Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The cost of free publishing

There is a saying, "there is no such thing as a free lunch." I think most of us have heard it, and most of us know the truth of the idea. Nothing in life is free, even those things that are sold to us as free. One of the touted benefits of self-publishing is that it is free. Let me dissuade you from falling for this. As we have already covered, nothing is free. Self-publishing an ebook is no different.

That is not to say that it is not inexpensive. When one considers the prohibitive cost of publishing in the pre-tech era, it would be silly to complain, and I am not complaining. But, I do want anyone who is considering a run at getting their story out to know the costs involved. If all you really want is to make your story available to friends and family, in the least expensive manner possible for them, self-publishing an ebook is the way to go. Basically, if you don't care about the income, you can slap a plain cover on a page, upload your words, choose a price of $0.99 and get everyone you know to read your story.

However, once you get beyond your friends, family and the acquaintances who are willing to throw less than a buck at Amazon to read your story, your book would head to the ebook graveyard. It would be available in perpetuity for anyone you meet to read your story until the internet shuts down. Actually building an audience is expensive in two ways. The first is actual money. Expensive is a relative term, it isn't too bad. But it isn't free. You need a cover. You need formatting. You need proofreading. You need promotion. All of these things cost money, unless one or more of them is covered by a gifted relative (thank you for the cover work, my lovely wife). Depending on your level of finances and commitment, you could spend anywhere from $2000-$25,000 to really get your book moving.

But, that is not the real kicker. Because the second cost to self-publishing is time and hard work. I mentioned before that I have to do everything within my power to attract each and every reader I can. From the research I have done, and the personal experience I am gaining, I would argue you have to be ready to spend the rest of your life in self-promotion. I look at it a little differently, as I feel like I am pitching the story, not myself. But the effect is the same. Wake up every day and come up with a new way, preferably one that does not annoy every person you know, to mention your book ad hope that someone buys it. Some days it is one book, some days it is a hundred. The work doesn't change. If you want more days that are one hundred, you have to work all that much more. The less money you spend, the harder the work will be. trust me.

But, I want to give you some good news. It is kind of fun! Also, you get instant gratification, since you can find out your sales daily.  I spend more days saying, "Hey, I got twelve new readers today. I hope they will connect with me and let me know what they think." And that is the biggest reward an artist of any kind can hope for, to connect with those who respond to the art. For that connection, the traditional publishing model simply can't compete. They can't even come close.  One person I know contacted me and told me they read the book in five hours. They couldn't put it down. I loved talking to them about the story, because I feel it was as much theirs as it was mine. Once you are hooked in, you are a part of that art. I really feel that way about readers.

So, if you read my book, leave a note here. Or, leave a note on my author page on Amazon www.amazon.com/author/cwalters , connect with me and discuss the story not only with me, but with other readers. That connection is a lot of what I seek in this pursuit.

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