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Spreadsheets to Galleys: How to Budget Your Self-Published Book

New Year, New Spreadsheets by SaraE

After I wrote recently about why self-publishers need to use professional editors, a number of folks emailed and commented, asking just how much such an endeavor would cost. It was a tough question to answer — I know what I would charge for many services, but it’s difficult to say what the market cost might be, especially for services that I myself don’t regularly provide. Understandably, some correspondents were anxious, wondering if they should jump in, not knowing what the whole process might cost.

This week on, Miral Sattar, CEO of the publishing-services marketplace site BiblioCrunch, posted what I found to be a quite thorough rundown of what it might cost to put a self-published book through as professional as possible a publishing process.

She posited a fairly typical book, weighing in at around 70,000 words. She made no further stipulations — fiction vs. non-fiction, for example, or thoroughly workshopped, researched, and rewritten (I was obsessed about the need to rewrite my essay as a student, still remember) vs. hastely pulled together. The style, genre, and initial quality of the prose do make a huge difference in terms of the kind and amount of editorial work that needs to be done, obviously. Ms. Sattar was trying to explore a median case.

She based her standards and pricing on the Editorial Freelancers Association’s posted rate sheet, which is as close to an industry standard as exists.

Here in brief is Sattar’s rundown (each entry has a low and a high end estimate):


The (Other) Little Death

Painting by Helene Steele © Helen Steele
Painting © Helene Steele

My fourteen-year-old interviewed an artist yesterday for Fastforward, the local kids’ newspaper: a wonderful painter by the name of Helen Steele. I went along as chauffeur and photographer.

Julia asked some great questions, which got Ms. Steele talking eloquently about the most interesting thing of all: her process as an artist. She talked about how she starts a painting–not the way that I’d have thought, with an image in mind, but by working with texture and color until she sees something on the canvas and then begins to work to bring it out. Fascinating.

“There comes a point in every painting, though,” Steele said, “where I have to take what I thought I was doing–the thing that I’ve been so focused on–and kill it off, let it die. And that’s usually when the painting really takes off.”

Her comment hit me between the eyes like one of the diamond pickaxes from the games of Minecraft that Julia’s friends are always talking about.

I realized that the same thing was true of just about every writing or editing project that I’ve been involved with: that at some point, I have to take the part of the book that I’ve been fussing at and obsessing over for hours or weeks or months (or, in the case of a book I finished writing recently, for four years) and kill it. Let it die.

And that made me think of the schema of the Hero’s Journey mapped out in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. There’s a point in most hero tales where the hero (or heroine) has to face a death–either real or metaphoric. Harry Potter allows himself to be killed. Luke Skywalker cuts off his own head (though he thinks it’s Darth Vader’s at the time). Odysseus goes down with his ship before washing up naked on the beach to be found by Nausicaa.

It’s only after this death that the hero can reach his or her potential–can become truly a hero. The old self has to perish in order for the true self to be born.

In every creative project, there’s that moment: the pinnacle of frustration and the abyss of despair. And it’s only by letting go of the thing that we think is so important–the sequence or passage or sentence or character or scene or chapter that we’ve been banging up against that we can discover what the heart of the piece we’re working on truly is.

So, hard as it is, we have to learn to welcome that little death and learn to see it as the narrow, dark passage to the unknown, glorious fulfillment of our own creative work.

Riverrun, to a Monitor Near You — Joyce Manuscripts Now Online

A manuscript page from the "Circe" chapter of Joyce's novel <i>Ulysses</i>
The Irish National Library releases James Joyce's manuscripts online

The Irish National Library has very quietly taken advantage of the entry this year into the public domain of the works of Irish novelist James Joyce by posting its horde of rare Joyce manuscripts on its online archive.

Continue reading Riverrun, to a Monitor Near You — Joyce Manuscripts Now Online