Introduction to the Accountability Post 2021 Week 23
I have to pieces of news to share this week. First is about the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) I’ve selected to track my rewrite. The second is a reminder that yes, writing is a business, and a business requires investment. If I were more talented and/or experienced, maybe I could invest less capital and more time! But alas…
Let’s start with the KPIs. If you remember from my post last week, I’d gotten through Chapter 50, “Sleight of Hand,” in my first rewrite. I’m calling this the second draft in Scrivener. I think it’s the draft I’ll send to the developmental editor, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. How much did I rewrite this week? Here’re the numbers:
Got to chapter 86 this week!
As you can see, I got up to Chapter 86, “Happy Birthday.” That’s 36 chapters! Looks like the KPIs are helping me maintain momentum.
A couple of things jumped out at me this week. First, this draft makes me feel almost disorientated. I usually hate everything I write, including my anime reviews. But I don’t hate this. What’s that mean? Am I so close to it that I can’t be objective? Certainly, the answer can’t possibly be because I don’t suck. Because between you and me? The world’s a strange place, but it’s not that strange.
The second thing is that the harder I push Scrivener, the better it performs. It only does one thing that annoys me. I like to scroll the page as I edit, and I like to keep the lines I’m working on near the top of the window. Sometimes, when I start to make an edit, Scrivener repositions that portion of the page back to the center of the window. It takes my eyes a second to reacquire the target, and it interrupts my concentration. Most applications I use find dozens of ways to annoy me. So far, Scrivener has found only one. That borders on miraculous.
The Business Side of Writing
Do you know the going rate for a professional developmental edit? I didn’t. I do now. Guess how I found out! I sent requests to five professionals, that’s how. Reedsy’s interface made it easy to apply the criteria I talked about last week, and I found five editors who looked like they’d be a perfect fit.
All five responded within the first couple of days. One declined immediately, saying her calendar had been booked until early 2022. Though I felt disappointed, I appreciated the courtesy she showed by letting me know immediately. Another editor said his calendar likewise had no openings until 2022, and he asked it that was okay. I replied that I wanted to review the other proposals first, and I thanked him for responding promptly. I’m going to end up working with one or more of these editors going forward, so I want to treat them with respect. Besides, all of them, including this gentlemen, have impressive resumes, and they deserve respect.
Another asked me for a synopsis, which I provided. As of tonight, she had not responded to that synopsis. That left the final two proposals, both of which responded with offers. The sums were very different.
Business Requires Investment
Both editors presented impressive credentials. Both provided samples of their work, and both samples impressed me. In terms of the quality of the offering, both looked outstanding to me. There were two differences. One proposal could start within a couple of weeks and offered some consulting time as part of the deal. The other could start in October.
I’m about to disclose some numbers. In the interest of confidentiality, I will not reveal any of the editor’s names. Confidentiality is important, and I want to be a good writer/citizen! At the same time, I want to share some of these details with you. If you’ve never gone through this before, it might help prepare you. If you have, you might be so kind as to point out if I make a stupid decision!
It’s still hard to believe the first draft is done, and I’ve almost finished the second. I still remember trying to figure out how to color code the index cards!
So here we go: The editor who could start in June quoted about $6,000 USD. The editor who could start in October quoted about $3,000 USD. I went with the latter. The main reason was simple: This is my first book. I’m going to have to hire a copy editor, and I’m going to need to commission a cover. Those are the costs I know about! So I need to keep my expenditures low.
I checked with my wife, who has many contacts in the publishing field. Those estimates are reasonable.
Do I Really Need a Developmental Edit?
Those dollar amounts made look take a hard look at myself. Do I really need a developmental edit? Could I get by without one? This first book is just under 150,000 words. If I publish on Amazon, I’ll probably set the price around $7.99. That means Amazon will pay a commission of 70%, so I’ll earn about $5.58 per book. To pay for the $3,000 developmental edit, I’ll need to sell 538 copies. Am I confident I can do that? Can my first book sell that many copies?
No. It might. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not just hating on my work. But as a first time writer who’s still unfamiliar with marketing tools and techniques, and who’s publishing his first work, I have to be conservative. It’s unlikely I can pay for that edit (and the cover, and whatever else) with the first book alone. Yet, I still decided to move ahead.
The reason is this: I’m playing the long game. I want the first book to be solid, even if it doesn’t sell well. I need it to be solid, because as I publish more books, readers might look at my other titles. If a reader picks up book #3, then decides to check out book #1, I want to delight them. If I delight them, they’ll buy more of my books.
To be honest, I think I’d feel pretty happy if the editor told me, “Dude, you just wasted your money! Your manuscript is perfect!” But let’s face it: That ain’t gonna happen. A developmental edit will improve this book, and that will improve the reader’s experience. So yes, I need a developmental edit.
What’s On Deck for Next Week?
I’ll probably finish the second draft this week or part-way through the next. I’m trying to decide what to do next. Do I go back to the prequel, whose beats-ish I’ve finished, rework its plot, and write it? Do I start plotting the second book? I’m going to give that some thought.
Accountability Post 2021 Week 23: Closing Thoughts
Have you worked with Reedsy? Have you used another service? If you have, I’d love to hear your experience. Please drop me a note in the comments!
Thanks for reading!