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Money should flow toward making a professional product.

That's my new twist on an old adage. In the linked post below, +Laura Gallier shares her thoughts sparked from a marketing-for-indie-authors conversation we had over the weekend.

Watch that video: http://goo.gl/IN6XJc

I'm not even remotely surprised to find some commentors bristling at the suggestion that money need change hands for professional services, or that said professional services are "worth it" for an author who can never help to recoup the money because their sales will be dismal.

And to that I say tough shit. If you want to put your book up against other professionally produced books, you need to make it professional. And unless you are in a three way with a copy editor and a cover designer, you're going to have to exchange something of value for those services.

But there is another way:  *do not put your book up against other professionally published books.* Wattpad is a great place (and there are others) to get discovered, cultivate readers and publish without the need for those services. You have other choices than trying to sell a book. Explore them. 

But if you aren't willing to pay, don't expect us to.
 
There is an idea, a perception, which indies seem to hold which in my opinion really needs to change. 

This came up during the hangout with +Evo Terra 

'All the money should flow towards the author'. This is something I've heard many times and anyone who dares to ask money from an author in return for a service is jumped on as a scam, a predator, a vanity press. 

 If you want to produce the best quality book you can, then you are going to have to pay some other people to have a part in that process. You cannot edit that book for yourself, you need a professional editor. You really need a professional cover artist as well, there are other options such as formatting and marketing which aren't truly essential but they will help.

There are plenty of scams out there. There are also those genuine vanity presses, but that does not mean that every person who expects to take a fee rather than some percentage of your profit is the devil out to take your hard earned money. The chances are that they are someone who is also working hard to bring in some money. 

Of course, if you're truly adamant about not handing over any money to anyone else, you can try the traditional route...
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Evo Terra's profile photoDave Slusher's profile photoSteven Saus's profile photoDan Thompson's profile photo
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In my experience, the people who most vociferously quote the "money flow --> author" mantra are those who are balls deep invested in the traditional model. Whenever I hear that, I think, "Excellent! <rubbing hands together> Another mindless robot who prefers to follow dogma rather than think for themselves. He will be no threat to my empire." 
 
You put it more bluntly than I did, but this is something which has bugged me for a while. I see no reason to hold back and be polite about it any more. 
 
"Authors should sign checks only on the back." - Steven Brust
 
I'm actually known for my bluntness in person +Evo Terra but somehow, my online persona became much softer. 

At the end of the day, I am offering a service which is worth every penny which I charge. No, I am not going to work for a percentage of the commission, and no I'm not working for free. I am running a business and so is every indie author out there (I will be an indie before too long) and like it not, it needs to be treated as a business. 
 
I have thought a lot about book length pressure in the indie world, to the extent that it is driving decisions I make. We know the realities that drove the bug crushers to exist in big publishing, but an indie self-published book has mostly the opposite pressures. 

If you are going to charge approximately the same cover price, it really makes no sense to put out a 200K word epic novel. If you structure it as a trilogy, you charge three times as much, take up three more slots on the shelf (ie, look like a better bet to a potential reader looking for a new writer to settle in with) and also get to stretch out your costs over three publication points rather than pay all at once. You triple cover costs, but all the per-word (or approximately so) costs like editing will be the same either way. 

I have a 100K word standalone novel in need of editing but I think I am opting to hold it, and instead work on a series of breezier ~65K ish books, which will have lower up front costs to bring to market. I've concluded the larger standalone book would benefit more by coming out after I have a platform (assuming of course that ever happens) than being my opening salvo.

It's possible to consider these decisions of mine cynical, but it just feels like realism and pragmatism to me. I'm not pursuing anything I don't want to, just reordering my approach to them in a manner more conducive to bootstrapping a business. And by bootstrapping, I mean of course "going out of pocket and being upside down for the minimum amount the shortest time."
 
Also, I know the source of "money flows towards the author." James D. McDonald, SF writer, once the sysop of the GEnie SFRT, co-author of the Mageworld books with his wife.

The quote is at least 15 years old and comes from a time of different economic reality and a very narrow context. It was specifically about paying to enter writing contests, paying reading fees and vanity press overheads. This was also a time of very high contempt towards any self-publishing.

Probably the very last interaction I had with him was an acrimonious argument on SFF.net about self-publishing and ebooks to which he was almost pathologically opposed to their very existence. This was circa 2001ish. This quote does not exist in a vacuum, he then hated the idea of the world we are now in.

I don't know if he has moderated those views in the last 12 years but I wouldn't take that statement as gospel. Or maybe I would literally take it as "gospel" in the sense it was historical advice from a now ancient time of dubious modern relevance being used as moral truth.
 
This is probably the best update to Yog's Law that I have yet seen.  Well, I did see a good one that involved a large flow chart with attached organization descriptions, but it wasn't quite so pithy.
 
Even the traditional route is not free for the author. Some services may come at a significant discount, but unless you are a serious A list author a significant amount of the advertising expenses fall on the author. I also know a number of traditional authors that hire their own editors because of the quality hired by publishers.
 
I've been simplifying Yog's Law to state "*Value* flows toward the author."  Using that principle encompasses both when authors should pay for work (as encompassed above) or when it is worthwhile to do it for "exposure". 
 
Indeed, +Steven Saus just snatched away the title for best update to Yog's Law. 

So, what do we call it now? 
 
You're more than welcome to steal it - I was actually going to write it up for the SFWA Bulletin, but the pitch got turned down  (and then Stuff Happened There). 

I was going with "The Cthugha Corollary".

Because, nerd, that's why.
 
+Steven Saus Given that SFWA has not exactly been the most pro-Indie organization out there in the past, I'm hardly surprised they turned it down.
 
+Dan Thompson  (coughs, points at SFWA membership on website, coughs again)   And yes, this is a discussion that has been brought up multiple times.  At the moment, I'm not going to push SFWA about it; we are getting our house in order regarding some other issues.

But to the point - it was actually turned down because the editor already had something vaguely similar in the pipeline.
 
+Steven Saus Yes, I was pleased that this new president said he was going to look at the membership qualification issue as part of his candidacy. 
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