Archive for March, 2012

March 3, 2012

Writing a Book: It’s a Family Affair

My husband is a very creative guy. He gets paid to write code and design web application interfaces, but in real life he’s a carpenter, artist, tinkerer, fix-everything guy … a hands-on Renaissance man. (Or, if you prefer, Mr. Enigma.) He also writes stories, mostly in his head. Over the years, he’s actually put fingers to keyboard and written a few down, but we’ve never done anything with them. It’s time-consuming to polish a piece of fiction for anyone other than your spouse to read. Ideally, would have loved seeing the stories published, but we knew how hard it is to find an agent who can then find a publisher. The investment of time, energy, and money never seemed worth it.

We could have also gone the vanity-press route, but that was unappealing for a variety of reasons. Or we could have self-published. We know a few people who have done that, and I edit self-published books as part of my freelance work, but print is expensive, and there’s always the risk that we’d be stuck with a basement full of books and an empty bank account. The risk/reward ratio just didn’t seem appealing.

Enter the e-book. It’s changed everything. You can self-publish at a fraction of the cost of print. It’s certainly not free, but when we look at reducing the time to publish, skipping the middle men (agent and publisher), and publishing in digital format only (at least at first), the risk/reward ratio seems a heck of a lot better. We’ll still have spend an enormous chunk of time getting the book ready and then promoting it — no publisher, no marketing help — but that’s the price of going indie.

But will anyone buy it? Maybe. Look what’s happening in the world of e-books and indie authors: people are making money! Writers who previously couldn’t find an agent or publisher are selling their books and turning a profit. Some are even making millions, MILLIONS, I say. You HEAR me? MWAHAHAHAHA!


We don’t expect Steve to be the next John Locke, Amanda Hocking, or JA Konrath (who makes about $100K per month selling his self-published e-books). What these three indie authors illustrate is that a lot of people will buy e-books if the price is right and the stories are good. So there’s hope for us. Hey, if lightning strikes, we won’t complain, but realistically, we’re just hoping that Steve’s stories get read, that we can recoup our costs. A small income stream would be the cherry on top.

So, we’re off! Steve has begun writing a novel he’s had rattling around in his head for about a year. It’s tentatively titled Becky Bright & Dark, and it’s about, um, Becky, a freshman at Franz Kafka Memorial High School (at least that what she calls it) and who stumbles into a hidden world of illusions, deception, and double meaning. She meets the Furniture Man (What’s his deal?) and finds her calling at Kafka’s underground newspaper. At some point, of course, chaos ensues.

Word count thermometer

Word count thermometer.
Still lots of white space!

The rest of the family has mobilized. We’re in support-staff mode now. The kids understand that Steve will be at the computer a bit more than normal, particularly on weekends. Luckily, they sleep late (love that homeschooling!), so Steve can write before they even wake up most days. To help us all stay on target, the kids are tracking Steve’s writing progress with this handy-dandy word-count “thermometer.” (Look at the pro-fessional graphics!)

While Steve and I will enjoy the thrill of just finally publishing a novel, the kids are excited about a more tangible reward. They desperately want to go to Disney World, but we need to save for the trip. If we’re lucky, we won’t spend more money publishing the book than we make from it the next 1.5 years. We’re not crazy enough to think one book by a new, indie author could sell enough copies in a year to pay for a Disney vacation, but if puts a few dollars in the vacation piggy bank, then it’s a win/win.

So far, the writing is going well. Steve wrote ~3700 words last weekend. By yesterday, he was at 9800. This morning, he brought the total up to 11,000. And by tomorrow night, we hope for ~13,000. Of course, I, the in-house editor, haven’t gotten my red-pen-happy hands on it yet, but still, 13,000 unedited words in 9 days: not. too. shabby.

Aside from serving as the editor (we may farm the book out to another editor, as well), I, as usual, am the engine that powers this family endeavor. Want a vacation? Get planning, Lori. Need a new car? Get Consumer Reports, Lori. Want to self-publish a Young Adult novel, get researching and Tweeting, Lori. I have learned a ton about author platforms, e-book formatting, the importance of professionally designed book cover, the pros/cons of the Kindle DRM, and oh, so much more, in the past two weeks.

Steve and I have a lot of work to do because we’re effectively starting a new business. I’m handling the behind-the-scenes work so that he can focus on writing. We make a good team.

The next few months should be very interesting around here. Wish us luck!

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