SPQ 016: How Much Does it Cost to Publish My First Book?
How much is the start-up cost of publishing my first Kindle book? How much is okay to invest for marketing?
Steve recommends treating a book-based business like any other start-up company. Be smart about not wasting your money by tracking expenditures and spending money only when necessary.
Track expenses by setting up an Excel spreadsheet and recording how much you spend on each individual book. This makes it easier to see how much you invest and how much of a return you get in the form of royalties.
There are two types of expenditures:
Steve says there are really only two things you absolutely have to spend money on: editing and cover design. In SPQ 012, Steve explained how to find a good editor. He pays his editors anywhere from seven-tenths of a cent per word to two cents per word. It can add up, but it’s important to have an editor help you produce a polished product.
Because people judge books by their covers, Steve does not recommend buying a $5 cover from Fiverr. You need a cover that stands out in the marketplace and catches the reader’s attention. In Steve’s experience, very few Fiverr designs meet these criteria. He pays $200 for his covers, but you can find a good designer charging anywhere from $100 to $300 per cover.
There are two ways to find a cover designer.
- Visit websites like Elance.com or Odesk.com to find freelance designers.
- Ask people in your network to recommend a good designer.
These mandatory expenses typically add up to $500 or $600 per book, but if you shop around, you may be able to do it for less.
There are several optional expenses, but Steve believes they are still important:
- Formatting ($100 to $200)
- Squeeze page (Varies)
- AWeber ($19 to $149 per month)
- Web hosting ($4 per month and up)
- WordPress theme ($3 and up)
Squeeze pages are where people go to sign up for your free offer. A squeeze page makes it easier to collect contact information for your email list. Some squeeze page solutions are expensive, but it is possible to have someone on Fiverr design a squeeze page for you at a much lower cost.
AWeber is an email list manager that comes with the tools and resources you need to manage your list. The service costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers. AWeber also offers higher-priced plans for people with thousands of names on their email lists.
Having your own website is important for building an author platform because you need a place for people to go to learn more about your books and sign up for your email list. If you have a website, you will need a hosting service. Steve recommends Bluehost, which costs about $4 per month.
WordPress makes it easy to set up your own website. If you decide to use WordPress, you will need a theme to control the layout and functionality of your site. Steve recommends ThemeForest for themes starting at $3.
There are a lot of things you can spend money on, but it should only cost you $500 to $700 to get started. This might seem like a lot, but you want to build a business that’s going to stand the test of time. As you build your business, reduce expenses by building your author platform, networking with other people in your niche, and creating good content.
If you have a question about self-publishing, visit SpeakPipe to leave a message for Steve.
Resources and Links
SPQ Episode 12: Learn how to find an editor to review your book
SPQ Resources: The SPQ Resources page has links to all of Steve’s favorite tools
AWeber: Use AWeber to manage your email list
Bluehost: Bluehost offers website hosting for $3.95 per month
ThemeForest: Access more than 17,000 WordPress themes
SpeakPipe: Submit a question to the Self-Publishing Questions podcast