Yesterday I watched a CBS news show clip (from Dallas/Forth Worth) tell its viewers that to get out a quality self-published book expect to spend tens of thousands of dollars. I had to replay that segment several times to make sure I heard him right—yep, tens of thousands of dollars. Wow, where do these guys get their misinformation?
They started out by saying you can self-publish for free on Amazon’s Kindle platform, and go print-on-demand, which is also free. There the person who orders the book pays for the printing costs. They capped off the segment by reminding viewers of the other costs necessary for a quality book, which they listed as: Editor, Cover and Reviews.
When I shared this information with a private writers group I belong to—a group where a significant number of the members make serious bucks as self-published authors, some of which are names you would recognize but I will resist the temptation to drop—one suggested media outfits were doing the bidding of the big six, out to inject fear and uncertainty into the process to steer writers toward traditional publishing. I suggested maybe instead it was some Indies putting out this bogus information—to scare off the competition.
While I don’t know where this guy got his facts, I strongly disagree with his inflated numbers.
The news segment mentioned a quality self-published book needed an editor, cover and reviews. Let’s see what those things actually cost in the real world.
Earlier this month I shopped for a new editor on Elance, a site where freelancers pick up jobs. I received 50 bids for my 80,000 word manuscript. Some of the applicants were qualified—some were not. The range of bids was all over the place, from a little under $200 to $3,600. Editing costs can vary, depending on what you expect from your editor. This price range seems pretty typical from my past experience with shopping editors and from what I hear from other authors. Many self-publishers also hire proofreaders.
For the super frugal, an author can use the cover generator over on Amazon or pick up one of those pre-made covers offered online, for sometimes as little as twenty bucks. But, a quality cover can be had for under $500. Prices will increase if you want original art, instead of purchasing stock images.
Paying for reviews is a controversial practice—and I’m surprised CBS listed this as a must have. Indies I know—successful Indies—don’t pay for reviews. If they do—and get caught—expect the wrath of the Goodreads crowd and bloggers to come down hard.
One expense they failed to mention was formatting. The manuscript document needs to be formatted one way for an eBook and another for a print copy. If you publish at more than one eBook vendor, such as Barnes and Noble or Kobo—how you format the book may be slightly different from what you upload at Amazon for Kindle. Many of us—those who are computer savvy and comfortable with Word—do this ourselves. Other authors farm this out.
In my opinion it does not take tens of thousands of dollars to self-publish a quality book. It takes talent, hard work and determination. Self-publishing is by no means a get rich scheme—yet neither does it require you be rich in order to self-publish a quality book.