How much does it cost to self-publish?

tumblr_mb2dgmhcxx1r9isqgSo you have written a novel and you decide to give self-publishing, or Indie-publishing, a go.  Is it worth it and how much does it cost?

In addition to writing a good story, that is well written, how much you spend on self publishing a novel depends on a few factors:


  1. What quality of product you want to produce.
  2. What you are capable/skilled at doing yourself.
  3. How much time you have/allow yourself.
  4. How much money you are prepared to spend.
  5. How much money you want to make.

These factors are no different to any other business setting up for the first time, because unless you are writing purely as a hobby, Indie-publishing is a business.

If you want to create a really good product, you may need to employ editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and someone to format an ebook.

If you are able to do some of these things yourself, or can learn how to do them, you will save money. For my own books, I learned how to do basic cover design, formatting, website design, and produce a cinemagraphic book trailer — it took quite a time and some practice.

The more time you have available to do things yourself the less you will need to pay Image result for book bindingsomeone else to do it for you. Trading your skills for someone else’s skills also helps reduce the cost, but you do have to take time to build relationships. Having a website you can use for low level social marketing and to build yourself a platform/audience/email list (like I am doing here) is well worth the effort in the long run, but does take time.

Points 4 and 5 are very much tied together. I consider my book publishing to be a business, therefore, I only spend what I can earn from publishing. For my latest book, ‘Gaia’s brood’ I employed a copy editor/proof reader — the £100 I spent on this has paid for itself.

Some, like Derek Murphy, would argue that the more you spend in online advertising, the more sales you will make so the more you will earn. I take the view that you need at least a trilogy of novels, and a marketing funnel, before it is worth spending any serious money on marketing.

How Much to Spend?Image result for investment

  • You can spend no money on the production of your novel, put it on Amazon for free, and spend nothing on marketing. Unless you have written a masterpiece or something that catches the mood of the day, you will probably not make any money.
  • You can spend a modest amount on the the production of your novel, put it on Amazon for free, and spend a modest amount on marketing. And you might make a modest profit, unless of course you are very lucky.
  • You could spend a lot on production, self-publishing, websites, and marketing, and make no profit, or even make a loss.

Image result for pie chartWhat you have to do, is decide in advance how much money you want/can afford to invest in your writing business.

Then decide how much you want to spend on production of your product(the novel) and how much you want to spend on advertising.


What does success look like?

To know what success looks like, you have to measure it. What measure looks like success to you?

  • The number of fans/followers you gain?
  • The amount of profit you make?
  • The number of units to sell?
  • Hitting the number one spot on your chosen best seller list?
  • The number of awards your your writing wins?

All these are worthy aims and legitimate signs of success for your novel.

When will success happen?

Next, decide on a timescale for making a return on your investment: one year, three years, five years, ten years?

Finally, decide when you want to spend the money on marketing. Whilst Indie-publishing does free one from the gate keepers of agents and publishing companies, it also, for most people, turns publishing into a commodity business — the more products you have to offer, the more sales you are likely to make and the more followers/fans you are likely to attract. This means you have to publish novels frequently and consistently.

Related image

I would recommend you have at least three novels published on Amazon before you put any serious time and money into marketing.


The marketing plan

Authors are notoriously shy of writing marketing plans, many refuse to think of their writing as a business, or somehow think their ‘art’ will be tainted by money considerations.

Here’s the good news: You have just written a marketing plan. This article has just taken you through all the basic stages you need for a marketing plan. That is is – simples.

Hope this helps.


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