There are days I absolutely love being a writer. The energy of a story blasting in your mind, driving in the car, getting so lost in writing thoughts, you get lost on the road. There are days I loathe it. The days where the negative, well-intentioned criticism test the thickness of your skin. Which, by the way, doesn’t really ever get thick. You think it, it’s not.
As indy or self published writers, unless you are fortunate, you don’t make a lot of money. Even if you do, it’s short lived. I belong to a FB group that goes by the premise if you write 20 books, you can make 50k. However, they leave out the fact that you don’t stop there, you have to write twenty more. Back when Kindle first started, this would work, the average life span of a book was 4-6 months, depending on how long it took for it to sell. It had a great shelf life. Now, with Unlimited, readers hungrily devoured books, more authors were popping them out like my kids pop out babies. The life span shrunk down to ninety days. Also, unlike in the past, if your book nosedives that first week, you can just focus on the next book. Sometimes, even with all the ads, you get lost in the shuffle of algorithms and people paying top dollar for their amazon ad to appear first.
Those of us who keep our books priced low, just can’t afford that top tier advertising. With book covers and ads we do, we average $1000 in the hole when we release. That’s a lot of money to get back in non guaranteed 90 day window of sales.
Then, the elephant in the room … editing. Granted, the positive is the 95% of readers who will not say much about a typo, those darlings say, ‘Oh, errors are even the big houses.’ But for how wonderful those people are, the few that breakthrough will cut you like a ten inch blade.
Do these people stop to think we DO know the difference between their and there, our fingers just type the wrong thing. We’re not idiots, as I have been called.
Maybe it’s me that gets the rash of emails right after any new release does well, people telling me how bad it is, or people trying to offer services. Hell, people don’t wait for that. They slam me anyhow.
First, I have paid for editing. In 2007, I took out a loan to have a book edited for $2300. To date, that beautifully edited book has made $138.16.
I never thought I’d sell my apocalypse books. I did. And that brought the onslaught of negative reviews and reality of publishing. I had books professionally edited. I hired one of the best in the business right now. And you know what? People STILL left negative reviews about editing. Which often has me wondering if editing is subjective.
The well intentioned email that says horrible things veiled in a bad attempt to word it nicely, often match the negative review they left. Okay, so blasting my book publicly wasn’t enough you had to email me as well? Hammer it in, yeah, I know, I suck.
Then you have those who offer to help. Mentioning help and possibly they have a lot of time on their hands.
As nice as this seems, before you accept … heed my advice … vet them.
I have two wonderful women who help me and have for years, we finally got it down or at least close. I have had wonderful people in the past help me. I am eternally grateful to any and all, without them I wouldn’t be where I am. But not once, has this happened.
The Trap I fell into …
KDP introduced the Quality Assurance Warning program. Readers report an error, then after several you get a warning and your amazon book page gets a hazard symbol. A hazard symbol. Yes, actually it’s free editing, but it takes time to do and re-upload and usually it’s a book that stopped selling. Usually . Maybe the hazard symbol did that.
So, shortly after they introduced it, I got a particularly stinging email about my editing from a person. That same person sent a near similar email two months later, then third nasty email offered help and said they’d do it. I will call them NP (New proofer) I went in to ‘put your money where your mouth is’, everyone is an expert editor until they do it and get bad reviews.
About the time of the second nasty email from NP, I started getting daily quality assurance notices (This was before weekly notices).
This person proofed a book for me, did okay, my main lady then found a ton that were missed. Of course, that’s why you have it read through at least five times. But NP would send emails asking for older books, because NP spotted errors. I asked every time if NP was sure, and the reply, “I’m bored and retired and lots of time.”
I had that you know, gut feeling about NP, but ignored it. Six months later, of NP helping my team, I get message and NP said, “I think you need to start paying me for all the work I do for you. I am on SS and need a new monitor.”
I replied that I would do the best I could, but Covid killed my income. Okay I was getting free help, I get it and I was happy to give NP something, never did NP say anything about it before. I got busy and a couple days later, I get a nasty message saying., ‘well, I guess I mean nothing. I was going to charge you only 20.00 a book but now I won’t take less than 50.’
So, I paid NP $50 and two weeks later sent the new book for the first pass before I sent it to others. Then I posted the cover I made and was met with tough criticism publicly from NP. A reader jumped to my defense and an hour later, another message from NP complaining that I only paid for one book, meaning NP wanted backpay. My reply was professional, end result, NP said ‘goodbye and good riddance.’
Now … back to Amazon Quality Assurance. Between NP’s second nasty email to me and the time NP started helping, I received 49 Quality Assurance warnings mainly from older books. During the six months NP helped, I received 2. Was NP the culprit of the mass reports? I don’t know. I like to believe not and it was a coincidence they stopped. Now I’m left to wonder if they’ll start again.
Bottom line, when you charge 2.99 a book, pay for a cover, ads, and like me, Uncle Sam, those offers of free help are wonderful. Sometimes the help becomes friendships that are immeasurable and sometimes, free as it seems recently, it comes with a price. Leaving me feeling bad, guilty and cheap all rolled into one ball.
I could pay for top editing, and charge more for the book, but as I learned through experience with my publisher, it doesn't make you more money, you just lose the sales and only get page reads, hence, about the same amount of money and less new readers and more people that see the price and say, "I'll pass".
I blame myself for what happens to me, if people see me badly, that's on me. Plus, any changes won't help. There's no help for me. I'm the old dog that pissed on the carpet one too many times. People now look for the wet spot on the floor. However, maybe this blog will stop someone from making my mistakes.