My name's LizIf you know me, it's probably from my writing on Blizzard Watch, DealNews, or Techlicious. But now I'm delving into fiction and working on a novel. It's a sci-fi, time travel thriller called Accidental Futures, which started with me watching Doctor Who and thinking "I could write a better time travel story than this." (Sorry, but I don't remember which episode I was watching.) In its current incarnation, it is absolutely nothing like Doctor Who, but that's where it started. The first three novels in the series are already outlined, and the first one is due to my editor this year — so Accidental Futures and its sequels will happen whether or not I get the financial support to cover the cost of making them. (Though the schedule on getting them finished may be different depending how much support I get and how well the books do to help me cover costs.)
My goal for noveling is to write two or three books a year (maybe with some short stories or serialized fiction thrown in for variety), all of which will be published as ebooks on Amazon (and perhaps other platforms). And, while these are the ideas I have sketched out right now, what those books are could change — if Accidental Futures doesn't pan out, I could land on something else entirely.
The high cost of writingI've been a freelance writer for about a decade now. Freelancing means cobbling together a lot of writing and editing work to make a living every month — which is sometimes just a continual scramble for assignments and paycheck. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing and the freedom freelancing offers me, but like any job, it can be stressful.
When I decided to forge into fiction writing, the big challenge was finding the time. Where could I carve out a few extra hours to write fiction that was doing nothing to help pay the bills? While there are plenty of authors who support themselves by writing books, writing and publishing can be pricey — and a lot of authors keep day jobs.
Here's a look at the costs:
- Outline review ($150). A walkthrough of a story outline with my editor to make sure I had all the bits and pieces to make the story work. I decided to do this instead of developmental editing, where you do a similar review process but with a full draft, which would cost in the $1,000 range.
- Line editing (around $1,200, depending on length). This includes the basics of fixing grammar and spelling, but also polishing everything up to create a great finished project. I could spend less on editing or more on editing, but I'm working with Lisa Poisso, an editor I've worked with for a long time and whom I trust implicitly.
- Cover art ($100 or more). Pre-made art, where an artist has put together a layout and drop in your title, can cost as little as $25... but isn't necessarily great. Professional cover designers making something completely custom for you charge $500 or more. The old adage of "you can't judge a book by its cover" is a lie. The cover is the first thing people are likely to notice about your book, and it either grabs their attention or it doesn't.
Taking those costs, I'll probably spend around $1,500 to publish one novel, without leaving wiggle room for something going wrong. (What if cover art costs more than I expect? What if I decide I really need to do developmental editing to make a solid story?)
And then there are a host of minor expenses. I spend over $300 per year on web hosting and domains, which I use to help people find me and my work online. I relaunched my site last year with a new URL, logo, and design, and intend to use it as an online portfolio of my fiction and non-fiction work. I also need software for for writing, planning, editing, and formatting. Advertising can help a book get noticed, but it costs.
Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching.
This is where you come in!I know I went off the deep end with business speak up there, and I apologize if your eyes have glazed over. I promise I am not a mindless marketing automaton, but sometimes I have to think like one. Self-publishing means I'm doing the creative stuff, the technical stuff, and the business stuff by myself.
I'm here because the chances of a first novel being a breakaway success are similar to the chances of winning the lottery. It's likely I won't cover publishing costs for my first book, and that makes it harder to write the second one and the third one. If I keep at it, there's a good chance my books will eventually pay for the cost of creating them — but until then, it's financially difficult.
With Patreon, if you're interested in my work, you can help me offset the cost of creating it. Plus you get to hear a lot of me talking about writing, some behind the scenes content, and original fiction.
What I've done and what I'm doingI've already gone through outline reviews for the first three books in the Accidental Futures series. I have an editing date at the end of November — which has gotten pushed back a few times due to health problems — but after that I'll need to work out cover art, formatting, and distribution.
I will be writing the Accidental Futures trilogy regardless of whether I reach any of my Patreon goals. However, if I don't meet those goals, that means I still have to do enough freelance writing work to pay my bills and cover publication costs — which cuts in to my time for writing. If I don't meet my first goal, I may not manage more than a book a year, though I'll do my best to do more than that.
I'm estimating about $250 per month per book, which covers all the costs of production and lets me cut back on freelance work to focus on getting writing done. If I can hit that goal, I will definitely be getting out a novel a year, and try for two. At $500 per month, I'll have the money and time to fully cover two books per year. And at $750 per month, I'll add a serial story into the mix, which Patrons will receive episodically, but will eventually be published in ebook form.
I also have two high-end goals for more art (wallpapers, character art, or comics) and doing audiobooks. While I can handle most of writing and publishing on my own, these are things I would have to get outside help for — and that means more expenses. Unless I hit these goals, these are pie in the sky ideas that I won't be doing any time soon.
As I go, I'll let you know what I'm up to and explain what I'm spending money on, writing-wise. I know I had no idea on a lot of the costs that went into publication before I started trying to do it myself, and if you're interested in that kind of behind the scenes, patrons can see the process as I figure it out myself.