So after much foot dragging, I’ve decided to try self-publishing the book based on this blog. The primary difference between traditional paper publishing and self-publishing online is cost…at least if you want things done right. Read on, and I’ll explain.
Self-Publishing Costs and Considerations
If I wanted to put out a text-only book without a professional-looking cover and without the input of a professional editor, I could do that today. My fiction-writing buddies Ciara Knight and Betty Bolté have been walking me through the mysteries of self-publishing. Ciara explained that there are, in fact, 3-4 different formats of ebooks out there, and each has its own formatting rules:
- Amazon has its own downloadable app for setting books up for Kindle
- Barnes and Noble has its format for Nook
- There’s another format called KOBO, which I’d never heard of, but is common enough to consider using
- There’s also a format out there for Apple, but I believe there are more restrictions on publishing with them.
They kindly explained that quality matters and whom to seek out for editing. I’ve already worked out an editor, and that will not be cheap, whether it’s by the word or the hour, but worth it, as I’ve learned from my day job. Think $50-60/hour as a point of reference.
To get a really spiffy, professional-looking cover, you need an artist. The one I’m going to start with charges $299 for an ebook cover, $349 if I wanted a cover that would also work with print publications.
But wait! That’s still not all. You also need to pay for an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which is the number publishers and booksellers use to identify and purchase your book. Ciara recommended I check out MyIdentifiers.com, which charges $125 for a single book ISBN.
All in all, I’ll be looking at around $1,750 out of pocket to get a book out there, more or less starting me out in the hole. However, once books start being bought, there’s more money coming my way, though I’m certain the various online publishing outlets each take a piece of the action.
However, after the money is spent, I’ll have an ebook I’ll be proud to sell to those who are interested–and you folks are interested, right? 🙂 Stay tuned.
It’s not just a matter of getting your book in shape to be published. Betty shared a checklist she uses for her works, and it looks like I’ll have more thinking to do beyond getting the book in shape for publication.
You need outside readers–critics, if you will–to read it and provide reviews. You need to have a marketing plan to publicize the book and get it in front of people you think are likely to read it. You might try for a book tour, though I’m not certain how that would work with a strictly electronic publication. I might plan a contest or giveaway, which would make sense on this site. I need to reach out to traditional media outlets, such as local newspapers. I also need to figure out what I’m going to charge for the book. Maybe set up pictures of the cover on Pinterest or Instagram as a way to sell books. And, of course, I need to create a new page for this site so people can purchase it from here. Lots to do!
Given all this additional planning, I will probably punt on the book launch until late this year or early in 2020.
Thanks for a practical, readable summary of what it takes to self-publish. I’m wondering why you’ve chosen to strictly with ebooks rather than an ebook/print option with, say, lulu.com. Cost considerations? Something else?
Impatience and cost. It could go to print eventually, but right now I’m just trying to get something done. Electronic only is quicker and cheaper.