June 16th, 2013, 07:21 PM
Biggest barriers to becoming a full-time author
I was wondering what some of the biggest challenges might be for aspiring writers who are looking to self-publish. I've gone through (preliminarily) what is available online, and it seems like there's no one specific all-in-one solution for a would-be author that's not perhaps prohibitively expensive, in terms of self-publishing.
I'm not a big fan of the current publisher-author model, but also see some great ideas by self-published authors blighted by poor editing and/or poor presentation.
What are some of the biggest issues that some of you have when it comes to publishing your own work? I'm asking, not necessarily as an aspiring author (though perhaps I am one, at heart), but as someone with the technical skill to create an online solution that might be able to address some of these issues by pairing qualified individuals (would-be editors, illustrators, or just enthusiastic and intelligent readers).
Any ideas would be great! It's just something I've been thinking about for a while, and now I've got the time to go for it.
Questions, comments, and criticisms, good or bad (I have thick skin), are welcome.
June 17th, 2013, 08:41 AM
Don't quit your day job just yet
I don't think too many authors are living off their writing these days, self-pubbed or not, so the idea of a "full time" author is going to be untenable for most folks. That said, I always thought some kind of marriage service (think "Angie's List" for writers) would be great for those shunning more traditional venues. Book cover artists, readers, and editors - all rated by their customers. All under one roof. There you go. Wouldn't be too surprised if something like this is already in place somewhere.
June 17th, 2013, 08:17 PM
Elance? Not strictly about publishing, but freelancing.
Originally Posted by kmtolan
June 17th, 2013, 10:09 PM
it could be worse
Since Hugh answered your question over on his blog, I guess you don't need us to chime in, but I will anyway.
The biggest barrier for me is that my writing sucks.
There are plenty of talented people out there that can handle any part of the self-publishing process that I can't or don't want to do myself. I don't think cover design, editing, formatting, etc are a barrier in themselves (maybe the money to hire folks to do that, but not those tasks themselves - anyone with a bit of time and attention can come up with something passable). For me, the hard part is writing a good story.
With that said, I do like the idea Kerry mentioned. I'm not sure if Elance allows rating professionals, but a self-publishing services clearinghouse that included a qualifier for each would be useful.
Good luck with your new venture.
June 18th, 2013, 12:41 AM
Kris the Bard
I'm Giving it a Try
After a messy divorce, losing my business and ending up homeless and broke I took a good look at my life.
I had always wanted to write but it had never had sufficient priority in my life.
I adopted a bohemian lifestyle, worked from time to time to survive and got down to writing almost full-time.
I have just self-published the first novel in my four volume FirstWorld Saga called Quest for Knowledge. I'm hoping to be a full-time author (and webmaster, and publisher, and marketer, etc etc) and I'm going to give it a go, living off limited savings while I try.
The barriers for me were finding a good editor and artist that I could afford - people who were prepared to share the journey and some of the risk for possible future rewards. It took me several years before I found mine. Now I have a great team around me. The most important thing I would say is NEVER publish without having your work edited.
What is needed, is what I have found - editors and artists (who might well be starting out themselves) who will work with new authors and realise that they can't charge a fortune for their services.
June 18th, 2013, 04:16 AM
Speaks fluent Bawehrf
My barrier is my own inertia, a lack of motivation and self-discipline. Having the will and dedication to write is worth more than any amount of talent.
June 18th, 2013, 06:48 AM
That depends what you consider a fortune, KtB! I charge much less than a lot of union editors, but I do still have to make the project worth my time, ykwim? Back when I took my first ms, I did it for "a share of sales" (ha ha ha!) and it was very hard to prioritize that ms over others!
Originally Posted by KristheBard
June 18th, 2013, 06:55 AM
For me, the biggest barriers are probably first, becoming a better writer, and second, convincing people to read my writing (not at all an automatic given once the former has been achieved). I'm pretty reconciled to keeping at my day job forever. Luckily, my day job is very compatible with a writing life! I can afford to be a fringey little special-interest writer.
June 18th, 2013, 02:07 PM
Considering that a good number of writers we've actually heard of still work a day job, I'd say the biggest barrier is that it doesn't pay much!
The Great Flying Bear
It's my understanding that the average novel, when first published, will earn around one thousand dollars... at least in that ballpark. That was the number last I looked for traditional publishing. I suspect e-publishing is in the same ballpark.
At that rate, an author would need to be churning out at least twenty novels per year to earn a living at it.
Each novel is at least fifty thousand words. Going by my annual performance during National Novel Writing Month it takes at least a month to pound out a first draft. If I could work on it full time, I might be able to create a revised and 'good enough' for publication inside of a month. That would put me at roughly a dozen novels per year... under ideal circumstances.
I lived on more than that as a graduate student - a lifestyle I'm not too keen on going back to - particularly now that I have a family, and a job that I both enjoy and pays rather well (although not nearly enough as it should if my boss happens to read this).
One way to change the situation facing most wannabe authors is to increase the payout per novel. If I could reliably count on earning at least five thousand dollars per novel, things might be different. But that's a big assumption. In order to do that you have to promote your books - go on tour, do readings and signings, create a name for yourself - all of which requires marketing. My mom's basement isn't big enough to hold five thousand copies of each book I write... maybe I could get her an e-book reader with lots of memory... of course even then I'd be stuck with the awkwardness of writing the sexy parts.
For the past several months I've been trying to raise $2500.00 for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation. That's a cause most people are actually willing to give money to when they really learn about it, but getting actual donations has been a challenge. Convincing people to give me their hard-earned money so they can read my silly ideas about orcs or the misadventures of my space marines seems like it would be Herculean in magnitude.
And there's something else too.
I write for fun, for stress relief, for escape, and for intellectual exercise.
I suspect a lot of that would go away the moment I *have* to write.
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