Costs That Come with Becoming an Indie Author

Laura Carroll, LiveTrue books

In the last several years the publishing industry has seen many changes. The advent of print-on-demand technology and e-reader tablets are just two things that have changed publishing forever.  Digital technology in publishing has also made it easier for writers to …

…independently publish and get their work out there without having to go through the traditional publishing process, which, by the time you find an agent who shops your manuscript, secure a publisher, your work is edited, hopefully published, and marketed (most often with the publisher’s modest budget), can take a long time.

Instead, many writers are deciding to join the Indie Publishing world, and take on the publishing process themselves as well as aggressive marketing of their books.

What does this typically cost?

Costs can vary widely, but here are some general guidelines.

Let’s say you have a rough draft of your manuscript. The next step is to have it professionally edited. This is a most important step!  You might think you can edit your own stuff, but think again. It is essential to hire a pro.

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association,  sample rates for different types of editing include: developmental editing $45-55 per hour, heavy copy editing $40–50 per hour, and basic copyediting $30-40 per hour.

The average cost, from developmental editing through proofing, can be about $2000. Sound like a lot? Not when you consider the value of excellent editing. Books are products, and good editors know how to do all that it takes to make your book a salable one.

Cover design is another cost. A good cover is critical to a book’s success. The costs have a wide range. However, budgeting about $300 is reasonable, not including costs for a very good author photo.kindle

Next, there is formatting the book for different purchase options, including soft cover, and eBook for Kindle, Nook, and IBook. Formatting is different for each of these versions, and is more complicated than one might think. Plan to spend at least $300-500 for this part of the publishing process. The book will also need an ISBN which typically costs about $100.

OK, so your book has been uploaded for purchase on major sites. What are the costs to market it? The answer to this is the sky is the limit, and the time range is unlimited. Essentials include a website where the book is promoted. Thanks to WordPress themes this can be done for a nominal cost, but there are ongoing hosting and SEO expenses.

There are also costs to get help with online marketing strategies, which include developing and implementing author “presence management” strategies in social media. Having your own publicist is necessary when you go the traditional publishing route (unless you are a high profile public figure), and as an indie author, it’s no different. These days, however, having a publicist who has online publicity savvy is critical for the book’s success.

Yes, self-publishing costs money. It also requires authors to not only be writers (who work with great editors) but online marketers. Becoming an indie writer gives you the opportunity to maintain control of your work, and get it out into the world.

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