And by stuck I mean really, really without a clue on the next step or how to solve a problem. This isn’t about writer’s block, which doesn’t exist (more on that in an upcoming post). This is about technical issues that prevent your work from being completed.
I had specific ideas and wants for my latest product, the Design Your Own Golf Course Sketchpad. One of the desired features to be in the book were pages of sample architectural landscape symbols to guide the reader in the creation process. I researched and planned for months what would be listed and how it would be presented. I then struggled a few more months in trying to bring my vision to completion. At an impasse, I leaned back in my chair and calculated my choices.
I could pay a professional artist to create this minor item, I could pay for several online graphics and combine them to achieve my desired result, or I could personally hand draw each symbol. I didn’t have the level of artistic ability I needed to perform the work myself and the costs for the other options were too high given the goal and budget for the book. I eventually settled on removing the samples! Did this removal of text lower the value or use of the book? No. It only affected my original idea, and isn’t the concept of a draft to be edited and changed?
Another hurdle I had with this project was the footers for the printed book. I wanted nearly a dozen footer options on differing pages. Again, after struggling for weeks I took a step back to consider my options. I could pay a professional editor, contact the local schools for help, or decrease my standards and use the same footer for all pages. Again, I didn’t want to spend loads of money on this book, the schools were out for the summer and my kids didn’t know how to accomplish this, and I wasn’t willing to shortcut my artistic goal. So, taking advice from my previous publisher, I started on a new sheet of paper and recreated the entire project from square one to achieve my goal. This took only a fraction of the time I had spent trying to reformat my existing manuscript.
Sometimes, you have to spend the big money in order to have a professional product. This is especially true with cover designs, editing, and formatting. Other times you can do the work yourself to save costs or achieve a very specific end, or not do it at all.
Often you need help! A self-published author doesn’t mean you perform all aspects of writing, editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, promoting, accounts, etc. alone. Being an indie author means you are the boss, and that means hiring and firing staff to accomplish your end result.
Always you will need to make tough business decisions about your writing and your business. The decision on how much time you’ll spend writing, taking away from other parts of your life is the biggest. Are you willing to give up a movie night to finish that chapter? And how much money are you willing to invest to have a professional product?
The next time you have a challenging situation consider if you can do the work yourself professionally, if you can or should hire help, and if what you’re trying to accomplish is even needed. Remember the costs associated with each task and if the costs for outsourcing will be outweighed by the results.
Do you have a situation that’s perplexing you? Contact me if you want a fresh perspective.