Traditionally, writers who’ve wanted to see their work in hard copy have had to become salespeople in order to get their books picked up by a publishing company, shopping their words around and hoping people like them enough to pay for them. For writers who find this task daunting, the increasingly competitive world of publishing can be full of rejection and harsh realities.
The solution? Self-publishing an e-book. While there are many elements of DIY culture that a writer will need to embrace, self-publishing does away with sales pitches and rejection letters, and gives the writer more control over the product they put out.
If you’ve got a great idea and the desire to show the world your work on your terms, here’s a budget for what you’ll need.
Cover art and layout
Your book cover is a first impression when people are scrolling through e-book sites, and contrary to traditional metaphors, people absolutely do judge books by their covers. To ensure your cover can make—not break—you, you’ll need to hire someone to do the job for you. A professional cover art specialist will provide you with an attractive piece that’ll help get the feel of your novel across, and draw in the eye of prospective readers, and a good graphic designer can create the layout for the body text itself. You’re paying for their skill and expertise, and collaborating with a fellow artist, so ensure you respect their craft by paying them what they’re worth.
A lot of writers tend to overestimate their own editing skills, particularly after being deep in the woods with their own work for so long. It pays to have a pair of fresh eyes look over your work to ensure accuracy and consistency throughout the text. Like cover art, expect to employ the services of a respected editor who has honed their craft, and make sure you pay them appropriately.
Some retailers require your e-book to have an International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. Having an ISBN costs, but it can help your e-book become easily identifiable, and gives readers an extra way to search for your book. Unfortunately, U.S. identifier services are more expensive than any other country’s, so you’ll have to pay a premium for your book’s number. Some self-publishing services actually include the ISBN in their fee, which is almost always a small portion of each sale of your e-book. If you can find one of those, it might save you from paying out of pocket up front.
Marketing your e-book is entirely optional, of course, but you’re likely to increase your reach if you can market your title effectively. Social media is a great resource for this and usually free of charge, so hop on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and spread the word via promoted posts. You can spend as little or as much as you like on promoted posts, but a decent campaign with good reach will set you back hundreds of dollars.
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