The age-old question that inevitably comes to every Indie writer’s mind is: how much does self-publishing actually cost? Indie publishing is not an easy career as authors must expand their field of expertise, from being innovative enough, to creating content that targets the right readers and satisfies their expectations, to establishing a fruitful online presence. As such, they must evolve from being mere writers who put thoughts on paper to business owners who handle marketing, administrative, accounting and other tasks. They must also be willing to invest sensibly in their craft, promote their backlists and also invest in the realities of indie publishing, including, but not limited to, editing, formatting and having a successful marketing strategy in place. They must also control costs so that their publishing company makes them a profit.
Here are a few tips on how to have an effective cost-controlled blueprint for independent publishing:
- Study yourself, your book and targeted audience.
You need to understand the goals of your book and the demands and expectations of your audience first. Ask yourself whether you are in this for the long haul or if this is a one-time effort. If you dream of in every bookstore, you may want to opt for traditional publishing. If your aim is to reach out to your readers and create content that meets a specific need, Indie publishing might work for you. If you need to turn a fast profit, you may need to “write to market” to capture the attention of a hungry market, or you may have to invest in effective marketing like Facebook ads, Amazon Marketing Services ads, etc. Of course, this costs money and/or time to implement. If you want to venture out into other complimentary products or services, make sure you have money to create products or develop a stronger brand awareness for these products or services. For instance, if you’d like to promote your life coaching services, you may choose to write a book primarily as a promotional tool and then set money aside for advertising your book and coaching business.
- Acquire professional help.
Every writer requires an editor, proofreader and cover designer. If you want your books to stand alongside traditionally published ones, you should not compromise quality. If you are an inexperienced writer, hiring a professional editor, proofreader or designer will not only elevate the standard of your product, but also help you avoid any unnecessary expenditures that may arise in the long run. Remember, a book is always judged by its cover. So, having an aesthetically pleasing one will certainly reap tremendous benefits.
- Have a proper distribution strategy in place.
For the best results, choose print-on-demand as your first option, which enables you to order a few copies at lesser cost. You can then distribute more copies at smaller costs and you won’t be stuck with a ton of books that you can’t buy or give away. You really don’t need to get into bulk printing at first. Instead, you need to test the market and make sure that your book will sell first. On-demand publishing platforms like Createspace allow you to purchase author copies at a discount and you can even purchase books one at a time. This is extremely important when it comes to cost control, as you can buy what you need and won’t have to face additional costs for storage and shipping, if you are selling from your website.
- Note the importance of marketing and PR.
Marketing is much more than bookmarks and book signings. You will need to provide equal importance to mainstream media as well as social media. Be patient and give a concentrated effort on each aspect for at least a few months; if you are still not sure, seek professional help. Some effective marketing methods include placing ads in promotional websites, writing and distributing press releases, setting up book tours, etc.
- Get an ISBN.
Getting yourself an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is recommended if you are printing independently, as it will list you as a publisher of your own work. The cost is minimal. But you can skip it if you’re only focusing on eBooks. On-demand publishing platforms like Createspace will issue you an ISBN if you utilize their services.
In conclusion, Indie publishing has changed the perception of authors towards the industry, as they seek complete creative control over their creations. The key is to reflect and delve into the above principles, as they will help save unnecessary outlays.