7 Little Things Wasting Your Wallet: Self-Publishing 101
For many writers, the scariest part of self-publishing isn’t the fact that you take on the publishing job yourself, or even the hassle of finding readers without a publisher’s support. It’s the cost. If you intend to write multiple books or put out a series, the cost grows with every book published.
The good news is that publishing, especially early on, doesn’t need to break the bank. And chances are, there are already things in your budget that you don’t need—or that you can get for a lot less.
Here are the top seven things you could be wasting money on with self-publishing.
Writing in a coffee shop can be fun, and there’s a reason it’s a popular cliché for authors. It’s also fun to keep a stash of chocolates or other treats near your desk to celebrate writing goals. But the costs add up.
Instead of stepping out for your writing sessions, try a coffee shop noise generator, and cut back on treats in general. Not only is it a healthy decision, but the money you save will add up substantially in the long run.
You don’t need fancy software to write a book. Let me repeat that: you don’t need fancy software to write a book. Writing software will not make you more creative, a faster typist, or a better storyteller. The best it can do is streamline your process by making it easier to find chapters or store your research.
Historically, many of the greatest novels ever written were either penned by hand or typed on a typewriter, so even the most basic free writing tools you can find put you far ahead of the crowd. Microsoft Word, Office Libre, and Google Docs are all effective ways to get your writing down, and you can easily save an upgrade for your success down the road. Keep in mind that a lot of the fancier software options go on sale frequently and offer a number of discounts.
You read that right. It’s standard to have an editor review work before you publish it, regardless your technical skill and self-editing capabilities. But multiple editors—or multiple read-throughs from the same editor—might not be necessary.
Before you submit your work to an editor, make sure you self-edit as well as possible to cut back on the work needed. Even if you think you’ve fixed your book to perfection, a professional editor will be able to spot weaknesses that you’ve missed and let you know what you need to fix it before publication.
Unless you’re a brilliant cover designer with plenty of experience under your belt, you shouldn’t trust yourself to design your own covers—especially if you’re just starting out. Unfortunately, custom book covers can cost hundreds of dollars, and if you don’t already have an audience ready to dive into your book, the money might go to waste while you focus on building your initial base.
The good news is that there are affordable covers available. For under a hundred dollars, you can land yourself an attractive pre-made cover on many pre-made cover sites. Fiverr also has a competitive field of illustrators willing to work for low prices. These covers might not win you any awards in a cover design contest, but they will be enough to make your book look competitive on the market and attractive to readers.
Advertising seems like one of those things you can’t do without, and setting up an advertising budget could be enough to scare you away from publishing forever. However, many authors skip over advertising almost entirely. You don’t need to pour ad dollars into Facebook or Amazon, and book tweeting promotions might not go anywhere at all.
Instead of heavily advertising your first book, consider doing a few promotional and mailer swaps with other authors or hosting some giveaways to get readers curious. A book blog tour is another free and effective way to spread word about your books without breaking the bank.
Okay, cross-promoting with other authors is absolutely one of the most effective ways you can get the word out about your book. This is definitely an avenue you should take. But… how much does it need to cost?
Some services will charge hundreds of dollars to fit you in with other similar authors so that you can run the promotion together, and that’s certainly the easiest route. You have minimum setup and a guaranteed spot on the list. Authors looking to save money will have to be a little more creative. Get involved in writing groups online and see how many people can join you in a group effort.
There are a number of memberships for authors, and these exclusive groups usually come with a host of helpful offerings, including courses, support groups, and cross-promotion opportunities. Some author memberships are only open for established authors, but others have varying membership levels and allow even someone new to join in.
Having the support of a membership behind you is definitely an advantage getting started—but it isn’t necessary. Many things you can find in a membership group you can also find elsewhere, and some benefits might even be available for non-members. If you’re looking to save, then spare the groups for later. They’ll still be around when you make it.
How do you save money publishing? As always, please feel free to join and post a comment in the section below. You can also click on the blue button to join my (always free) society of self-published authors on Facebook for more discussion and dips.