As an indie writer – and still a fledgling, really – it’s my responsibility to come to grips with the marketing nuances.

My first blip on Amazon’s blue line meant someone had borrowed my book. A real turning point for pros such as myself. “Rented!” I told my husband. “My book’s been rented!!”

“But does that pay anything?” he asked. He doesn’t comprehend the full amount of study, of reading and evaluating that a sharp indie such as myself does.

 “If no one else rents a book this month, I get 1.2 million dollars.”

     ♣

With the recent questions arising about the actual cost to publish an indie book, it behooves me to use my hard-won expertise to solve the issue. You see, some claim the price to be in the thousands while others insist it can be zero. I can explain this seeming disparity.

It’s like remodeling the kitchen.

When you sit down with that remodel-person, ready to dive in and create your dream, one question inevitably arises. “How much are you willing to spend?”

And assuredly, whatever your answer, the final cost will exceed that about by as much as you can stand. Read every book, scour all articles, use every strategy and plan there is – it won’t matter. It’s as if that amount is written in the stars by someone with a deep sense of humor.

My personal advice is to set your limits. What you’re willing to spend, what you’re unwilling but able to spend, and what amount could proceed divorce action. And never tell anyone those last two numbers.

For example, you can spend a fortune on an editor based in New York, or bake brownies for your daughter’s college dorm mates. A fabulous, original book cover is yours and yours alone for more than half a grand, or the neighbor’s boy can do amazing things with Photoshop. Kirkus Review will be mildly enthusiastic for $450, or three friends can sound the trumpets on Amazon en gratis.

The only real advice I can offer is don’t blow all your cash and sanity on that first book. Inevitably, you’ll wish you had it for your second. Being an indie author, you see, means you can choose to wade in from shore rather than doing a header off the pier. Can’t avoid the rocks, my father used to say. Best stub a toe and save your skull.

     ♣

For those still wondering about the Amazon changes to the whole lending-business paradigm thing, I can now declare with confidence it isn’t as good for writers.

Someone borrowed another book last week, and Amazon had a full two million in the kitty. I was tempted to picture such huge largess in my pocket. But as readers may now borrow ten books at any given time, I’ve had to pare down expectations to merely $200,000,  one tenth of that sum. Assuming no one else borrows books this month.

One must be realistic, after all.

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