Thank you to Yecheilyah Ysrayl for the below guest post:
Can we be real?
Self-Publishing has opened the door for writers to finally make their dreams come true. Dreams that were hindered by way of jobs that got in the way of writing, Traditional Publishing rejections, children that parents needed to raise first, a school that needed to be finished first and a slew of other reasons that has stopped the passionate writer from producing a book.
Not only all of this but finances also play a part.
Self-Publishing has allowed people who have always wanted to write books an easy way to do so. With the industry changing and demanding more in the way of excellence and professionalism for the Indie Author (stigmas are fading and authors can no longer afford to produce mediocre work), it is no secret that financial strain is what stops many writers from either finishing a book or publishing it.
With advice after advice on how we should invest in our careers, many authors feel that they simply cannot afford to do so and produce something professional at the same time.
For instance, I recently came across professional website building at $800. We know how important it is for authors to have professionally designed websites but let’s be real, who can afford to pay that much for a website unless they are already established enough to afford it?
Unless you were given a loan, grant, or someone blessed you with the money, $800 is as much as some people pay for rent and simply not the kind of money many Indie Authors can afford to invest in one website. A website that may not even bring them a return.
So, what does an author do? What is the broke author’s secret weapon to successfully and professionally producing books? TIME.
The secret weapon is time. What you can’t afford in money you make up in time.
Although you may not get paid for hours put in the same way you would your hourly job (wouldn’t that be nice!) you will see a difference in the kind of material you put out.
How many hours a day do you spend working toward your books? By “working on” I mean either writing, blogging, promoting, networking, social media (real social media work not lollygagging), research, online classes, webinars, video tutorials, email list building, reading, email marketing, etc. So, how many hours?
On a good day, I spend anywhere between 8 – 12 hours on my work. I am a writer full time and have spent many nights in the office putting in the time long before my wonderful husband gets home from a job that actually pays him for hours put in.
The thing is, a return on time for an author is reflected in his work. Authors who put little to no work in their books (rushing to get them out) is bound to produce mediocrity. On the other hand, authors who invest time not only in the books they write but also in other aspects of the business (blogging, promoting) is bound to receive a much better turnout.
Let’s take a look:
30 Day List Building Challenge – After investing 30 days in a List Building Challenge I increased my list of email list subscribers by 40%. This took me passed my 100-subscriber mark (the first 100 subscribers are the hardest to get!)
Free Webinars— I can’t afford to pay for a writer’s conference. I know, I know, they are valuable but that’s not a realistic goal for me financially right now. I am not that cheap. I would love to invest that kind of money into my education. I would also love to take a publishing course at a University. Again, this just isn’t the reality for me right now. Instead, I take free webinars.
You know, those emails you get about a free webinar on some aspect of publishing that we skip through? STOP IT! I didn’t mean to yell, it’s just, they are soooo helpful!
I learn a lot from free webinars. Just last week I took a Leadpages Interactive Training and the week before that a training on building the Author Media Kit. The result is pages of notes and a head filled with ideas I can use to make my media kit better and ideas I can implement into my email list to help nurture it. (Growing a list is only half the battle. Now you gotta be sure people are interested enough to stick around)
In fact, the idea for this article came while listening to a webinar. They were offering something at the end that I could not afford, that is when I thought about time. I can now take this idea, turn it into an article and Guest Post on someone’s blog. That’s increased exposure for me, my blog, and my content and it only costs me two hours.
Guest Blog Posts / Author Interviews – Speaking of guest posting, we may as well go here next.
Time spent writing articles has resulted in over twenty articles that I’ve posted on someone else’s blog, author interviews, guest blog features, and a radio show appearance. This is free publicity for me and my content and all I had to spend was time.
Time drafting the email of inquiry (your emails should always be professional even when you are seeking to guest post on someone’s blog), writing the articles, and time answering the questions.
My radio show feature with Annette Rochel Aben only took 30 minutes as a matter of fact. It will forever be part of my author portfolio and it only costs me 30 minutes of my time.
Images / Promotional Ads – A few hours a day using Canva and PosterMyWall allows me to create my own professional images and Ads.
A few hours a day and you can never tell if I hired a professional or not. Using free mock-up templates from places like covervault allows me to create images for my books in Photoshop.
Just a $10/mo investment and I can purchase the cheapest package in photoshop CC to get this done.
Before I even had that, I used a free 3D image creator for creating 3D images of my books. It only costs me my time.
Book Cover Design – I have a Book Cover Design dream. My Book Cover Design Dream is to purchase a professional custom Book Cover from one of my favorite book cover designers. Thing is, he’s too expensive for me right now so I can’t support him like I’d want to just yet. I do however have time (time means you can support others too! Though I can’t afford him, I know others can. I follow him on social media and always like and share his work).
With the time I had on hand, I was able to research cheap custom book cover designers. The cover to The Aftermath, my first novel costs me less than $200. The cover of Book Three in The Stella Trilogy (The Road to Freedom – Joseph’s Story) costs less than $100. For the second book in The Stella Trilogy (Beyond the Colored Line) I paid less than $30. It just cost me the price of the stock photo (Winter Woman).
The rest I did from a free MS Word template offered by Derrick Murphy.
But, we’re talking about the broke author so let’s take it all the way back.
My first poetry book cover cost $0.
I published with Lulu and used one of the templates they already had. You can do the same with Createspace. Sure, there are some hideous ones out there but we’re talking about investing time. If you’re not lazy and cheap with your time, then you can produce a nice cover from one of the free cover design templates or whichever POD you’re using whether that is Createspace, Lulu, or Lightening Source (IngramSpark), or whatever you use to publish your paperbacks.
Premades – If you’re looking for something more professional than a free one (or couldn’t find one you liked), you still don’t have to spend a lot of money. If you don’t have the money for a custom designed cover, you can purchase a pre-made.
Premade book covers are pre-designed book covers by professional graphic designers and sold at a lower cost than a custom made. The only drawback is that designers sometimes use the same stock photos across premade sites.
However, with a little time, this can be overcome by choosing a unique look. They are out there, you just need the time to find them. Don’t just pick the first pre-made you see that looks nice. Think about whether or not it speaks to what your book is about. (And don’t choose a pre-made cover that uses a stock photo you’ve seen lots of times.)
Websites – Hours a day spent building a website using Squarespace, WIX, Website.com or any less expensive option can result in a decent author website for those who don’t have the money to purchase an expensive one. If you don’t have money at all, you can create a website here on WordPress for free.
It will only cost you time.
Editing – Editing is expensive for the broke author. The thing is, editing should be expensive. I review books for free and it takes a lot of time. I can only imagine having to make corrections too.
However, there are different kinds of editing and not all of them are expensive. If you are willing to put off the release of your book a while, you can get your manuscript Beta-read first. Your Beta’s can help you with the overall story so you know if something is confusing or if there are major plot holes. Then, you can pay a copyeditor to help with those grammatical mistakes.
Over time you will need to invest in an editor but we’re talking baby steps. If in the beginning, you don’t have the funds, you can still have your work looked at by someone more knowledgeable than you.
There are tons of services out there to help those low on finances, you just have to take the time to look. You may also need to put off the release of your book. This means you can’t rush through it just to get something out there. You will have to take your time.
Offline Events – What if you want to run a book signing or offline event? Surely, you need money to do this.
Hosting a Book Signing is free at places like Libraries but your books are not.
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money that you do not have, even if it means to purchase bulk copies of your book.
I did not have the money to host a book signing in Atlanta last year. The library wasn’t charging but I still needed money for books and promotional products. Instead of giving up, I set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for what I needed. I did have to invest time in setting it up and promoting it but that’s all it costs me.
We can go on and on. You can even discover editing services that are cheaper than most if you are willing to look for it.
The point here is time. If you are willing to invest time into your work, then not having the money is not a reason not to publish a book. Baby steps are key.
Should you invest finances in your writing? Of course, you should but that doesn’t have to mean right now. You don’t have the money right now. What you do have is what you woke up with this morning: Time.
Sometimes, all you need is the internet and books! There are tons of free webinars, blogs, and how-to books out there to assist in your education of the Industry. What are they? Where are they? That’s for you to find! It only costs you your time, the most valuable commodity out there and the broke author’s secret weapon.
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the Historical Fiction author of Young Adult Black American Literature and Poetry. The author of nine books she attended Chicago State University, Robert Morris College, and Everest College. Yecheilyah is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story”. Book One is due for release July 15, 2017.
Yecheilyah will also be in attendance at The Tampa Indie Author Book Convention in Tampa Florida. Yecheilyah is a Blogger and Book Reviewer.
Originally from Chicago, IL, she now resides in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time. She is currently working on her memoir and BREATHE: Letters of Inspiration to Keep You Inspired, Motivated, and Writing.