the very least, a good copyeditor?

My writing partner and I self-publish. We engage the services of a developmental editor who also does copyediting, as well as two proofreaders.

merrihiatt
08-25-2013, 04:23 AM
LOTLOF, FYI, your Google link leads to a message that it is invalid.

Captcha
08-25-2013, 04:30 AM
Because I don't believe it would make a big enough difference in sales to justify the cost. My own editing was far from perfect, but it was passable. There were complaints, but none of the reviewers ever claimed it was unreadable or that the issues ruined the experience. I want to make my next novel better and am working hard at it. But I am not willing to spend that much money when I don't believe the results warrant it.

If there were complaints, your reputation suffered.

Do you want to write a few books and run off with the money you make from them, or do you want to stick around, improve your product, and build a career?

Genuine question.

If this is a finish-the-series, finish-the-career situation, do what you want. But if you're trying to build a career, you need to be publishing the best product you can, and if people were complaining about grammar issues, I think you should find a way to address them.

justbishop
08-25-2013, 04:36 AM
Because I don't believe it would make a big enough difference in sales to justify the cost. My own editing was far from perfect, but it was passable. There were complaints, but none of the reviewers ever claimed it was unreadable or that the issues ruined the experience. I want to make my next novel better and am working hard at it. But I am not willing to spend that much money when I don't believe the results warrant it.


If there were complaints, your reputation suffered.

Do you want to write a few books and run off with the money you make from them, or do you want to stick around, improve your product, and build a career?

Genuine question.

If this is a finish-the-series, finish-the-career situation, do what you want. But if you're trying to build a career, you need to be publishing the best product you can, and if people were complaining about grammar issues, I think you should find a way to address them.

THIS. And I have to admit that my answer is also driven a bit by jealousy. I've got two offers on my novella now, but if I were to self-publish, I'd give an appendage to be able to afford the luxury of an editor, so a large part of me read your post and thought "Uh, wtf. Why wouldn't you, in your situation?"

Parametric
08-25-2013, 04:41 AM
There are plenty of good editors who would charge much less than $1000 for a 120,000-word novel for spelling and grammar alone, FYI.

Polenth
08-25-2013, 05:05 AM
I don't see how earning $7000 makes it not worth investing, as that's a ton of money. Whether I would is a different question, but I have volunteers who look at stuff. I'd be a lot more wary if it was only me looking at the work before it went out.

That aside, you're presenting two methods here as though they're the only way. It's not a case of hire editors or don't bother much. Some writers swap with each other, for example. Volunteers don't have to have English qualifications. What they need is a solid grasp of English and an eye for detail (for basic error checking). There's also figuring out where your weaknesses are and working on them. And making sure your editing techniques are as efficient as they could be. You can invest your time if you can't invest your money.

Cathy C
08-25-2013, 05:45 AM
Do you:

1. Want to have repeat readers for your next book?
2. Want the bad reviewers to become GOOD reviewers?
3. Want to actually sell 30,000 books?

Has it occurred to you that the reason you've only sold a few thousand books is that they're all first time readers---not referrals from friends?

If you honestly believe that $7K is your top sales and that it isn't worth EVERY DIME of that money to increase your skills to get those referral readers . . . well, then you don't need editing. :Shrug:

Because it's not about the editing here at your level. It's about saying, "Eh, it's good enough," which is the ultimate cop-out and the death knell of a writing career. It's never good enough. Learning continues or you fade away. All an editor does is find the mistakes. But it's your job to find those mistakes. If you're struggling to spot them, then find a beta reader or a critique partner or hire an editor. Don't just give up.

But please don't say "It's not worth the money." It's an insult to yourself and your book. It's worth the time and/or the money to fix the mistakes if you hope to gain a devoted fanbase.

Sorry for the tough love, but sometimes it helps clear the cobwebs. :)

cornflake
08-25-2013, 06:00 AM
Because I don't believe it would make a big enough difference in sales to justify the cost. My own editing was far from perfect, but it was passable. There were complaints, but none of the reviewers ever claimed it was unreadable or that the issues ruined the experience. I want to make my next novel better and am working hard at it. But I am not willing to spend that much money when I don't believe the results warrant it.

Why're you posting? You don't care, so you don't care, so why post?

You are, however, missing the point. I will not read something with grammar issues like that. Absolutely will not. I certainly wouldn't pay for something the writer couldn't or wouldn't bother to edit. All the people like me aren't ones who bought it and reviewed it and it didn't bother them that much; we're the ones who see the other reviews, or read the first page and back away.

Polenth
08-25-2013, 09:59 AM
I read your reviews since my first answer. The problem I see isn't just the grammar complaints. In the top three reviews at the point I looked, two out of three mentioned your writing in a way that suggests they're fans from the fan fiction world. I think this may have skewed your judgement, because among those fans, the book is golden and they'll give it five stars. After all, your book is no worse (in editing terms) than anything you put on the fan fiction sites. And those people make up decent numbers, so you'll get decent sales.

But if you want to grow your audience beyond that, it's not going to fly. You have to appeal to people outside that circle. The people outside aren't using fan fiction as their bench mark for judgement. They're using trade published books with multiple editors.

That said, I don't think editing will suddenly get you those sales. Branching into new audiences takes time and effort. Which is why most of us starting from zero don't see many sales for a few years. But it'll never happen if the book isn't set up ready for it to happen.

DahlELama
08-25-2013, 10:42 AM
As a copy editor I'm obviously a little biased, particularly since I notice more errors than most, but personally, when I read a book by an author that's riddled with grammar errors, it automatically turns into the last book I will ever read by that author. I just have no patience for or enjoyment of that kind of reading experience. So, I guess maybe you could answer your own question by seeing how sales of your second release compare to your first? (And $1000 is definitely not the minimum a copy editor would charge for that; my rate for a 120K ms is $600. Not at all soliciting, just stating facts!)

Terie
08-25-2013, 12:19 PM
Sadly though I have no friends who are English majors.

As long as you think 'English major = editing qualifications', you aren't going to value actual editing. Very few English majors could edit a manuscript creditably.

English majors learn how to analyse and write critical essays about literature. Why do you assume that someone who got good grades at doing that could edit your book?

I would suggest you learn more about what editing is so that you have more concept of what you'd be paying for. (Hint: Analysing and writing essays isn't it.)

BTW, I earned a BA with distinction in English, I've worked as a technical writer for over 25 years, and I do a bit of proofreading on the side. Despite having substantially more qualifications than 'being an English major', I don't consider myself qualified to do more than proofreading and simple copyediting. Nothing that I learned in my BA work contributed anything to my fairly meager editing skills; those come from experience in my day job.

As others have said, while you've undeniably done well with your first book, you don't have any idea how many sales you've lost due to the reviews and errors in your sample pages. When I read sample pages with errors, I don't buy the book, nor do I let the writer know why not.

One of my favourite living authors had a book released where the publisher accidentally sent the wrong version of the file to the printer. It had between 50 and 100 errors in 500 or so pages. If that had been the first book of hers I'd read, I'm not sure I would've read any more. A lot of people who read that version of that book first said they'd never read another book by her. (The errors were corrected in all subsequent printings and editions; it's only the first printing of the hardback UK edition that's so rife with errors.)

Moral of the story: If an NYT bestselling author can lose readers over copy errors, how much more do you think those kinds of errors affect your potential readers?

stranger
08-25-2013, 12:41 PM
I think it's always worth it to hire an editor. Even if I knew the sales weren't going to cover the cost of the editing, I'd still pay for it. I wouldn't sell something with my name on it that I knew was sub par.

Readers are hard to find. I can't afford to throw away those who are interested enough to check out my sample but stop reading due to grammar issues. I can even less afford to have someone complete my book and decide to not read any more of mine for that same reason. I think if you are serious about self-publishing and hoping to build a career from a number of books, paying for editing is a one of the most important things you can do.

In your case--having made 7000 with a sequel on the way, plus numerous complaints of poor grammar, it's a no brainer. It's possible to get quality copyediting for 500/600 for that size novel if you look around.

Literateparakeet
08-25-2013, 03:56 PM
As a reader, I do read amazon reviews. If there is even one review that criticizes the book's grammar or editing, I pass. Simply put you are losing readers.

As a writer, I paid an editor to edit my non-fiction book proposal. Yes, it was expensive, but it was absolutely money well spent. Not only did I get my proposal edited, but even more importantly, I learned about mistakes I was making (repeatedly) and what I am doing well. Now that I am aware of it I can correct my mistakes and be a better writer. So I consider my editing experience as a one on one writing class. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Marian Perera
08-25-2013, 04:19 PM
As a reader, I do read amazon reviews. If there is even one review that criticizes the book's grammar or editing, I pass. Simply put you are losing readers.

I gave up on a Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman series because the last book I read had a couple of significant errors that should have been caught by an editor.

There is only book I've picked up where I knew in advance that there was no editing, and that was a PublishAmerica book (which I read only so I could say I'd actually read one of their books). If I knew in advance that any writer had refrained from having their manuscript edited, when this option was open to them, I wouldn't read their work.

DeleyanLee
08-25-2013, 04:48 PM
I just self-published a novel. We'd be ecstatic if we hit $7K in earnings. ($7K is just a little less than I made working a money job all last year, y'see. Significant amount.) We're hopeful, but we're not really expecting to see that kind of money.

We hired a copy editor. OK, it's my daughter (who was not an English major) and we paid her $10 per 1000 words (roughly half of her going rate--family discount, so Girlchild says). For the 75K book, it cost us much less than the $1000 you keep quoting. I honestly don't know where you get that figure, unless you want them to do a full edit on your book (writing-edit as well as copyedit), which I know is expensive for good reason.

So the answer to your question, at least to me, was that it makes good financial sense immediately. Good copyediting is part of putting out a good writing product. "Start as you mean to continue" as the saying goes. We follow that.

And apparently the lack of copyediting does bother you, since you did go back to fix it multiple times, by your own admission. If it's just a matter of money, then why don't you audition several different copyeditors you can afford, see who does the best job and hire them?

You have to treat this like a business, which means there will be expenses from time to time. Trying to get away with everything for free is going to start to chafe on friends after a while, because expectation always does.

It's also notable to me that your followers from fanfiction seem to be noting the lack also--if that's true, that it bothers them enough to mention it. This isn't fanfic. There are different expectations on your work now. If you can't do the work yourself, you should expect to pay someone for it.

Corussa
08-25-2013, 05:25 PM
The first novel was a little over 120k words and I expect this one will be as long or longer. Most editors appear to charge either by the hour or by the word. The standard hourly rate is $30 hr. The usual per word rate is at least $0.01 per word. Either way would cost me over $1,000. I just don't think the difference between my best efforts and what a freelance editor would do is worth that much money.


We hired a copy editor. OK, it's my daughter (who was not an English major) and we paid her $10 per 1000 words (roughly half of her going rate--family discount, so Girlchild says). For the 75K book, it cost us much less than the $1000 you keep quoting. I honestly don't know where you get that figure, unless you want them to do a full edit on your book (writing-edit as well as copyedit), which I know is expensive for good reason.

Not to derail, but just a simple note on the maths there: $10 per 1000 words, for a 120k book = $1,200. (I don't have any observations to make on that as a rate, as rates can vary so much, and depend on so many things.)

I would just add that I wholeheartedly believe you should invest in editing, LOTLOF. You worked hard to write your books, so I would encourage you to keep working hard through the whole editorial process to make them the best products they can be. Reinvest the money in yourself and your writing; I believe it can only be of benefit to you (more sales) and to your readers (a better reading experience).

:)

DeleyanLee
08-25-2013, 07:07 PM
Not to derail, but just a simple note on the maths there: $10 per 1000 words, for a 120k book = $1,200. (I don't have any observations to make on that as a rate, as rates can vary so much, and depend on so many things.)

Hmmm. Will have to rethink what that amount is then, 'cause we paid her just over $300 for the entire thing.

merrihiatt
08-25-2013, 10:19 PM
The difference comes in the number of words. 75,000 vs. 120,000. $750 vs. $1,200.

merrihiatt
08-25-2013, 10:21 PM
Hmmm. Will have to rethink what that amount is then, 'cause we paid her just over $300 for the entire thing.

Sorry. I posted before seeing your comment. $300 is significantly less expensive.

sarahdalton
08-25-2013, 10:51 PM
Admittedly I read the first few posts in this thread and then tl:dr'd the rest of it.

If it's just grammar you could hire someone for a proofread and grammar check which is less expensive than a line/copy edit.

Red Adept are used often by self-publishers and offer decent packages.

Google for the oops report editing service which is cheap and puts the book through a final grammar/spelling/typo check.

I'm like Merri. I edit and edit and enlist betas and edit again. However, for the future I want a more professional product, so I will be setting aside about 500 for editing and I've learned how to make covers. I've not made $7000 just yet but I think it a good investment.

After all your books are published for as long as you want them to be. They could still be making you money in ten years time.

justbishop
08-26-2013, 12:39 AM
sarahdalton, your covers are amazing, btw :)

Spell-it-out
08-26-2013, 03:00 AM
I honestly didn't expect to make any money


So, you expected to make $0




Now since then I am happy to report my novel has sold a few thousand copies and has earned me roughly about $7,000 so far.



This is excellent, well done. So, you expected to make $0, yet you made $7000.

You're up 7k. :partyguy:


Because I don't believe it would make a big enough difference in sales to justify the cost.



Debatable.




My own editing was far from perfect, but it was passable.



I know some people are not perfectionists, nor try to be. But if all self-publishers edited their books to be 'passable', we'd be doing ourselves, and more importantly the reader, a disservice.




I want to make my next novel better and am working hard at it. But I am not willing to spend that much money when I don't believe the results warrant it.

I don't see how spending 1/7 of the money you made (and which you didn't expect to make) on something that is the root of the poorer reviews, isn't warranted.

Sorry, I'm just baffled by this.

ETA: It's not even 1/7, as some have stated, price can vary.

I hope you chose to get an editor. If I had the finances available, I'd do it.

Only Stronger
08-26-2013, 07:51 AM
I agree with the consensus. Editing will more that pay for itself in your second novel. Your story must me outstanding if you can make $7,000, despite the problems with grammar. Imagine how much more you would have made if so many of the reviews had not mentioned this problem.

sugarhit
08-29-2013, 01:12 AM
I think you should make sure someone better at grammar than you is proofing before you hit "publish". If I'm reading a review and it says the book has grammar issues, I'm not going to buy it.

If you're making $7k on book sales, imagine what your sales would be with improved grammar and more glowing reviews.

Katallina
08-29-2013, 02:55 PM
I can understand when some here say they cannot afford to hire an editor. Especially if one is self publishing for the first time, the situation can be a tough call. But if any opportunity whatsoever is presented whereby someone *can* get their book edited, why on earth wouldn't they do it?

I think what truly baffles me here is the lack of respect for the writer, the characters and the readers expressed here.

(a) I can't comprehend the thought of having something attached to my name that *I* feel is only "passable". (The horror!) I will admit, openly, that I'm one of those who hasn't hired an editor. I have my reasons. But that definitely doesn't mean I'm not doing everything I *can* do to make sure my book is the absolute best I possibly can. (Multiple betas, multiple drafts, etc.) If circumstances were different, you can be sure I would.

(b) I couldn't imagine doing that to my characters or my stories. If something is important enough to me that I am willing to devote weeks, months or years to developing it, I want to give that my all. If I find myself doing all right with my book, it is completely possible that I'll get it looked at with the money I make from it, and without question getting my next book properly edited would be priority #1.

And if my sentimental motivation isn't for you? (And I will openly admit it may not be for most...) Business is about getting out what you put in. As others have said, imagine what you could achieve if you expressed a less indifferent attitude?

(c) Umm... you realize people could come across this thread, right? If I was looking at an author's book and someone linked me to an article / forum / whatever where the author was talking about how they were content with their book merely being passable, I must confess that I would choose to pass on reading it.

I game and I read. In gaming, the finite variable is money; it's an expensive hobby. In reading the finite variable is time. Most people would think I need to be more careful with the gaming, but that's actually false. I can make more money. Once time is spent, it can never be replaced. If you are going to put something out with the hopes that someone will spend even the tiniest fraction of their life invested in it, you should do your best and care deeply about ensuring the time they spend is *not* time wasted.

If you'd come on here explaining you couldn't afford an editor, or if you were genuinely curious about what an editor could actually do for you (hint: English major does not mean editor.) I'd feel for you. But I honestly am not sure what it is you're trying to obtain through this post. Are we labeling editors "the Man" and sticking it to them? (Silly.) Are you trying to show that despite the complaints, you're book doesn't "meed" editing since you've made money? (Others have shown this is likely false.) I'm really not sure.

At any rate, my apologies if I come across harshly here. I think it's the seeming indifference toward what you've created that I can't understand or empathize with. Regardless, though, I hope that you can find whatever it is you've come here looking for. :)

Torgo
08-29-2013, 03:04 PM
I just don't think the difference between my best efforts and what a freelance editor would do is worth that much money.

To put it another way, it depends on how much you value the difference between a book that is riddled with errors and a book that isn't. You're also trying to work out the same from the point of view of prospective customers. If some feel moved to ding you in Amazon comments for the grammar, it suggests they're less likely to buy another book by you. But, you know, whatever you think.

shadowwalker
08-29-2013, 05:27 PM
I just can't get past this idea that "passable" is supposedly okay. But then I got irritated that you were using your readers for betas and re-issuing your book after fixing things that should have been fixed before publishing. Unfortunately, you're not the only self-publisher doing all of the above and that's why it's still hard for SPs to get past the negative reputation.

As others have said, if you don't care, why even ask? Just publish like you did before - it's only your reputation you're building, after all.

Sheryl Nantus
08-29-2013, 05:57 PM
I just can't get past this idea that "passable" is supposedly okay. But then I got irritated that you were using your readers for betas and re-issuing your book after fixing things that should have been fixed before publishing. Unfortunately, you're not the only self-publisher doing all of the above and that's why it's still hard for SPs to get past the negative reputation.

As others have said, if you don't care, why even ask? Just publish like you did before - it's only your reputation you're building, after all.

Word.

You got *very* lucky to make a profit on your first book, more than most self-publishers make out of the gate.

Now you're wanting to justify not spending a penny of that to make your second book a better product.

I'm sure your readers will be thrilled to hear that.

pich313
08-29-2013, 06:21 PM
I think the bigger question is, how much are you losing?

word of mouth, especially among novels, and especially in the world of self-pub, is a huge readership generator. your current readers may have enjoyed the story, but not passed it on because of the grammar issues. also, if someone thinks about downloading your book and reads reviews about bad grammar, it may deter them.

they took the time to tell you about it, i'd recommend taking their critique seriously and responding with an editor and a large thank you to those willing to take the time to give you constructive feedback. this will make you look like a more involved author while fixing your books grammar issue, and help open the door to more readers spreading the word about your story.

you are already making money on this book. take some and reinvest it into your books. you've put so much into your work, don't stop now when you have readers and income flowing so well. use this opportunity to make yourself and your books better and your readers will fully appreciate it.