I got an email recently from someone with a few self-publishing questions. I thought I would summarize my answers here.
- How much does it cost to self-publish?
- How difficult is self-publishing vs traditional publishing?
- How many pages do you need for self-publishing?
- Can you add pictures to a self-published book?
How much does it cost to self-publish?
Costs for self-publishing can be as little or as much as you want. At Lightning Source it costs just under $100 to get a book listed and at CreateSpace, it’s free although you will probably want to use the ProPlan which costs $39. ISBN numbers are necessary for Lightning Source which can be expensive for Americans (they are free for Canadians).
If you do the book cover, content formatting and editing yourself, those setup fees are the only costs you will incur. In theory, an author can create a book and have it available for purchase on Amazon for very little money.
A lot of authors will outsource one or more of the above tasks which costs money. In my case, I paid someone $175 to do the cover and interior formatting for my book. I wasn’t thrilled with their work, so I wouldn’t have any problem paying a bit more for better service. I also paid $200 for editing.
My costs were $100 (listing) + $175 (cover and format) + $200 (editing) = $475.
You can spend a lot more if you wish. There are different types of editors available and I’m sure you can spend thousands if you really want to. The problem of course is that spending too much on editing/research etc reduces the economic viability of your book.
I spent more money on promotion than creating the book. I was not shy about sending out review copies and I think I spent around $700 on review copies. It should be noted that I order review copies from Amazon and pay the full retail price, which means that some of that money comes back to me in the form of book profits. So the net cost of my review copies was probably $350.
How difficult is self-publishing vs traditional publishing?
There are a number of tasks necessary to get a book created and published. Essentially the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing is that the self-publisher is responsible for writing the book and getting all the various tasks completed (cover, formatting, editing) whereas the traditional published author mainly has to write the book. Things like editing/organization will be driven by the publisher.
It’s hard enough to write a book without worrying about how to create a cover and the million other details that go into the process. One solution is to do what I did and outsource some of the major jobs such as cover design, formatting, editing. This left me with tasks like – setting up the account at a self-publisher, organizing the project, hiring people to do the outsourced work.
I found it to be fairly manageable, but another option to consider is to buy a “publishing package” from a self-publisher. CreateSpace offers various levels of “help” click on their “services” tab.
These packages back up my assertion that you can spend as much as you want, creating the perfect book. In theory, if you spend enough money – you can literally recreate the traditional publishing experience, while staying self-published.
If you are not confident, my suggestion is to consider CreateSpace – they are far more user friendly than Lightning Source and offer a lot more service. Some free, others for money. The distribution fee is not as flexible as Lightning Source, but you can always switch at a later date if you want.
When self-publishing you have to consider your budget and how much you want to outsource. If you have enough money, you can outsource every single step of the self-publishing experience (including writing the book!) which makes things a lot easier. Or you can do everything yourself which will likely involve a big learning curve for most. Or you can do something in between which fits your budget and existing skills.
How many pages do you need for self-publishing?
Good question. POD publishers do have minimum page counts – if you can’t meet them, you are probably better off to just do an electronic version.
Keep in mind that variables like font size/line spacing/diagrams/pictures etc will affect your page count. Book size is another factor. 6″ x 9″ seems to be the standard for non-fiction books, but if you choose 5″ x 8″ (most paperback novels are this size), the page count will go up quite a bit.
This person mentioned her e-book is currently 60 pages and she will add to it. This doesn’t mean much, since she really needs to figure out how many pages the book will be in the proper format. In my case, the book is about 22,000 words, no pictures, 6×9 and the page count is about 115 pages which is plenty big enough.
Can you add pictures to a self-published book?
You can add whatever you like to self-published books, but photographs might not work that well. Personally, I would avoid them unless they are necessary. If you do an ebook (ie Kindle), then there will be no limitations on pictures etc.