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All Things Writing & Publishing > Traps for indies

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15690 comments I don't have the numbers and I'm not sure anyone does, but my own feeling is that the industry surrounding and providing services to indies may actually make more money than indies themselves. I'm talking about beta-readers, editors, reviewers, cover designers, marketing specialists and so on.
Authors' keen desire to be professional, to stand out, to succeed is a fertile ground for anyone to try to saturate this demand.
Now, is anyone who read a couple of books can be a beta-reader and charge 40$ + for his service? Does anyone who studied English at school qualify for an editor? Is it enough to garner a few thousands of followers on twitter to promise magic if you use their promo services?
The options for anything you need are abundant, but how many of them are for real? What do you think?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Indeed the sharks are in the water but it's our responsibility to do due diligence. As far as editorial and design services go checking referrals, being clear on contractural terms and being familiar with their portfolio should be sufficient. It's a little trickier when it comes to marketing and promo services. The majority of them are scams. I've seen examples of indies who have been bilked out of hundreds and even thousands of dollars from internet hustlers. Again, do your homework. Looking through relevant threads on author forums as well as google searches will usually alert someone to a possible scam service.


message 3: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2277 comments It's no different from the gold rushes the US and Canada experienced in the 19th century. People flocked to the latest site hoping to be that one person to strike it rich, but most people didn't find enough gold to live off of and many more found enough to barely scrape by. The only people who truly did well were the shop keepers setting up around the mining towns selling the supplies and services - taking the money from the prospectors before they went completely broke and gave up; taking the flakes of gold off their customers for a pittance and selling it all en mass for a profit.


message 4: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15690 comments J.J. wrote: "It's no different from the gold rushes the US and Canada experienced in the 19th century. People flocked to the latest site hoping to be that one person to strike it rich, but most people didn't fi..."

Sound allegory!


message 5: by Joan (new)

Joan Carney | 12 comments Tara wrote: "Indeed the sharks are in the water but it's our responsibility to do due diligence. As far as editorial and design services go checking referrals, being clear on contractural terms and being famili..."

I agree with you, Tara. You write, and rewrite your work until it's the best you can make it. Like your child, you nurture it, watch it grow and develop into the work of art you hoped it would be. Any parent would check the references of a sitter or nanny, before trusting him with his child. Any other work you've poured your heart into deserves the same cautious research.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Joan
The nanny example is brilliant - you and JJ nailed it :)


message 7: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson (nexus_engel) | 52 comments I just don't pay for any of those services from parties that demand such high prices for reviews, editorials, marketing, Twitter followers, and so on. Most websites (like Facebook or Amazon or Goodreads) have a fairly reasonable price range. Certainly not $40-$200 for a freaking review or two or TEN.

Now, actually having money for those much cheaper services is an entirely different bag of problems for a broke spender like me. XD


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Also, with editorial reviews being the exception, paid reviews are prohibited on Amazon. I came across a blog once that asked for $150 for a single review. Ha ha haaa :) As for paying for twitter followers I don't understand that. It is quite easy to gain useless followers by oneself and quite a large amount also, bt without real relationships those followers just set your account to mute or ignore you altogether. I just don't get it.


message 9: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11468 comments Back to Nik's point, I suspect many/most indies lose money. Me, I try to do everything myself, except cover design. I started doing that, but I am forced to concede my ones are only barely adequate, which in a sense I find annoying because the cover is merely something to attract attention. The problem is, of course, getting reviews. You can't do that yourself, and for some reason, the writers I know seem only interested in their own work. Readers read, and move on. But you have to live with it. My literary work at least makes a profit, but not an exceptional one. I suspect many run at a loss.


message 10: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments Without a doubt most indies never see a profit; it's why most of us have day jobs :)

Personally, I can't bring myself to pay for services that I can provide myself. As Nik points out, I fail to see why anyone who can read thinks they deserve $40+ for their service. No thanks, I'm quite confident I can read myself ;)


message 11: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Hmmm. Okay, soooo...

I totally did everything myself for the first book. However, I also had a "safe" audience with which to make mistakes. And I had a TON of errors in my first release.

I'll even admit that later on, I uploaded source files to KDP with some pretty serious mistakes *cringe* and am shocked that I haven't gotten critiqued for it yet. I was seriously expecting some 1-stars for my follies. I mean, heck! I had every "because" attached to the word prior:

I like youbecause you're nice (Yeah, just like that. Ugh.)

I don't trust myself to proofread my own stuff because I can never see my own typos. I do, however, have fantastically loyal and supportive readers who are more than happy to beta/edit for me. BUT I would never ask (they just volunteer) and I hate the idea of taking something for nothing, so....

I'm choosing to pay for an editor this go around. It'll cost me $25 for a novella and I'll be honest, I haven't a clue as to her credentials. She was simply a recommendation from a fellow indie and friend.

Again, I realize that my readers can do the exact same job for free. It just doesn't sit right with me to "depend" on them *shrugs*

Hugs,
Ann


message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11468 comments Annie wrote: "Hmmm. Okay, soooo...

I totally did everything myself for the first book. However, I also had a "safe" audience with which to make mistakes. And I had a TON of errors in my first release.

I'll eve..."


$25 for a novella is a bargain if it is any good. For a novel I have seen quotes of $2-3000 - and that is hard to make up. I have not paid that, of course. [Scrooge that I am, but, well, that's the way I am :-)]


message 13: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments You're not alone Ian...I wouldn't pay that either! $3000.....wow am I in the wrong business :)


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 214 comments Annie wrote: "Hmmm. Okay, soooo...

I totally did everything myself for the first book. However, I also had a "safe" audience with which to make mistakes. And I had a TON of errors in my first release.

I'll eve..."


There are other ways to get independent pairs of eyes on your work. I belong to an online critique group with hundreds of other writers, and they can be really good at flushing out typos, awkward sentences, things that don't make sense. Many of these groups are free to join, but you aren't getting something for nothing. You pay by giving your own time to critique other people's writing in return for critiques of your own. You're right, you are usually too close to see your own typos, but I bet you can nitpick the heck out of someone else's :)


message 15: by Annie (last edited Jul 18, 2016 05:10PM) (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Ian: Yeaaaah, I'm not cool beans with the feeling that I'm taking "advantage" of my readers (I'm at their service, not the other way around). But I would never ever pay more at this point hahahaha.

For me, it's like paying a stranger to proofread. Honestly, I don't even care if she's perfect about it. I just need her to catch all my glaring mistakes :)

Hugs Sir Ian just cuz,
Ann

EDIT: @the other Mr Ian haha: I hear ya...

This is gonna make me sound like a butthead, but I'm not reading anything I don't wanna. Same with my book. Like, if friends aren't into romance, I wouldn't want them to suffer. Except Mr Eldon, that one day. You're special *glib smirk*

Seriously, though, I'm friends with another author and we beta/edit the shizz outta each other's stuff. BUT we're both romance writers and actually enjoy one another's work. And the other BUT is that we're not obligated to do it. We do it because we want to. Neither is holding the other to some standard where we'd be miffed if a mistake was missed. More of a mutual decision to help, ya know?

I would never "expect" anyone to do anything for free. Even when my readers volunteer, I end up writing extra shizz and sending it to them privately as a "thank you gift". No joke.

The editor for $25 is my way of not relying on anyone *more shrugging*


message 16: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments Was happy to help out Annie :)

On a side note does anyone know how I can get my kindle to stop recommending romance to me lol


message 17: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 214 comments Annie wrote: "This is gonna make me sound like a butthead, but I'm not reading anything I don't wanna. Same with my book. Like, if friends aren't into romance, I wouldn't want them to suffer."

And nobody would expect you to. Different groups cater to different needs, there are lots of them out there. The group I use has queues for the main genres (including romance) and nobody is expecting you to critique someone just because they critiqued you. The way it works is you have to critique someone to earn credits to post your own stories. It's all about writers helping each other collectively. I like the fact that I can get multiple pairs of eyes on each chapter, and boy can they be brutal in their honesty! Not for the faint of heart :)


message 18: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Eldon: Mm-hm...but I'll never tell ya... (totally don' t know hahahaha)

@Mr Ian: Ah, it's similar to one-for-one reviews. I dig that concept. And I'm good with brutally honest *smirks* A bit of a masochist, actually *smiiiirks*

Thanks for the info, good sir!

Hugs,
Ann


message 19: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) I pay My middle-school daughter to proofread my stories and she does an exceptional job. I'm lucky that she has such an excellent vocabulary and grammar skills beyond her years. We just took the diagnostic SAT together and she was only 10 pts below me!


message 20: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Kinnen (KevinKinnen) | 22 comments Interesting topic. When commencing my career last year, I had no idea how many companies existed solely to feed off of the indie writers. However, I was not surprised.

I have a perspective on one genre that is extensive, and when comparing modern e-pub novels in that genre, as well as indie author work from today with the work of the Masters, there is a clear distinction. Many of the writers are juniors at best, even and perhaps most especially those that are cranking out three to five per year. The bar has been lowered for all, and the vanity publishing game is intertwined with the indie pub effort.

Quality is not always recognized immediately, if at all. But quality is not always the best seller, if you will pardon the pun. I won't knock a Best Seller for their effort, their success and accomplishment at the business and marketing side of the game. But that game is rapidly changing to one of unregulated madness, uncontrolled proliferation of marginal writing and poor structure. I am experienced with internet marketing campaigns from other businesses, and each time the paradigms change a whole slew of going concerns fail overnight. If there is no more bar, the big houses will have a hard time maintaining one by themselves. We cannot expect the readers to influence the quality by withholding their dollars if they pay practically nothing for the content to begin with. Since they get it so cheap, they expect the quality to be marginal.

As a reader, I am all for cheap prices at the digital checkout, and digital content SHOULD be cheaper than a printed book. That said, the current cost of a printed book is ridiculously low for the carbon footprint it takes up and the limited use it will likely see. The price of a digital book is ridiculously low for the cost of production IF a talented writer still has to pay others for editing, proofing, formatting, artwork, cover design, boosted market posts, advertising, etcetera. Even if the work hired out is legitimate, it is expensive.

The division should remain clear - if we, like myself, are doing all of these jobs ourselves, we are not only 'indie', which sounds really cool and trendy, but we are also 'amateurs'. It is similar to many independent careers, like real estate. You start with nothing, build a brand, hire assistants, develop relationships with advertising companies, maybe branch out a bit into some property management or rental houses. Eventually you may be well known and trusted. Until then, you are shoe leather with a phone.

Are there multiple traps along our way? You betcha. There are so many in every aspect of life, and many fields are beset with scam artists, users, and middlemen. I hate to say it, but the dreamer may not be the best equipped to navigate the minefield of charlatans and sharks. A cynical salesman will do a damn sight better, I am hoping...

Regaining all seriousness, I find now that I could make a lot, and I mean a LOT more money going to work for some of these companies. Far more than my art will probably make.

Oddly enough, I had never even considered that fact before reading this post.

Kevin Kinnen

Kevin Kinnen


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11468 comments I agree with most of what Kevin says. The trouble is, for promotion, if there were sources that could direct the promotion to potential readers, that would be valuable, but the problem is, there are so many scammers out there it is hard to locate someone who is genuine.

From point of view, I have run my own business for just under 30 years, and I have this strategy with the ebooks that I intend to end up with profits, not riches. (If riches inadvertently arrived, I would of course, take them.) I have to do a lot myself, and while I am sure things could be improved, I still think that what I end up with is at least reasonable. Nobody is perfect.


message 22: by Alex (last edited Jul 19, 2016 12:52AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Kevin wrote: If there is no more bar, the big houses will have a hard time maintaining one by themselves."

it was an artificial bar founded upon sand and when it began crumbling, then the big 5 colluded w/apple to shore it up. and now with that failed attempt at market collusion, they can't maintain that faux sandbar. components of that faux sandbar were the unfair contracts and choking off of creative output and sloughing them off into mountains of slush piles.

there has not been a "uncontrolled proliferation of marginal writing and poor structure" because it has always been there shuffled off into slush piles or in the desk drawer of an aspiring writer along with thousands of beautiful stories. and even some of what you've referred to as "marginal writing" can be turned into beauty.

art is high risk and it is not only something beautiful but it is also a product--Nik even said that he thought it was the economic endeavor with the highest risk--with a value embued by the market. furthermore, by the fact that the ebook is almost completely divorced from the physical material upon which it ephemerally exists, its value is much more volatile and even more determined by the market than say, toilet paper. (by the market, i mean competition and what consumers are willing to pay for a product.) to succeed within this decade--and probably the next one too--writers need to work with the existing profit margins and cost structures and innovate into new areas of economic opportunity--some of those are hybrid and "interactive-enabling" publishing internet platforms.

(so until one becomes successful, then one is an 'amateur'? that seems to be circular reasoning. furthermore, every struggling business person and artist would have been an amateur in the beginning then and therefore i see nothing for an amateur writer to be ashamed of.)

in conclusion, although i don't have enough data to determine whether it's worse now than before, it's not like writers weren't being scammed by publishers before, but at least now writers have more opportunities to find honest services--as well as getting their work out there.

btw, SFWA has some excellent resources to avoid being scammed:

http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/f...


message 23: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15690 comments Lots of interesting insights here and diverse opinions. Too bad I'm out of town and it's annoying writing anything lengthy at cell phone...-:(


message 24: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2277 comments I have been wondering if an indie publishing house would be a viable business. Like the traditional publishing houses, you sign indie authors, publishing their books the same way they would on Amazon, and like those houses, you would take care of creating the professional cover, the editing, and the promotion.

The big questions are how many indies would be willing to give up maybe half their royalties so as not to worry about all those marketing aspects, and how many books that might only sell one or two copies in their lifetimes could you take and turn into money makers?


message 25: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Kinnen (KevinKinnen) | 22 comments Alex G wrote: "Kevin wrote: If there is no more bar, the big houses will have a hard time maintaining one by themselves."

it was an artificial bar founded upon sand and when it began crumbling, then the big 5 co..."


True, but back then the slush piles weren't published right alongside the Best Sellers, based on number of possibly artificial reviews. That is the lowering of the bar I speak of. Good editing would indeed fix much of the marginal work, but we are back to either paying for the professional, reliable few we can determine are honest, or doing it ourselves.

JJ - I see some of that happening already, many new Indie Pub houses in the SciFi genre. Thinking about checking into them, I may not run every work through them but who knows what they might be able to accomplish w no deadweight business model and limited costs?

There should be no negative connotation when using the word 'amateur'. I just wanted to be clear that until we have a team of professionals working either with or for us, that's what we are, at least in the beginning. Pretty sure Hugh Howey isn't doing it all himself these days... LOL. That doesn't demean the individual, it only acknowledges a reality.


message 26: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11468 comments Kevin wrote: "Alex G wrote: "Kevin wrote: If there is no more bar, the big houses will have a hard time maintaining one by themselves."

it was an artificial bar founded upon sand and when it began crumbling, th..."


Kevin, if you try these Indie pub houses, keep us informed about outcomes.


message 27: by Kat (new)

Kat One "indie pub house" keeps calling me and offering me their dicount package at 600.- pounds sterling to publish through CreateSpace.

I don't mind them having a business idea and advertising it to people, I just wish they would stop calling every day to change my mind.


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15690 comments J.J. wrote: "I have been wondering if an indie publishing house would be a viable business.....
The big questions are how many indies would be willing to give up maybe half their royalties so as not to worry about all those marketing aspects..."


Some do it, I think. We can ask how viable it is. Denise?
I'd gladly give up on a big chunk of royalties to outsource marketing altogether. And if it's someone like Marie, whose marketing efforts are reported here regularly, I'd be quite confident in the outcome


message 29: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Re: Small Indie Press

I've totally considered this before. 100%.


message 30: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15690 comments Traps, anyone?


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11468 comments The biggest trap I can see is you pay your money and they really cannot deliver, but you are contractually bound. You must have a "get out" clause in the contract if a certain promised performance is not achieved.


message 32: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15690 comments So, where is the money: in writing or in servicing hungry for success writers? :)


message 33: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments Nik wrote: "So, where is the money: in writing or in servicing hungry for success writers? :)"

Probably a bit of both :)


message 34: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2277 comments Eldon wrote: "Nik wrote: "So, where is the money: in writing or in servicing hungry for success writers? :)"

Probably a bit of both :)"


Agreed. At this stage with so many people jumping in, authors need to diversify from the writing. It feels like you need to be on social media...find a way to use Patreon and Deviantart (they're not just for artists)...have a youtube channel. Anything else I'm missing? I think at this stage, you can't just write your book, and put it up. You have to "sell" other "products" related to your writing.


message 35: by Nenny (new)

Nenny May (nennymay) | 2 comments Sincerely I believe that as an indie author we have to spend more than we make. And as a young indie author I am running on a loss with the self-publishing of my book.


message 36: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11468 comments If you can get enough sales you can make a profit. The problem lies with the "if". When the kindle first appeared a given genre probably had no more than a few pages of books, and some people made packets. Now I gather there are about 6 million ebooks, which means you have a real problem getting noticed unless there is something else going for you.


message 37: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 1 comments Ian wrote: "If you can get enough sales you can make a profit. The problem lies with the "if". When the kindle first appeared a given genre probably had no more than a few pages of books, and some people made ..."

My experience mimics that - sale used to be regular now rare and I'm nowhere on the lists of best sellers despite 2 days at the top with my first book. I remain in the top 1 million although I have no idea. One sale seems to change rank by 10s of thousands

As for profits - I can write a tax loss each year...


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