Q & A

My wonderful tweep, Alex Micati, asked “How deep is the cut done to the middleperson, if one decides to self-publish?”

I was a bit confused. In self-publishing, there shouldn’t be a middleperson! He elaborated, “I meant, as a comparison with the idea of ‘old-school’ publishing (agent, publisher, external fees and so on).”

Although I have yet to be traditionally published (*crosses fingers*), I’ve studied and listened enough to say:

Traditional publication should cost you nothing but the fees to hire a lawyer to review your contract (and, yes, you should always have a lawyer review your contract). You should never pay to have an agent read or represent your work. All expenses after your book is picked up should be covered by the publisher.

(That being said, it would be wise, before you begin to pitch, to hire an editor (such as myself), and/or a sensitivity reader (click for more information), or acquire a small, diverse army of no-holds-barred beta readers who will do both of those things for free.)

On the other hand, self-publishing can be very expensive or relatively inexpensive. Anticipated and necessary costs are: An editor/proofreader, a sensitivity reader, a book cover, and you may even want to squirrel something away for marketing expenses/advertising.

The route I took was on the expensive side:

  • My editor is on the expensive side (.02 per word)-but well worth it! (I’m on the cheap side, $500 per 50,000 words, or a dollar per page for Moran Press writers.) This was after an army of beta readers, so my editor said, for the most part, his work was cut out for him. I did not have a proofreader, which I regret now, because I published it with several glaring typos. An alternative to hiring a proofreader would be to read your book backward, word-by-word, then sentence-by-sentence.
  • When I published, I had never heard of a sensitivity reader. However, I should have gotten one for Salvage. These could be free, such as a beta reader or swapping favors, or range from $50-$150.
  • Although you can find stock covers for as low as $30, but you run the risk of the cover not being exclusive. You can ensure an exclusive cover by paying a bit more, $100-150. My brother is a painter, and I had a clear idea of what I wanted my cover to look like, so I commissioned a cover for $300. (I also made an arrangement for five more books for $800.)
  • I have not paid for any kind of marketing. In fact, I suck at marketing. However, another tweep wished to do an experiment/competition, and paid $100 for an Amazon advertising campaign. The campaign was a bust-over the course of a month, I only received eight clicks and no buys. Amazon cancelled the campaign early.

I’ve seen other marketing strategies that would be very efficient, many of which can be found online.

The above guidelines are only for eBooks. For physical copies, expect it to be significantly more expensive: between $5-$8 for a full-sized novel, and much more for shipping. An excellent way to promote physical copies is to take copies to independent book stores and libraries, have author events, and go to conventions and festivals, such as Dragon*Con and local events (although I recommend smaller conventions and festivals). Reserving tables at events like this can be expensive, so do your research well in advance.


Readers, do you have anything to add? Any notes or tips you would recommend?


Want more?

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Check out my publications on Amazon! Click on the covers for the individual links:

colossus Flint Ranch Salvage


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