It’s exciting to want to get onto the self-publishing bandwagon. I mean, everyone’s doing it these days. But, I have to be honest and say that it’s not easy or straightforward to publish your own books. Essentially you have to put on a whole heap of hats which starts with Writer, then progresses through Editor, Designer, Proof-reader, Marketing/PR guru, Distribution Whizz and lastly, but not least, you have to be proficient in all the technology and jargon that these steps entail.
The cost of going on the journey is not just a financial one. It can also screw with your head. I swear that my mental health has gone on a roller-coaster ride – sometimes exhilarating, often scary and I feel like I’m doing it without a net!
So, bottom line is that, if you don’t have either the time or the expertise in these areas, you would do best to hire in the help. Which leads me on to the b-word…
Your book is an investment. Your book is your business. So, you need to have a budget. You need to have the money to do it right. A good editor will cost you around $65AUD per hour, which works out to around $3000 for an average book of, say, 120,000 words. A cover designer can cost anywhere between $300 to $2000, depending on whether they use stock images or whether they have to employ their own artistic skills. And, marketing is like a never-ending pack of Tim-Tams, but without the joy of chocolate and biscuit melting in your mouth.
There’s going to be the need for a website, a website designer, a domain name, a web-host, an email list, an ISBN number and a Facebook page and/or Twitter account. Yes, you can do some – maybe all – of these things yourself. But unless you are au fait with all the technology and jargon, don’t try. I made the mistake of thinking I could design a website all by myself and spent possibly the worst head-rattling days of my life trying to work it out and it looked ugly! Luckily I got a refund.
Finally, there’s the advertising (mainly on Facebook and Amazon) and that’s a bottomless pit. But expect to be spending at least a couple of thousand dollars at first if you want to stand a chance of getting any sales at all. The competition is fierce. Not because the books out there are any better than yours – many of them are pretty grim – but because they spent more on advertising and search engine optimisation (yes, that’s what SEO stands for).
So, add it all up and you’re looking at around $10,000 for your first book for a year – and that’s not including the time it will take you, because you still have to do a heap of stuff behind the scenes.
Just like any investment, you only get out what you’re prepared to put in and what you’re prepared to risk. If you can afford to ‘lose’ that $10,000, then go for it. You may get really lucky and turn it into $100,000. But don’t play your house unless you have a luxurious tent to live in.