I uploaded the latest New Bayou Book–a short novel called Baseball on the Bayou: The Colton Lacombe Story–to Amazon earlier today (available for pre-order soon). So it seems like a good opportunity, for the sake of other independent authors, to offer a quick breakdown of the time, cost, and process associated with the project.
Here’s how it went down.
In April 2020, I visited my hometown of Eunice, Louisiana, and during that trip, I took in a Bengals baseball game at LSU-Eunice. The field there is absolutely beautiful! To a guy like me, for whom the phrase “the older I get, the better I was” definitely applies, watching that game was a transformative experience.
Besides the quality of the field, the thing that struck me was the “walk out” music that plays over the PA as each hitter steps up to the plate. I started thinking about how that 10 seconds of music affects the player, and especially what the choice of tune says about him.
When I returned home from the Louisiana visit, I immediately went into coaching my son’s Little League team. It was his first year playing organized baseball and my first time even thinking about the game for almost 20 years. There was a kid on our team named Colton. It seemed like one of those names that’s just perfect for baseball.
By July, I had invented the character of Colton Lacombe and published a brief character sketch in The Yard: A Crime Blog. By October of 2023, I had a 35 thousand word novel that I was quite happy with.
The book is brief by design, for two simple reasons. Or, maybe three, depending on how you count it. The first is that people don’t seem to read like they used to. I certainly don’t, and I’ll bet you’re the same. Related to that decline in reading–call it reason two–is the rising trend in listening to books. So if I pivot towards writing shorter books, I figured, it will be easier to create audio versions of them. Third . . . I just have so many ideas for characters and books! So the shorter the books, the more of them I’ll be able to actually write, I figure.
So, that’s how the story came to be: an idea intersecting with personal experience, real life, and an updated business model.
Let’s talk about cost.
Please forgive me if this sounds petty, but the reality is I paid 1.5 cents per word for editing that turned out not to be worth it. For the previous two New Bayou Books, I paid the same editor one penny per word, and I was happy with that work. A penny a word is a bargain basement price, and so with this book, I volunteered to pay a little more. But between the second and third book, this editor went totally woke and–following the current trend of editors-turned-self-appointed-sensitivity readers–much of her commentary was unusable. Rather than editing services, I got a series of admonishments about offending hypothetical readers.
Anyway, that was 500 bucks. Next time, I’ll pay for a proof-reader instead of an editor. They’re cheaper, and this way you’re not paying someone to pass judgment on you (I was raised Catholic, so I get my judgment for free).
For the cover, I commissioned a designer on Fivver.com (you can also hire a proofreader there). It cost me 100 bucks, and only took a few days. I got what I consider to be a delightfully tacky design that nicely matches the noir style of the text.
For the audio, I’m using a Macbook Pro that I bought primarily because it comes with GarageBand. Before I bought the computer, I experimented with various free audio-recording programs, but I found them all too complicated. The Mac was not cheap–around two grand–but for me, it’s worth it. I consider it a long term investment. I plug a hundred dollar Blue Yeti nano microphone into it for recording.
So, excluding the cost of equipment, I spent 600 dollars in services for this book. 600 bucks and a little less than a year.
Realistically, I won’t break even on this deal. But, I produced the book I wanted to, and I learned some useful lessons. With the next one, I’ll come in a little cheaper and learn a little more. And over time, that’s exactly the equation that I believe will make New Bayou Books successful.