Posted in author, Business, publishing, writing

The True Cost of Self-publishing

Since I published my book people seem to think I’ll be reaping the rewards. Truth of the matter, it will be a long time before I even make back what it has cost me… if ever! Here’s why…

The first thing to note is that self-publishing itself doesn’t actually HAVE to cost anything. For example if you publish through CreateSpace/Amazon it’s free, as are many other self-publishing routes. However…

Before you get to the point of uploading your files you may have already spent a fair amount of money getting those files ready to upload.

It all starts with the general costs of printing draft copies for self editing as you go, this might not be a lot, but paper and ink still cost money.

Then the costs grow, you’ll need a professional editor (you could skip this cost but it is not advised!). A good editor will likely cost you several hundred pounds, the bigger your book the more it will cost. Many editors charge by the word, a penny a word might not sound a lot but what if you’ve got 100,000 words? That’s £1000! You might even do this in stages with a proofreader, then editing later.

Then you’ll need a book cover, again you could do this yourself and save money, but are you that good at art and design? There’s free software that can help, templates etc, but if you want something that looks professional better to get someone who knows what they are doing. So, again the cost here can vary greatly depending on the artist/designer and quality.

Remember, you’ve not even published yet and may have spent well in excess of £1000…

Once you have a polished manuscript you have to give it away for free to Alpha/Beta readers to see if they think it is worth reading and help check again before you take the plunge and hit publish.

So, now your book is out there, but who is going to read it?

Now, you might need to spend money on advertising, marketing and even merchandise, I spent a small amount on some bookmarks and chocolates, but that still came to another £50 and I give those away… but at least the money is rolling back in now I’m selling books right? errmm…

For a £3.99 paperback copy (through Amazon/CreateSpace) I get just 0.33p per book as it is print on demand most of the money someone pays goes into the printing costs. For a Kindle purchase I get a bit more, 35% or 70% of the price paid (depending on what you option you choose with KDP).

AND you still end up spending more money, as you buy copies to giveaway in contests, for friends and family, all so you can try to encourage a few people to start leaving reviews and share your book on social media so you can gain a following.

Then the final thing which is often forgotten, TIME! How many hours do we spend writing, editing, and marketing our books? Too many to count, there is no way we could ever recoup the costs of how much time we put in, it’s definitely the biggest cost of all!

What does all this mean for me/you as a self-published author? Well, I kept my costs as low as I dared but I have spent spent hundreds of pounds.

How much have I made so far? You have to wait a while before Amazon send you your royalties, so at the moment I have received precisely £0.33p from the first book sold on publication day on 28th February 2018 and to date I have sold 28 paperback copies, 12 Kindle copies and have had a number of ‘pages read’ on kindle unlimited that also brings in a few pennies. It’s a slow but steady start.

And still you will find people asking for a free copy, to read your copy, or complaining about the price (It’s not 0.99p on Kindle, £3.99 is a bit much for a small book etc, etc). How about if you want to read it buy a copy to support your friend/family member who has taken on this brave challenge of putting their work out on the open market for all to see (and like or ridicule), and once you have read it leave a review, share their posts so others can see what a great achievement this is! At the end of the day you probably spend more on a coffee than it would cost to support your author friend and sharing a reviewing only costs you a few moments, as long as it takes to write a status update for Facebook. It really isn’t that hard to show your support!

It’s going to take a hell of a lot of books sold to make back the several hundred pounds I’ve spent, but do I regret it? Hell no! Would I do it again? Hell yes.

What about you? Are you self-published? What other costs have you incurred on your journey?

You can grab a copy of my first book Coffee Break Companion on Amazon here

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Self-published author whose first book Coffee Break Companion, a collection of short stories and poems is now available on Amazon. S.L.Grigg lives in Bromsgrove with her family. Working in the NHS and enjoying reading, Pilates and travel, amongst other things when she isn't too busy writing.

15 thoughts on “The True Cost of Self-publishing

  1. Ah, yes: TIME. You can always acquire more money or other resources, but you can never acquire more time. We’re all allotted 24 hours in a day – there’s no lifehack to get more.

    You can, however, make better use of the time you have.

    My advice: most people say authors need a Social Media Presence, but I’ve yet to see rock-solid evidence that this is true. Sure, you should pop in from time to time, but every hour spent scrolling through Twitter is an hour you could’ve spent writing – or marketing what you’ve already written.


  2. Thank you for sharing. I’ve got one novel completed… yet I haven’t decided which route to take. Self publishing scares me because I’m not sure how I’ll do at marketing, plus the costs; but creating a synopsis and query letter to sub it out is equally if not more frightening! Yikes! Good luck with your book!


    1. Thank you. Either way can be just as costly and challenging, you’ll want a good editor to help with your synopsis and query letter (which will be a separate cost from editing the book). There are lot’s of groups of Facebook and Twitter where you can get information and advice that will help with marketing. But, yeah it is scary either way! Good luck! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing. I’ve also self-published on amazon and spent more dinero than I made back. But where I found a place to save and still get quality work is I got my cover and formatting done there (and I LOVED my cover and formatting). Also, I’ve found some cheaper editors for the 3rd and 4th round of editing i.e. finding typos etc. If you continue on this path of self-publish, check these sites out :).


  4. For all these reasons, I am so glad for the online community I have supporting me. I would have been going in completely blind otherwise! xx


    1. I know what you mean! I’d love to have the money to so some proper publicity to increase my sales but I’ll have to settle for what I can achieve through organic reach and focus on my next book, as you get more sales the more books you have out there 🙂


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