Real advice for real writers (and those who want to become one)

The Real Costs of Self-Publishing

I spend hours talking with potential clients who want their dream of becoming a published author to become a reality. Spending my time that way thrills me. I love nothing better than to help someone else create, publish, and sell their book. After all, that's why Jennifer and I started Relevant Pages Press in the first place.

What I have found interesting however is the relative lack of knowledge and understanding about the cost it takes to publish a book. You know, the business side of the "art." I'm not trying to be mean at all here--I get it! I didn't know anything when I first started either.

So, what are the real costs of self-publishing?

Financial costs.

Most people assume that self-publishing is free, or at least very low-cost. While that is basically true, the essential question you should be asking is this: what kind of product do you want to put your name on? Do you want a professional looking product or one that looks like you put it together in your basic Word document? The answer makes all the difference.

A professional quality product takes several outside contractors:

  • A graphic designer to create a professional quality cover (and/or illustrations).

  • A copy-editor to review your manuscript for consistency, errors of syntax, spelling and structure.

  • An interior-layout designer to “type-set” your book into a professional layout.

These professionals change according to their skills and the amount of work needed to make your manuscript professional (after all, their name will be included as well). An average for the authors we have been working with (including ourselves) has been about $1,000.

Publication Costs.

Once you have a professional product, there are the costs to upload and make your book available on various sites like Createspace is free, but if you want a hardcover book, a company like Lightning Source will charge you and upload fee. The thing you will need is an ISBN. An ISBN is the unique number assigned to your book to identify and track it in the world of publishing. Createspace will offer you a free one but taking them up on it severely limits your ability to "go wide" and sell your books online elsewhere. If you want to buy your own ISBN, they are available from Bowker and can cost anywhere from $125 for one ISBN or $575 if you buy 100 and use them for later books.

Marketing Costs.

Marketing costs include letting the world know you have a book you’d like them to read:

  • Social media offers a ton of avenues to pursue, but without a clear plan you can waste hundreds of dollars (and hours) on strategies that simply don’t work. Cost: Too many variables to list here, but, you should plan on putting together a solid marketing plan complete with ads on different social media platforms,, and possibly search engine marketing if it works into your plan.

  • Author websites can come fairly inexpensively if you are willing to create and manage one on your own and there are many hosting options to choose from.

Your Time.

Finally, the most important cost of all is your time. Taking an idea for a book all the way through to publication and successful selling takes a ton of time. Cost: Priceless.

  • Time to write.

  • The time to edit.

  • The time to send your manuscript off to pre-readers.

  • The time to edit.

  • The time for graphic designers to come up with a cover that meets your ideas.

  • The time for a copy-editor to review your work.

  • The time for more editing.

  • The time for your interior-layout designer to lay out your book.

  • The time to review your entire laid-out manuscript at least three times (maybe even more) looking for errors.

  • The time for your launch team to pre-read and start spreading the word.

  • The time for you to motivate and encourage your launch team.

  • The time to create a website and start securing email addresses to announce your book.

  • The time to learn social media, create your author profiles, and build your social media platform including author and book branding (ie logo design)

  • The time to create social- and print-media releases, one-sheets, and pre-order giveaway’s to generate the buzz about your book.

  • The time to list your book on all the book sites like Good Reads.

  • The time (and even additional financial cost) to turn your book into an e-book.

  • The time to continue marketing your book after publication until you at least sell enough books to cover your initial costs.

The costs of self-publishing can be substantial, but a writer who truly wants to publish and sell their book can make it work. I am proof, and so are the authors associated with Relevant Pages Press. We would love to talk to you about we can help make your goals of publishing a book a reality. Our project management packages are low in cost and your ISBN is included. Let us know how we can help!

#authorpreneur #bookmarketing #publishing #costs

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