This is a pay-to-play game.
It is theoretically possible to publish your book without paying out for services, but you would be a fool to try.
- Yes, you can write your own blurb, but it probably won’t help a reader reach a buying decision.
- Yes, you might be able to edit, but you will miss mistakes in your own work.
- Yes, you might be able to create a cover, but it probably won’t attract readers.
- Yes, you could learn how to format the interior, but there is a huge time investment required.
- Yes, you could learn to upload your book, but accuracy is crucial if your book is to be found in searches.
- Yes, you could attempt free promotion of your book on social media, but the time investment to cultivate readers is staggering.
Newbies who try to DIY their book ultimately fail because they will never get any of the above six points exactly right. All these errors compound to create a book that will never have a chance at success.
Where ever there are newbies, there will be exploitation.
Somewhere in one of the Big Five publishing houses, there is a wealthy person sitting in a corner office who got there by asking the following:
“What if there was a way to get authors to pay us instead of the old-fashioned way of doing things where we pay them?”
Self-publishing has been around just about as long as the printing press. A press was expensive and the owners of them needed to keep them running as many hours a day as possible. They quickly figured out they could make money from wealthy people who thought they were writers. The Vanity Press was born.
The digital e-book has brought about a resurgence in vanity publishing by making the author dream affordable to all but the poorest among us.
Let’s look at who will make money from you if you choose to self-publish. We will assume you do not possess any of the skills required, and have nothing to barter with. We will also assume a 50,000-word novel.
At an absolute minimum, publishing an e-book will require the following:
- Editing. If you think you don’t need this, think again. Any editor worth their salt will charge at least $300.00 for a single pass.
- A cover. If you spend $100.00 or less using modified stock images you did well. Avoid anything too cheap unless you want to lose sleep at night over rights infringements. Paying anything less than $250.00 is a good price for original art work and graphic design.
- Interior formatting. Anything around the $500.00 mark is a score. $975.00 is the most you should pay a top professional.
- File conversion should run you at least $40.00
- Copyrights begin at $80.00 and climb by country.
- A single ISBN is $125.00 but you can get ten for $250.00 so you will have to make the call based on how many books you plan to publish.
$1145.00 is what a SEMI-PRO first offering e-book will cost to publish, and we haven’t even talked about thorough editing, printed books, distribution or marketing yet.
Do not be seduced by predators.
PAY NOTHING TO ANYONE until you have checked out a number of their references.
Negotiate a deal to pay 50% up front with 50% upon completion by a set date you can both live with.
Hire on a trial basis whenever possible. It is better to pay a new editor for one chapter, to find out if you like their work, than it is to pay them to edit your entire book only to discover too late you do not like their changes.
Be exceedingly cautious if you choose to package all of this in what is now termed an Author Services company. In my experience, they either underperform or gouge for their services.