So this is mostly for the self-publishing people. There’s been a lot of back and forth about how to make publishing affordable. Obviously with self-publishing, there are a lot of expenses and nuances to the process. Sites like Createspace and Lulu make the process easier, but it’s still a lot of work and decision-making.
Below is a list of expenses, what to pay for and what not to pay for… Keep in mind though, this is my own opinion. So if you’ve had other experiences or disagree on where the priorities are, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
So let’s get started…
You’ve written your book and you’ve decided to go with the self-publishing route. Awesome! There are quite a few advantages here, but also several disadvantages. I’ve explored these in other topics, so feel free to take a look back through my posts.
Now obviously with self-publishing, you’re going to incur a lot more in the way of up front costs for publishing. Let’s go through them one at a time. I’ll address what each one is, how much it’ll cost, and whether or not you can avoid it.
- ISBN Numbers…
There’s really no way around this one. If you want to publish, you need at least one. If you plan on mulitple formats, you’ll need more than one. At the very least you’ll need 2; one digital, one print version ($100/apiece.) Many publishing services out there will offer you a free one… but you basically hand over the rights to the book if you do that and get less of a return on your investment. You also have limited options as to where you can sell your book.
In short, you can go with the free option if you’re really strapped, but it could come back to haunt you later.
- Copyright registration
There are several different trains of thought here. Many argue that the ISBN is sufficient. Others say that it’s worth shelling out the $40 for the copyright to protect yourself in the case of copyright lawsuit initiated by you or someone else in the future.
With these, I’ve adopted a ‘better safe than sorry’ philosophy. I pay for mine. I guess you can avoid it for now if you must, but remember that if someone plagiarizes you, you’re going to need register your work before filing a claim. (United States).
I can’t stress this enough, the cover is likely the most important part of what you’re going to pay for. Plan on a price of between $250-$900 for a truly professional cover design. My advice is to get in good with an artist and set up a good working relationship. They tend to offer discounts with the promise of future work. However DO NOT try to low ball them. I see this all the time and find it disrespectful. They work hard and often don’t get much for their work. Pay what they ask and if you can’t, then try to find another artist who will work within your budget. Either way, ALWAYS pay your artist. A lot of services will offer generic covers… AVOID these. One, other people have used them and two, they tend to be fairly plain and don’t really draw attention to your book.
Finally, unless you’re artistically inclined, please don’t try to create the cover yourself. It rarely ends well and often looked a lot better in your head. While you can translate your thoughts from energy to the written word, an artist can take that written word and come up with an amazing design for you.
- Editing and Reviewing
Not going to lie this is fighting with the cover design for the most important piece. A lot of services and sites offer proofing… for a rather hefty price. I know $.05/word doesn’t sound bad… but when your book is 80k to 100k, that $.10 becomes thousands of dollars. If you go this route… be ready because you’re not going to break even on your writing for a while.
My advice here is to seek out writing groups. There are a lot of people on both good reads and other sites that are as anxious as you to have someone edit their works. Help them and they’ll help you.
If all else fails, there are plenty of college students with writing or journalism majors out there looking to make some money. They’re usually pretty cheap too ($100-$300).
DO NOT RELY ON SELF-EDITING! While it is important, and independent pair of eyes is absolutely essential.
This is one where I would say that you can get away without paying… If you’re good at social media. Create accounts on all sites, gain as many followers as you can, and occasionally peddle your works. Get people interested in what you have to say, and they’ll find the way to your book in fairly short order.
If you need help or can’t navigate social media very well, then go ahead and shell out for the advertising (on average $30/month to $2,000 total)
In the end, I would say to expect your book to cost you roughly $800 on average. $400 is the MINIMUM. Anything less… I’d say don’t even bother because you’re going to be cutting way too many corners.
Anyway, hope this helps. We can discuss it further in the comments if anyone has any further advice or questions!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!
This is really helpful.
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Thank you so much for this advice, as I am considering the self-publishing routes when my novels are complete. Much appreciated!
No problem, feel free to email me with any questions that come up. I do Q&A pieces every now and then.
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I will definitely keep that in mind!
A useful Post. Thanks 🙂
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