What Goes Into a Book: Case Study: The Catalyst

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, indie author Zoe Winters details the time, effort and expense that go into bringing a new indie book to market.

I was talking to a reader on my Facebook page and had mentioned a small part of the process for The Catalyst. Her reply was:

I knew that releasing a book was a complicated process, but ‘Wow’. As a  reader it’s interesting to learn everything involved in order to get a  book out, so that we can enjoy it. If more people understood everything  that it takes to get a book out into the world, there would be alot less  bitching about having to spend anything over 99 cents for one.

Since I think this understanding is so important, rather than JUST  reply directly to her, I decided to make a blog post about it to take  you through what goes into a typical Zoe Winters series book:

It’s not just writing a book and throwing it out there. In an indie  situation all time and money costs are the author’s. There are  promotional costs as well as the costs of putting out a truly  professional product that can compete with mainstream published work on  quality. On the one hand people expect indie books to be “cheap” but on  the other, they complain about lower quality. In order to GET higher  quality it takes a level of work (and often monetary costs) that require  it to not be “cheap”. For example… if I charged 99 cents (making only  35 cents per copy sold), I would feel highly resentful, given what all  goes into this both time and money wise.

Here’s what goes into the standard Zoe series book:

Rough Draft (usually I try to get this done in a month or less. Most  people can’t do more than 2-3 hours of actual writing in a day because  it’s pretty draining. Creative work is not digging ditches, but it can  still be exhausting.)

Then I do a read through and edit and send it to the beta readers.  (while it’s with the betas I’ll generally work on something else. That’s  also when I start getting stuff together for the book trailer and the  cover art and start the process for that. I consult on cover art but I’m  more involved with the book trailer. I pick music, video clips, images,  and write the text and give a basic storyboard idea of how I want it to  go. But generally I’m also working on another phase of another project  while my book is with betas or with the copyeditor. Like when Catalyst  goes to the copyeditor I’ll be writing Lifecycle.)

When it gets back from the betas, I do another round of edits, based  on feedback. Then I send it to the copyeditor. (while it’s with the  copyeditor, I’m doing other things on other projects, or getting the  book tour/promo set up and ready to go, or whatever.)

When it gets back from the copyeditor, I input the copyedits, do a  final proofread, format for ebook, register copyright, then publish and  run my promo and send review copies out to reviewers.

Then I format for print, send it to LSI and wait for my proof copy.  When I get my proof copy, I proofread the print, then approve it for  distribution. During all this I get things set up with my narrator and  audio production people for the audio book. I consult back and forth on  things such as the particular voices each main character will have and  answer any questions on word pronunciations that aren’t clear.

As recording comes back for the book, I listen to it and note any  audio errors that the editor might not have caught. A mispronunciation  here… a part that’s hard to  understand… etc. I send notes back and  re-listen to the fixed parts, then approve for distribution.

As print and audiobook become available, I promote those with a newsletter, blog post, twitter, and facebook.

Things I spend money on… like for the Catalyst:

Cover art, including audiobook cover. Copyediting Book Tour (Blog tour) Book Trailer and elements for the trailer (music, video clips, images) Kindle Nation Daily ad Audio narration Free signed copies as part of previous promos.

Total costs involved for this book come to about $5,000 (a big chunk  of that of course is audiobook narration and production, but I think the  costs are worth it to be in audio.)

In the end analysis, writing, editing, promoting, and releasing a  book takes me hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars of my own  personal money. This is why I charge $4.95 for full-length books in the  digital format. Digital is my main bread and butter. Audio and print are  small sidestreams of income, though Audio will likely grow over time  because the market itself is growing.

This is a reprint from The Weblog of Zoe Winters.



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