Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Self-Publishing Costs

With the number of authors moving in the direction of self-publishing, I've decided to share some things you should know before you dive into self-publishing as an option.

First, understand that the costs are all on you. You are the publisher, so you are responsible for editing, cover design, formatting, and promotion. The good news is that you get to make all the decisions and hire the people you want to help you with your book. Let's break down the big costs involved.

Editing:  There are a lot of great editors out there and their rates differ. You have to do your research and find one that's affordable and offering the type of edits you're looking for. Don't skimp on editing though. I'm not just saying that because I'm an editor. I'm saying it because every author (I don't care if you're famous or not) needs an editor.

Cover Design:  Again, there are a ton of designers out there and they all have different prices. Premade covers are also an option, and they are less expensive. The difficult part is finding one that works for your book. Join some Facebook groups for cover design. Designers post covers, sales, and even ask for suggestions for future premades. They're also happy to work with you on custom made covers.

Formatting:  I know a lot of authors who do their own formatting. Print is a pain, but it's not that difficult. You can teach yourself to do it. There are tons of programs to download and convert your file to all the different ebook files, too. Or you can hire a formatter. I hire a formatter for my ebooks and I format my print books myself.

Promotion:  This is the one that makes all our eyes twitch. I have a social media manager, and she's worth way more than her weight in gold. You can hire a publicist or blog tour companies, or you can choose to do the promotional efforts on your own. Just keep in mind they take a lot of time, so plan accordingly. Advertising is available on Facebook, newsletter subscriptions, and book sites. Teaming up with other authors to offer a big giveaway is also great for exposure and it's inexpensive.

Now this is just touching the surface, but I hope it gives you and idea of what to expect when you go into self-publishing. Yes, you will have to put out money, but the good news is that whatever money comes in from sales is all yours. See which efforts work well for you and where you need to focus that money. It took me years, but I taught myself cover design. I'm lucky enough to have a graphic artist for a sister and she bails me out when I can't do something, but you can learn different aspects of this business and lessen costs that way. I've been on both sides of publishing, and I've made it a point to learn every step along the way. The experience has been so valuable.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.


  1. That's really helpful, Kelly. If I decide to go down that path, I'll be asking you lots of questions. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That's really helpful, Kelly. If I decide to go down that path, I'll be asking you lots of questions. Thanks for sharing.

  3. It's daunting being responsible for everything, but it is also freeing. One thing I've learned is to not get so involved with promotion that you forget to write, which is way too easy. Promotion can be all-consuming.

  4. I'm paying for everything. Yes there's a cost but if I tried doing this stuff myself I'd go mad and end up living under a bridge holding a big stick to hit those who dare stepped on my territory.

  5. I would most definitely agree with you about the self-promotion bit. I'm the first one to preach to folks though, if you don't promote yourself, who will? :)

  6. Promotion does take a lot of time and as soon as you slack off, your book falls on the charts. Have a plan before you publish! Doesn't have to be a big plan, but a consistent one.

  7. Thank you for telling us like it is. I've wondered about self publishing. This will help should I make that decision.

  8. Hiring professional help in editing and formatting is very important. Those are things I can't do on my own and am very lucky to have found excellent help.

    1. We all have things we can't do on our own. It's good to recognize that and get help.

  9. Doing it right is not cheap. But I think the real challenge is getting the word out to market.


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