Updated: Mar 12, 2020
The most common question I get asked when I tell people I am an independently published author is..."Is it expensive?
And my generic answer is usually..."It can be." In my personal opinion, there are parts of the self-publishing process that you absolutely should invest in, specifically design and editing. The blessing and curse of self-publishing is that the author sets their own budget.
It's been my experience thus far that there are many steps within the process that an author is fully capable of doing themselves, or may utilize a cost-effective strategy to accomplish. As this was my first book, and I've made a few mistakes along the way, I've spent more money than I would have liked. I also learned that I am more capable than I thought, and have identified ways to reduce my budget for future books.
WARNING: As an independent author, you have the flexibility to create your own publishing schedule and strategy. Do your research before you pay for a service. It's amazing what you learn along the way and inadvertently save yourself money by going DIY.
For example, I was able to figure out how to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon's Publishing Service) rather than pay for someone to do it for me. I have also yet to pay for marketing, other than mailing people books to promote, as I have figured out tips and tricks for social media through research, experimentation, and time. Your strategies will depend on what you want to get out of the process, and the budget you have available to you. Some people prefer to hire a team to do the leg work, and you can totally do that (but note the previous warning). Others aim to be self-sufficient, either for their own entrepreneurial spirit or because budgets are tight. You will find the strategy that works best for you. With the exception of design and editing (always use a professional), don't be afraid to see if you can do it yourself.
I am a firm believer in transparency, and the best thing new authors can do is research the industry before they dive into it. So, in the interest of education and honesty, I'm sharing some of the key expenses it took to make Demons at the Doorstep.
A FEW DISCLAIMERS:
I work full-time and have been saving for this. These are not fixed numbers and authors can find strategies that work for their specific financial situation. These are also not all up-front costs, as some services are paid in installments.
There are some expenses that I 100% stand by and would recommend, and there are some that I will cut out of future budgets, and some I even regret. You must do your research and choose what is best for you. If you are interested in discussing my personal opinions and experiences with self-publishing services, please feel free to reach out.
Alright, let's dive into it. All prices are listed in CAD (taxes included)
$1781.60 = Cover, Interior and Ebook Design ( https://fleckcreativestudio.com/ )
$1370.00 = Copy Edit ( https://www.mparkerediting.com/)
$406.80 = Proofread ( http://www.allisterthompson.com/ )
$162.62 = Website Membership (Wix)
$20.99 = Domain (GoDaddy)
$29.48 = Business Cards (Vistaprint)
$15.71 = Proof copy of paperback (Amazon + shipping)
$50.00 = Proof copy of paperback (Independant printer)
$488. 96 = Print Consultant
$897.10 = Printing paperback copies (Independant printer + shipping)
For comparison, what I spent on this book I otherwise could have invested into a very nice vacation. I also received a discount on some of these services by contracting them through The Self Publishing Agency (which is an expense I did not list here). They are a consulting group that supports independent authors throughout all steps of the process. You can see the various services they offer here: https://theselfpublishingagency.com/
As I mentioned, some of these costs are essential and some I plan to cut out in the future. My advice is to set a budget, decide in advance what you're willing to spend on, and don't rush it. Publishing is a marathon and, in some ways, you can take your time. You are becoming a small business owner and investing in your product. Make the decisions that are best for you.... except for design and editing. Seriously, unless you're trained, hire a professional.