Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Indie Publishing: What About the Costs?

I hesitated for quite a while before I decided to self-publish. It wasn't just because of the otherwise obvious fears - "I'll never be thought of as a serious author, just a wanna-be";"No one will ever like my writing enough to buy it, just because I'm promoting it";"What do I know about marketing and promotion anyway?" I'm happy to say the response to my efforts has proved me wrong on all these worries (Thank Jesus!)

So, why the delay? THE MONEY! And, because I didn't want to end up like this guy:


Worries plagued me daily. "I can't afford that! I'm not paying to be published! Shouldn't a publisher pay me for my work?" It made me wonder, what were the true costs of self-publishing, not just in fees, but in the author's time and energy. I knew many other independent authors must feel the same concerns. Gemi, Michelle, Peter and Kristina are back to openly share the costs of self-publishing their recent works.

Gemi did a great blog post recently on the topic of Lightning Source's costs. Here, she talks strictly about the money involved:
o Setup fees - $75 + $12 annual catalog listing
o ISBN - $25 (per title, but purchased a block of 10 @ $250)
o Copyright registration – None yet
o Professional editing - None
o Cover design - $220 total (included my imprint logo)
o Proof - $30
o Review copies - $119 (for 20 copies, some given as gifts to beta readers, others review copies)
o Business cards, book marks, press releases and other promotional materials - $0
o Other publicity, including hiring a publicist - $0

Michelle paid:
o Setup fees – N/A
o ISBN $ 50? x 2 (for a paperback and a hard cover printing)
o Copyright registration N/A
o Professional editing - $250
o Cover design - approximately $160, for two cover spreads
o Proof - $13.95 x 3 paperbacks and $23 x 2 hard covers
o Review copies- N/A, but I did buy a hard cover to have put in the Library of Congress so I could have an LOC number in it.
o Business cards, book marks, press releases and other promotional materials – I’ve printed my own business cards using Avery Business cards that I picked up at Staples, so that cost is minimal. -- $13.95 x 7 copies – 4 for book giveaways on blogs and 3 for independent book publisher contests.
o Other publicity, including hiring a publicist - N/A

Peter also shared his costs:
o Setup fees $325 for website design, $100/year for web hosting. $200 for domain name registrations.
o ISBN $130 for 3 ISBN numbers (paperback, audio CD, audio download).
o Copyright registration $130 for 3 registrations (paperback, audio CD, audio download).
o Professional editing $600 for page layout design. No content or copy editing.
o Cover design $630.
o Proof $15.
o Review copies $7 each.
o Business cards, book marks, press releases and other promotional materials Bookmarks $100 (for 500, including design).
o Other publicity, including hiring a publicist Besides my own website, nothing that cost any money. Facebook, twitter, e-mails, RedRoom, Shelfari, LibraryThing, GoodReads, etc.

As did Kristina:
o Setup fees N/A
o ISBN $450.00, one ISBN for each of three versions of the book
o Copyright registration $25.00
o Professional editing N/A
o Cover design: About $700, paid in traded services
o Proof N/A
o Review copies $10.00
o Business cards, book marks, press releases and other promotional materials $150.00 to date
o Other publicity, including hiring a publicist $50.00 to date

And me?
o Setup fees - $39; the CreateSpace Pro Plan for expanded distribution of the book
o ISBN – Free with CreateSpace. More on that later.
o Copyright registration – $35
o Professional editing - None
o Cover design - $420 total
o Proof - $23; two copies
o Review copies – Not yet, but they're coming at the costs of $4.93 per book and associated shipping costs starting at $4.85
o Business cards, book marks, press releases and other promotional materials – Not yet
o Other publicity, including hiring a publicist – I’m not there. Would love to be someday, but for right now, I'm actually with Peter: this is where Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari, Goodreads, my website and this blog come in.

Different approaches, different costs, but the inevitable cost to an indie author that can't be measured is time and effort. In the traditional publishing model, the publisher always controls the setup, including copyright registration, ISBN, etc. and sometimes (notice: sometimes), the editing and marketing. For an indie author, guess who handles each one of those considerations? Sure, you can go it alone and do it all yourself, if you have the creative know-how. Yet it's a tireless, daunting task.

Still, there is one consideration that unites all authors, whether indie or traditional: Now, you have to sell the book. Gemi, Michelle, Peter and Kristina will each share their unique perspectives on this issue. Later today - Indie Publishing: Let's Talk Sales.

Let us know your thoughts: would you pay to be published? If so, what do you consider a reasonable fee?

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