“Don’t you move a muscle,” said the voice as something hard pressed into the small of Nicholas’s back. “You’re gonna empty your pockets, nice and slow.” Continue reading “Help”
Okay, it’s time to talk about the 500 pound gorilla in the room, Amazon. If you oppose Amazon on ideological grounds and won’t use them, that’s completely valid. This article just isn’t for you. I’ll be posting separate articles on the other marketplaces you can use. Continue reading “The Road to Self Publishing- Amazon”
I think I’m going to do something a little different today. Currently, I’m in the final phases of editing for my soon-to-be released horror book, ASH. So, I thought I’d post a freshly edited excerpt here, see what y’all think. Continue reading “Excerpt from ASH”
“Your Majesty, there is someone here to see you,” the footman said as he poked his head into the dining chamber.
Gregory sighed. There was always someone who wanted to see him. Ever since he became King. Couldn’t even let him finish breakfast. It couldn’t be helped, he supposed. “And who would this ‘someone’ be?” he asked. Continue reading “The Dragon’s Call”
It happened so suddenly. One second, they were traveling along the FTL stream, heading back to Earth, and the next they were out of it and the emergency inertia dampeners were engaging. Continue reading “Lost. Hungry.”
I told you it was going to start getting heavy around here, didn’t I? As it turns out, self-publishing can be expensive. Between editing services of all stripes, design services and marketing services, you can spend quite a bit publishing. Sure, you can go without all these services, but that leaves your book not getting a fair shake in the self-publishing world. So, what can you do?
First, I would like to note that you can always try your hand at the Traditional Publishing route. If that works for you, great! But this is The Road to Self Publishing, so I won’t be considering this option here.
With that out of the way, what options do you have if you’re dedicated to self-publishing but don’t have the money to get these services straight up? Well, there are some options.
Option 1: just do without. Of course this is an option. You can absolutely finish and publish your book without any of these services. The problem is, every one of these services will either make your work better or give it a better chance of being picked up. Without outside editing, you will miss something. This isn’t up for debate. I don’t care if you are a professional editor with 1000 books under your belt. It’s completely different with your own work. You’re too close to it and you absolutely need more eyes on it. The other two are more debatable. If you’re a good graphic designer or have a huge social media presence, you may be able to skip the cover design or marketing steps. Odds are, neither of those things apply to you. That’s okay! They don’t really apply to me either, but it does mean if we want people to pick up our books, we have to get a professional cover designed and buy some marketing.
Option 2: barter. If you’ve got friends with the skills you need, this can be a great option. Of course, this only works if you can offer a service they need in return. I’ve already used this extensively, and I expect the professional editing services to go smoothly because of my amazing friends. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you can eliminate the need for all professional services this way, but it is a good way to lessen the cost of what you do need.
Option 3: donation services. If you’ve reduced the cost as much as you can but still can’t cover it yourself? It’s time to set up a crowdfunding page. This has the advantage that even the poorest person can get the services they need, as long as they can make their case well. I’d like to go over a few of the major options here.
- Patreon. For creatives, it’s kind of the 500lb gorilla in the room. It allows people to give you recurring donations to create your work. This works really well for long-running, continual projects, like a podcast or webcomic. It’s great on the other side too, as patrons get exclusive content that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. My problem with it is that this model kind of falls apart for self-published novelists. Especially for me, this is going to be my debut novel, so there’s really nothing for people to support on an ongoing basis. Plus, I have no exclusive content.
- Kickstarter/Gofundme. This is more the classic crowd funding model. You set a goal, and if you reach the goal, you provide the end product to backers first. You can also set exclusive rewards for backing at a certain price. This can work really well for a novel as it’s tailor-made for projects that have a definite end. This does, however, require you to be a good marketer, in order to sell the idea of your book to enough backers to reach your goal.
- Ko-fi/etc. This one represents all the various services that act as a sort of virtual “tip jar”. If you’re doing work besides your novel, this can be a good option, as it’ll let people pay for the labor you’ve already done (if they want to, of course), and you can use it to improve your novel. Personally, I really like this option.
So, what option did I pick? Since I do short stories and articles here, I decided to pick up a Ko-fi page to try and cover my editing costs. I like the idea of a virtual tip jar as it removes the pressure from my audience. Like a story or found an article helpful? Donate if you feel like it. If not, no worries, I’ll still keep doing this stuff. It lets my audience do something a little more tangible than just hitting a “like” button. Here’s a link to my Ko-fi:
I might do an article about the realities of running a donation page later, as I feel like that is increasingly an important part of the self-publishing experience. I hope this helped you and, as always, you can check out the other Road to Self Publishing articles here.
Yeah. This one. You knew we were going to have to talk about it eventually. I know, many authors (possibly even most) don’t like talking about copyright, but it’s something you need to think about when you self-publish. If you’d rather read about the actual writing, you can still find the main Road to Self Publishing page here. Still with me? Good.
First, a little disclaimer. I am not now, nor am I likely to ever be, a lawyer, so take everything in here with a grain of salt. If you’re unsure what do do when it comes to copyright, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to an actual Intellectual Property lawyer. Also, I’ll only be speaking about U.S. copyright here. I know next to nothing about copyright in other countries. Some of the things here might be applicable to them, but others will not. Proceed with caution.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk copyright. I’m sure many of you haven’t thought about your copyright before, and probably won’t think about it after this. That’s not a bad thing. You should think about it for a little bit, though, as your choices with copyright will affect other publishing decisions going forward.
The first question is; should I even register a copyright at all? The good news is, in the U.S. it’s not necessary to register the copyright. As soon as you create the thing (like this post) the copyright goes to you. The only real use a registered copyright is if you end up going to court. During a lawsuit, the registration acts as a hard date-of-creation and can make the case that the work is actually yours that much stronger. That being said, if you’re planning on staying out of court, a registration is possibly unnecessary.
One of the reasons you might not want to register the copyright is if you choose a more permissive license than “all rights reserved”. One option on that front is Creative Commons. I actually use Creative Commons for all my posts here. Specifically, I use the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You can check you the copyright notice for all work by Eldiste (me) here. All Creative Commons licenses and many others, are part of a family called “Copyleft”. Copyleft licenses aim to ease up on the current copyright paradigm by specifically granting the public some, or all, of the things that typical copyright would normally restrict. For example, the license I put on my work here specifically grants everyone the right to copy, remix, or incorporate my work into their own, as long as they properly credit me. It is also what they call a “viral license”. This means, if you remix, or incorporate my works, the license comes along for the ride. This does not mean that your entire work would fall under the Creative Commons license, only the portions of my work that you incorporated into your own. It does, however, mean that you can’t put any extra DRM on your work, as it would also lock-up the portion of the work covered under Creative Commons with restrictions that the original license didn’t have. There are other copyleft licenses that don’t have viral elements, so dig through the Creative Commons site, and find one that’s right for you.
Of course, if you want to give the people maximum freedom, you can always put your work into the Public Domain. That means, anyone can do literally anything with your work they want, including publishing it exactly as you had it but without your name and profiting off it. I personally like the Public Domain, but for those of us who are smaller, it can be a challenge. Since someone with a larger marketing budget could take your work and use it to get your potential audience, it’s harder for us to use the Public Domain and make money. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means put it in the Public Domain.
But what if you don’t want to deal with copyleft and viral licensing. What if the Public Domain is scary? Well, good news! Like I said above, if you’ve written the thing, you have an “all rights reserved” copyright. This means the only way a somebody can use your work is with your express permission, or if it falls under fair use. So, how do you know if something falls under fair use? Well, sadly, in the US, there is no hard and fast test to tell if something falls under fair use. The only way to know for certain is to go through the courts. There are a few ways you can make an educated guess, though. If it uses a very small portion of the overall work, say one or two lines. If the portion used is not what makes the work unique. If it’s for educational or news reporting purposes. If the use of your work falls under multiple of those cases, there’s a good chance it’s fair use.
Have I cleared up copyright for you? Or just muddied the waters? Either way, I hope this nearly incoherent rant has been informative, and maybe helped you a little bit. Stick around for more nuts-and-bolts publishing in the next one.