In this age of ebooks everywhere, Indies have flooded the market with some amazing stories. They lead most of the charts on each retailer and their fan base is growing steadily, while traditional publishers are having a hard time moving their titles. So why don’t independent authors have an editor?
The answer is price. It costs 2 cents per word. For a single read through. Let’s take a 500-page book as an example. Each page averages 300 words. That equals 150,000 words (My own often exceed 200K) x 2.0 cents per word. The total?
For ONE read. And most books need 2-4 layers of these edits. We’re talking $5K + per book to be edited.
Now, let’s look at other costs that have to come out before this 500-page book is released to readers.
Electric, computers with great software, office supplies, internet and phone (many retailers won’t sign you up without a phone #), other equipment like printers, 1-$2K+
After that, Indies cover all their own marketing and advertising. This can run more than the editing, but an average monthly amount would be around $400-700. When you have 9 million+ competitors, you must advertise just to be found.
There are other expenses for authors that the reader never see, but you get the point from this list. Our total right now for a 500-page book, with everything above and before publication, is a whopping 5860.00. And that is using the lowest number for each expense, and only ONE edit. Can you imagine having a 200,000 word book that needs to be edited 3 times? That total alone is over 15K!
So the answer, my friends, is cash. People think writers are flush, but the term ‘starving artist’ came from writers begging in the streets over the centuries. We’re determined to put our prose out there, knowing we may end up in a pauper’s grave before it’s all over. The odds were stacked against writers way back when and it hadn’t changed much until the internet removed those barriers.
Some readers would say that if we can’t afford to edit, then pick another career. Okay. Sure. You do amazing things with hair, but you can’t afford the schooling for the trade. Oh, well. Pick something else. You’re a brilliant scientist, but your parents can’t afford college. Tough titty, said the kitty. Pick something else. You think you can become President and solve world hunger. No one cares. Go sling garbage bags at 3am every day until you die.
Some people, when told those things, will do exactly that. They curl into a fetal position and demand to know why they weren’t born rich or powerful. Others simply publish the work as clean as they can get it (I’m sorry. I’m no editor) and later, if we can ever afford it, use the proceeds to send it to a real editor for that scrub and polish. Except, at those prices, and with 9 million other titles to fight for attention, it is unlikely that an Indie ever makes enough money to properly edit their work.
Does that mean we shouldn’t publish it? Oh well and all that? If you still think so, maybe it will surprise you to know how many of our classic, infamous, studied figures in history were editorially illiterate. We wouldn’t have:
So, what’s the solution?
Two things. Thanks to the internet, we now have wonderful readers who volenteer their time to help writers clean up their books. Betas might be true angels sent down just for authors.
The other thing is education. We Indies have to do more than throw words on paper. We have to go out research it to find out if that comma belongs there. We have to take those night classes when the kids are sleeping. We have to look at the corrections our Betas suggest and go, “Holy cow! I didn’t know that! I’ll try hard to not do it again.” In short, we have to care as much as our fans do.
On that note, I would like to say that I am sorry for every typo and mistake that you have been hurt by while reading my work. I adore my fans. I never feel good about giving you work that isn’t top quality. I just can’t afford that outlay before you even see the cover or blurb. When I can, my work will go through a professional editor every time. Until then, I hope you’ll be patient with me. I really don’t like the mistakes any more than you do.
All I ever wanted to do was to give people amazing stories to take them away from life’s harsh realities. That’s what most writers want--Indie and traditional. The red tape crushes us until we curl up on the floor and sob about the unfairness of the world. I much prefer explaining my position in hopes that you’ll continue to support Indies, especially the ones who try hard to do things right. If it weren’t for them, readers would still be paying full price for ebooks, which cost almost nothing to distribute once that first 5-8 formats are created. $14.99 for a paperback? Sure. For the matching ebook? No way. It should be free, and because of Indies, some of them are. Amazon has a matchbook feature. Check it out! You can buy the paperback, and get the ebook free!
Other advantages to readers, because of Indies:
Conversations. Did you know that none of the big authors even had FB pages until the Indies got there and began connecting with the fans? No offense to them, but famous writers would never have lowered themselves to ‘chat’ with fans unless their publishers and agents told them to. Need proof of that? How many times has S. King come to his page and shot the shit with a group of readers? Zero, but Anne Rice, who took herself independent, often screams at her fans on a daily basis. lol. Just click through their pages and scan to see how many of them actually talk to readers. Very few, but before the independents, there were none. You might be lucky enough to grab a few seconds at a book signing or you may have gotten a form letter in response to your happy gushing, but no true contact. Indies have changed that. In the next decade, only rock star authors will be able to afford to ignore their fans, and Indies paved the way for that by getting on their accounts and talking to you. Nice, huh?
Lower prices, and the FREE EBOOK
Do you think traditional publishers were going to give you a 500-page book for free? Me either, but Indies do it by the hour, trying to draw your attention to their work. Traditionally published writers leave all of that to their boss. They usually don’t have a choice. To be fair, they’re getting ripped off worse than Indies, but that will be a different rant.
Independent authors have already contributed so much to the world. Please continue to read their work, typos and all. You never know. One of those starving writers may just be the next Shakespeare. Not me. I’m just Angie, but there are amazing authors who need to be found, incredible stories that deserve to be read, and you’re the only one who can do that. All hail the glorious readers!
Waving at you,
Have you ever wondered how a writer came up with an idea, scene or story? You might be tempted to think their mind just spit it out in the condition that you read it, but don’t be fooled. Good writers plan the scenes and plot those exciting threads. Great writers plan each part out using layers.
Let me explain. Every story is supposed to have a few basics:
Now we’ll add on a layer for the genre of book. Let’s go with horror, so we need:
We also have to have verification of choices during horror, including, but not limited to:
Now, we’ll go into the light details. To be horror, the mood has to be scary.
A fourth layer must go on now to keep track of all these threads. For example, if you have a snowstorm one day, you must make sure the cold is mentioned and there is still snow the next day unless it rains or floods or the sun sets directly on your iceberg. Details must be verified. Readers hate it when you screw up and have the same character in two places at one time. (I’m so sorry!) It was a simple name error, but it makes you look like an idiot. I call this layer the ‘make sure I’ve got it all where it should be’ layer.
For the fifth layer, we have to be sure we’re giving conclusions. All the above items gave us potential threads to be followed and finished. People hate to be left hanging, unless it is a series, and even then, writers are supposed to tread carefully. All those small moments that were set up have to be finished. Again, series are different, but even in those, a writer must eventually conclude that thread.
For the sixth layer, we have to explore the main them of the book. We ask ourselves 7 basic questions about the story:
The final layer, for the writers who have the energy left, is to ask, of each and every scene or plot thread:
How can I make it better?
What if I changed, switched…
The Next Step
Now that we have put together the 15-35 page draft using the seven layers above, the author can finally start to write the stories you love. It can be exhausting, even on short works. That’s why it takes so long. The tales don’t spit themselves out in full form. Writers shape them into cohesive, coherent (we hope!) tales that might last forever.
Then we sleep.