Behind the Scenes: The Cost of Self-Publishing

I’ve been seeing a few articles around town about what people spent on self-publishing their various titles, and honestly, I’m surprised but not surprised, if that makes a lick of sense. I jumped into this crazy business feet-first, and learned quickly that in the words of Roxane Gay, everyone’s got their hand out, man.

As the launch date for Crossed Out: An Ana Lode Thriller creeps closer, I’m passing along what it has cost me so far, strictly financially speaking. (All figures in US dollars.)

  • Web hosting (1 year, paid in advance, including custom URL and WHOIS privacy: $11.88

  • Proof copy of paperback edition, including “rush” shipping: $16.48

  • Three months of Microsoft Word @ 6.99 per month: $20.97

Total: $49.33

That’s it.

Arguably, I can remove or reduce the Word expense, as I use it for other things. However, in the event that I only used it for Crossed Out, it would be $6.99 a month anyway.

Here’s what I didn’t spend money on, and feel free to make the Edvard Munch “Scream” face as the spirit moves you:

  • Editing of any sort

  • Proofing of any sort

  • Cover design

  • Book formatting (paperback/eBook)

  • Advertising/promotion

  • Email list services

I’m well aware that I am taking an awful risk, eschewing editing of any sort. Of the bunch, this is probably the most recommended thing to spend money on for authors of any sort, indie or otherwise. That’s fine and dandy when you have thousands of dollars (!) to spend on a single manuscript. And as an aside, spending that on a permafree offering? Kiss my Tennessee grits. Be happy it’s in English, and all of the pages are right-side up.

This may make me a conceited ass, but might it be possible that I am…

  • Capable of creating a decent book cover? (Reveal January 1 2018, December 31 2017 if you’re an email subscriber.)

  • Capable of editing a manuscript?

  • Capable of proofreading? (This one really does take a village. I would be a conceited ass if I didn’t acknowledge that.)

Throwing back to the Roxane Gay comment at the start of this article, everyone’s got their hand out, but I’m finding that a fair number of those hands are connected to people/services that prey on… okay, being nice about it, have a vested interest in convincing people that they can’t possibly function capably without their costly assistance. I get it, it’s capitalism. Not knocking it. But I literally don’t have to buy in to such claims unless I feel it is absolutely necessary.

By contrast, I appreciate resources like Canva that offer “freemium” services. I can (and do) noodle around for free, but if I need to call in the bigger guns, their costs are reasonable. (Disclaimer: The image at the top of this article, not to mention the honkin’ Crossed Out banner at the top of every page of this site were created with Canva.)

I am looking closely at my options for promoting/advertising Crossed Out once it goes up for pre-sale. At a glance, it appears to be a money pit, to the point where I have seen advice to the effect of not even bothering with ads/promotion until I have say, 5 titles in circulation. The problem is, independent publishing advice is plentiful and frankly, contradictory. Guess I’ll have to figure it out the hard way, then create a 39-point plan and sell it to everyone. Score!

(See that email signup form at the top of this article? It’s your free ticket to exclusive content and offers from yours truly! You’ll not only be first to see the cover reveal of Crossed Out: An Ana Lode Thriller, but you’ll receive a forthcoming companion novella absolutely free! Sign up today, and welcome aboard.)

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