Tag: Publishing

Productivity for Writers

Productivity for Writers

First, before all else, I want to share the announcement that my novel, “Fallen” is up for pre-order on Amazon. I could not be more excited, to be honest. After a decade on the publishing side of the writing world, I am finally entering it as an author. I’ve put out a bunch of short stories over the years, but this is the first novel that’s seeing public release. I still can’t quite believe it’s true. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy then my novel may be of interest to you.

Let me start by saying I am not the most productive individual in the world. I’m just not. Being disabled and having ADHD makes it difficult to get everything done that I want to get finished. That’s just a reality I have to deal with, however, there are some techniques that work for me, and they’re things that I think would for anyone. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this intro because I know you’re here for the tips.

#1: Set Aside Time

I know this sounds like it’s just basic advice, but it’s true. If you want to be a writer as a profession, you have to set aside time for it. Just like any other work. It doesn’t have to be constant or excessive, but making time for this is important. For me, I don’t tend to do much personal writing during the week because I am working on other people’s writing most often. So I give myself weekends. For some people it’s getting up at 5am for a few hours of quiet before they have to wake up the kids for school. Look at your schedule and see when you can give yourself some time to get words on the page. There’s no right or wrong here other than ensuring that you leave space. If it’s fifteen minutes or three hours, you are still creating the space.

 

#2: Set Goals

These goals don’t have to be huge. It could be “write for one Pomodoro” or “write 1,000 words.” It may be “finish one chapter.” Whatever your goals are, create reasonable and achievable goals that you can put down. You can even break them into categories, like with NaNo. The goal with NaNoWriMo is to write 65k words in a month. That means you have to break it down into a certain number of words per day. While you can gain or lose ground each day, you still are sprinting toward that goal.

Now, I’m not saying you need to write 65k words a month every month. Honestly, I think that leads to rushed writing and poor story craft a lot of the time. However, I can  write a first draft in 3-6 months. Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re reasonable and attainable. Also, they must be attainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. It’s important to recognize that life happens, and sometimes writing just has to take a back seat to whatever is happening.

#3: Accountability

When in doubt find a partner or group. My Discord Community has a channel for folks to put up their plans and goals, and we celebrate when people achieve them. Things like this can be key for folks who need the extra push to get things done. It’s like having a gym buddy. It’s easy to say “I just don’t feel like it” when it’s just you. But when you’ve got a gym partner who is encouraging you, our brains will engage and be less likely to cancel. Writing (and most art) can be the same. If you know people are waiting on you and are looking for your efforts, then it’s easier to tell the lazy parts to STFU.

#4: Boundaries

This is particularly important for authors who have families, but you have to make your writing time sacred. If anyone thinks that your writing time means you’re free to do things, they need to be informed otherwise. It’s incredibly important to create that space and enforce it. This can be difficult when you have children or a partner who need things, but if they know that you’re going to be writing at “x” time every day for “x” time period, they can learn to leave you alone. This also means boundaries for yourself: don’t give in to the temptation to answer that text message, work e-mail, or check Facebook. That doesn’t do you any good and will pull you out of the headspace immediately.

#5: Breaks From Social Media

I know, I know, this sounds extreme, but it works. I do my best writing at my family’s remote cabin in New York where there is no internet, no television, and no cell service. It’s quiet there, and I can really zero in on my writing. The digital world, as much as I love it, is distraction city. Particularly for anyone with focus issues (like me). There are constant notifications on my phone, people messaging me on various apps, and this feeling that I need to reply to things now.

It isn’t true.

Taking a break from social media for weeks at a time has taught me that, absent emergencies, there’s nothing I need to reply to now. If there is an emergency, of course I’m on deck. But if it’s just a meme or a work email that could wait until later to answer? I’ll deal with it then. Much similar, you should structure your writing time as a social media dead zone. Turn off data on your phone, close your web browser (unless you’re using it for music, in which case, hit “play” and then minimize it and leave it there), and let yourself write. I’d also suggest limiting social media when you first wake up or right before bed. It doesn’t really help anything, and you could use that time to read or schedule out your day or do yoga or whatever it is you feel like doing in that space.

#6: Change Your Mentality

If you want to be an author as your day job, that means you need to treat it as that: your job. This includes viewing your writing time as a professional space, not just fun time. Once you make the choice to publish your work, you are no longer a hobbyist writer but a professional one (even if you aren’t yet making money). This means that your work is professional development, and you should take it with the same seriousness you take anything for your day job.

The uncomfortable reality is that if you don’t treat your writing as a business it will never be more than a hobby, no matter how many books you publish. With that in mind, your writing time is work time. That scheduling I mentioned earlier? Those boundaries? This is your job. You wouldn’t just let your family come charging in if you work from home. You wouldn’t get up and wander off to watch TV if you were working from home. (Or at least I’d hope you wouldn’t.)


The theme here you may have noticed is that you need to treat this as work. Writing is a wonderful creative thing. I love writing, and I love writers. There’s nothing I will be more excited about than talking to writers about their writing. Truly. However, the reality is that too few of us view this as a vocation and too many see it as just a thing we do in our spare time that we halfheartedly hope will make us money. To quote the indomitable Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Fallen Friday: COVER REVEAL! (and sample chapters)

Fallen Friday: COVER REVEAL! (and sample chapters)

This week I am using my “Fallen Friday” to do something a little different. Since we are creeping up on the release date (January 13, 2022), I am taking this time and space to share a first peek at my cover and first two chapters!

In case you haven’t seen me screaming from the rooftops on social media, my novel, Fallen, is an urban fantasy story about a fallen angel, a murder, and a demon.

Blurb:

A newly-fallen angel accused of murder, Cassiel must save an elven girl and face demons—both literal and personal. She knows she isn’t the best person for the job, but she’s the only one who can do it.

The police are ill-equipped to handle demons, even with magic, and time is running out. Cassiel and her friends—a disabled human veteran, a reformed elven gangbanger, and an ex-marine orc—face the hardest fight of their lives.

This fast-paced urban fantasy adventure is the first novel in the “Smoke and Magic” series, set in modern Boston, MA. If you are looking for a new voice in Urban Fantasy, look no further than “Fallen.”

Cover design by Angel Leya.

To claim your free sample, please click the link below and sign up for my newsletter!

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

What It Means To Be An Author

What It Means To Be An Author

Being an author is more complicated than just writing a novel, uploading it to Amazon. Sure, those are a part of the process, but authorship means more than just being somebody who typed a whole lot of words in a more-or-less coherent order. It, in fact, means more than just pitching your book to agents and publishers. All of those things are important and necessary to the process, but they’re pieces of a bigger whole.

Authorship means your brand, your expertise, and your book. It means you are no longer just a private citizen. You are a public figure. You have a brand. You have the weight of authority. This means you’re also an expert, as much as you might not want to be or feel qualified to be. Don’t let that go to your head, though. You’re an expert about your book series and maybe about creative writing.

Authorship means your brand, your expertise, and your book. It means you are no longer just a private citizen. You are a public figure.

E. Prybylski

Being an author also means you need to maintain that public-facing image. Which means marketing, acting appropriately in your public spaces, sharing parts of your life with the world (not all of it, but some), and so on. You are an author, not just a private citizen.

We have all dreamed of being Stephen King or Anne McCaffrey or Neil Gaiman as far as our readership goes. But what does that mean for us as a person? Are we prepared for being, well, famous? I’m not claiming any of us here are going to be those people, of course, but assuming we do get a following and get known, it will mean we live in the limelight to some degree or another. Things we say and actions we take will have weight to them, and people will see us and judge us. Is that something you’re prepared for?

Do you know what your author brand is yet? Have you thought that through and figured it out? Do you know what it means? These are all considerations you need to make and conversations with yourself you need to have. That isn’t to say you should quit now if you don’t like the idea of walking the red carpet because chances of us ending up there are slim. But you need to be honest with yourself: is that something you want?

If it isn’t, it’s okay to write as a hobby. Many people do it and love it. They write because it’s what they’re passionate about, regardless of any desire to publish. I fully and wholeheartedly encourage such endeavors. However, to those who are looking at the journey to the next steps, that means you have to be an author.

When considering what I wanted to do with my life, being an author was always the top of my list. It was: author, veterinarian, and then farmer. In that order. At least when I was a kid. As I grew up, my priorities changed, but being an author was always at the top of my list. However, when I started understanding what publishing really entails, I realized that dream was more complicated than it sounded as kid.

Even after going to business school, I didn’t make the connection between authorship and business. Nor did I until I started working in the industry. I read Dan Poynter’s books and came to realize and internalize that as much as writing is an art, publishing is a business. That reality clicking in my brain triggered a series of changes. For one, I started this blog.

The last decade has been a slow gathering of steam toward becoming the author I have dreamed of being since I was a child. That also means growing comfortable in front of people. Even if I only share a portion of myself with my fans (thinking about having fans gives me all sorts of feelings I can’t quantify), I do have to share. Which meant deciding what to share and how vulnerable to be.

These are decisions all of us authors have to make. How much to share, when, and with whom is an important part of deciding what our plans for the future are going to be. That, and leaning into the fact that when we are acting as our authorly selves (as opposed to the us that we are in private) we need to be “on.”

This may feel like it’s disingenuous, but I’m not suggesting you lie. However, I can tell you with certainty that, as a musician, the me on stage performing is a different me than the one who is curled up in their cozy PJ pants writing this blog. (My PJ pants have pictures of sheep on them and say, “I love shleep.”) Any performer will have an on-stage and off-stage difference, and we as authors must do the same with our public-facing media. Sure, still be you, but be a more focused, polished, professional you.

[Authors] treat their social media and blog as an extension of their personal space and don’t censor themselves or think how their target audience might receive what they say.

E. Prybylski

It’s a mistake I see many authors make—particularly indie ones. They treat their author social media and blog as an extension of their personal space and don’t censor themselves or think about how their target audience might receive what they say. I’m not saying you can’t have opinions and use your author platform to speak about them, but doing so mindfully will help you avoid a lot of misery in the future. Once your name becomes associated with something, you will likely never get out of it again. (wild gesticulation to JK Rowling’s behavior).

I’m working on a course that will be available through my website to help you, as a writer, explore what authorship means to you and help you craft your author identity, though it may be a bit since I’ve never made a course before. PowerPoint is, by far, not my area of expertise, that’s for sure! But do keep an eye out for that and several other courses that I am going to be launching in the upcoming months as I gear up for my book launch in January.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Guest Post: Chrystele Myriam

Guest Post: Chrystele Myriam

Hi, it’s E! This week I have a guest post by the lovely Chrystele. We are doing a blog exchange, so you can find my post over on her blog: https://www.chrystelemyriamuni.com/bleedingink.

Hi! Hello everyone! My name is Chrystele, and I am so happy to be here with you guys for this blog swap! I wanted to thank E. for choosing me to do this! I think it’s great to be able to read about people’s side of experiences or stories, so this idea of a blog swap or collaboration is very interesting.

I’m French, but I write in English. As weird as it may sound, words come easier in English than in French, but trust me, in the beginning it was not the case! I wrote an article about why I write in English and not in French, but this time I wanted to dive in more about how I manage to keep my work (whether it’s my blogs or my books) as structured as good as I can. I’m a perfectionist, so I really look at details (sometimes too much, to be fair with you). But as I look back on my work, what I thought was perfection is far from it. It lacked a lot of things. For instance, my stories only had dialogue and not enough narrative. There was no explanation, no way to know who was speaking, and of course a lot of typos.

It took time, of course. Like everything that you are learning, you need time to master it. Writing is an art, and art is something that you get better at the more you do it. It’s something that you put your heart and soul in it, but sometimes you let your head get in the way and think that you are not enough. Most of the time, you just need either help or more practice, or both.

Writing is an art, and art is something that you get better at the more you do it.

Chrystele Miriam

What really helped me with my writing was reading. I used to only read in French, so my vocabulary in English wasn’t wide enough for me to write something that wasn’t full of repetition and errors. So, I started to read in English, and now (long story short) I am losing my French, and I have to force myself to read in French… Ah, irony, my sweet friend.

What I would suggest would be to have a beta reader. Having someone with fresh eyes and different ideas and reading experience than you can help you see mistakes that you didn’t in the first place. No matter how many times you read your work, there is one typo that will just get through the cracks…I can’t tell you how many traditionally books I have read that had typos! Writing takes time. It’s something you need to be patient with. I’m not much of a patient person. When I finish a project that I am proud of, I just want to share it with the whole world! That was my main mistake with my debut works: I posted it as I wrote it. I am doing it today again, for one of my short stories on Wattpad, but this time it’s on purpose. It’s a way for me to have fun. Maybe one day I’ll really work on this story and publish it, but for now it’s not in the projects.

If it’s something you want to publish and promote and talk about, it has to be something clean, clear, and proper. And by that, I mean it has to make sense. Not just to you, but to your audience. Avoid typos as much as possible. As I said, there is always going to be one that goes through, but the lesser, the better. Target your audience. If you want a general audience, I suggest to not over complicate it. If you have a specific audience, you can go into more technical terms and such. You have to consider who you’re going to write for. Otherwise, your work will indeed be out there, but it won’t be seen.

Re-reading your work is the key. I cannot tell you how many times I have read one of my works in progress to the point where I could no longer stand it…That is why I took a break from writing it. Which takes me to another point: do not be afraid to stop for a while. Sometimes when you’ve been at it for too long and too much, you might lose interest or you will block or you just might feel like you don’t want to write the story anymore. There is not a right amount of time for how long it takes to write a book (or any piece for that matter). It is totally okay to stop for a while, and you might even have a great result by coming back to it after. You will be able to see some typos or some details missing or not making sense. You might even have an idea for something that you would just crash on.

Do not be afraid to have many versions of one book. The work in progress I talked about earlier has had five different versions. The first draft will never be perfect. It’s where you discover your world, your characters. It’s where you dump your ideas. I use the first draft as a way to put every idea that I have for the story in, build the universe, the main events and such. I do not focus on the details on the first draft. I use the second draft to work on the timeline now that the main events are worked out. I have to make them make sense, avoid any plot holes, or events having different dates. I work on the details in between — the body of the story. I write a bit more about the characters. My second draft is really where I dive into the story. The third draft is where I care about the typos. I change some things such as chapters or how and when characters are introduced. Most of the time the third draft for me is the final one, but it can be more.

The bottom point of all this is: writing takes time, and it’s not easy. Asking for help is not making you a lousy writer. Imposter syndrome is hard and cruel, but trust me when I say that we’ve all been there. A second opinion or even a third won’t hurt you. It might do you good. All I can tell you is: No matter how easy it is to get lost in this process and terrifying side of being a writer, never forget why you write and why you love to.

The Realities of Author Life

The Realities of Author Life

In case you don’t know, I’ve been in the publishing industry over a decade and worked for two small indie publishers and done editing work for many self-published authors as well as several larger writing websites (now defunct). Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a decade, but when I look back and realize how much time has gone by, my brain hurts, and I my joints ache. I don’t like to feel old. So I try to ignore it. However, this week’s blog is germane to that experience, so I get to own up to my age for once and lean into it.

On average, publishers invest about $10,000 in your book and in you when they pick up your book. That is almost as much as an in-state four-year college degree in some states. (At least according to Business Insider’s metrics based on 2020’s numbers). If you are self-publishing, you may end up paying a similar amount in editing, cover design, formatting, ISBNs, distribution, and marketing. That number comes both from personal experience as well as Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual (a book I recommend to all authors).

You don’t necessarily have to spend that much money on a book to publish it well if you have some skills, access to well-priced editors and cover designers, and so on. But that isn’t an unrealistic number as far as investment goes. That said, some of that investment may be in billable hours you put in rather than just in money out of your bank account, and it doesn’t count the time you spent writing your story or revising it.

While I cannot speak for every publisher (some out there just slap books out without much attention and likely do not invest that kind of time or money into their authors), I can certainly speak to myself when I say that this kind of relationship is an investment. I am putting my money where my mouth is and betting that you can earn back what I’ve put into your book.

There is this insidious mythology out there in the writerverse that once your book is picked up by a publisher (or you self-publish), you no longer need to do anything except sit back, bask in your own genius, and rake in the profits. Unfortunately, that cannot be further from the truth. In fact, being picked up by a publisher is just step two in your author journey. What it means is someone thinks your book is good enough to invest in.

If you are writing a book with the intent to publish, you are embarking on a business journey.

E. Prybylski

If you are writing a book with the intent to publish, you are embarking on a business journey. You are, in some ways, an entrepreneur. Moreso if you are self-publishing. While, yes, you can write for fun and invest nothing and hurl your book at Amazon for friends and family, if you want to really live those dreams of being famous and having anyone care about your writing outside of your nearest and dearest, it is hard work. Worse, it is hard work that has nothing to do with writing.

Publishing a book is, to a lot of authors, this mythical unicorn in a forest they imagine they can catch just by writing the next world’s greatest novel. Writing your book is good, but it’s just the beginning.

If you are going to go into the business of authorship, you need to be prepared to do a lot of miserable leg work. For example, I spent twelve hours yesterday sniffing out bloggers who read books in my genre and adding nearly two-hundred of them to an Excel spreadsheet so I can track my pre-release review requests. This list is available if anybody wants it; I don’t mind sharing. But these reviewers are mostly geared toward Urban Fantasy, so you’ll want to make sure your book fits into what they read.

That kind of work doesn’t fit with how many people view their life as an author. It was exhausting and tedious, but it was also necessary. My book doesn’t come out until January 13th, 2022 (which is Make Your Dream Come True day, for those curious about why I chose that day), but I am going to be starting to send out review copies in November and have already approached a few reviewers who have said they are booked six months out and require in-advance registrations. (That was a nail-biter for sure.)

In addition to that, I’m in talks with a fellow author and friend of mine, Dr. Joe Weinberg, to get my podcast back up and running as the two of us having chats about writing-related subjects a few times a month. I also write these blogs which are, make no mistake, a form of marketing. That said, I like to think I give enough value in what I have to say that I’m not hammering anyone over the head with “PAY ME FOR STUFF.” Which is kind of the point.

My life–outside of my editing and publishing work for other people–is full of scheduling blog posts, making graphics for said scheduled blog posts, networking on social media, reaching out to blogs/podcasts/vloggers/bookstagram to see who might want to collaborate, interview me, have me write a guest post, or review my book, and studying my social media metrics.

All of that, and I don’t even have a book out yet.

Which isn’t to say this is an all day every day sort of thing; I typically write and edit my blog posts in about an hour each. Sometimes I really get into the groove and write an entire month’s worth in an afternoon and get all of that out of the way so I don’t have to think about it for awhile. Or, if I am going to be traveling (like I am in early September for my wedding anniversary), I plan things in advance so content gets created while I’m gone. I also spend about 20 minutes of targeted networking time on social media a day. I don’t limit myself to one platform and am still feeling out where my target audience is. I think it’s probably Twitter, but I will be honest that I haven’t really started to hit Instagram yet and need to start working on my branding there.

Most of my marketing efforts I set aside to do in small chunks every day, but an ambitious or busy individual may take one day a week and put them all in there (scheduling social media posts for when they aren’t around, for example). I know several authors who operate that way, including my dear friend Jayce Carter who writes delicious erotic romance, if that’s something you’re into reading. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Also, she’s just a delightful human being.

All in all, if this sounds like an awful lot of work, you’re getting the idea. It is. What you’re doing is launching a business like any other. You have a product to sell, and you have something you want the world to see. Even if you did manage to write the next world’s greatest novel, if nobody knows you exist, they can’t read it.

Even if you did manage to write the next world’s greatest novel, if nobody knows you exist, they can’t read it.

E. Prybylski

Even Raymond E. Feist, author of the Riftwar Cycle and man who has sold more than fifteen million books, told me that when he started out as an author, he was beating feet around his downtown in the 1980s, approaching local bookstores and trying to sell his wares. His publisher didn’t do that work for him, and he didn’t gain his fame overnight. He was very frank about the fact that marketing is necessary for authors, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. (Also, he’s a super nice guy and tries to reply to everyone on his social media.)

Author life is more than book signings, events, speaking engagements, and sitting alone with your whiskey at 3am while you wrestle with your words. Any lingering idea that you can just “make it” without marketing yourself or putting in the un-glamorous backend work is a lie authors are telling themselves and each other. While, sure, lighting could strike, you also could win Powerball. The odds are about the same.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Five Conversations To Have With Your Editor

Five Conversations To Have With Your Editor

I know, I know. I don’t like the “clickbait-ey” titles, either, but this just sort of fit with the message this week, so I hope you’ll indulge me the headline. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Twitter lately (which is where I tend to hang out, @ehprybylski) and on various other places sharing horror stories authors have about editors they paid money to who either made the manuscript worse or who didn’t do the job the author needed. Some of this is dealing with preditors (spelling intentional), but sometimes it’s because the author didn’t have some very important conversations with their editor before starting that journey.

As with anything you’re going to be spending thousands of dollars on, it’s a smart choice to have some conversations with the person you’re paying to make sure they know what you want and to ensure you both have the same image in your mind of what the finished product looks like. Not talking to your editor about your needs and desires for your book is like not telling the contractor you hired to paint your house what shade of blue you want. There are a lot of variations in that hue, so you need to be more specific than just “blue” or else you’re probably not going to get the one you want. Nobody will be happy.

1) What Kind Of Editing You Want

This is a very important discussion because it tells the editor what exactly you’re looking for. It’s okay if you come to the table not knowing what you want, but if you hire an editor without discussing what kind of editing they’re doing, you might end up spending a whole lot of money for a type of editing you weren’t after. I don’t want to take up a huge amount of the blog by explaining the different types of editing here, but my editing website details the different types of editing if you want more information on them.

A number of the “this editor sucks” posts I’ve seen were because authors either didn’t understand what editing entails (hint: it’s more than just punctuation and grammar!) and had their expectations shattered or because the editor did a different kind of editing than the author expected entirely and didn’t do what they needed. That isn’t to say that a large number aren’t just bad editors–that’s definitely a thing that happens–but clear communication about the scope of work is important.

2) Does That Editor Have Experience In Your Genre

This is an important question to ask your editor before you start work with them–particularly for newbie editors. If the editor has no experience in your genre, and you’re hiring them to do a developmentla edit, you are probably not talking to the right editor for you. While I feel confident that I could do a line or copy edit on most genres, I certainly wouldn’t touch a developmental edit that’s outside the genres I work in (spec. fic., romance, YA) without a clear understanding with the author. I have a friend who wants to hire me to work on her non-fic book, and she really wants to have me work on it. I’ve been clear that I’m not an expert on that, but she’s not getting something she isn’t prepared for.

An editor with no experience in your genre won’t know the genre tenants and may end up doing damage to your book. If a speculative fiction editor is thrown neck-deep into a self-help book, they will have no idea how to structure the flow of chapters or when to give what advice. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable with it at all and would not be the right editor for the job.

3) How To Reach Your Editor

This is a thing I’ve dealt with before. I actually have a clause in my contract about it. Most editors abhor phone calls. We are insular beasts who like email both because there’s a record of the conversation (which can be important) and because having things detailed in writing lets us refer to them later. And we’re antisocial mole people. (At least I am. Hiss.) However, some editors are okay with phone calls at specific times or will allow “x” number per contract.

Knowing how your editor prefers to be contacted will mean you won’t ruffle feathers with them by using the wrong method and jarring them out of their work. I’ve also had clients who have boundary issues and liked to call me at 10pm and talk for hours. Every. Day. As much as I liked the person, that really made it hard to work, and it meant that my personal life was taking a hit. Also, they were in a differet time zone which meant for them it wasn’t calling particularly late in the evening, but for me it was the time when I turn into a potato and play video games and am thoroughly done with work. (See antisocial mole people.)

I am fine with authors contacting me on Discord or (for some select folks) Facebook Messenger. Some editors only want to contact their clients through email because they prefer to keep all their professional communique in one place. As such, it’s wise to know how your editor prefers to function.

4) Understand The Scope Of Work

Ah, the good ol’ scope of work, the archenemy of “scope creep.” This is a common issue I see between editors and authors. Without a clearly-defined scope of work between author and editor, it can end up in frustration for both parties when the editor is quite sure the job is finished and the author feels like they didn’t get their money’s worth. Many editors will have a scope of work clause in their contract, and it’s a wise thing to put together.

What this means is that the time, energy, and scope of the edits are defined before work begins. How many passes through the manuscript the author receives for the fee they are paying, how many phone calls/emails you get through the process, how many revisions an editor is willing to make to a final document, whether or not the editor provides an editorial letter detailing their thoughts on the manuscript (most do), and what have you. If you know in advance what the editor is going to do, it creates structure and boundaries for the relationship so the author knows what to expect and the editor is not subject to endless future emails of, “a reader found a typo on page 15, and I’m mad about it.”

I’ve seen emails like that before. No manuscript is perfect no matter how many rounds of editing are done on it, and editors are also human. Missing a handful of small errors after correcting thousands of them in a document is a better ratio than you think. So don’t be surprised if there is a typo on page fifteen.

5) Sample Edits

Many editors, myself included, will provide sample edits to prospective clients as a method of showing the client our editing style as well as getting a feel for what kind of work the manuscript needs. Sample edits may range in length and type depending on the editor, but it is always a reasonable question to ask if you are trying to decide if an editor is going to work for you. Plus, if their editing style just does not work for you at all, it is best to know that before going into a multi-thousand-dollar agreement. Some editors may offer refunds, but many of us do not because while customer satisfaction is important, we cannot take back the hours upon hours we have put into your manuscript just because you and I have different styles.

The best way to go about getting a feel for multiple editors is to send them all the same passage from somewhere in the middle of your book (if that falls within their sample edit clause) and compare the changes they all make. Editors are much like writers in that we all have a unique editorial “voice” and will make different subjective edits to various books. While we all might agree that a particular comma or some such is inaccurate, we may all have different ideas on how to re-word an awkward sentence or whether or not an adjective or adverb needs to go. That doesn’t mean one editor is “right” and the others are “wrong” on these subjective edits, but some may work better or worse with your personal style, and that’s something we all understand.

These five conversations will do a lot to help you communicate effectively with your editor and save you a lot of misery, frustration, and money. It will also save the editor frustration and hair-pulling because these conversations are just as important for us to have. Now, I will guide my clients through these conversations if they don’t know to have them, as will many other editors, but if you come to the table prepared it will be a pleasant surprise for your editor and show that you have a better handle on what to expect.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Marketing And EEK!

Marketing And EEK!

I’ve done posts about this before, but I will say it again: Marketing is probably the hardest part of being a writer. Sure, writing is difficult, and editing can be painful, but marketing is often so anathema to the very foundations of our souls that doing it feels like the psychic equivilent of nails on a chalkboard. Most writers are introverts, and the idea of going out of our way to scream from the metaphorical rooftops like a 17-year cicada scares the heck out of us. Well, if we’re doing it as a marketing technique. What you do at midnight after drinking too much tequila stays between you, the roof, and your neighbors.

However, the cold, hard reality is that no marketing means no sales. No sales means no money. And your publisher will not do all your marketing for you. No matter what you’ve been told, your publisher cannot and will not do your marketing for you. Some of it they absolutely will pick up, but the bulk of it will land squarely on your shoulders because they cannot do a large portion of it for you. Not just because they don’t have money for publicists (or don’t want to invest that money in you) but also because they cannot replace your voice with their own and have books sell.

Most writers are introverts, and the idea of going out of our way to scream from the metaphorical rooftops like a 17-year cicada scares the heck out of us.

E. Prybylski

Trust me. I’ve tried it as a publisher. It just doesn’t work. No matter how much yelling, cajoling, and approaching people I do, I cannot replace an author because most outlets small enough to be accessible to me as an indie publisher don’t want to hear from me. They want to hear from the author. They want to talk to you because you’re the interesting party here. And the expert, no less.

So how do we handle this? Well, after spending some time today working on a plan, I have put together a three-part snapshot of how I am telling the authors my company has published to handle their marketing. I’ll put a download link at the bottom of the blog post so you can download it, too. The ideas aren’t unique to me; I just put them together in this three-phase plan. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by marketing, so I broke it down into three categories for average, everyday use.

This document is separate from a lot of the things you’ll want or need to do for a book launch, so don’t use this as a launch guide. This is a maintainance plan for when you have a book out and are past the launch push. Book launches require a completely different approach. Many of the same actions are part of it, but during launch time, there is a lot more required, and instead of spending a couple hours a week, you’ll probably spend the first week giving it a couple hours a day.

This guideline also does not include things like Amazon/Facebook ads or other such things because this was written for the authors published by my company, and Insomnia handles much of that kind of paid marketing. For a self-published author, you will want to look into Amazon advertising and things like BookBub and other paid promotions, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog, and I am by far not an Amazon ads expert. That’s my business partner’s job, and he does a good job of it.

The three categories in the attached file are:

  • Things you can do once and not worry about.
  • Things you need to do every week.
  • A list of multiple options you can choose three of to do per week and change it up however you like.

Now, you can take that last one and do more of those items per week, or if you’ve exhausted one of those resources, you can just not bother with it for that week (or at all, in the case of vlogging or podcasting if you just are not going to market that way). But I pulled together a pretty big list of options that if an author tackled some of those every week, they would find themselves making progress.

Personally, I try and do the following every week (with the understanding that sometimes it just isn’t happening due to disability, illness, or life).

  • Post at least twice on my author social media accounts.
  • Have two blog posts prepared per week (sometimes I write well ahead).
  • Post in my “street team” group once a week to update them on where I am in my process.
  • Create marketing images in Canva for my blog posts and book.
  • Schedule my blog posts and promotional posts.

That is my usual weekly rotation. That will change some once my novel comes out in January (I’ll be adding a few things), but absent writing a blog post (which takes me about half an hour to forty minutes on average), most of those things I can get done all at once in about half an hour if not less, depending on how much time I spend noodling in Canva. (It’s kind of addictive.)

I have taken to Pomodoro timers, so I can usually get most of my marketing work done in a single “pomodoro” (a unit of 25 minutes with a 5 minute break.) My blog posts typically take two pomodoros. One to write, one to edit and schedule (which includes making a promotional image).

Sometimes they take more or less depending on the subject, but that adds up to about an hour and a half a week of straight marketing work. This doesn’t count the time I spend on Twitter hanging out in the #WritingCommunity hashtag or meandering through writing groups on Facebook and leaving comments for folks. While I should ration that time out and dedicate some time specifically for that every couple days, I usually do it at 3am when I should be sleeping and am instead staring at my phone. You know, as one does.

My point with this blog is that marketing doesn’t need to be an eldritch horror of a process. You can spend an hour or two a week on it and get a lot more done than you expect, and if you schedule your time effectively, you can pack a lot into a tiny time period and be very productive about it.

Marketing shouldn’t cut heavily into your writing time except maybe for a short time around a novel launch. Other than that, you should ration your time so you make the most of it without overwhelming yourself. When the world returns to in-person, you may need to spend more since you will want to schedule in-person events, but it shouldn’t be terrible. And a lot of this work may be fun and exciting.

I hope you find this list helpful. At the bottom of it you’ll find a bunch of links, including a link to a personal YouTube playlist I have put together including some of my favorite book marketing videos that I think share a lot of really good advice.

If you like the list, feel free to use it or take pieces and parts of it to create your own marketing plan. Like I said, I am not coming up with any new or revolutionary suggestions here, so I’m not territorial about it.

Also, be aware that if you’re coming to this list in the future (it’s August, 2021 right now), the components may change and need updating based on the changing markets, so that’s something you’ll want to be aware of as you venture into the wide world of marketing. Though I suspect a lot of the fundamentals will remain the same.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Bad Writing Advice

Bad Writing Advice

I keep having to make grumpy TikTok videos and Twitter posts because I keep running into bad writing advice. So much of it. Everything from, “word count doesn’t matter!” to “editing is a waste of money” to “all critique is equal!” There’s just so much of it, and it never fails to make my hair stand on end.

To be clear here, to me, there are two categories of writing: pleasure and business. If you are writing just for the pure pleasure of creation, most of my writing advice is of only marginal use to you unless you’re trying to hone your craft for yourself. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with writing for pleasure. I draw for pleasure. I do a lot of arts for fun and am not trying to master any of them. They’re creative outlets for me. While I may be quite good at some of them, I’m still just doing it for me. My advice for people writing for pleasure is very different than for those who are trying to get published.

My advice isn’t always popular. I mean, whose is? Nobody’s anything is always popular. Except maybe pet pictures. I have yet to see a pet picture I didn’t like (absent issues with care and well-being of the animal in question). I try to be kind and considerate and understand that there are people from all walks of life and from all different experiences, but there are times where I just have to step in and say, “No, this isn’t true.”

I try to be kind and considerate and understand that there are people from all walks of life and from all different experiences, but there are times where I just have to step in and say, ‘No, this isn’t true.’

I’m not alone in my opinions most of the time, either. I am friendly with a number of editors who will back me up if I say something because I’m not just talking out my backside. I can back my opinions (on writing) up. Now if you ask me my opinion on sports, I have nothing to back that up with. Sportsball and I? Different universes. But my opinions often are the ones people don’t want to hear because it makes writing seem too much like work.

The unfortunate reality I have had to confront, and all of us have to confront sooner or later, is that if we are writing with the intent to publish our books and sell them, it’s a business. Yes, we are artists. Of course we are. I’m not saying we should all be identical to one another or any such nonsense. But if you are writing for publication and intend to make a go at the career and business of writing, there are a lot of harsh truths you have to come to terms with.

Writing has rules, as do genres. Editing is extremely important. Critique is valuable, and where it comes from is important. Someone on Twitter growled at me when I said you should weight critique from vetted or professional sources higher than you do rando comments. And I’m sorry, you should. They came back at me claiming they don’t need to be a professional chef to be able to say they don’t like the food. That’s true. However, that critique isn’t helpful to a writer. The critique we should listen to is by the people who (continuing the chef analogy) can say, “Your cumin balance is off with the rest of this and is making it bitter. Here, let’s change up the recipe a touch so we can stave off that edge. Try adding a little molasses.”

Because in my mind we’re making chili. And that’s how you fix a chili that has too much cumin and is bitter. Also, you can add a little water and add more guts to the chili. Toss in a few more peppers and beans if you can.

That isn’t to say the world at large’s comments don’t have merit–you don’t need to be an expert in writing to notice something is terribly written or otherwise lacking. Hardly so. But where the lack of expertise falls flat is, most of the time, the people making the critique of a writer’s work don’t really know how to fix it. They might be able to identify a problem, but fixing it requires more than just deleting it.

Writing advice that also follows the vein of “the corporate shills don’t know anything, just write what YOU want to write!” is equally poor. The reality is, if you’re going to write for publishing, you have to care what the market wants to some extent. If you want to completely ignore the rules for your genre, you run the risk of not selling and being review bombed OR never being picked up by a publisher or agent. If you are okay with those eventualities, then be honest with yourself: you’re writing because you love it, not because it’s a career. Which is fine–I encourage it, even. But stop dispensing advice like that to people who are trying to be published and want to make a go of turning it into a career.

Part of the reason I take this bad advice so dang personally is because I have seen so many writers be given horrible suggestions that damage their chances. And I get sick to my bones when people are being given bad career advice because I know what it’s like to be them and know nothing of the writing world and be starry-eyed and excited. I got taken advantage of during that time by several people who I thought had my best interests at heart. They did not.

I get sick to my bones when people are given bad career advice because I know what it’s like to be them and know nothing of the world and be starry-eyed and excited. I got taken advantage of during that time by several people who I thought had my best interests at heart. They did not.

E. Prybylski

I get wanting to buck the system and wanting to stick it to “the man.” I do. The Big Five have issues with all sorts of things, and they certainly aren’t always right. I’m all for the indie authors breaking the mold and stepping outside the expected boundaries of writing to do new things. Yes, do it. Rock it. Just recognize that it isn’t right for everyone. There’s a reason a lot of the more conventional writing advice exists. And I don’t mean things about gender, race, or what have you. I mean things like: avoid using too many adverbs; semicolons should be used judiciously; writing what you know…those various pieces of advice exist for a reason. And it’s not just to “keep writers down.”

Then there are the writers who say, “Well ‘x’ big star can get away with it. Why can’t I?” Because you’re not them. They can get away with breaking rules because they did their time following them. Tolkein was able to break rules regarding word counts because he started with several smaller books and proved he could sell them (Also, The Two Towers was just barely over 150k, so not outrageous for that genre). Sir Terry Pratchett didn’t need chapters because he was Sir Terry Pratchett, and his writing flowed like that. He also used footnotes in a unique way that I wouldn’t reccommend for most writers, despite him having pulled it off with panache. There are hundreds of exceptions to the rules out there. But you aren’t them yet. Start by coloring inside the lines (within reason).

I promise you. My advice isn’t designed to crush your soul as a writer. I want the opposite for you. I want you thriving, healthy, and making money (if that’s what you want). I’m not a corporate shill. My publishing company is teeny tiny, and I don’t make enough to be a “corporate” anything. I’m also not suggesting you make cookie-cutter books that are just like everyone else’s. However, what you need to do is stay within reasonable margins as far as writing is concerned. Learn the craft well and intimately first before you decide what rules to break and what rules to follow. If you never learn, understand, and internalize the rules, you won’t know when and how to break them.

In addition to my writing, I have been a professional violinist. I have played for thirty years, everything from darkwave synth to Vivaldi. There are rules in music, too. Things like time signatures and keys. I had to learn those rules before I could break them. Breaking rules is great; musicians do it all the time, but if you never learn them to start with, you just sound like a disaster. This is the same for any art.

Ultimately, this whole post is just a big caveat emptor for writing advice on social media. Be careful what you listen to and who. Not everyone is right, not everyone has your best interests at heart, and you are better off focusing your energy on learning the rules first.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Why Your Epic Isn’t Being Published

Why Your Epic Isn’t Being Published

Let me start by saying I don’t hate long books. I read most of Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series (stopped at Dragon in Winter) as well as Terry Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” series. I’m here for epic fantasy. Truly. However, when it comes to the book publishing industry, there are a lot of reasons why your epic fantasy isn’t being published. And, contrary to popular opinion, it has absolutely nothing to do with dwindling attention spans or readers not wanting it.

Also, fair warning, this article has a lot of math. If the math is off somewhere, please tell me. I am, in fact, dyscalculic, so sometimes I reverse things when looking at them or typing them into a calculator.

The cold, hard truth is that your epic novel isn’t being picked up for two intertwined reasons. The first is that nobody knows you. If they don’t know you, they don’t know how well you’re going to market and how well your book will sell. Most first books don’t do very well, and very few of the well-known writers of epic wordcount fiction started their careers with huge works. The second is the cost of production. The second point is going to dominate the bulk of this article.

The cold, hard truth is that your epic novel isn’t being picked up for two intertwined reasons. The first is that nobody knows you. (…) The second is the cost of production.

E. Prybylski

Many editors, like myself, charge by the word. I’m not marketing here, just giving you data. Whether it’s a publishing house or a personal edit, an “average” length novel (65,000 words) doing average difficulty line edit will cost about $2,600 using the minimum EFA rates. I charge a little less, personally, but for the purpose of this illustration, I’m using the EFA’s metrics. That’s for your average 65k book. A decent metric of the going rate for line editing (which focuses on sentence composition, passive voice, etc.) is about $0.04 – $0.049 per word (per EFA rates). Most publishers do 3+ rounds of editing with an editor (I know mine does). Typically a book at a publishing house will receive developmental, line, and copy editing, however. All of which have different price points.

If you pitch a novel to a publisher that’s, say, 200k words long, you’re looking at the publisher having to invest a minimum of $8000 for line editing. With three passes of the three different types of editing, that’s $8,000 for line, $4,000 for copy editing, and $6,000 for developmental using the low end EFA’s rates.

Then there’s typesetting. Assuming both print and e-book, you’re looking at around $4,000, then for the ebook it’s going to be a little less, you hope, but still around $1,000 (I did NOT use the EFA’s metric for this one; they charge more for ebook than print which makes no sense to me at all). Then there’s cover design which is several hundred more dollars (minimum for a composite image is around $250ish). Then there’s the ISBN, marketing materials, printing fees (some printers charge to upload; Ingramspark is $25/upload, $35 with print and ebook) and so on.

With these fees all added up together, a publisher would have to invest the following:

  • $6,000 Dev. Edit
  • $8,000 Line Edit
  • $4,000 Copy Edit
  • $4,000 Print Typesetting
  • $1,000 eBook Typesetting
  • $250 Cover
  • $50 ISBN
  • $25 IngramSpark upload

The total adds up to: $23,325

Printing costs for something that size from Ingram Spark, which does POD printing, is $11.51 per book. Since the market will only support your book being priced at around $14.99 to make the math easy. You MIGHT get away with $15.99, but not much higher. Offset print runs will let you drop printing prices by a lot, but then you have to print 1,000 or more books at a time, and good luck storing those. Let alone selling them.

This image shows a screenshot from Ingram's price calculator. It displays that unit selling price per book of this size is $11.51. Handling fee is $1.99. Shipping for one book is $4.05. The total to print and ship a single book of this size is $17.55.
Screenshot from Ingram’s price calculator.

Bookstores, assuming you want to work with them, require a 40% discount off the cover price. That means in order to sell to bookstores, you have to make less than your printing costs to sell there if you want to sell at a market value. So bookstores? Right out. You’d have to sell copies to them for $5.99, and since it costs $11.51 just to print that monstrosity, you’re going nowhere with bookstores.

Since the average author sells (being optimistic) 200-300 books their first year, we are looking at over six-hundred years before we break even.

E. Prybylski

The shipping costs on a book like that are easily going to be about $6/book, which is expensive to say the least. Boxes will be cheaper, but since they’re so big, fewer books will fit per box, increasing shipping charges by a lot. Also, Amazon takes a 15% bite out of any book sales off its site plus a flat $1.85 from each sale.

You will likely be getting 15% royalties (net, not list) on your book for print copies. 40% – 50% on ebooks is average. But right now I’m focused on print copies.

So, all this math in mind. Assuming the book is selling for $15.99 on Amazon, the numbers look like this:

  • List Price: $15.99
  • Printing Cost: $11.51
  • Amazon Charge: $4.29
  • Total Profit Per Book: $0.19
  • Author profit: $0.02
  • Publisher Profit: $0.17

At that rate, it is going to take 140,000-ish sales for the publisher to make back what they’ve invested in you. Since the average author sells (being optimistic) 200-300 their first year, we are looking at about over six hundred years before we break even. So you can see why we aren’t interested.

Also, most well-marketed indie books sell, on average, about 2,000 copies in their lifetimes, so you’re never going to get to that 140,000 mark because chances of you breaking 1,000 are entirely dependent on your success at marketing. And most authors I’ve worked with have no idea how to do that.

Unless you’re Stephen King, G.R.R.M., J.R.R. Tolkein, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, or Tolstoy, there’s no way we can afford to do an offset print run of 1,000 or more books (which would take the printing price down to around $7.50/book based on calculators I’ve seen). For one, there’s no guarantee they’d sell. For another, that would be another $7,500 we’re investing in you before we see a penny. And furthermore, while I do have a barn, I don’t have room for 1,000 books in it. My goats would eat them.

If you’re self-publishing, you should consider the costs I mentioned above. (…) Consider how long it will take you to recoup your investment.

E. Prybylski

If you’re self-publishing, you should also consider the costs I mentioned above. While you are going to be getting around $.19 per book, consider how long it will take you to recoup your investment. Even if you only do a single round of editing, cross your fingers, and pray. Also, while you can charge more for your book, it’ll start severely limiting the number of people who will purchase it. You can play with your pricing, but on average, readers won’t want to pay much more than $17.95, and even that is pushing it for an unknown author whose book they may not enjoy.

Even if we’re just talking an ebook version, and we cut out all the printing costs and some of the typesetting costs, you’re looking at $19,325. Ebooks often sell for about $5.99ish for a book like this. So let’s do the math for that:

  • Book List Price $5.99
  • Amazon Fees: $1.80
  • Total Profit Per Book: $4.19
  • Author Profit: $1.68
  • Publisher Profit: $2.51

If we’re doing just ebooks, it would take 7,699 copies for the publisher to break even. Assuming, again, that you manage a consistent 200 copies a year, it would take them nearly forty years to break even on the costs of picking up your book. Most indie authors or new authors cannot guarantee 200 books a year. They’re lucky to sell 200 books in the lifetime of their book because so many of them don’t market because they don’t know how. Also, again, I remind you that most books don’t break 2,000 in lifetime sales for indie authors. In order for them to break with that number, even with ebooks, they’d need a profit of $9.67 per book. Which is more than you can sell most ebooks for per book. Amazon allows you to get 70% of the royalties on prices between $2.99 and $9.99. Outside of that, you get a royalty of 35%.

The long and short of this is: the math just don’t add up. New, untested author with a HUGE book to sell, no certainty of returns, and with profit margins thinner than one-ply toilet paper? Nobody’s going to touch you with a ten-foot pole. Not because marketing or readers don’t want it or dwindling attention spans–it’s because we can’t wait over six hundred years to be profitable. Heck, we can’t wait forty years to turn a profit.

Publishing books is, I’m sorry to say it, a business. And businesses must be profitable in order to stay afloat. I don’t say this to discourage or harm you in any way, but it’s a fundemental reality of publishing books. And there’s no way around it if you want to make a living as an author. While you MIGHT be that one-in-a-million author who makes it big, recognize that most publishers don’t have the capital to take that risk.

What so many authors don’t realize is that when we agree to publish your book, we are instantly investing that kind of money in you. As such, your book has to be worth a minimum of the costs it would take to produce. On average, it costs about $10,000 for an average-sized novel to go through the editing, cover design, typesetting, and so on. If you want me to invest twice that in you for no profits, you’d better run the math again. I can’t do it. No matter how good it is. At the very least, the book is getting split in half, if not thirds. And that’s if I really feel strongly that I want to invest in it.

While writing in and of itself is an art form, publishing is a business, and if the math doesn’t add up to profit, we cannot risk investing in you. It’s no different than any other industry. Dollars and cents matter, and if you want to have someone invest in you, you need a product that will sell reliably in order to get someone to throw in behind you. While indie publishers may be willing to take risks on new authors and try new things, some things we cannot afford to do. And it isn’t personal. It’s numbers.

And this subject upset me enough that I had to do math. Look what y’all did to me! I hate math!

Also, as a side note, miss me with the whole “then I’ll just do it all myself and not pay anybody!” argument. I get it. Publishing on your own is expensive, and the siren call of Amazon telling you, you can do it all yourself is strong. It isn’t worth it. At the very least, if you aren’t an expert graphic designer, you will need a minimum of one pass of editing and a good cover design. Even if you ignore all the other costs, your profit margins on a book this size will take you a very long time to break even. Otherwise, listen to the experts, cut your book into smaller works (trilogies sell really well!), and market, market, market. You will stand a far better chance of getting noticed, of getting sales, and of being financially successful.

If you don’t care about the money and just want to get your work out there in front of people because you want to share it, all the more power to you. Try using sites like Wattpad or AO3 and enjoy the communities and have fun together. I’m not going to tell you never to write them. Just recognize that they are a really hard sell as a business investment.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Fallen Friday: Series Plotting

Fallen Friday: Series Plotting

I think that image sums up how I feel about plotting my series right now. I have around fourteen viewpoint characters between my husband (who plans on writing some in this series, too) and I. The metaplot is substantial, but certainly not excessively convoluted. But finding out how everyone ties together into it, and what to reveal in which book when is a lot. Particularly since we have to introduce some POV characters before some events.

When doing series plotting, I always look to Avatar: the Last Airbender for advice because it is, in my mind, the best recent example of the three-act structure in action. I can plot each episode, each season, and the entire series on the beat sheet, which is pretty impressive in all honesty. That tight pacing and storytelling is brilliant, and it is the number one example I always return to when considering the plot.

I’m obviously not going to give you spoilers on my metaplot. That would just be…well…the first book’s not even OUT yet!

I’ve been doing most of that plotting on pen and paper. Or close enough thereto–I use a Rocketbook because between D&D, writing, and life, I used to keep dozens of notebooks and never get anywhere with them. I kept losing all of them and couldn’t find the one I needed when I needed it, so making the switch was great. I love my Rocketbook and wouldn’t go anywhere without it.

There are many methods to plotting things out, including index cards, software, mind mapping, the Beat Sheet (my preferred method), the Snowflake method, and many others. For me, paper and the Beat Sheet are my go-to pairing. I don’t do pantsing because with my ADHD, I’d wander off into the weeds and get lost or write something incomprehensible. I know. I’ve done it. The manuscripts I have from high school are, well. . . Let’s not talk about those. ‘Tis a silly place.

I don’t yet know how many books are going to be in the series yet, but I know it’s going to be more than four, since I’m at four for the first act of the series overall. And since act two is usually twice as long as act one, we’re looking at a lot of real estate. That isn’t to say it won’t be twice as many NOVELS, but it has a lot of ground to cover in terms of the story itself. I should probably put up a cork board somewhere, but then I run the risk of becoming the living embodiment of the picture at the top of this blog post.

I don’t know, maybe “sleepless conspiracy nut” will be in next year.