I apologize for not being here “live” to answer questions and chat with you, but I’m spending time with my new baby boy! He’s an absolute doll, but a bit of an attention hog. (Go figure.) Anyway, I will be back live again soon, but in the meantime, D.D. has graciously offered to post my blogs in my absence. So, on to today’s post…
When I first started self-publishing, just over two years ago, there weren’t a lot of authors doing it yet, and it was in the infant stages of taking off. Now, it seems there are tons of authors doing it, which is super exciting to me. And, as it’s taken off, there are also just as many people telling you what you NEED to do into order to successfully self-publish your books. Specially, what you need to pay for.
A lot of us are on a budget. Let’s face it, writers are generally not millionaires. And I’ve heard from a few authors that they’d love to self-publish, but just can’t afford it right now. This statement has me scratching my head big time, since the total cost for my first self published book was $10. So, here are my tips to self-publishing on a budget:
1. Do your own cover.
This may sound daunting at first, but, trust me, I am no artist either. But there are tons of great stock art sites where you can find gorgeous photos or illustrations for very reasonable prices. Pick an image that fits your book, pay for the license to use it, download. This is where I spent my full $10 on my first self-published book. Then you can easily download free programs like GIMP or Paint, and add a title (Big and clear! No fancy fonts!) and author name to the front. Voila! Cover.
2. Find a critique partner to edit your book.
While it’s great to hire a professional editor if you can afford it (and I do recommend this if you can – I do now for every book!), you can often find some very grammar savvy people willing to read your book for free. I’ve seen editing co-ops crop up on several writers’ forums, where you edit her book in exchange for her editing your book. Have a friend who is grammar savvy read it for you. Or, even one who isn’t, just to point out typos. I believe it is very important to have a well edited book, but you can, with a little work, find people generally willing to help for free or a reading exchange who will do a great job.
3. Forget fancy formatting.
I hear so much about the importance of formatting… but I honestly don’t get it. I may be doing this all wrong, but I upload word docs to most sites. The only time I’ve run into an issue is with very large files (my 5 book boxed set, for instance). Amazon can take word docs and so can BN, and both have looked fine to me. Smashwords is particular about how their docs are formatted, but they have a very comprehensive guide that you can follow which almost always does the trick. Some places require an epub, but you can find free online converters to turn your doc into a epub, then you can download Sigil for free and edit the epub if needed.
(P.S. there have been times that I have paid for formatting – when I was short on time or with very large problem files – but my point is you don’t NEED to in order to get started. If you do want formatting done, I highly recommend Lee at Ironhorse Formatting. He’s very quick, and his prices are great!)
4. The best marketing is free.
The best marketing I’ve done for my books is right on the vendor sites – picking appropriate keywords and categories, writing engaging descriptions, and making sure my covers pop. Beyond that, I maintain a Facebook page and a website (which I put together myself, so that was almost free – just hosting and domain name fees) and that’s about it. You don’t need to do a lot to get the sales ball rolling.
As you start to sell more, I might suggest spending more money on your books. Like any business, you’ll want to invest back into it. As I mentioned, I do hire out formatting sometimes now, just to save me time so I can write more! I do sometimes spend more on marketing – ads, giveaways, etc. – now, too, though the bulk of my sales are still from people browsing the vendor sites. So, as my sales have gone up, my budget per book has, too. But you don’t NEED a big budget to start with.
So, don’t be daunted by the cost of self-publishing! You can spend a lot of money on your books… or you can publish them very cheaply for next to nothing, which any starving writer can afford.
It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land: What parts of the Self-Publishing process do you hire out to be done versus which parts do you do yourself? And, how much have your Ebooks cost to produce?
The Best of Self-Publishing on a Budget Wishes —