ASP 03: How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?
Quote of the day:
There are two types of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t.
– Jarod Kintz
Self-publishing can be a great way to share your ideas and make a living. Writing your own books and releasing them on a self-publishing platform is effective, attainable, and relatively cheap. However, if you really want to excel, you do need to invest in your product. Doing it right from the beginning will establish you as an expert in your field, demonstrate your commitment to quality, and help you maintain a loyal following. If you are hoping to expand your book catalog—and especially if you are hoping to grow beyond the Amazon platform—it is essential that you invest in quality.
First and foremost, consider bringing an editor onto your team. Even if you are an excellent writer, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes go over your manuscript before releasing it to the public. Editors typically charge between 0.5 and 4 cents per word, and some are willing to work on commission. You may also find an editor willing to barter for their services.
- Hire slowly, fire fast. The last thing you want to do is waste your time on a low-quality provider. Vet your editors before you hire them, and if they don’t deliver, find someone else.
- Use upwork.com. Elance was the go-to platform for finding freelancers, but it has now become Upwork, which should become the new industry standard. When hiring on Upwork, first post a test project, and require applicants to include a magic word in their bid, so you know they are real people. Hire two or three providers who look good, then hire whomever provides the best quality work AND works best with you.
- Word-of-mouth is also another way to find great editors.
- Make sure that the editor understands your market. Immaculate grammatical skills are great, but just as important is the ability to write to your audience.
Formatting is another essential aspect of book design. No matter how good your written content is, if it looks wonky, people will be put off. Try ArchangelInk (for formatting ebooks, last minute proofreads, CreateSpace print formatting and recording audio books.
After you have brought an editor and a formatter on board, your next task will be to develop a book cover. Regardless of the old idiom, people do indeed judge books based on their covers. It isn’t enough to just throw some text on a photo. Find a graphic designer who understands your niche.
- Average price: $140 to $250 (lower range).
- Attract the attention of prospective customers first, then invest once you have a market. A lead magnet is a great tool, and can be pretty simple. It doesn’t necessarily need a cover.
- canva.com – Used to edit images or create book covers for free.
- pixelmater.com (Mac) – A less expensive alternative to expensive design software.
You will also want to develop a landing page. This is your squeeze page, where people can sign up to your email list. The idea is to funnel people to your email list so that you can market to them in the future.
Marketing your book is essential. The best book in the world won’t sell a single copy if no one knows it exists. Use the following tools to get your book out there:
- BookBub.com – This is an awesome site that only accepts quality books ($500; over 100 pages; non-fiction).
- BuckBooks.net – Not currently accepting new books, but worth a look when they start again.
- Facebook ads are another way to get your book out there. But they typically cost between 33 and 75 cents per click, and the analytics aren’t the best.
- If possible, pro bundles of books. Think about who your audience is, what their lifestyle looks like and what type of books they read, then develop a marketing campaign that caters to their preferences.
Graphics and images on books are great, but remember that Amazon will charge you per MB when it comes to downloading your manuscripts—a few cents per MB—so this should be factored into any design decisions.
Once your book is out there, you will want to do surveys and get feedback so you can more effectively market and write to your audience in the future. Test your title and cover design, bearing in mind that you can always change them and try to find more effective alternatives. A free book launch can be a great way to elicit reviews, but be careful, as reviewers of free books tend to be harsher. Paid reviews are a no-no: They are against the rules and will be punished by your platform if you are found out.
Here are two useful sites when looking for feedback:
- pickfu.com – Not completely necessary, but helpful. An alternative is joining FB groups and interacting with people to ask for feedback.
- choosybookworm.com – The owner of this program sends books to his audience and asks for honest reviews. While this is a good way to get feedback, it’s risky, as you could get a one-star review.
Eventually you will want to grow beyond your initial platform. There are many ways to get your books out there, so it all depends on what your goals are. A website is an effective way to gain a following, build a mailing list, and market your various titles. When building your website, WordPress is a great option, as it is cost-effective, has great scalability, and includes a variety of plug-ins.
For hosting, consider the following sites:
These are good options for generating a landing page:
In general, it is wise to start small and focus on one platform at a time. Make sure that your writing is there—the rest will follow. That being said, get that platform up as soon as possible—people can’t buy what they can’t find.
How long will it take to see ROI?
People always want to know how long it will take before they begin to make a profit. This varies from case to case, but in general you won’t see instant results. Focus on the critical essentials and think of this as a long-term investment. Learn from your experiences and constantly improve your product, and you will eventually see success.
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