Monday, October 22, 2012

Why I Spent $10,000 on Publishing My Novel

As promised, here's an article about the publication process itself. I hope other Indie authors find it helpful.

After 180 literary agents rejected my children’s fantasy over a period of two years, I decided to publish it myself. Long-term investments in building my publishing imprint come up to $10,074 so far, while income from sales is less than $500 after 3 months of publication. But, as with the launch of any small business, I expect growth to follow when market exposure grows.

Understanding Self-Publishingg

Self-publishing is easy. Submit your book on Kindle for $0, and you may call yourself a published author (see my how-to tutorial). But my conversations with other self-published authors reveal that most don’t sell more than a few copies to friends and family. I set myself a budget of $10,000 to publish and promote my book in a professional manner that would lead to success.

Hiring an Illustrator

Unlike U.S. based artists, who charge up to $10,000 for a book cover, overseas artists are more affordable. I found a U.K. artist who created a stunning cover, as well as a series of illustrations for $2,000. When it came time to seek out reviewers and author interviews, the cover of my novel opened doors for me. And the illustrations provided me with enough material not merely to enhance my book but to create a book website, as well as book ads and flyers.

Publishing a Proof of Concept

I decided to reach out to a handful of literary agents who requested a partial manuscript in the past. I invested $1,200 in publishing a proof of concept hardcover with 27 color illustrations. Though, ultimately, no literary agent signed the book on, I used the proofs to solicit early reviews, complete final edits and share the novel with family and friends.

When to Save and When to Spend on Formatting?

Though publishing on Kindle is free, you may pay to have your book formatted. Other online companies may charge up to $500. I cut on my self-publishing cost by formatting my mobi conversion myself. Alternatively, when I realized that ePub conversions are ripe with coding bugs, I paid my book distributor, BookBaby, $225 to convert the document and provide me with proofs for approval.

Publishing a Paperback

After my Kindle book was published, I contacted Createspace (an Amazon company) to publish my novel in paperback for free. Once more I formatted the novel myself, saving on the over $200 service offered by the publisher. I ordered a physical proof for $6.99, and had to repeat this step before the book looked perfect.

Marketing: What’s Free and What Isn’t?

I made use of book reviewer lists (such as this from Step by Step Publishing), to submit my novel for a free book review on different book blogs. However, since book bloggers may take up to a year to review a book, I also hired a quality review company to provide 3 reviews for $120 (without guarantee of a positive review). I also purchased a Kirkus Indie Review for $425 (without guarantee of outcome), which opened the door to selling my book to libraries and book stores, who rely on reputable review sources exclusively.


To create excitement for the book, I set up book giveaways on the Book’s Facebook page, on GoodReads and book blogs, spending around $250.

Flyers & Promotions

I invested $125 in book flyers, which I use for marketing to libraries, book stores and other interested readers. I spent over $500 on buying book promotions with Amazon, most of which are still scheduled far into the future. I am now considering a promotion package form Kirkus Reviews, to give my book review prominence before publishers, agents and other media professionals. The cost may range from $500 to $1,500.


Though reputable awards carry great weight with the industry, most awards that indie authors enter have little credibility. I, therefore, spent only $169 to enter two contests, since buyers like to see that a book has won awards.

Additional Expenses

From buying domain names and hosting a site ($285 so far this year), to buying ISBN numbers ($300) for the different editions of the books, there are many small expenses that add up when you self-publish.

E-book $2.99 on Amazon
Paperback $18.78 on Amazon
Paperback $18.78 on Barnes & Noble
Nook ePub edition: $2.99

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