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Do It Yourself

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 20, 2011

These days, writers are expected to do everything themselves: create video trailers, write back cover copy, run contests, suggest cover art scenarios, maintain social networks, offer newsletters to readers, update their websites, even publish their own books. What happened to simply writing the story? Is it any wonder that our production levels may have decreased due to these other demands on our time? When you decided upon fiction writing as a career choice, were you aware of what you were signing up for?

On the other hand, we have so many new things to learn that it can keep our brains active until we can no longer stand on our own feet. E-books! Royalty-free images! Movie making software! Smashwords! iPads and iPhones and Kindles and Nooks! Enriched e-book content! Digital autographs! Virtual book tours!

Where does it end?  idea

I’ve recently spent hours of my time formatting a backlist title for the Kindle, consulting with the cover artist, then doing the upload myself. Now it’s time to tackle Smashwords.

Do It Myself, or hire someone to format the work for me? Sure, I could probably learn how, after hours of trial and error. But is that time well spent just to save a few bucks, or is it better to work on the next project instead?

Readers want more books by their favorite authors. They don’t care if we’ve done our own book trailer or figured out how to upload the work to Kindle. It’s the results that matter.

In the days of advances, this would be an easy decision. Hire somebody. But nowadays, when we get no money up front and have to spend every dime out of our own pocket, it’s not such a swift decision. We can save a considerable amount of money by Doing It Ourselves. The main cost is to our productivity and creative energy.

So how do YOU balance your time between learning new techie tricks and writing the next book?


14 Responses to “Do It Yourself”

  1. I struggle with this every day. I’m a newly published author (one week ago!!) and if I don’t promote myself, who will know I exist? I’m promoting via blogs, virtual blog tours, twitter and facebook from 9am till midnight. I’d sooner be writing. My heart yearns to write, but if I don’t have a fair amount of sales, what publisher will look at me for a second sale? Talent, what’s that? How many books did you sell? Your blogpost was great and so timely.

  2. Jeanne Meeks - "Rim to Rim––Death in the Grand Canyon" said

    I’m ready to publish, struggling to publish, but know that I need to impress a publisher with my marketing abilities–website, blog, twitter, my platform. I spend A LOT of time learning these things, but I hesitate to spend money on professional help. How will I know they’re doing a good job unless I know the basics myself? Maybe after I earn enough with my writing, delegating the chores to others will make sense.

  3. Congrats, Vonnie! Sounds like you are hard at work with self-promotion. As you’re already finding out, it’s incredibly time consuming. Good luck on your sales. What is your book title and genre? And Jeanne, you’re right in that potential publishers are looking at our online platforms. Authors are expected to do everything these days. It boils down to the same question whether you’re print or e-book published: how do we get noticed in the crowd?

  4. Cloning yourself ?…but joking aside, my hats off to you. Personally I’d do the things I like to do, write the next book that makes my heart sing (readers too) and hire someone for the “other stuff” …which makes their hearts sing. Now, everyone is happy. And here’s another Hats Off To You.

  5. Gwen, my personal dream if I ever hit the bestseller list is to hire a virtual assistant. 🙂

  6. Jeanne Meeks - said

    I like Gwen’s comment about hiring the other professionals to do what makes their hearts sing. I have to stop being cheap and believe that investment in professional website designers, etc. will pay off in book sales.
    Jeanne Lowery Meeks
    Rim to Rim––Death in the Grand Canyon

  7. It’s not being cheap, Jeanne, just doing what fits in your budget and what you don’t want to do on your own. A professional website designer is definitely worth the budget money, but maybe have it designed with a content management system or in WordPress so you can do the updates yourself. Some things I don’t mind doing, others I can’t be bothered with or don’t want to waste the time.

  8. pamlabud said

    A very good post, Nancy. With one child in college and one who’s a senior in high school headed to college, I have no choice. No money = do it yourself. With 5 titles uploaded to Amazon and Nook, I traded critiques for covers, and did everything else myself. I also have two WordPress sites. So far, so good. When I get a little money, I will do what I can. Right now all I can say is thank heavens for the great advice I’ve gotten and my dear critique partners. Without them I couldn’t do anything at all.

  9. I hear ya, Pam. And I agree about critique partners; they’re what keep me going in this crazy business climate. I did my book trailer for Shear Murder myself, with my daughter’s help. I’m hesitant to upload it in case I did something wrong but will get brave one of these days and put it on YouTube. Have you tried Smashwords yet?

  10. Jeanne Meeks - said

    I’d like to hear more about the process you went through for your book trailer, Nancy. I don’t even know where a video trailer would be used… on your website? What exactly is Smashwords? Thanks for your helpful posts.

    Jeanne Meeks
    “Rim to Rim”

  11. Smashwords formats your file into one compatible with ebook devices other than the kindle. Go to their site and check it out. As for the book trailer, I used Windows Movie Maker which came with my computer. Good topic for a blog! It involves going to image and music royalty free sites online to pick out your photos and music, and writing your text. The program puts it together and allows you to add in transitions, special effects, etc. I really hope mine came out all right. My critique group liked it but I’m nervous about posting. It goes on YouTube, and then I put links to the video there on all my other sites. For example, go to the tab above and click on Book Trailer. You can also load your trailer onto your Amazon author page and other sites. It’s another way to get your name out there.

  12. Jeanne Meeks - said

    Thanks for the info. I look forward to the blog on video trailers. Post your trailer. I’m sure it’s great.

  13. Actually, I am a do-it-yourself kind of person. Maybe because I want everything to be organized just the way I want. I am more like a perfectionist.

  14. Jeff, it’s great if you have the ability and the patience to DIY!

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