At last, we reach the grand finale. Okay, that may be overstating things.
The previous three posts (start here if you’ve missed them) addressed the key areas you might want to consider spending money on if you’re going to self-publish. I know there can be other expenses (marketing, photos, etc.), but I’m primarily interested here in what helps to get a readable book out there.
Of course, in all of this, I’ve assumed you’ve written something worth reading. Apart from getting editorial advice, the actual writing of the book doesn’t cost money – unless you count buying stationery. Then again, if you can’t produce a good story, it won’t matter how much money you throw at the project (no, I’m not going to drag EL James back in at this point).
The objective of the last few posts has been to highlight the importance of those key areas, and give some food for thought about whether to spend money on them or not. As I said at the outset, in reality there are no rules to follow on this. The choice is yours.
What can often hold people back from making a commitment to spend money, though, is a lack of perspective. That doesn’t mean to say I think you should just start writing cheques for everything and hang the cost, but sometimes we don’t put these things into context.
You spend a lot of time writing your book. Correction, you invest a lot of time writing your book. Once you’ve used that time up, you can never get it back. If you find yourself considering whether you should spend/invest money on the book, bear in mind that you may get that back – or at least some of it – because, to read it, someone is going to buy it.
Even if the book is a complete flop and you earn nothing from it, eventually you can earn it back another way. Money is replaceable. Time isn’t.
Here’s something else I had to remind myself: I don’t play golf.
If I did, my local golf club would charge me around £700 to join, and the same again each year. I’d also have to buy a set of clubs, with a decent set costing me several hundred pounds (at least). Then there’s the shoes and any other clothing required to fit in. And that ignores the potential to visit other clubs or have golfing holidays.
So if I’m not spending money on golf, could I not spend it on something else that gives me enormous pleasure?
Let’s face it, for each book, you only need one cover (if you get it right first time), and you’ll probably only need it editing or typesetting once. So, unless you’re in a position to churn out a couple of books a year, getting yourself published doesn’t have to seem such an expense.
And remember it’s an investment, and all investments have risks attached to them.
With bank deposits, the money’s safe, but the risk is that it’ll lose its real value compared to inflation – so staying safe means you end up losing out for sure.
With the stock market, shares go down as well as up, so your investment might be worth less at the end than you put in, but it might shoot up, and probably will over the long term.
With property, the value can also go down as well as up, but the biggest drawback is the need to tie up a lot of capital, so it’s not easy to access your money. After all, you can’t sell off just the kitchen. Oh, yes, and there’s always something that needs maintaining, so there are ongoing expenses. Over time, though, it will probably go up in value and, if you’re renting it out, provide a regular income.
Some people invest in their own businesses, often borrowing money to give the business a real boost. They put all their eggs in one basket and work hard alongside their investment. Sometimes, they crash and burn, owing loads of money and even going bankrupt. But sometimes they end up building multi-million pound corporations.
So, whether you think of your writing as a hobby or something to invest in for your future, there are comparisons you can make to put it in context.
Now, I’m not suggesting that finding the money is an easy thing to do. There are times in most people’s lives when things are tight. But when you have some free cash and a choice between upgrading to the latest smartphone, or subscribing to a wider range of TV channels, or blowing it on a “holiday of a lifetime” – or settling for something a little less and putting the difference aside to invest in your book – maybe you’ll pause a moment and give it some thought.
This whole series of posts was started by Sarah asking what she should do for herself, and what she should pay someone to do when self-publishing. The answer for anyone pondering this depends very much on their own skill set. But the chances are that they’re going to have to shell out on at least one of the items I’ve talked about here.
The bottom line is, if you don’t feel your book is worth investing money in, maybe you need to rethink things. Because time is a much more precious commodity than money, and you need to invest that even more wisely.