How much bang for your buck?

I love to write, love seeing words turn into paragraphs and paragraphs turn into pages and pages into a book. I enjoy telling a story.

But as I write this, my mind is working on its practical side and not its creative.

As most writers either know or are finding out,  just writing the story down isn’t enough. Getting it published isn’t enough. Getting four- and five-star reviews isn’t enough.

Because with the millions of books being published each year, the chances of  mine being “discovered” is akin to finding one particular grain of sand on the beach.

Okay, my mother said I tend to exaggerate. I like to think of my hyperbole as the first sign I was destined to be a writer.

But the truth is, even though you can publish a book at almost no cost, you still have to spend some money. What I am trying to figure out is not the amount of money I am willing to spend (okay, I do have to consider that), but where to spend it? How do I get the most mileage out of my dollars?

From what I have learned from my writer friends,  there are several things you can’t go wrong buying if you self-publish:

An attractive, eye-catching cover. Don’t use a template or take your own photo (or draw your own unless you are a trained or exceptionally gifted artist). You will need a cover that shrieks “Professional!”

Professional editing. You can’t rely on Spellcheck or your friend who got all A’s in English grammar and composition. This is an investment you literally can’t afford to skip.

An ISBN number purchased from Bowker or some other source. Do not accept the free number from Amazon. Book sellers and libraries will immediately recognize it as self-published. I made this error when I self-published my books after the publisher went out of business and returned my rights. I kick myself every day for not knowing this.

And whether you are self-published or traditionally published, you will need to spend some money on promotion. Here be dragons.

Some writers purchase reviews from reputable reviewers at several hundred dollars, hoping they will be favorable. There is no guarantee on that investment, but a getting a favorable review can be money well-spent.

Discount your book or offer it free for a day or three days hoping to entice new readers. This is something is being done less frequently as authors begin to realize that their hard work is worth more than giving their book away free or for 99 cents, even for a short period of time.  In fact, I learned recently that setting your e-book price lower than $2.99 is not going to attract readers. If the book blurb and cover attract their interest, they will be willing to pay more.

Invest in an on-line newsletter promoting “daily deals” for e-books. Some are very expensive, and I am not exaggerating here.  It can cost upwards of $1,000 on some sites, but they do reach a lot of readers. Will a majority of them buy your book? Having the aforesaid cover, editing and good reviews, you may see a return on that investment.

I’m doing a lot of debating these days. I realize I need to spend some money. The first check is going to buy me a professional critique. I’ve never written a sequel before and I want to know if I’m on the right track before I get too deep. I have spent money for covers and consider it well-spent. I’m looking at “daily deal” newsletters. I did this once before and earned less on royalties than I spent for the exposure. So I need to select more carefully.

Where do you see the best return on your money? Did I miss something? If so, please share.

Meanwhile, have a blessed Easter.








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