For many years, I’ve maintained the attitude that my job is to write. Marketing, promotion, and distribution are not among my areas of expertise. This idea worked well for me while I was an editor at Keyboard. That was a business, and I was just an employee. But a self-publishing author has, sad to say, responsibility for everything.
Also, as I’ve gotten older (I’m now 68) I find that stress is more difficult for me to manage. I don’t like stress. I like relaxing and being creative. By mid-morning today, I was ready to bite the head off of a squirrel. I just do not want to be doing this stuff. It’s insane.
I sent an email to the web design company that I mentioned yesterday, the one that said they would do the “wireframe” first. I suggested that that was sort of backwards — that I thought I’d like to see the design first, before they put any time into coding. The guy emailed me back and said, “What I hear is that you’re uncertain about our process and the considerable expense, which I can completely understand, especially if you’ve never been through something like this. I will say that I’ve used this methodology to build 50+ websites, so it’s pretty tried and true.” He said, “I’m not really a hard sales guy — I only want to work with clients who are 100% comfortable with our work and confident that we’re going to deliver what they want. I’m going to set this one aside — let’s not move forward at this time.”
In other words, it’s his way or the highway. Okay, fine.
I found a company not far from me that specializes in author website work. Their portfolio looks highly professional. The person who responded to my query mentioned a price range from $5K to $25K. Considering that most firms are charging from $1,000 to $2,500 for this service, I won’t be pursuing a business relationship with them.
There are some firms, it turns out, that will do the whole thing as a package deal — book cover, website, ebook formatting, and assorted promotional activities. This could be a brilliant solution, if I could find a good one. But how does one evaluate them?
One has a $3,000 package that includes all of the above, plus editing (which I don’t need), plus mysterious items like “Book Launch Strategy,” “Amazon Bestseller Status,” and “Author Branding.” That’s the $3,000 package, and covers books up to 30,000 words. Additional words are $150 per 10,000. For a 100,000-word novel (one book in a four-book series) I’d be paying them more than $4,000. My guess is that those mysterious but perky-sounding items in the package are designed to sound sexy to first-time authors who are very vague about what they need. Of course I could be wrong! Serious interrogation would be needed to learn what exactly their services are.
Serious interrogation = more stress.
And then we get to the virtual author assistant. There’s a website and an organization for these people, who are certified (though what the certification amounts to is anybody’s guess). The going rate seems to be from $35 to $80 per hour. As these people are virtual, not on-site, I can’t imagine it would be easy to confirm that they’re actually slaving away for the amount of time shown on their invoices. This type of service seems designed to appeal to busy executives who have written a book to sell or give away at high-powered business conferences. If you’re putting away $200 an hour in your day job, hiring an assistant to handle your book makes perfect sense. If you’re a retired guy on a fixed income, maybe not so much.
I spent the afternoon making funny noises on my synthesizer. I just do not want to deal with this crap. But the day is not over yet. I just got an email from a cover artist with four more comps that I have to look at.