The Cost/Benefit of Self-Publishing


Some people have asked me if it costs much to self-publish. To be honest I hadn’t costed it initially as I didn’t really have much of a plan. Now that my book has hit the market I’ve started to add it all up and was surprised that it wasn’t as much as I thought.

Editing and Formatting

If you decide to do your own book cover, self edit and go with Amazons CreateSpace, then it costs you nothing other than your own time. You don’t even need an ISBN with CreateSpace.

In my case, my book cover design and editing cost was a valuable investment for me. I was a bit scared when I saw  quotes for $2000-$4000 which I’d seen advertised and heard stories that authors had spent tens of thousands of dollars. I spent not much more than AUD$1000  but I’d advise you to shop around. I would highly recommend a good editor and book cover designer. See my earlier post on this at the link below.

(https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/so-you-think-youve-finished-your-book/)

I decided to buy a set of ISBN’s so spent just over $100 because it was more cost effective and I wanted to have control.

If you have expertise with word formatting, then there’s no reason to spend hundreds of dollars. I managed to format my own for CreateSpace but I wasn’t confident and made mistakes. I used Pressbooks to format my book for IngramSpark as an ebook and paperback for USD$99. If you are familiar with WordPress then Pressbooks is for you but otherwise it can be a bit tricky but not insurmountable. I managed to get a half price deal of US$49 and Pressbooks seem to have offers every now and then. I couldn’t have used IngramSpark without them. Of course, IngramSpark charge US$49 for publishing your book but they have a much wider reach than Amazon. So you need to weigh this up.

Then there’s the proof prints. These are very expensive and I found they cost on average US$25 each for CreateSpace and about AUD$25 for IngramSpark. The proofs are a necessity, so try to make sure your book is perfect first before you publish – that’s a given. Check out what I think of proofs in my earlier post at the link below.

(https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/the-proof-is-in-the-hand/)

Printing Costs

Firstly, you’ll need books if you intend to sell them yourself or for your launch. If you order books via Amazons CreateSpace, then they’ll cost you a lot depending on the exchange rate.

I woke up one night and suddenly realised that CreateSpace was quoting the USD for the printed book and an equal amount in shipping. If you live in USA then it’s not an issue. But if you live somewhere like Australia then you have to consider this:  exchange rate + bank fees + shipping = three quarters of the total cost for each book.

If you print with IngramSpark (Lightning Source) then in Australia, the cost is almost halved because they print in Australia and other parts of the world. Of course the downside is, that they are not as easy to deal with and I would allow a good two months in your timeline with them.

Book Launch

So you’ve got your books – check out the shipping times carefully with CreateSpace and IngramSpark as this may cause you additional stress and cost if delivery is not within your expected timeline.

You can go as big or small as you like here.

Other costs to consider at your launch is the venue, wine and nibbles. I wouldn’t bother printing invitations – email, Facebook and phone worked the best for me. Is it worth it? I would say yes.

I covered my costs with the sales at the launch, created a buzz and have continued to receive orders as well as sales online. It’s a great starting point in your marketing campaign. Each person at your launch becomes your advocate and can pass the word around. Naturally this will only happen if you have a good book.

Alternatively, if you do a launch at a book shop then they can take care of ordering your books. Some independent bookstores can do this and all you do is provide the wine and nibbles. Of course they take care of the sales and you get a smaller percentage. You just have to ask.

Marketing

Again you can spend up here, but you should research how cost effective it is to get your book noticed.

If you decide to do none of the above and go with publishing on CreateSpace then you can launch your book via social media, have a blog site and try to generate sales which won’t cost you anything either. Will you get many sales? Probably just from your family and friends. If that’s your aim, then it’s easy.

If you’re looking to get your book out right there, then you might have to consider spending a lot of time on social media. Amazon, IngramSpark, Facebook and many others are all willing to take your money and advertise for you but you better make sure you have an eye-catching product easily explained to the reader who will take barely a second to notice.

Personally, I think your book sells when you speak to as many people as you can about it. Signing up for events, door knocking bookshops and libraries are better than a remote control campaign. Of course that means time, guts and confidence and  that in  itself maybe in short supply.

Summary

It can cost you as much as you want. It just depends what your goals and expectations are. The biggest cost is time and the lack of a good product.

But I look at it as an investment in yourself  and your book which can provide many more benefits than dollars. Let’s face it, most writers don’t expect to make a living from writing.  I guess the biggest benefit for me was that I had total control but wasn’t too proud  to seek help and expertise when I needed it. The fact that I did it all by myself outweighs all those other costs.

So what are you waiting for ? Give it a go!

 

 

In the gutter.

When it comes to getting your book out into the marketplace,  big decisions are needed.

I’d tried traditional publishers but in big business an unknown and untried author is rarely noticed. I wasn’t daunted though because I wanted to stretch myself further by exploring the options of self-publishing.

I had a manuscript. It was edited, reworked and revised. I went to workshops on self-publishing. There’s a carnival of sites like Ingram Sparks, Createspace and Smashwords amongst many who make it sound easy. After all what could go wrong. Just sign up, build your cover and upload. Easy. Nothing to it.I knew some people who had done it. A couple were in their eighties. Surely it couldn’t be that hard.

I was wrong.

There was another step in the process that I hadn’t counted on and it was called formatting. How naïve I was?

I tried a recommended site called Pressbooks which is a WordPress format. The deal is that you copy and paste your book and they take care of the format. For a small fee they do the formatting for print and ebooks in one foul swoop. Somehow it didn’t work quite that way for me. There was so much extra work for me to do with them that I decided to format it all myself. Was I brave or just stupid?

Nevertheless, I took the leap. I spent weeks learning how to format my lovely manuscript. I learnt about gutters (that’s the bit in the centre of two pages in a book) and how they need to be a certain width. Who’d have thought  this was so important and that I would find myself falling into it, so to speak.

I learnt about indentation, paragraph spacing, font, sizing, page numbers, front matter and back matter. There’s lot to it. Making lots of mistakes along the way and seeking help from Robert, a fellow writer, improved my expertise enormously.

And of course, formatting a print book is very different to an ebook.

But a basic crash course in Word would have been very helpful at the start.