Thursday, January 31, 2019

Let Them Eat Cake...or Buy an Editor

A couple of years ago when I was out of work I had to go to the dentist.  I went to Bright Side Dental and this one assistant kept haranguing me about getting work done on pretty much all my teeth.  Despite that I told her I don't have a job or much money, she just would not get it.  "Don't you want to save your teeth?!"  It's not a matter of WANTING, not unless you're going to do all the work pro bono.  Oh, wait, you're not?  Well then...

This is like some of these people on Critique Circle and other places who are always saying, "You HAVE to buy an editor for your book."  Don't you WANT your book to be the best it can be?  They just can't seem to understand that not everyone can afford $2000-$10,000 for an editor for one book.  Round and round we go and it just can't penetrate their brains that some people don't have thousands of dollars lying around to edit a book that most likely will make far less than that.

I've talked about this before in relation to that idiot Guy Kawasaki saying you should spend $15,000 MINIMUM on marketing your book.  When it comes to self-publishing, people seem to think we're all millionaires.  You need to pay $500 for your cover, $5000 for an editor, and $15,000 to market your book.  Criminy, my car cost less than that!  And I've gotten a lot more use out of it than I'd get for one book.

Oh, well, if you don't spend $25,000 on your book you just don't care!  You'll just slap together any old thing and post it on Amazon!  Um, no.  I'm just not a fucking moron who'd bankrupt himself for a book.  Don't you believe in your book?  Um, no.  Not that much.

Because, again, the average self-published book doesn't make anywhere close to $2000 let alone $20,000.  The average book in general doesn't make that much money.  Oh, sure, but I'll be the one who defies the odds, right?  Clearly you don't know me.

One guy said, "I worked with an editor and my book won an award.  Yay me!"  Which is great, except the editor was hired by his publisher and paid for out of his sales.  So he didn't have to front any cash to hire the editor.  So telling me that I NEED to shell out my own money to buy an editor is pretty lame.

Similarly another guy paid only $375 to someone to edit his novella.  Which is sort of ridiculous but not nearly as much money.  The novella made like $2000 supposedly so now he's going to spend that to have the same person edit his next book.  Well, hey, good for you.  That's like putting $375 on black in roulette and when you win letting it ride on another spin.  That's still not like me fronting $2000 of my own money.

Another guy was like, "I'm 80 and pretty well off so $2000 just means my kids will inherit a little less."  Well, hey, good for you too.  I mean if you've got money to burn then go nuts.  In his case though at 80 you can't really consider yourself embarking on a new career.  I mean for this guy publishing a book is pretty much a hobby so it's like an old duffer spending $2000 on golf clubs.

On a side note this dumb lady then tried to stir up popular support against me by saying, "Oh you think we're all hobbyists on that bottom rung of the ladder.  Well I'm a professional, blah blah blah."  And it's like, Um no, I quoted the old guy and said "you" so it should be obvious I was talking to him.  "Oh well anything you say here is PUBLIC."  So she apparently thinks everything in every thread is aimed at her personally even when you're quoting someone else and saying "you" it still means her.  I've been using message boards for 22 years and I know that not everything everyone says is directed at me personally.  Duh.

In the course of this thread I tried using a number of examples to get the point across.  First, think of it like a business:  if I spend $2000 on a book that's likely to make less than $500 that's pretty poor business sense, isn't it?  Well, no, you have to spend money to make money!  The old guy tried to debate the meaning of "investment" with me; he thinks an investment is only stuff like stocks or bonds that you hold and it might appreciate in value.  Well, no, an investment is also money an owner (or company) puts into the business.  Paying $2000 upfront of my own money is investing my personal capital.  I haven't forgotten everything from SVSU accounting classes.

I tried a similar tack.  If you ever watch those house flipping shows on HGTV or TLC or wherever (which I only do when I'm at the dentist or mechanic) they have a very specific budget in mind first when they bid on a house and then when they're renovating it.  If they think a house will only sell for $800,000 they can't pay $1.2 million at auction and in renovations.  I mean sure it'd really make the house spiffy if they put in mahogany hardwood floors, granite countertops, and a hot tub but then they'd probably go over budget.  Maybe they could find a sucker who would pay more than $1.2 million, but it's not likely so you stay as much under the budget as you can make the most profit. 

Oh, well, if you don't spend $2000 then you won't get 5-star reviews and people won't buy your book!  Um, yeah, you clearly don't know readers very well.  I have never paid a fucking editor and how many people do you think complain about editing?  About the only time is on the Rebirth series from the 90s that I was too lazy to fix all the grammatical problems.  Yet there are still people who gave them 5 stars because they didn't give a shit.  Writers care about typos; readers care more about story.

On another side note someone tried to make me look like an idiot by saying, "He doesn't know the difference between proofreading (which MS Word does for you) and developmental editing."  It's like, Dude, you think MS Word can proofread your book for you?  Word doesn't even know when you should use its or it's.  And it only flags typos that aren't real words.  I was trying to think of such a situation when I saw I had one in my post:  I typed "words" instead of "works."  MS Word wouldn't flag that because works is a real word.  So the dude trying to make me look stupid made himself look stupid instead.

Finally a couple of other people came forward to agree, which was nice.  One person put it nicely:  spend only what you can afford to lose.  Which really is like gambling.  If you go to the casino you should only spend what you can afford to lose.  Spending $2000 you don't have on an editor is like going to the casino and taking out a line of credit.  Maybe you'll turn it into a huge profit, but most likely you'll lose your shirt.

Someone made the counter-example of if you want to start a restaurant you have to spend like $275,000.  Yeah, well, guess what most restaurateurs do?  Take out a small business loan.  Which means they need a business plan.  If you go to a reputable bank and tell them your plan is to publish a book and be the next EL James or Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking or whoever, do you think they'll give you the money?  I doubt it.  To get that kind of money you have to take out a personal loan or second mortgage.  Which means you could lose your house if your book goes bust.

Then someone else comes in to say, "Well I'm going to spend the money because I want to be successful."  To which I'm like, Hey you'd be a great general manager for the Yankees.  That's the kind of thinking sports teams like the Yankees, Cowboys, and Redskins have used:  if we spend enough money we'll win for sure!  None of those teams have won a championship since 2009.  Since 2001 small market teams like the Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals have as many championships as the Yankees.  So does just throwing money into something mean it will succeed?  No.

Similarly I also mentioned the movies.  You have a lot of famous cases of movies that went horrendously overbudget:  Heaven's Gate, Waterworld, John Carter, and Justice League to name a few.  None of those made back their budget and except for Justice League they were all huge flops; in the case of Heaven's Gate I think it pretty much bankrupted the studio.  On the flip side you get movies like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity shot for a few thousand dollars and make millions.  So does how much money you spend dictate success?  No.

Still people just don't get it!  I finally figured out what these people remind me of:  those pyramid schemes like HerbaLife or Amway.  The kind where someone tells you to buy $50,000 of products because then you'll be able to sell them for a million.  What they don't tell you is the only money they make is from people like you buying to resell the products; they don't sell shit to anyone else.  Only at least those people have something to gain; people on these writing boards are hard selling editors and marketing and all that without even having anything at stake!  It's completely ridiculous.

And like Marie Antoinette they just can't seem to understand that some of us are poor and don't have $2000 sitting in the bank to fritter away on the whim of becoming a famous author.  Shit, that's more than I make a whole month (net) from my real job.  Maybe if I don't pay my rent, buy food/medicine/other supplies, or pay my utilities for two months I can afford a fucking editor.

I don't know what else I can say to get through to these people.  After all the arguing someone said:
we know where you stand. You think paying a professional to edit your manuscript to make it better is not worth the money. Others disagree. Let's leave it at that and stop twisting other people's words around to try to prove that your opinion is better than someone else's opinion.
OK, so you complain about me twisting people's words by...twisting my words.  And still somehow missing the fucking point.  I never said it's not worth the money; I said it's not worth going bankrupt to tilt at the windmill of fame and fortune.  It's not that difficult to understand is it?  But still you have these stubborn asshats saying, "Don't you WANT to fix your teeth?"  Let them eat cake with their new teeth!

Lordy, Lordy, you'd think writers could actually read and comprehend, right?  Not so much.


  1. Paying $5000 for an editor is crazy !!

  2. Silly, silly people. Some have to learn the hard way.



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