How much did I spend on self-publishing my first novella? I’ll tell you!
Cover art: this is the most important thing for me. I *cough cough* NEVER judge a book by its cover but I want mine to have awesome ones. Part of the reason why I self-publish instead of traditionally publish is so that I can have 100% total control. I back my book covers 100% and I am extremely picky. But I am also not made of money.
Thankfully, I found this really nifty website called thebookcoverdesigner.com. They have thousands of pre-made book covers for authors on a budget to choose from. I got Past Life’s cover for $15. At least I think it was $15. I lost the receipt. It might have been $25 but you get the idea. It was not expensive at all.
The artist, BetiBup33, was very prompt and professional. I’ve since bought 4 covers from BetiBup33 and I’ve usually received my finished product within 48 hours. I think I was sent the final proof for Past Life within 24 hours, though. Awesome service to be sure!
Formatting: I bought the Scrivener app for $49.99 but ended up not using it because I haven’t figured out how to build a table of contents using it. Building a TOC is incredibly easy on the PC/Mac version of Scrivener but the app does not have the same features. My MacBook died at the beginning of January this year and I’ve solely been writing on my iPad and my iPhone. I like using the Pages app because 1) it’s free and 2) you can build a functional table of contents. It took me a while to figure it out but I did 🙂
Marketing/Advertising: I tried doing an Amazon marketing campaign when Past Life was in its “pre-order” stage but I set the budget very low, $1 a day, which means the ad could only be clicked on 4 times each day or I would go over budget. I ran that campaign for 10 days and in that time the ad for my book did not attract any attention so I shut it down and spent $0 on it. I haven’t attempted any other marketing strategies right now because my day job is taking all my energy and I want to focus my time writing all the new things and finishing all the old projects.
Genre Editing and Revisions: I do my own edits. I know, I know, beat me with a stick. You’re too close to your project to see the plot holes. If you think you don’t need an editor you’re a fucking idiot. All these things are true. But, and yes, there’s a but. And the but is not set in stone but a case by case basis. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. I know how my brain works and I know how I write. I am extremely analytical and overly harsh on myself and my stories. Just because I do my own edits doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. Editing can spin me into terrible depression and being stumped by a plot hole can kill my writing for weeks. So why do I do my own edits if I, the writer, can be unreliable and it’s so difficult and literally debilitating?
I will preface my answer with this statement: you do not need an MFA to write. I have an MFA. I learned how to read my own writing, I can tell when it’s shitty and I can fix it. I put myself in a stupid amount of debt to enhance my writing skills. Here’s the thing, to me MFAs are like martial arts classes. You don’t take jujutsu or tai chi to make money in the corporate world (unless you’re using marital arts as metaphors or whatever). You take it because you want to and you benefit from it. Unless you want to be a martial arts teacher or a professional competitor you aren’t going to make money off martial arts, you take the classes and rank up because it’s healthy and fun. You can teach creative writing classes in colleges and universities with an MFA, I did that for a few years but that wasn’t my motivation for enrolling in a program. I earned an MFA because I wanted to be a better writer. You can make yourself a better writer by doing other things, less expensive things. But I wanted it, I earned it, and I’ll be paying it off for the rest of my life. Whatever.
I want to make a blog post about the pros and cons of MFAs and how I feel about them. There’s a lot of controversy and negativity surrounding MFA programs and that makes me sad because I had a really good experience. But I also understand that there are a lot of negative factors and stereotypes in the literary community that need to be acknowledged and taken care of. So I want to share my thoughts on that but that’s going to take up a lot of space.
Line Edits and Copy Editing: No one can catch all of their grammar mistakes. I read and re-read and re-read aloud my manuscript and I still misplace commas and my autocorrect does were instead of we’re all the time. So when I get to a point when I’m happy with my revisions I send my manuscript to my mom. There are a lot of people who will say mom doesn’t count as a reliable grammar expert but my mom actually does, she’s taught college level political science classes for 38 years and knows how the English language works. Some people had the foresight to take all their general education classes at a community college and then transfer to the 4-year school of their choice for all the fun classes and save money. I have zero foresight but on the flip side I have a mom who can be my line editor.
Distribution: Since Past Life is an ebook I don’t have to worry about printing or shipping costs. Instafreebie has a premium plan but I use the free version. Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Nook Press are all free.
SO here’s the run down:
$15-25 for a book cover
$49.99 for software I didn’t use
Max total: $74.99
Not bad at all 🙂
Thanks for reading and keep on keeping on 🙂