Ep 225 Meet publishing consultant and self-publishing expert Joel Naoum

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In Episode 225 of So you want to be a writer: Discover 10 ways to become a more productive writer and tips on how to be a successful freelancer. Our word of the week comes from the back of a toilet door! We have 10 movie vouchers to giveaway. Plus, you’ll meet publishing consultant and self-publishing expert Joel Naoum.

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show Notes

podcast-artwork

Shoutout

Last week we learnt that AWC graduate Penelope Janu had recently won the 2017 XO Romance Prize for her unpublished manuscript, On the Same Page. Janu’s debut novel, In at the Deep End, was published last year, and as her prize in this competition, she wins $5000 and a publishing contract for her manuscript. Very exciting!

Congrats once more Penelope. And if you’d like to view her inspirational story, read more here: Penelope Janu: Meet the lawyer who landed a two-book deal on her romance novel.

And also congratulations to Tamsin Janu who was long listed twice for the CBCA awards.

Keeping it all in the family!

Links Mentioned

10 Ways to Become a More Productive Writer

3 Principles of a Successful Freelance Career

Word of the Week

Publisher in Residence

Joel Naoum

Joel Naoum has a decade of experience in books and writing. For the past five years he has run Momentum – a global, first-of-its-kind digital imprint for Macmillan – one of the largest publishing houses in the world. Responsible for publishing over a hundred titles a year, Joel oversaw the publishing process from contract negotiation through editorial, production and marketing all the way to sales and analysis. He has worked with authors like Matthew Reilly, John Birmingham, Kylie Scott and Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, across all genres and in both fiction and non-fiction.

He is the founder of Critical Mass Consulting which provides publishing strategy, production services and digital marketing for authors, publishers and content producers.

Follow Critical Mass Consulting on Facebook

Follow Joel on Twitter

Competition

WIN 10 x Dendy Direct $20 vouchers

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

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@valeriekhoo

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So you want to be a writer Facebook group

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Interview Transcript

Allison

Joel Naoum is the director of Critical Mass Consulting, which offers publishing strategy, production services, and digital marketing for authors, publishers, and content producers. With more than a decade of experience in books and publishing, Joel set up Momentum, MacMillan’s digital imprint, which publishes more than 100 titles each year, and worked with authors across all genres and in both fiction and non-fiction before branching out into his own consultancy. Welcome to the program, Joel.

Joel

Thanks for having me.

Allison

You’re welcome. All right, so we’re going to talk about self or indie publishing. But first of all, can you explain a bit about exactly what Critical Mass does and why you set it up?

Joel

Exactly what it does, primarily I work with authors nowadays. I do work with some content producers, which are just businesses who make book-like content and they want to turn it into books. And I have worked a little bit with small publishers as well.

But primarily, most of my clients are authors looking to self-publish. Or, in a lot of cases, not sure if they should self-publish and wanting some advice about it.

And the reason I set up the business in the way I did, is I was wrapping things up at Momentum, my previous job where I’d been for five years, and I was feeling a bit burnt out by doing the same thing over and over again. And traditional publishers got a lot less excited about eBooks towards the end of my tenure there.

And I was still quite excited, but I knew that the most exciting part of the eBook business, digital business, was self-publishing at that point. And it definitely still is. But I did perceive that there was a gap in the market in the sense that there’s a lot of services out there for self-publishers – editorial, cover design, and everything else in between.

But it’s really hard to get a sense of whether or not you’re getting ripped off. Whether it’s a good quality or bad quality service. Whether or not you should actually go ahead with it, if your book is actually worthwhile. And to get a sense of whether or not this is a thing that you really want to do.

Quite a few of my clients also are asking whether or not they should traditionally publish first, try to traditionally publish first before self-publishing. So I can give some more general advice about where they fit in the whole publishing market.

Allison

Great. So would you put your services… Like, we hear a lot, I’ve noticed myself because I’m obviously online poking about in the world of writing all the time, but I’ve seen a rise in this phrase of ‘assisted publishing’. Is that where you would put your services?

Joel

Sort of. I’m not completely familiar with that phrase so I’m not sure what it entirely entails. But it makes sense for a part of what I do.

If one of my clients decides they do want to self-publish, and some of them come to me already having decided, with those clients I help them self-publish. And that means it’s kind of a bespoke process that’s individual to each book and each author, what they want help with. So I don’t have – although I do have packages on my website, that’s more to give people a sense of what kinds of things I can do.

What ends up happening most of the time is that clients come to me and say – ‘here’s the kind of things that I don’t know how to do. Can you help me with these?’ And I tell them – ‘yes, I can help you with those’ and I help them.

What I don’t do is take a cut of sales. I don’t get involved in the royalties side of things. I just help people set themselves up for self-publishing.

Allison

Okay. And why would an author call on your rather than simply doing it themselves? Why do you find that they’re choosing to come to you? Is it because of the gaps in their knowledge?

Joel

Yeah, I think that’s the main reason.

I get a lot of clients who say – ‘I’ve just been Googling about this and there’s this service and this service and this service and I just don’t know what to do!’ And I think they’re looking for someone to say – ‘okay, this is the right one to go with. Don’t do that. Do this. If you’re going to do this, don’t spend money on that. That’s a waste of money. This is what you can actually expect, so don’t spend more than what you’re willing to spend. And your genre doesn’t really sell that well in self-publishing, so don’t expect it to go crazy.’

It’s top level advice about what to expect. And also I can really specifically drill down project manage the book as well, if that’s what they need. And I would say a pretty high percentage of my clients end up after that initial consultation, where I walk them through their own project, and what they can do with it, they often end up getting some of my services to help some part of the project that they feel least competent about.

Allison

Okay. So on that, I guess that given you do offer this whole range of services from strategy to actually book production and all that sort of stuff, when it comes down to actually getting the book going and getting it out there, in which areas do you find that most authors need you the most? Where are they mostly calling on you? Is it marketing? Is it actual production? Is it trying to get a book cover that’s up to scratch? What’s the area that they’re most worried about?

Joel

I think the thing they’re most worried about is getting the book into a format that makes sense to distribute, and then distribution. That would be the thing I do for the most number of clients, probably, is help them set up their distribution.

Because I think it’s just ridiculously fiddly and fussy for something that you only do a couple of times in your life if you’re a self-publisher. There’s a lot of detail that goes into knowing the best price points, how to set up the meta data, what meta data you need in advice, tax situations, how to get paid, the most efficient ways to set those accounts up.

I think a lot of authors are just a bit – and completely understandably – a bit at sea before they’ve ever done that before. And most of the self-publishers I know who are successful have accrued that knowledge through hard-won experience. And that’s a very time-consuming way to learn.

Allison

It is.

Joel

So I think having someone to help set that stuff up for you can be really helpful.

Allison

So the impetus for us having this conversation today was a question in our Facebook group, which we have attached to our podcast community. And the question was about self-publishing in Australia. Because we see a lot of media around US indie authors. And as you would know, there is an absolute ocean of information out there about self-publishing, some of which seems like it’s hard to even work out the quality of the information that you’re getting, let alone anything else. And a lot of it seems to be also, there’s a big focus on targeting US authors. But is self-publishing a growth area in Australia?

Joel

Yeah, I think it is. I mean, eBooks are a smaller market on Australian books in general than it is in the US or the UK. So we are a little bit lagging behind those other countries. And we just have a smaller market.

I think one of the benefits in eBooks and self-publishing is that a lot of self-publishers have quite niche genres and audiences, but they expand that to the entire English-speaking world. And that therefore becomes a lot bigger than it would be if they were trying to get a traditional publisher in their own region. And that suits Australians quite well. There are a lot of Australians who are self-publishing.

But it’s a global market, and it’s globally competitive. So I don’t think for self-publishing it makes as much sense to split it up by country, because there’s not a huge home movers advantage in the same way as there is in traditional publishing.

Allison

So most of the information out there that does seem targeted directly into that US market is perfectly usable for Australian authors as well?

Joel

Most of the time. I think the key differences are making sure that you’re set up correctly for income and tax. I think there are some fiddly extra bits that you often need if you’re setting yourself up.

Particularly with KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing, the Amazon self-publishing arm, it can be quite expensive to get paid if you’re an Australian selling through KDP. Partially because of the way that they set themselves up – not to get too technical – is every single country that has a store reports their sales separately. And you have to, to get paid, you have to usually get paid by wire transfer. And that can be expensive, because it costs $10 or $15 to get paid. So you want to make sure you’re accruing a certain amount of money before you get paid.

And in some cases, if it’s a really small territory, like you sell some books in Brazil or something, you might only sell a handful of books and then not get paid.

So there are some sticky bits in there that Americans just don’t need to think about. And there’s also some tax implications. You have to fill out tax forms to make sure that the US government doesn’t withhold tax from you from being paid from the US.

Allison

Right. And this is all stuff that if you don’t get advice, you have to discover for yourself once you dive down the rabbit hole of all of those millions of websites aimed at self-publishers. And I guess that’s why people find it a bit… Well, the implication from the question in the Facebook group seems to be that navigating it as an Australian can be more difficult. Would you agree with that?

Joel

I think that’s the component that people are often talking about.

Allison

Yeah, okay.

Joel

Because you’re approaching it from Australia, then just getting paid and making sure your tax stuff is straightened out, it’s not something that American self-publishers even really think about. It’s not in the guides on how to do it. I think that’s the biggest…

But other than that, I don’t think there’s a huge difference, really. From a marketing perspective, from a sales perspective, you can… If your book is global in appeal, there’s no reason why an American has an inherent advantage over you selling into the United States.

Allison

So what kind of books traditionally do well in the indie publishing sphere?

Joel

Fiction in particular does well. Genre fiction. Now primarily genre fiction is… 70% of consumer purchases in genre fiction are now digital. So it’s a huge change and a huge percentage of that are self-published authors, self-published books.

Allison

So we’re talking romance, fantasy?

 

Joel

Romance, fantasy, crime, and thrillers. Romance is by far the biggest. So that makes it both more competitive and also more lucrative. You have to be better, but you also have to charge less and publish more.

Allison

Okay. And publish more.

 

Joel

Self-publishing is most suited to authors who are really prolific, who can just churn books out. Short, not too long books. If you get someone who takes ten years to write a 200,000 word fantasy novel, that’s not great. What you want is someone who can come out with 70,000 word novels, a couple a year, really. Ideally.

Allison

Okay.

Joel

Or serialising a longer novel. There are lots of ways to maximise your publishing. But really you need to publish often.

One of the biggest tips I can give someone really, is the best thing you can do as a self-publisher to market an existing book is to publish another one. Because it’s just so hard to get people to notice an existing book, because there are so many out there. But a new book always has potential.

Allison

So given that, and given how competitive it is, and given the price points of it and things like that – let’s take romance for example because it is a massive part of this market – how do you make your romance stand out compared to the next person’s? You can publish ten, but if no one has ever heard of you or your books, how does anyone find them?

Joel

Oddly, I think self-publishing is pretty old-fashioned in a lot of ways. It is largely about communities of interest and connections between human beings.

The most successful self-published authors are often the ones who have been around for a long time and have a lot of connections with other authors and their readers. And so every book that comes out immediately lights up their whole network.

That’s a really hard thing to make out of whole cloth with one book. You in fact cannot do that. So coming out with a single debut author as a self-publisher, you just cannot expect the same type of cut through as you would as an established self-published author. That’s true of any kind of publishing, but it’s especially true of self-publishing.

So really the way to do it is to build it up over time, is to get on social media, talk to other authors, talk to your readers, read other people’s books, have those organic connections where people value you. I mean, it sounds really old-fashioned, but that’s really the way that it happens I think.

Most of the successes I’ve ever seen in digital have been where some kind of fortuitous thing happens, where a blogger who likes an author picks up their book and reads it and they have a really specific following for the genre that the book is, and it takes off. That’s often the way it ends up happening.

It’s not enough to be a good writer. You have to be willing to enmesh yourself in the community that you’re publishing into, I think.

Allison

So it’s a long game, isn’t it? It’s not something that you’re going to put out one book and suddenly you’re going to be a millionaire?

Joel

Absolutely not. And it’s the first question I generally ask my clients, is why they’re publishing? What they want to get out of it. I think a lot of people actually don’t… When they really think about it, the reason why they’re publishing is for some other reason. It’s not to make money. And the clients of mine who say that they are trying to make money, I generally try and dissuade them from doing it at all.

Allison

Okay!

Joel

Honestly, if that’s their main driver for doing it then you’re going to be disappointed. You should put your money elsewhere. What I say to people is you should treat publishing books and writing books as a business, but as a very high-risk business.

Allison

That’s so true, isn’t it?

Joel

You should be professional, but you can’t expect to get a return on your investment in the same way as you would for something else.

Allison

I’m hearing you. So why do you find, why are people presenting themselves to you? Why are they choosing to self-publish? Why are they going down this road? What are the reasons that they are giving you? Let’s take the money out of it, but what are some of the reasons that people are choosing to self-publish?

Joel

I think the primary reason is that they want some kind of recognition. They’ve written a book or they’ve written a piece of work and they want to find an audience for it. I think that’s the prime driver. I just want someone to read this.

Or sometimes it’s just, I want to hold the book in my hand and be a published author for some sort of status. I actually think that’s a completely acceptable reason to do it. I think that should be the reason you do it. It makes more sense.

Allison

It makes more sense than trying to make money? I like it.

Joel

It really does!

Allison

Look at us. Both of us in the industry.

Joel

Be realistic about it.

Allison

Being realistic.

Joel

Yeah, exactly. It’s not a money spinner. No one in the publishing industry makes a huge amount of money, other than a couple, the tip of the iceberg.

Allison

And one of the things you mentioned, as part of your publishing services that you offer, you do talk top level career stuff. Are you finding that people, are they looking at self-publishing as a way to break into traditional publishing? Are some of them thinking that if they self-publish and it’s noticed that they’ll get a traditional deal out of it? Or are these people who are purely looking to just get their book out there?

Joel

A lot of my clients come with that pre-conceived idea, that they could self-publish as a way into traditional publishing. I think that’s a fair strategy in some cases. But I don’t think…

To be specific, I don’t think you should try and self-publish a book if you intend for that book to get traditionally published. If you want a particular book to be traditionally published, then you should try and get it traditionally published.

Self-publishing is a terrible way to get a book noticed, partially because it’s so hard to get noticed full stop, but especially to get notice from a traditional publisher who doesn’t have to go outside of their slush pile in order to find books. Although some of them will monitor bestseller lists, getting on the bestseller list is a task in itself.

If you’re doing it as a way to traditionally publish your book then generally speaking, in order to sell enough that you’ll be noticed, you might have poisoned the well in terms of how many books you could possibly sell for that book. So a traditional publisher looks at that book and says, well, you’ve sold enough of that book, so I’m not going to take that book; you’ve just sold it.

Allison

Go write another one.

Joel

Exactly. And if you’re looking to get into traditional publishing via self-publishing, then that’s the way to do it, really, is to build a platform. Not just books, but also a way of reaching your own readers.

That’s the kind of thing that… I think a lot of my clients come to me and say, well, people say that I should set up a Facebook page, and people say I should set up an e-newsletter, but I’ve got nothing to say because I don’t have any books out. And self-publishing is a way to start building that.

If you try to traditionally publish, or if you don’t want to go down that path yet for whatever reason… A lot of my clients are like, I just don’t want to have to spend the time going door to door trying to get this book published, I just want to start moving with this. And so that’s one of the advantages of self-publishing, you can just put it out there quite quickly. And then that gives you something to talk about in terms of building an author platform. If you don’t have a book it’s really hard to talk about it.

Allison

So true. I think, though, that anyone who has ever considered indie publishing and starts to research the ins and outs of it finds that there’s just, as I said, an ocean of information, which seems to change quickly depending on what Amazon’s doing on any particular day. Because they seem to be the heartland of the whole thing. Do you think that steep learning curve is something that puts authors off?

Joel

Yeah, I think so. I often end up saying to clients that I think book publishing in general is a ridiculously complicated very low margin industry. It turns people off. It turns people off.

And it should turn people off, because I think if you don’t want to do it, you shouldn’t do it. If you don’t want to do it enough, you shouldn’t be doing it. And there are enough people out there who are publishing bad books that we don’t need more books in there unless you’re willing to do the work. I think that’s what it comes down to.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it turns people off. I think there are a lot of companies out there trying to make it easier, like mine.

Allison

Yes, yay.

Joel

So there are lots of ways around that. And I think that’s great for people who want to do that. But if you really just find the whole idea exhausting, then it probably will be exhausting.

Allison

That’s so true. Can you recommend any trusted sources of information? To help us sort the wheat… Like if I’m just sitting here, thinking, I’m listening to us, me, and we’re so fascinating that I’m thinking, wow, maybe this self-publishing thing could be for me. If I’m just looking at testing the waters just to see what’s involved, where would I be looking for information, do you think?

Joel

That’s a really interesting question. I don’t think I really read any blogs or anything that I would say are great for this kind of thing, to be honest. It’s kind of information that I’ve accrued over time. I think the impetus of a lot of eBook and self-publishing blogs is to keep publishing.

Allison

Yes.

Joel

They need to keep writing new content. But actually sometimes the advice is a bit perennial.

Allison

Right.

Joel

You can’t really keep writing about that over and over. I’ve been an eBook blogger myself. You just keep putting new things out there, and that’s part of the confusion for authors. Because they go, oh, I read such and such and they said I should do this, and such and such, and they said I should do this.

And I think a lot of the time it’s no, get back to basics, get your book out there, and try and get people to read it and keep it really, really simple. And focus on the things that more people talk about, rather than the latest new fads. Because I think the latest new fads are often just bloggers spinning the wheels to try and publish more blogs about self-publishing.

Allison

Yes. I get that impression sometimes myself. So you’re obviously researching the eBook market all the time. Where do you think authors most regularly make mistakes when they’re self-publishing? Is it their covers? Is it the lack of editing? Is it the one 200,000 word eBook every ten years? What are the most regular mistakes that you see?

Joel

I think the most, combined with most egregious and most common mistake, is when they really rush a book out. They decide that they’re not going to try and traditionally publish, that they’re going to self-publish, and then they just bang it. They get the fastest possible thing that they can out.

And just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to rush. Traditional publishing is really slow. To be faster than traditional publishing doesn’t require that much speed.

So you still want to make a good book. And I think people just sometimes rush into committing things, and they find solutions online and they don’t research it very deeply, and they don’t know what they’re doing, and they commit to things that they don’t understand. And then run headlong into it and spend a bunch of money, waste a bunch of money, and end up with a terrible book with a terrible cover. And then their book is just out there like that.

And it’s kind of really hard to relaunch a book. I get a lot of clients who have a book already out there that they want to find a way of marketing. And that can be a really disappointing consultation. Where I have to tell them, look, there’s not really much you can… You can put a new cover on it, you can put a new title on it, you can relaunch the book. You might have some success in that, but realistically the best way to do it is to write another book.

So be careful, take your time, do your research, and make sure the book is really good.

Allison

Okay. When you talk about marketing strategy with people, what are they key points you’re talking to? Talking to authors about? What are the key points to marketing an eBook?

Joel

I think the foundational stone for most, particularly when we’re talking about fiction and ongoing fiction for authors who are trying to build a platform, is the e-newsletter.

Allison

Okay.

Joel

Mailing lists seem really old-fashioned, but they’re a really great way of reaching your core audience. And everything could kind of flow from that.

If you don’t have a core audience, and you’re spending all your money just getting people to buy your book really cheap, then you have a shallow penetration and no fans. What you need to do is build that core group of fans who are going to keep coming back to you again and again and will provide the core of that word of mouth that will get other people reading your books.

So I think the newsletter is a great way to do that. Because it goes straight into people’s inbox where they will have a much higher chance of seeing than it is on social media. And also you own it. So you don’t have to pay Facebook for the privilege of talking to your fans. You can reach them directly. I think that should be the first step for a lot of authors.

Allison

This is something again that comes up regularly in our Facebook group is this whole business of newsletters. What do you write about? How do you build them? Have you got any simple tips for authors on where to start if they’ve got a newsletter, or if they’re starting a newsletter?

Joel

To start, if you don’t have a book out yet, there’s not very much to write about and you shouldn’t feel pressured to write about.

I don’t think the newsletter is something you should be filling with blogs that you found interesting or links to things. I think you put them out when you need to put them out.

And in terms of the core people that you start inviting to be on that newsletter, it should be friends and family to start with. It should be the people who are your supporters. And ultimately, it will expand to people who you don’t know. But to begin with, it can just be the people you know, and that’s fine. It needs to start somewhere.

And then beyond that, in terms of growing it beyond that, I think the kind of combination of offering a little bit of your book for free, or a whole book for free, and using a bit of Facebook advertising, that can be a really good strategy for building up a newsletter.

Allison

Cool. All right. Let us finish our interview today with your three top tips for authors who might be considering self-publishing.

Joel

Three top tips. It’s really hard to boil down to just three.

Allison

I know, but this is your job.

Joel

But usually I get to talk to them at length!

Allison

I know. But look at me, all I’m doing is asking the questions. It’s up to you. It’s all yours now.

Joel

It is! One of them, like I said before, would definitely be to take your time. I think people rushing into things is the biggest mistake that they make. And that includes when you talk to me. Don’t rush into what I’m offering either. You should take everyone… Don’t take everyone at face value. There are also a lot of really dodgy outfits out there who are helping people self-publish. So if someone is charging you a lot of money, think twice!

Allison

Okay.

Joel

What else? I think spending the money on the cover is really important. The cover is ultimately an advertisement for the book. So it should be as high quality as possible within your budget.

Allison

And what sort of budget should you be looking at for a cover? Just off the top of your head?

Joel

A traditional publisher would spend $2,000 on a cover, easy. I think you could spend a lot less than that. But it really depends on the genre. You should definitely be spending a few hundred bucks on it as a minimum. And then upwards of that is fine, particularly if you are doing lots of rounds of amendments or the designer isn’t delivering something you want.

An important concept for covers, really, is that your cover isn’t a picture of what’s happening in your book; it’s an ad for your book. So it should be communicating the genre, and communicating what’s interesting and different, as well as what’s similar to all the other books that are out there. So it should be positioning the book in the market.

And I think a lot of self-published authors really struggle with that component of it. They have their vision in their head of what they think is a nice cover, and so they put something on it that doesn’t make any sense, and then people don’t know what it’s about.

Or they try to crowd it out with a bunch of stuff that’s in their book. And they say, well it makes sense because on page 32 my character rides on a panther, so I want a man riding on a panther, and he has eagle wings, and he’s holding a rose. You know, that really, really specific crazy cover that you see and you just think, well, that’s really self-published. That’s usually why, is they’ve tried to be really specific.

I guess the third tip is I think investing in editing is really important as well. I’m an editor, so I guess I would say that. Particularly if you’ve never been edited before, I think it’s really, really important.

Allison

And that would be the three levels of editing? The structural, the copy, the proof reading?

Joel

Yeah. I think the easiest one to dispense with if you’re trying to save money is proof reading. Not because it’s not important, but because you can probably crowd source proof reading with people you know. More people who read it, they’re going to pick up on errors.

Structural editing, you really want to get someone really good. Because really you can’t fix that once it’s broken. You can’t fix it after the piece.

Allison

And is word of mouth the best way to find a really good editor do you think? With other authors?

Joel

Yeah. I think talking to other authors, and looking in the acknowledgement pages of books that you like. Particularly in the same genre. That’s a really good way to find editors. People will usually acknowledge their editor. That’s a really good way of doing it.

Allison

Because a lot of our best editors actually work freelance, don’t they? They work for publishing companies but they freelance and so you can actually have them as well if you can fit yourself into their schedule.

Joel

Absolutely. A lot of them are very expensive.

Allison

Yes. Well, that was my next question. How much do I need to pay for editing?

Joel

Again, it’s a kind of how long is a piece of string question. It largely depends on the editor. If they’re really, really top tier, they’ll charge a lot. $70 to $75 an hour, kind of thing. And it would take, for a normal length 70 – 80,000 word book could cost… I don’t know for a structural edit, I’m kind of making it up off the top of my head, so I don’t want to be too specific…

Allison

I know, and I’m loving the fact that you’re doing that. That’s excellent.

Joel

A few grand for a copyedit, and at least a couple of grand for a structural. Depending on the book and the length and the editor. I think a couple of grand each would be a ballpark figure, depending on the length.

Allison

But you need to budget for it, and $200 is too cheap.

Joel

Yeah. If you’re getting an edit for $200 it’s probably too cheap. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get a cheaper one.

And it depends on your book. I think copyediting is one of those things that if your weakness is on the line, and a lot of authors it is, then that’s where you want to invest. Whereas if your weakness is, if you’re a really, really clean writer, but your weakness is that you waffle on too long and you don’t know when to start the story and stop and you tend to put too many characters in, then really that’s when you need to invest in structural editing. And that’s a hard… You don’t usually know yourself what you need.

Allison

No. Not until you’ve done it a few times, and then you start to realise where your weaknesses really are.

Joel

And that’s it, that’s again what a publisher helps provide. That top level decision making about your project. It’s a hard thing to come to on your own.

Allison

But look at spending some budget on your editor, is your basic third tip?

Joel

Absolutely. Particularly early on. Most of the published authors I know, whether they were traditionally published or self-published, they learned a lot from their editor in the early days of publishing. It’s what teaches them to be better writers.

And you can get away with cutting corners later in your career when you kind of know what an editor will do. You start to hear an editor’s voice saying, well, this character doesn’t make any sense, or whatever. And with self-publishing, when you know that there’s a certain amount of money that you can possibly make out of it, you’re not going to invest thousands and thousands of dollars necessarily into every single book’s edit. But you definitely should be spending that money early.

Allison

Yeah, because that’s where you learn where you’re making mistakes.

Joel

Don’t cut the corners early.

Allison

Very, very good advice. Thank you so much for your time today, Joel. And of course if people are interested in having a look at your services, they can go to critmassconsulting.com. And I am going to put that link in the show notes so that you can find it easily. Really, really appreciate your time, and best of luck with your future projects.

Joel

Thank you very much. My pleasure.

 


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