Writing Time, Production Time, and Assumptions

A few weeks ago, awesome writer Charlie Stross wrote on why he doesn’t self-publish.  I considered responding, then realized there was no reason.  Too often, commenting on such a post to offer a different perspective or correction to facts is assumed to be an attempt to “convert” the blog host.  Since Stross is happy with his situation, I have no reason to convert him.  (As if my small voice would make a difference anyway. 🙂 )

I considered posting my own response here, then…  Well, happily, I was distracted by writing fiction instead!

But now up on Stross’s blog is a guest post by Linda Nagata–“Why I Do Self-Publish.”  She does a wonderful job of presenting her perspective, and I found myself nodding along in agreement.

Of particular interest, especially when it comes to accurate information for those considering self-publishing, is Nagata’s brief summary of the book-production side of things.  Stross estimated it would take him three months to produce each book.  (Not write, just produce.)  Nagata shares her actual production time–including all formatting–was about seven days.

Nagata’s production time matches my own experience, though I completely understand the assumption of the inexperienced that it must take days and weeks and months to turn story into formatted book.  The process intimidated me in the beginning and, admitting my own limitations and anxieties, decided I’d be better off paying someone to teach me than trying to learn on my own.

After the Think Like A Publisher workshop, I practiced formatting a couple short stories for EPUB and MOBI.  By the time Sword and Chant went up, my files were pretty clean and I knew how to resolve errors.  It took me a day.  That experience also taught me how to better format my work-in-progress documents to make conversion even simpler.  I suspect the formatting for Sand of Bone to take a few hours.  Hours.

And as for the notion that self-publishing creates a massive burden of bookkeeping and management…  No, not really.  A sole proprietorship–whether writer or publisher–has the same reporting requirements.  At its simplest, you record what money is paid to you, and what you pay others.  “Production management” is really just “self-directed activities.”  If you can plan a vacation, you can plan a publication schedule.

So while I completely understand many writers have no desire to do anything but write a story, I don’t like to see other aspiring writers deterred by incorrect assumptions about how much time self-publishing requires one to “take away” from writing time.  Truly, it’s nearly the same as newbie writers assuming there must be a secret handshake that leads to publishing success.

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