How to Budget for Your Self-Published Book

Written by on November 15, 2013 in How To - Leave a Comment

Do you know how much self-publishing will cost?Deciding to self-publish your book is a huge step. It’s not just going from “writer” to “published author” – it’s going from “writer” to “small business owner.” Your book becomes your brand and your business as you invest in its publication and promotion. It’s risky, to be sure, but all new business ventures are.

The goal, of course, is to make your money back and, eventually, see a nice profit… but your first step is to determine if self-publishing is a financial reality for you. So, get out your calculator and the spreadsheet program of your choice and start cataloging the following costs:

Editorial Expenses

The first things you need to consider are editorial expenses. Do some realistic assessments of your work and decide what kind of editing your book needs to be ready for publication.

  • Copyediting: If your book is relatively clean, you can plan to budget for a copyedit with a skilled book editor. Get the most bang for your book by hiring a professional with good references. It makes a big difference.
  • Developmental editing: If your book is in good shape, but could use a solid look at the structure and flow, invest in a developmental edit. Developmental editors are trained to focus – not just on style – but on the whole of your book, working with you to transform your manuscript into a well structured book.
  • Substantive editing: If your book needs editing in structure, as well as content, hire an editor who specializes in substantive editing. Substantive editors specialize in fact-checking and more, tearing into your manuscript and guiding you towards a flawless manuscript.

Once you’ve determined what kind of editing you need, you can start contacting editors to collect price quotes. Prices will likely be all over the place, so plan to get at least six quotes before making a final decision. Vet them carefully, looking at their past work and contacting their references before hiring!

Production Expenses

Once you’ve decided on the kind of editing you need, it’s time to turn your eye to production expenses. These are the costs that will take you from “manuscript in Word document” to “print and digital ready book.” Unlike editorial expenses, the best self-published books require all three of these investments:

  • Book layout and design: A graphic designer will take your manuscript and transform it into an actual, digital book. Something that you can send to the printer or – if you prefer – upload to any number of e-book distributors.
  • Book cover design: It’s possible that your book designer can take on this project, as well, but be sure to ask if they’re capable and comfortable working on cover design. Look at their samples and ask what their prices are for a combined cover and layout job.
  • Book proofreading: Many will confuse proofreading with copyediting. Proofreading, though, is for books that have been laid out. Instead of looking for style and grammar errors, your proofreader is looking for inconsistencies in layout and design, along with the occasional mistake that was missed along the way. They’re analyzing your book and making sure it looks polished and professional.
  • Book distribution: Whether you’re selling your book through Amazon’s digital marketplace, print on demand services from various websites, or your own platform, there will be costs associated with distribution. Conversion to meet the platform’s standards, for example, as well as stocking expenses for physical copies. Decide early in the process how you plan to sell your books and do your research about how much it costs to do it.

Promotional Expenses

With your book in hand, you’ll want to consider promotional expenses. Many self-publishing authors strive to do this work on their own and many find it very rewarding. Whether you’re working locally to promote in book stores and libraries or building a network of loyal readers online, there are expenses that you may not expect.

  • Website creation: No matter how you’re marketing your book, it’s important to have a professional website created. WordPress and Tumblr both offer dynamic platforms for sharing information about yourself, as well as your book, with easy customization options… but hiring a designer for a custom template can be costly. Examine the expenses and include them in your budget.
  • Social media support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may also want to consider hiring a social media marketing professional to get you setup online and educate you about the best ways to sell your books via online channels.

Are you a self-published author? What expenses went along with your publishing endeavor?

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