You’ve created a masterpiece. You spent all your time and effort and energy into creating the best book you’ve ever written.
You’re so proud of this book, you’re excited to release it to the world. You believe that this is going to kick-start your career as an author. Soon, you will have a devoted audience of readers who will gobble up every book that you publish in the future.
You know the success stories of self-publishing, and you think that you are going to join them. People will talk about you as one of the next big things in the literary world.
But then you start looking into self-publishing. And boy, does it get expensive quickly!
When you decide to self publish, you are taking on the risks and costs associated with publishing. That means that every step of the publishing process comes out of your wallet.
This might not be a concern if you have a budget for that sort of thing. But many aspiring authors – and probably most aspiring authors – don’t have deep pockets. They need to be able to invest in their publishing career without breaking the bank.
After all, you’re an aspiring successful author, you’re not a successful author yet.
Does self-publishing have to be that expensive? On the surface, it seems like you can save a lot of money. You can publish to Amazon and other stores for free. How do these costs keep adding up?
Let’s look at each step of the publishing process. We’ll talk about what makes each step so expensive, and how you can save money on each one.
This doesn’t mean that you’re going to go cheap. The idea is to find a way to balance a professional product with an affordable price.
Just writing your book can be expensive if you fall into the trap that many authors fall into.
It’s called the Shiny New Object Syndrome.
Because there are so many aspiring authors in the market today, a new market has grown with software and apps designed to make the writing process easier or more pleasurable.
There are a number of ways to plot books and storylines, and everybody’s brain works a little differently. So now there are dozens of these apps that claim that you can make the writing process as simple as possible.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush out and get any of them. Just because there is a great writing app available doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for you. And if you have a limited budget, it is even more crucial that you only spend money on things that you need.
Do you need a new writing app? Probably not. They are nice to have, but if cost is your main concern right now, this is the first place to save money.
You can write a novel in Google Docs. If you already have Microsoft Word, you can write it in that. Any word processing app that lets you get words onto a page is sufficient for you to write a book.
Ignore the shiny objects when you are starting out. After you make a little bit of money or you are able to save up, you can then splurge on that nice writing app. But for now, just focus on using whatever tools you already have.
Once your manuscript is done, you need to format your book file. This means that you can’t just use a simple Word document to publish your book. Every bookstore is a little different, and you have to make sure that your book file is formatted in a way that the store’s system can read it and publish it.
You might be tempted to use the built-in features of your word processor to create your book file. Some authors do quite well by formatting their books in Word or Google Docs.
However, you really need to know what you’re doing if you decide to go this route. While it is free, it’s going to take more of your time to correct any formatting mistakes and ensure that you have the right book file for your bookstore.
This is a situation where you could potentially save a little bit of money without losing the quality of your book. There are freelancers on Fiverr that can format your book file for only a few bucks. It’s a good place to start investing in your book without breaking the bank.
If you can swing it, and you plan on publishing a lot of books, Vellum is a great app. It’s about as easy to use as they come, and you’re able to quickly and easily format your book for any book store with just a few clicks.
This is one of the most expensive parts of self-publishing.
There is an entire industry of designers devoted to creating book covers for self-published authors. The good ones are often very backlogged in their work, and they charge a lot of money for their services. It’s not uncommon to spend a hundred dollars on a book cover design from a reputable designer and have to wait months for the finished product.
So how do you save money on book cover design?
One way you can do so is by building the book cover yourself. This isn’t an easy undertaking, but if you’re willing to take the time to do it right, it can be sufficient for you. Many design programs online that are free offer book cover templates that you can use.
You’re not going to create a book cover that will knock anybody’s socks off, but it can at least give you a starting point. It can look professional and clean, at the very least.
You could also spend money on a pre-made book cover. Many pre-made book covers cost less than $100. All you have to do is find a designer that specializes in book covers, and see if they have any pre-built covers ready to go on their website.
There are many authors who launched their careers using pre-built book covers, because they are still unique and custom-made, but they were just made before your book came along.
Here is where things can get expensive in a hurry. Marketing and advertising is the biggest part of your book’s success or failure. If you want to publish your novel and have it make money, then you are going to have to do some kind of promotion for it.
But if you jump head-first into Facebook ads, for example, you can lose a few thousand dollars pretty quickly. Many authors who don’t know what they are doing invest far too much money in advertising and blow it all in a matter of days.
There are plenty of ways you can promote your book without spending an arm and a leg. Joint promotions with other authors is one of those ways. Join together with a few other authors who are all looking to grow their audiences, and promote each other’s works. You can quickly grow your email list and your readership using this method, and many others swear by it.
There are other low-cost advertising sites out there, but they vary in quality. Some of them can do quite a bit for $50, but you have to do your research beforehand to make sure that authors are seeing returns on their investment.
If you do want to dive into Facebook ads, you can do so for a few dollars a day. But again, manage the budget appropriately. Keep your spending low, and learn as you go. Marketing courses can cost a lot of money, but they can pay off huge dividends if they can fast-track your education.
So there you go. You’ve created, designed, and published your book. And you figured out a way to do it that fits your budget. There are plenty of authors who spend a lot of money on each book launch. And maybe one day you will be one of them. But for now, it’s important to manage your budget and get your book to the market as efficiently and affordably as possible.
And if you want to make more money, the best piece of marketing is another book. Keep publishing your books for cheap, build up your library, and you can grow your author career without emptying out your bank account.