Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?
A very wise man said that about 2000 years ago. And you know what, the phrase still rings true. Before anyone builds an addition to their house, they get quotes, estimates. Before you begin dating someone, or marrying them (oh-my!), you get quotes…I mean, you count up the costs of the relationship and the benefits are supposed to outweigh any negatives, right? Well, the publishing world works the same way.
There are many people who have seen the success of other writers, particularly in the last few years with the explosion of the Kindle, and they’re going to think, “Hey! I can be a bestseller too!” And then they’re gonna get all upset and frustrated when it doesn’t happen for them. I’m one of those people. Well, on some days. When I started writing, I was 12. And yes, I wrote because I was addicted to the feeling I got when someone would read and enjoy my work. It’s unlike anything else in the world. But I also wrote because I hoped to make a living. A good living doing something I loved. In other words, I wanted cake, and I wanted to eat it…lots of it. Chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream. And cherries. And hot fudge.And a beautiful…you get the idea.
But what was the cost? My adolescent self probably didn’t realize there was more to this than writing a book, a good book to be specific. I had to create a cool story, get it edited, get it formatted, get a killer cover design, and unleash it to the world. Now, granted, with the power of the internet and the the power of blogs and Kindle, this has gotten a little easier, but the rest of it is still tough, and getting that book into the hands of passionate readers can sometimes be like walking uphill with a house on your back.
So what are the costs to being a writer?
1. You have to love what you do. Have passion. Don’t just write because you want to make money. Don’t be that guy or that girl. Write because you have something to say.(your words, your passion, your love=priceless, but it will take a lot of effort to be original, and a lot of effort to keep your head in the game and stay focused on what’s ahead.)
2. Make your story the best it can be. And then get it edited (Typically about $30. an hour or about $5-600 bucks for an average novel.) Repeat step 1 about 2 more times, and then get it formatted. (Formatting is a few hundred bucks, and it gives you pdf, Mobi (Kindle), and epub (Nook) files. This is part of your arsenal.
3. Get a killer cover design. Seriously. Don’t mess around. (anywhere from $200-$3750). btw…If you pay $3750, I will personally find your house and smack you across the face. That’s too freaking expensive, so don’t do it.
4. If you can, get an endorsement. (Doesn’t cost anything…and no, don’t try and bribe Stephen King for a blurb. If you know an author who might fit in your genre and who is established, reach out.) Not 100% necessary, but it helps, and it adds a “legitimacy” to your work. This may take months to acquire, or it may not happen at all. Writers can be bad communicators sometimes. But we’re still marginally cool. (No cost)
5. Wait. Do a lot of waiting. Say some prayers. If you can, preoccupy your mind with other stuff. Oh, and blog like a madman. Then get a twitter and be on that thing as often as possible. And get a facebook, and rock that thing as much as possible. Social media allows you to “meet” new and exciting people, readers, bloggers, authors, etc all the time. You just never know. (Cost=a lot of your time,but so worth it.) Other people will call you weird or hound you because you’re on the computer, but don’t listen. Just do what you gotta do to make your dream happen.
6. Keep writing. Keep falling in love with the written word, with the lives of other characters. With the reason you started in the first place.
So here’s a little bit of my wisdom, my two cents, for what it’s worth, having done all of the things I’ve told you. (My advice was basically how to do it all yourself, without the aid of a publisher. If you want the security of a publisher, go the indie route.) Build your tower, but don’t freak out when you’re missing a brick or if a section comes undone. Repair it. Perfect it. Restore it. And know that it will cost you something. Everything in the world costs us something. But it’s okay. Just keep it all in perspective.
Dysfunctional is the new normal,
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