Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Lesson in Publishing

My first adventure in self-publishing a novel started a few months ago, and I've learned one very important thing. If the editor or artist can't give you an estimate on initial contact, contact someone else. The reasons for this reluctance to offer solid prices are specious, in my opinion. They're usually something like, "I don't want to scare people," or "They might want the moon for the price of cheese." If someone is going to get scared away by a price, they aren't going to be happy about it, even if they pay it. And if someone knows the moon costs $1000, and the cheese costs $100, they won't be surprise if they get charged $1000 for the moon. It's not rocket science.

An editor knows how much it will cost to edit, so there's no reason not to be open. If an editor doesn't want to be open about it, don't waste your time. Someone who can't even give you a range of possible costs is not someone you want editing your project. Don't pay for an estimate either. If an editor doesn't post prices on their web-site, and won't even offer examples of pricing unless you send them money first, find another editor. There's a lot of them out there, and many of them are clear about what they charge for specific services. Find one of those--or just contact Anna.

The same idea applies to artists. You can't charge by the word for images, but if the artist doesn't know how long it will take, and can't offer even a general range of prices, they should hire someone who can help with the business side, and they should concentrate on the art. If you trade four or five emails with an artist, over the course of a month, and you still don't have any idea how much it will cost, stop wasting your time. If you send an artist an idea of what you want, and they can't tell you something like, "I can do that for $100 - $500," find another artist. Or contact Chuck. Or DigitalDonna.

If the professional you've chosen to contact can't put a price on something right away, find another artist or editor. Just move forward with your project, no matter how much you wanted that first choice. And for goodness sake, don't sign anything until you are sure.