Self Publishing

The Cost of Self-Publishing

How much money will I spend self-publishing? The short answer is: more than you expect.

Self-publishing has a lot of advantages, the biggest of which is the writer having complete and total control over his or her own product. This also means the responsibility of publishing the book is entirely on their shoulders, and that can come with a financial burden.

For many authors, self-publishing is a by-product of writing. It’s not so much the goal of writing but more a bonus side-effect. You may write something for joy, therapy or intrigue, and then put it out into the world with little care of how it succeeds. If that’s the case, you’re an incredibly rare breed of writer.

The rest of us want to know our work is being read. And we like seeing some money coming through. Many of us don’t expect to be break-out famous (you can’t expect that, it’ll ruin you), but we’d at least like to see some growth in our readership as we slowly build a career.

The trouble is, a lot of self-published writers don’t know what they’re doing. They need to act as web masters, distribution experts, publicists, marketers, cover designers, editors, accountants and more. All of this rather gets in the way of writing, which many would argue is close to a full time job in itself. There are many self-published authors who enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit that is required to grow a decent readership following. You need to have a deep lust for learning, and be patient enough to know that a huge amount of effort is unlikely to yield a significant return in the short term. You’ve got to be in it for the long game.

Trouble is, inexperienced self-published writers can put time and money into the wrong areas. The sheer volume of time it takes to learn about a lot of the skills you’ll require is mind-numbing. You’re likely to get bored and impatient. So you’ll spend money to speed the process up. You might sink a thousand dollars into a book cover design, but end up with a result you’re not happy with (because you’ve never briefed a cover designer before, and you don’t know how book covers fit into the marketplace). You can blow hundreds of dollars on building a website that doesn’t work the way you want it to and crashes every two weeks. You can put a lot of time and money into social media but have no growth in your community. And after all of this, your book may come out with typos, or struggle to be reviewed in the press, or simply float in the atmosphere, never finding a reader.

It’s enough to make you want to give up.

For Pity Sake Publishing is a sincere attempt to help writers. We’re a team of editors, marketers and publicists who can help provide you with the legitimacy and skills of a traditional publisher, while still allowing you more control than authors are used to. Yes, we will probably ask you to kick in some cash, but our belief is the cash is going to be less than what you would spend if you attempted to trek in the wilderness by yourself. In return, you get greater financial control and more say in the artistic outcome of your work. We want to give writers a platform that they can’t give themselves for less money and time than it would take to self-publish – all the while making the final product the very best it can be.

Our starting point for this is our Manuscript Appraisal Service, where you can submit your work to us, and we can open a discussion.

The Crucial Secret That Could Get You Published

Want to be a published author? Then learn how to self-edit.

This, by far, is the most common mistake that inexperienced writers make. The most common complaint from publishers, across the board, is that writers will send in their first draft. Most of the time, publishers don’t want to see your first draft.

Every writer, including Dickens, Orwell and Shakespeare, learned how to self-edit. The difference between draft one and draft two can be miraculous. But it’s about more than just dotting i’s and fixing errant commas. It’s often large, tectonic work that can re-shape your story.

The tricky thing is that a lot of writers know their first draft isn’t brilliant, but lack the skill or experience to bridge their first draft to their second. With that in mind, here are some key principles that should help.

Step Away Stephen King says at least six weeks. Others say longer. The vast majority of professional published authors I know do this. They pour their entire heart into the project, and then they put it in the drawer for a break. Attempting to edit right after you’ve finished a first draft is destined to be a disaster. You’re too close to it, and probably too exhausted. Have a break. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done the hardest part: writing the damn thing. It’ll be there for you in a few weeks.

Attacking the work with fresh eyes will be a startling discovery. First of all, there are probably going to be entire sections that you don’t remember writing. It’s a wonderful thing. This insight will allow you to see bigger problems with the work, and provide a solid foundation for the next step.

Don’t worry about spelling At least to start with. Think about self-editing as a pyramid. Things like spelling and grammar are at the top of the pyramid, the thin bit. They’re fiddly things that you don’t need to concern yourself with right now. Worry more about the base of the pyramid: story structure. Examine scene to scene, chapter to chapter, how your story moves. Does it make sense? Does it drag? Does it move?

Don’t be disheartened. There is likely to be a good chunk that needs fixing. You might end up deleting a character (or two, or three), or realising that there’s 10,000 words in the middle that’s just plain wrong. This brings me to my next point.

Be brutal Cut. Probably around ten percent, maybe more.Save your old drafts and just go for it. You can always go back. Be courageous. If the book can survive without a particular section, than cut it.

This more than just an exercise in butchery. It’s a deeply helpful lesson in writing. As you cut, you’ll be forced to justify every choice you’ve made as a writer. You’ll get to know the work a lot better, and you’ll discover new pathways that you hadn’t considered. It may sound frightening, but believe me, it’s thrilling. Often finding the slimmer, more dynamic version of your story will feel like relief to the writer. It’ll feel much closer to what you originally had in your head.

There are entire courses in self-editing, and it’s a life time practice for a writer. But in today’s publishing world, it’s possibly one of the most important skills you can exercise. Writers are being expected, more and more, to carry the weight when it comes to editing.

So get your red pen out. I promise, you’ll feel better for it.

Think you want an opinion on your manuscript from a real reader? Try out our manuscript appraisal service.

Sarah's letter to the author of 'Vegetarian Vampires'

Dear Jen, Firstly, thank you for putting the manuscript for Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn from Them in my path at this time.

It’s such a fantastically rich book. I loved how it is structured for each day of the week. It almost reminds us that we can only ever take one day at a time, that it is OK to start small, start somewhere, just start. I LOVE your writing voice, the weaving of topical references with personal experiences and humour. I laughed while reading this book - sometimes a dry ‘ain’t that the truth’ or a ‘oh I completely understand’ chuckle - although the ‘What would Edward Cullen do?’ question at the end of Day 3's essay gave me a great big belly laugh.

There were so many things that resonated with me, and I think they are best encapsulated by these little notes that I made while reading:

  • What a fantastic reminder that we only have ONE life. We might try to categorise and section off parts of our lives, but what we do in our work lives affects the same ‘us’ as our personal lives.
  • I need more stillness in my life.
  • We have more sway over our own lives than we realise. How often do we hear people who have made ‘life changing’ decisions say ‘I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago’?
  • What a liberating idea; we are the choices we make.
  • The section on Vegetarian Vampires and the fact that while some decisions might start out requiring loads of willpower but the choice becomes easier and easier the more times we make it, resonates with me. I have a condition that results in hairloss and am completely bald. When I first started going out in public without a wig on I had to consciously muster up a sense of courage and strength in order to be brave. Now, I don’t think twice about being bald in public, I don’t need to ‘be brave’ everyday. That strength is now a part of who I am.
  • All of this is possible. Of course we’ll stuff it up and make a mess of it and try to fight against that rip instead of letting go. But that’s when we need a book like this, to remind ourselves that that glorious mess of a journey is my life, my one life. I own it, and today I decide to embrace uncertainty, live lovingly and be myself on purpose. And laugh. Always laugh.
  • I need to read this book again. And then again the month after that.

You have truly given with love in this book. Much love to you, and thank you once again.

Sarah Peters PhD Theatre Student, University of Southern Queensland

Sarah Peters Headshot



Vegetarian Vampires- The Book!

My life was very different eight years ago, long before the Big Breast Adventure. I was working 10 to 12 hour days in-house with a huge, complex and demanding client who shall remain nameless (OK, it was Qantas). My mother-in-law had just passed away very suddenly sending shock waves through the family, my daughter was progressing through those challenging pubescent high school years and my son was struggling with an as yet unidentified learning difficulty. To say life was busy and stressed would be the understatement of the millennium.

Because I never had time to read anything other than newspapers and business magazines during the average working week, it wasn’t until we took a much-needed family holiday to Hawaii that I actually picked up and tried to read Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. In my haste to get through some non-work related reading material in my time off (oh, the pressure!) I skipped the introduction and started straight into the first law – Pure Potentiality. This chapter only runs for a few pages (as they all do) but it took me hours to read it, just trying to get a handle on what the man was on about.

Fast forward a few years by which time the work-life balance thing had become a complete joke.  By this time I’d abandoned the 12 hour days in favour of short-term in-house gigs for individual clients and had even had therapy for a while. Nevertheless, the stressed-and-running-around-list kept mounting with a dyslexia diagnosis for my son; the sharp deterioration of my Brisbane-based father’s health precipitating a move to a nursing home, and my widowed father-in-law in his 90s living alone in Canberra.

Somewhere in amongst all of this, the little book I had taken to Hawaii to read (only getting through the first chapter) literally leapt out and fell at my feet during an attempt to restore some order to the bookshelf beside my bed. Seeing this as a sign, I started to read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success once again, not skipping the introduction this time.  This turned out to be the smartest move of all because the introduction frames the purpose of the book beautifully, just as the Afterword provided a neat summation when I finally reached it – I’ve been a fan of reading both ever since.

I also started carrying Chopra’s neat little handbag-sized book around with me reading each day’s law on the day it was meant to be read. I quickly found the daily texts that had me baffled on first reading were now providing tools to either face the day ahead, if I read it in the morning, or to make sense of what had gone down during the day if I happened to read the passage at bed time.

I guess I can credit this little book with kick-starting my blogging career, such as it is. In trying to make sense of the many guru-like recommendations in it’s pages, I started writing down my thoughts and the connections I was making between Chopra’s commentary and the tribulations of my daily life. By doing this I was merely trying to make sense of the Seven Laws myself and perhaps help some other people along the way. What these blogs became, however, is a sort of non-guru/normal person’s guide to applying these spiritual notions to real life  I’m delighted to tell you that they’re now available as my first book – Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them – the self-help book for people who don’t read, or even like, self-help books.

And I’ve learned two really big things on the path to getting my first book published – and I don’t mind sharing with you good people. Firstly, I wrote every blog post in the book except for the last, Saturday’s Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life – before I knew I had breast cancer.  I was editing the manuscript for publication last year when I was going through protracted chemo and radiation treatment. One could be forgiven for thinking this might have changed my perspective somewhat but it didn’t – and for that I am deeply thrilled and very grateful. I feel like I am walking proof that all this ‘woo-woo’ talk really does stack up when the chips are down. And as my writing coach and editor, Dave Burton, so eloquently put it in Vegetarian Vampire’s Afterword, “What good is any of this, after all, if it’s not useful when we most need it?” Now there’s a smart boy.

The second big thing I learned is that blogs can turn into books – and as the owner of a fledgling publishing company I think that’s truly awesome.

And now a special offer for my dear readers – buy a copy of Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them for A$30.00 and I’ll twist my publisher’s arm to throw in a second copy for free. I’ve even sign them both to whomever you want. Just leave a comment on this blogpost.

Oh, and one final thing – watch this space because now we have a taste for this ‘getting books published’ caper, the next one entitled The Dalai Lama in My Letterbox about (you’ve probably guessed) the Big Breast Adventure will be hot on Vegetarian Vampire’s heels.

All the breast!