HOW LONG IS a piece of string?
The truth is, in a matter of hours you could throw something on Amazon and have it for sale virtually instantly to a global audience. The cost would be little more than a couple cups of coffee.
Low barriers to entry mean that many ‘entrepreneurs’ exploit this fact with book channels awash with wafer thin, ridiculously priced books, barely long enough for a blog post, let alone a novel. They are often poorly edited and rushed to the market in the hope of making a quick buck.
Unfortunately, in a market saturated with this slop, it can make a respectable self-published author’s leap for the limelight more tricky. Not least because it’s highly competitive but because we face traditional, established authors with marketing budgets from companies that dwarf the GDP of some developing third world countries.
I wanted to share the cost I’ve accrued to date to bring my debut novel, Pathfinders into its finished final format. Note that I’m not taking into account marketing and sales effort. This might might feature in a future post.
This post, however, is purely to quantify the cost of taking an idea, first sprouted a decade ago and spun into a professional format which wouldn’t look out of place on a digital or physical book shelf.
- Professional Editing – $1,130
- Cover Illustration – $410
- Paperback Proof Copies (Error Checks and Review Copies) – $150 inc. delivery costs
- Website hosting – $15
- Purchase of Self-Printed, a Self-Publishing Guide – $10
- Misc. (Printing Costs, Electricity, Broadband) – $35
The total cost for all the above, for one book was…
…$1,760 USD (or €1,530 / £1,200).
Naturally, you can cut corners on major costs like editing and cover illustration. This is something I would strongly advise against. Having dedicated hundreds of hours to creating my book, I can’t imagine anything worse than launching it and readers not passing beyond the first few pages because of typos or sloppy grammar.
Self-Editing isn’t enough. Neither is hiring proofreaders. Professional editors are worth the investment and that’s ultimately what we’re talking about when incurring these costs.
Hopefully with the money I’ve spent to polish my story into the best possible book it can be, readers will appreciate that effort and consider purchasing future novels, or leave a positive review which is manna from heaven for self-published authors especially those who are releasing their first novel.
With time on my side, I mopped up some of the other tasks involved in self-publishing my novel, including internal formatting, enrolling on Amazon KDP and Createspace and a host of other little things to help automate the process and provide the platform to sell effortlessly.
BOTTOM LINE – you get what you pay for. Don’t be surprised if you’ve cut corners in the production process and receive unfavourable reviews, despite your best sales and marketing efforts. Content is still King, and if you baulk at paying for a decent editor or creating a professional cover, it’ll be much harder to win over a sceptical public with future releases.
image credit – Pictures of Money via CC