Sunday, August 11, 2013

How To Cut Costs When Self-Publishing

One of the hurdles that I feared when I self-published my first novel was how I was going to pay for it.

Many people are under the assumption that self-publishing a novel costs thousands of dollars. This isn't true. In the days where you had to print all your own books out, it was, but now with Print on Demand and ebooks, the costs of that are no longer the same.

Here are some other ways to save money:

1.) Buy premade covers - I learned the hard way not to make my own covers. I thought it would cut costs to buy the images and fonts myself. Because I'm not experienced in making covers, I wound up purchasing more images than I needed and trying to swap between them and spending way too much money on fonts. Also, the end product was inferior to what another person could have made for me.

It's good to have custom made covers as well. They aren't too expensive if you find the right person. But it's even better if you can find a premade cover that fits your novel. Premade covers are usually not sold to more than one person (although check the policy of the person selling it, just in case) and they are cheaper than other covers because you had little input in the design of it.

I've seen covers that you can purchase this way for as little as five dollars. I bought some decent ones I found recently for only twelve dollars, but most premade covers run anywhere between thirty and sixty dollars.

It may seem like a lot until you find out that I spent over a hundred dollars per cover when I tried to make them myself.

2.) Swap Stories With Critique Partners - My critique partners usually help me fix my story while my editor fixes my grammar, spelling, and technical problems. I'd love to hire two editors, one to help me with my story and one to help with my grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but I can't afford it right now, so I had to choose.

Critique partners are usually better at spotting problems with your story than with the little details. Have them help you with the overall picture, while your editor helps you perfect the manuscript. If all you can afford is one type of edit, this is the way to go.

3.) Ask Around About Editors - Yes, some editors cost a few thousand dollar to hire, but most of us don't have that much money to give them. If you ask around, you can find some decent editors that will cost a few hundred instead. All of them should allow you to give them a few pages of your work for free, so they can give you a sample of their editing back, and you can make sure you're happy with them. Also, if you read self-published novels and think they are well edited, find out who edited the novel and see how much that editor costs. That way you're already familiar with their work.

4.) Use Free ISBN's - Amazon gives you an ASIN, something similar to an ISBN, that you can use in its place on their web-site.

And if you sign up to self-publish your novel on Smashwords and list them as your publisher (this in no way infringes on your rights as an author, it says so on the site), they will give you a free ISBN as well that they will use to post your story on other sites like Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

5.) Format The Novel Yourself - This can seem overwhelming and I'm not going to lie, when you publish your first novel, you will find mistakes, but it's easier to do than you think.

If you follow The Smashwords Style Guide and are patient, you will eventually get accepted in the Premium Catalog on the site. You can do it all using Microsoft word or Open Office and it becomes extremely easy to do once you get used to it.

For Kindle, I use this guide to help me format my novel:

I know nothing about CSS, yet I was able to make sense of the tutorial. Most of it is a lot of copy/pasting. It takes some time to complete, but the formatting turns out great!

6.) Skip The Copyright - It doesn't have to be permanently. It can be temporary until you make more money.

There are ways to prove that a story belongs to you without getting a copyright. If someone steals your novel and tries to publish under their name for instance, it's obvious because you published it first that it likely belongs to you.

Also, some pirate sites will take down your book without you showing them your copyright and the ones that won't, usually don't care even if you were to show them your copyright.

7.) Use Open Office Instead of Microsoft Word - It is as good of a program as Microsoft Word is. Don't pay several hundred for an actual copy of Microsoft Word if you don't already have it. You can do all the same things using Open Office and Open Office is free! It's the program I use right now for writing and it can open any files types you may have saved your stories under.

Don't let anything get in the way of living your dreams, even cost.


T.J. said...

Well said :) Another editor option is to ask about partials. It can be fairly cheap, and show you what to look for to finish editing yourself.

It doesn't have to be expensive to self publish. :)

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