Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Does This Math Work for Blogs?

This writer's question from an email is simple: they asked that if they write and publish 50 blog posts and get $1 a day from that, then logically this means that by writing 5,000 of them in a short time span- a few months- they would make $100 per day. 

I suppose one can't argue with logic, at least mathematically speaking, and they are right about their numbers. If you have published 50 blog posts, and you earn X amount then, it follows that you should earn X if you write 100 times as many posts. Money, is a different matter. The Internet is a deadly environment where the business minded writers will survive and make money with Google AdSense and other affiliate programs. The question I'm asking is: It is a quality versus quantity argument?

The question they ask is mathematically sound.  If you follow the logic they are using then by writing several blog posts each day chances are higher that they will make money from them. Money doesn't come fast or easy, and it doesn't come all the time, but when it does, it often happens seemingly overnight. So, Let's go through this like a Vulcan would, and pretend to be Spock. (For those who love Star Trek, you can decide which Spock you want to be, I personally like the Original Spock, but that is just me.) Logic and money- fascinating. 

I look at it this way, if for example, you write and publish posts and do this several times a day, I don't think the content or quality will be good, or, better still what will you be publishing on a regular basis without burning out or running out of ideas? 

Making money online is about reputation and influence of you as a writer and an author. I might have a lot of followers on my blogs, but if my quality goes down, they will leave the blog fairly quickly. I take the time to read and to think about what I am writing. I've let a blog post stay in draft if it's not what I think works for Living a Life of Writing. If it's good, and the content is good the money will come. My Point about writing? 

If I were to write 5,000 blog posts in a few months, I wonder how long will it be before people see me as someone who is a bit of a hack writer or see me as a spam driven writer, one who looks for something- like money.  Writing online isn't about how many blog posts you publish or online articles you can write in a day, it's about great content that people need, and you have the time to do so. Writers need to remember this, and help one another out. The other question is how would one ever promote more than 15 posts a day and not look like a spammer to the social networking sites?

If not being viewed negatively means you write five blog posts a month, and people like them, then logically, at some point you will make money. If your goal is $100 per day in income, then you'd better plan your business correctly- have an author platform and a strong devoted following, and be human with them. If the plan is to sit there and wonder why the money isn't rolling in, it could be the topic you chosen, but it can also be how much effort you've put into it- which would be none. 

If you get 100 page views a day for your blog with only two or three readers per day, well that's okay but, logically this won't get much money for you or your blog. If you have 50 blog posts and five readers each day for at least one of these posts, you would have 250 visits a day. (50X5= 250 visits a day) Many people who write blogs have closer to 1,000 visits a day. Even then, they might not make as much money as others imagine they do. 

These successful writers don't plan to write 5,000 blog posts in a matter of months, it's illogical to them, they are planning to write a blog for years.  Living a Life of Writing has been around for six years, and we don't have 5,000 blog posts. Let's go back to the 250 people who went to see your 50 posts, and if one person buys a book of yours, you might earn about two to four dollars from this sale of a paperback book- my own book, In Search of The Lost Ones has been out for almost three years and still has book sales, but not each day. That's one person a day buying one book and you've earned anywhere between $60 to $120 per month- if you have recently published a book and are promoting it correctly on a blog.

Can you do 5000 blog posts in a few months and make them readable by writing at least 15 quality posts a day? If you are a decent writer, you can't do this without destroying your reputation and the quality of your blog.  Not to mention that it's frowned upon by Google and other search engines when dealing with a blog that once had a lot of people come and read it, but won't anymore because the writer is burning themselves out producing too much. 

Back to the original question: with 50 high quality posts you've written and you say you earn about $1 a day on these and other items found on the blog, maybe you'll make $100 on 5,000? Not likely- after a while you'll be writing for speed and not quality and the content will not be as good, and frankly, you wouldn't have the time to edit it these posts if you need to publish five or six a day. 

Does this math work for blogs?  My answer is no, not at all.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do You Have the Money to Self-Publish?

It is disheartening to see any good author fail. It is discouraging to read that many authors don't make their money back if they self-publish through most of the vanity presses.  When I write about money I also include time and effort.

I'm not going to write about how much money it costs to self-publish a book, but rather I'm asking if you have the money to self-publish?

For this math magic to work I'll take a lower hourly wage and a higher hourly wage- and since the writers of Living a Life of Writing live in Canada, I will be using the range of minimum wages across the country - which range from $9.95 per hour to $11.00 per hour depending on the province.

Do you have enough money to stop working for a month or longer to get your writing done and then have it looked over by an editor, whom you will have to pay?  Or, do you work your day job so that your bills are paid but it limits your time to write.

Assuming you type at a normal rate, it would take about a month to write a 80,000 word novel.  If it non fiction it might take longer since you will go back and check and correct your facts.  If you write for about 3 hours a day, you will have written more than that assuming that you don't edit your writing.  Since this won't be true, I'm going to suggest that a first draft should take about 30 days or less to write.

With these numbers in mind, if you were to think about writing based on an hourly wage, then you'd need to earn anywhere from $895 to $990 per month to simply pay for writing you book for however long it takes (9.95X3X30= 895.50 for the lower range and 11.00X3X30=  990 for the higher range) This is, again assuming you spend three solid hours a day working on your book in some format- the numbers will be higher or lower depending on how much you do each day.

Then, after factoring in the money based on time spent writing and editing your work yourself, there are the fees for editing your book- which can range from $500 to upwards of $2000 per manuscript or based on the editor, depending on whom you choose to use as an editing company or professional editor there are different fees, and how deep you want to edit your book.  I used CreateSpace and First Editing .com for some numbers, with CreateSpace the quote is $160 for simple copyedits (one round) but I assume most writers will take two or more, and with this in mind I made sure it was at $500. 

A simple copyedit consists of spelling and grammar, whereas a more content editing is exactly what is it is: plot, spelling, grammar, flow cutting and resetting structure.  There is more at higher price ranges but, the motto "you get what you pay for" holds true.

Now, after all this you will have to pay for something with the book in regards to publishing it.  If you are great with a computer and can understand interiors and cover designs, it won't cost you anything to publish with a company such as CreateSpace, or Lighting Source.  However, you may need help and most will cost a couple of hundred dollars to do this service at its most basic level.  You can even publish an e-book for free, using Smashwords or Kindle Direct Publishing, although many do decide to have someone create that for them for a small fee, usually anywhere between $30 to $70.

Factoring this all in, a book can take about a year or more to come to the part where it will be published.  If we do the math based on time and effort and other additional costs, the cost of self-publishing your book is closer to $11,080 to $13,440 to self-publish your book through CreateSpace or others like it.  If you choose any of the AuthorSolutions companies to work with, your costs will be higher.

Do you have money to self-publish? For the most part if you don't factor in time, most people will say that yes, they do have the money to go with the self-publishing route.  This doesn't mean you shouldn't go and self-publish but it does mean that you have to plan ahead a bit more than simply "paying back" the other more visible fees that come up when publishing a book.  This is why the most successful self-publishers have savings and a plan before they even begin to write their books. Money is a factor writers must consider but so is their time, and that is worth every penny.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

E-books and DRM

I have avoided this debate for a while now, but with several books on the way to being published this year and next, I have to face this question soon enough.  What should I do with my e-book and should I use a DRM for this one?

When I published my first book, in 2011, I decided to use the DRM (Digital Rights Management) that Kindle suggested I use.  I was worried that my name wouldn't get out there if I didn't use it.  I admit I made an error in judgement, but this was a long time in coming.  It's not a big error, but it is one I will not be repeating again.

Thanks to Alexander von Ness for the link to one of the many posts I've come across that has made me change my mind about what I will do with my next self-published books.  I write non-fiction, and it could be assumed that these would have a better chance at sales as opposed to a fiction book.  However, my book is in a niche market and this is where I agree with the article found here.  I have to agree that obscurity is a much bigger problem, and although I am on many social networking sites, the corresponding sales are not as high as I would like.

On that note, I looked into the sales of my paperback and my e-book- for the past three years.  I'm not the greatest at math, and I would make an educated guess that at 99 cents, my book would be doing better without the DRM, but it is something I can't change unless I re-publish the book.

The question I asked myself before I really got into the next e-book and the DRM was: what does it hurt if I don't use it or use it with my next books?

My editor and my co-authors have weighed in on this debate and have said for them they would most likely purchase a book that has no DRM as opposed to one which does. If it's a good book they won't mind either way, but for a new author they might think twice about buying a book. For them, as readers, they like to share books with friends for a time, but also want book sales.  To them, the DRM stands in their way of doing this. It's not true, but it is a perception many readers have. KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) themselves state in the choice box about DRM being this: DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to inhibit unauthorized distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work, and choose not to have DRM applied to their book. If you choose DRM, customers will still be able to lend the book to another user for a short period, and can also purchase the book as a gift for another user from the Kindle store.

What this bit of article is saying is that it protects against unauthorized distribution, not about lending.  However, the more articles I read, the more I lean towards not having the DRM as an option on my next e-book.  I understand there will be piracy and work can be stolen, but most readers purchase their books from Amazon.  Some of the other numbers which are tipping my views in the direction that I might not need a DRM- hardcover book sales (you can read the article here written at the end of 2013) are growing and doing better than e-books.  In this way publishers are still earning money, and writers are getting their names out there.  

The choice is not about publishing a book in an e-book format, but if there should be a DRM on the books I publish.  I can see better sales with a second book, but based on growth and numbers, the more accessible my book is to my readers the more chance I have of selling my book.  It's about encouraging readers to read a book, and that means making sure it gets into the hands of readers. Not only this, but it can encourage new readers to your book, and encourage new writers that there are a host of options out there if they want to learn about them.

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