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Hidden Costs of Self-Publishing

By J Seph | Twitter: @jsephwrites

Excited about self-publishing your first book? This is in no way meant to deflate that excitement, but to encourage you to give careful consideration to some of the costs associated with your publishing endeavors. Self-publishing is not a “write, submit, cha-ching!” process and there are costs involved. Some self-publishing authors are gifted enough to not have to outsource all of these tasks, but (cliché headed your way) teamwork makes the dream work.

Book cover design is an overlooked cost associated with self-publishing. Think about how much you are willing to invest in the cover design of your book. I am a part of several DIY writers’ groups and regularly come across posts of the “What do you think of my cover?” variety. As such, I’ve developed the skill of being able to accurately judge which of those covers are designed by the author themselves and which covers have been designed by a professional. Always go with a professional! Ideally, it would be awesome to have a highly skilled graphic designer close friend willing to complete the task for free. However, this is rarely the case for most of us embarking on our self-publishing journey. Think about how much of your publishing budget you are willing to appropriate for a high quality cover design. Contrary to the old adage, your book will literally be judged by its cover. Find a professional, someone with experience, and pay them to assist you in putting your best foot forward… on the front cover.

Professional proofreading and editing is a must-have, therefore make room for it in the cost of self-publishing. Proofreading and editing goes beyond punctuation and subject-verb agreement. You need those extra sets of eyes to help flesh out the style, language, and meaning you are trying to convey. This process also involves ensuring your work is formatted properly and ready for publication. Think of proofreading and editing as the quality assurance step of the process that goes into any other product that is being sent to the market. Editing your self-published book can vary in exactly how it looks depending upon the work you are submitting; proofreading and editing a book of poetry may look differently than proofreading and editing an ebook on financial literacy.

The most overlooked hidden cost, and often last consideration given, is the marketing of your self-published book. Do not count on your target audience finding your work by chance. Traditionally marketing your self-published book could include an agency or a publicist; however, the advancement of technology and the internet have placed more tools at the disposal of authors. Your self-published marketing strategy may include a website, social media and social media influencers, podcasters, and/or vlogging. The savviest of self-publishing writers will make use of these tools in cost effective ways. Some of these goals may be accomplished for free; for example, curating content to your target audience on platforms such as Twitter or Instagram has no upfront fee. Keep in mind though that releasing high quality and engaging content on these platforms may have associated costs. Creating high quality video, photo, and audio may include the cost of the necessary equipment to do so. Marketing your book effectively will give you the greatest chance of success and profitability. Determine who your target audience is and how to engage them. There are proven high value and low-cost methods about marketing your self-published book that may be discussed in the future.

These are a few of the hidden costs involved in self-publishing, but there could be more. For those self-published authors reading this, what costs did you run into for your works? How did the final costs of self-publishing compare to your initial thoughts of what it would cost? Please comment below to share your experiences with self-publishing.

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