Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG: Lowered Expectations

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are  Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie! I hope you'll check out their blogs as well as some of the others on this blog hop after you see what I have to say.

My insecurities are beating me up right now.

I finally have to admit I bit off more than I can chew.

I'm not good at that. I think I can do everything.

That can-do stubbornness serves me well on some fronts, keeping me from caving to pressure or giving up just because something is difficult, but it's a two-edged sword that cuts back sometimes, too.

And Stories from Shadow Hill has been postponed, which breaks my heart.

I planned to release my first all-indie project for Halloween. It's a collection of thirteen weird tales called Stories from Shadow Hill, set in an imaginary suburban neighborhood with suspicious similarities to the one I live in, but with more interesting (and supernatural) causes for the weirdness.

I thought I had planned it out well. I'd done a lot of research and had what I thought was a good understanding of what exactly I needed to do and what it would cost.

I hired an editor for proofreading, found a book cover designer, and taught myself the layout software (Vellum is super easy, at least at a base level, by the way).

But then I ran into two problems: money and time.

Indie publishing can be expensive, especially for your first project, when you don't already a system in place.

My expenses:

  1. Buying layout software: Vellum $249.99 for unlimited ebooks and paperbacks
  2. Hiring a cover made: $100 from a freelancing friend who gave me her "friends and family" discount
  3. Hiring proofreading: $620 from a freelancer who approached me through Facebook some months ago. 
  4. Getting a logo made for my imprint: $25 from a freelancing friend, giving me a "friends and family" discount again
  5. Buying ISBN numbers: $295 for 10 (they're a better deal the more you buy at once, and I intend to put out more indie projects in the future, so I thought I'd start with 10). 
I managed 1-4 over the course of a few months by living spare and robbing Peter to pay Paul. But when it came time for #4, I was out of money. My hot water heater needed sudden replacement, my summer teaching paychecks were light, and there went my Bowker money. My parents gave me my holiday money early (thanks Mom and Dad!), but I needed most of that to get copies of my already-published work for my fall and winter author events. 

Couple this with my time problems, and you see my dilemma. 

I was trying to keep my regular writing life going. Doing my October tradition of writing one piece of flash fiction every day as part of the Nightmare Fuel Project AND processing my edits from that proofreader was just too many hours work for the hours I was able to devote (I can get 1-2 hours a day for writing life during the school year, tops). 

And I was stubborn, not wanting to let anything go. Maybe I could have done it if I had given up Nightmare Fuel, but I *love* Nightmare Fuel. Maybe I could have let that Instagram October Author Challenge go, but I was enjoying it and it was increasing my reach on social media. Maybe I could have given up my day job, but I like eating and having a roof over my head. I tried giving up sleep and just ended up with a crick in my neck from falling asleep in my chair.

In the end, I had to admit I couldn't get the project ready by October 31. Especially since I had only a basic understanding of Vellum and might still need to seek advice and help from more experienced colleagues if I run into snags. 

So, now I don't know exactly when I am going to get this project out. October came and went and I still have a distressingly long to-do list: 
  1. Process the other half of the edits (complicated by grammar differences between my Canadian editor and my American writing style--lots of second guessing and researching whether what she marked is an error or a national preference)
  2. Format the book in Vellum (which has subset jobs of #3 and #4 below)
  3. Finalize the print version of the cover
  4. Finalize the imprint logo
  5. Buy ISBNs
  6. Learn to navigate uploads to Amazon
  7. Make my decisions about exclusivity to Amazon or going wide
  8. Promote the book

November is supposed to be for NaNoWriMo, finishing the first draft of the Gothic romance I started writing this summer, so I can get it out in 2020.

I'd love to hear from other creatives about how you manage all the demands of indie creation, especially if you, like me, manage it with a day job and keep your sanity. How do you keep heart when you have to lower your expectations?


  1. Wow! This is a fascinating and important post. It's great to see what things actually cost when you go this route. I put one collection of short stories on Amazon exclusively because it limited the amount of learning for uploading, and for an ebook, no ISBN number was required.

  2. Indie publishing can truly be expensive. That's one reason I don't really do it (other than my mom's picture books). And I cut corners. I don't buy my ISBNs. I use the free one on Smashwords for eBooks and KDP's for print. That's a large chunk of money for a proofreader. I don't advertise it anymore, but if you ever need an editor, you can contact me. I do full edits for way less than that because I know how tough it can be to afford it.

    Sorry for your financial struggles! And I sincerely wish you all the best!

  3. I think it's good to be realistic about what you can afford and the time you have with a day job. I have one too and it takes lots of my writing time. The good thing is that you tackled a few big things on your list. Slowly go through the rest and set another good release date when you're ready.

  4. Hi,
    I am sorry that you didn't get your book out for October, but there is always next October. Now you have the time to regroup and re-prioritze so that Shadow Hill hits the press and publication for October 2020. Sometimes, we have to look at the timing. Sure you had a lot on your plate but all of us go through that stage. Now you know and can avoid that better in the future. You've learned a good lesson. Take it from there and stop beating yourself up. Writing is a process like everything else in life and we learn by making mistakes.
    Wishing you all the best and have a lovely month of November.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  5. I'm sorry the release couldn't happen in time for you. Hopefully you can take it as a learning experience.

  6. After reading your post, I don't know how you managed. Stick to it--like I need to say that--and plan around your budget. You'll get there. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  7. Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I haven't yet gone indie but plan to soon-ish, and I appreciate your realistic account of the steps and costs.

  8. One thing I've learned (among numerous others) in this publishing business is there's always another time . When I've rushed, I've regretted it later. Maybe next October will be just the perfect year to put that collection out there.

  9. I've never put a book together, but since you missed the deadline, why not just take some time and make sure you do it right and have all the money? Then there's no pressure.

  10. You've already gotten good advice from the others. The cost of editing isn't that far out of line--compared to what I've seen on freelancers' websites. But I've had editor friends who've given me their F&F discount. Since that was the biggest chunk of money, try to find a writing friend that you could swap "jobs" with. And like the others said, don't rush this (or any other project). When it's ready, put it out.