Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

What’s The Real Cost of #SelfPublishing?


More and more writers are looking at self-publishing as a viable alternative to the aging and unresponsive traditional path.

And, if you really want to go deep into this new way of getting books to readers (and its many ways of being described) you could visit the 142 articles I’ve written about self-publishing

I’ll be tagging this post with “self-publishing”, too; so, taking that link will, first, show you this post again; then, all the others

But, the title up there asks about cost.

Not just money—cost.

I’ll be comparing two different companies soon—companies that I would call Publishing-Aid Corporations—and you can begin to sense the wide range of monetary costs.

But, then there are the emotional costs, and the social costs, and the time costs

Naturally, traditional publishing has costs, too.

In spite of the advances offered to the lucky few writers accepted for publication by traditional companies, there are still emotional, social, and time costs—costs which can often be severe

So, in my estimation, the basic difference between self- and traditional publishing (after all cost considerations) is who owns the rights of the book:

Traditional—they own the rights.

Self—you own them.

And, rights mean you decide what happens to your book

I can hear a few readers thinking, “But, so what if I own the rights if nobody buys the book?”.

I’ll direct you to the thousands of authors who were accepted by a traditional house, had the book placed on the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores, and, in about two months, had them removed from the shelves, never to return

Either major method of book publishing has no iron-clad guarantees for sales and no magic formulas for success.

If you doubt my last sentence, please refer to my article, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

Here’s one quote from that article:

“The average U.S. book is now [2011] selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.”

And, the last five years haven’t made things better

Plus, focusing on self-publishing, I offer a quote (from a man who knows what he’s talking about) from my article, Author Earnings:

“The forces that determine a book’s sales performance are often multi-dimensional, synergistic, opaque, delayed or simply not apparent.”

And, that same man (who’s the Founder of Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks) also says:

“We cannot promise you your book will sell well, even if you follow all the tips in this guide. In fact, most books, both traditionally published and self-published, don’t sell well. Whether your book is intended to inspire, inform or entertain, millions of other books and media forms are competing against you for your prospective reader’s ever-shrinking pie of attention.”

So, why publish?

If it’s to make money, the odds are slim to none.

Sure, you can study Amazon’s bestsellers, work really hard to copy the style of writing in some of that genre fiction, pay $1,000 for a remarkable cover, and upload it.

Still, no guarantees of any earnings

If you want to assure yourself that a book you’ve written from your heart and soul (something that might be very hard to stick in a genre…) reaches readers who care about it, and you aren’t looking to make money from it, you just might satisfy that goal; but, you’ll have to work your tail off self-promoting (even if a traditional publisher happens to take the book…).

Of course, if you’re exceeding wealthy and/or fantastically famous, you can forget everything I’m saying

So, for the rest of us mere mortals, we can suffer the years of rejections from the big houses and still sell very few books or we can self-publish and still sell very few books

So, why publish?

I guess we’re down to faith—faith in the writing you must do—faith in your ability to find readers—faith that humanity holds together long enough for someone to buy your book

O.K., I’ve tried to scare you away from publishing but you’re still reading

Monetary Cost

Traditional publishing—apparently none

Self-Publishing?

It varies, depending on many factors

I’ll give you two very different situations that characterize some of the more rational options.

In an article on Publishing PerspectivesWhat Does Self-Publishing Cost? The UK’s Reedsy Reads the Receipts—you can see what the services offered through one Publishing-Aid Corporation cost; but their reason for the costs are interesting…

Here are just a few excerpts from that article:

“Debates have raged for years in the charred channels of indie-author blog-and-gossip sites about what one should be prepared to pay in order to have a book professionally edited and designed for the marketplace.”

““A full edit on an 80,000-word manuscript,” Reedsy’s article tells us, “is likely going to cost you US$3,300.”

“Cover design, Reedsy’s research on its transactions tells us, runs an average $700, with 66 percent of the designers’ quotes running between $200 and $800.”

“Book interior design can be costlier, at an average $840, and up to $1,000.”

Reedsy is a “broker” of services for writers and, before any considerations of distribution or what it will cost to promote a book, they say you need to spend around $5,000 dollars for “…a book professionally edited and designed for the marketplace.”

I beg to differ

My self-published novel, Notes from An Alien, was released (in both print and e-book and distributed to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Ingram) for $300.

Yes, the company I worked with had services similar to Reedsy; but, I didn’t have and couldn’t save more than what I spent

I must say that I learned a few things about book preparation without “professional” help

The book was edited by an English graduate student—no cost—she only wanted credit in the book.

Over about the first three years of the book’s life, various folk found a total of 8 typos and I found 4 errors-of-author-judgement.

I created the cover.

Yet, still, a reputable author, who was traditionally published, read my book (noticed no typos) and says it looks, feels, and reads like a professionally produced book

Here comes that wisdom that begins with “If I could do it all over…”:

I still would have self-published the way I did; I still would have had the editing done by the same woman; but, first, I would have passed the manuscript around more to help catch typos and errors-of-author-judgement, then uploaded the chapters to Wattpad to generate reader interest pre-publication.

As it is, I’ve uploaded it to Wattpad (the fully corrected version) and I’m promoting it by reading other folks and commenting and voting on their works—they, in turn, might read my book

I also work my tail off on this blog and have a link to the book in the left side-bar.

Yep, it says Free Novel and, even though the link will take you to places the book is for sale, I hope before you think I’m crazy for giving it away, you read my past post, Free = Sales ~ Give It Away & Sell More…

But, please don’t forget that “sell more” doesn’t automatically mean hundreds or thousands

So, who published and is distributing my novel?

FastPencil

I recommend that you (and I’m assuming you have the faith and enterprise it takes to bring a book into the world) go read FastPencil’s article, Author Worry: “How Much Does It REALLY Cost To Publish?”.
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4 responses to “What’s The Real Cost of #SelfPublishing?

  1. dgkaye May 4, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Fantastic article Alex! I know many authors want the glory of saying they’re traditionally published. But I’m happy to self publish. Other than the time it takes to tend to the publishing and promoting side of the business, which severely cuts into our writing time, I own my rights, and I write for the love of writing. :)

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai May 4, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Ah, yes

      for the love of writing

      Glad you appreciated the article :-)

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye May 4, 2016 at 8:36 pm

        I always enjoy your posts. :)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Alexander M Zoltai May 4, 2016 at 8:41 pm

          :-)

          Like

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