If we publish our book with a traditional publisher, there are no out-of-pocket expenses. The publisher even pays us an advance. Although it might not be much, at least we receive some money at the beginning of the publishing process.
This is not the case when we self-publish. When we act as our own publisher, there is no advance and there are expenses, which can add up quickly. We don’t earn any money until we can sell copies of our book. And that can take a while.
Is there a middle ground, a way to self-publish without incurring a bunch of upfront costs? The short answer is, “Yes!” However, the wise response is, “No!”
Self-publishing without spending any money would require a huge investment of time, and the results would not be good. Regardless of how talented we are and how diverse our skillset, one person cannot cover everything required to produce a quality book. The finished product would look like an amateur did it. And it’s hard to sell a book that fails to meet the expectations of today’s buyers.
Here are a few of the expenses we’ll encounter when we self-publish:
Cover: People do judge a book by its cover. A professional impression is critical because there is only a split second to catch someone’s attention. Don’t try this yourself.
Editing: Few writers can edit their own work and do it well. And your friend who majored in English is seldom the answer – nor is your mom, high school writing teacher, or second cousin who reads a lot.
Interior Layout: Have you ever opened a book and sensed something was wrong? You’re not sure what it is, but you know the book is different – and in an odd way. This is because of a poor interior design, and those books are hard to read.
Headshot: Taking a quality self-portrait is improbable, and selfies are out of the question for a book cover or publicity shot. Just because you own a fancy, high-resolution camera doesn’t make you a photographer.
ISDN: For any book to sell, it requires an ISBN. If you plan to only peddle books from the trunk of your car, you can skip this expense. Otherwise you need to purchase an ISBN.
There are additional items, but these are the more critical ones. Though you might be the exception who has the experience and ability to do one of these tasks with excellence, no one can master them all – especially if you want your book to sell.
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!