How do I self-publish?
There are a few ways to self-publish.
1. Self-publish by hiring only the freelancers you need and work directly with retailers and distributors.
2. Self-publish through a service company.
They charge an upfront fee, have no rights to your work, and you get 100% of the net sales. Their profit is made by charging authors for the services they provide. This can include editorial, design, marketing, and branding. They don’t care how many copies are sold.
3. Use a hybrid publisher.
Many hybrid publishers get a bad rap and get labeled a ‘vanity’ publisher. Do your research before choosing this publishing method. Most are set up similar to a self-publishing service. You pay for the book publication in exchange for the expertise of and help from the publisher—editing, marketing, cover design. It can cost you thousands. While you can get a larger percent of the royalties (have a lawyer look over the contract and help you understand the fees and percentages) than if you traditionally published, you’ll earn less than if you do it yourself.
My recommendation is option one - DIY.
You can keep 100% of the profits and creative control.
However, the upfront costs are high—$2,000 minimum—and you are responsible for all the marketing.
What should I pay for when I self-publish?
Most beta readers are free. Although there are some beta reading services that will charge you.
Using professional freelancers, editors, proofreaders, and cover designers—isn’t cheap.
Where can I find beta readers?
You can pay for a service (run a search online), but I have found talking to other authors on social media and getting recommendations for beta readers in your genre can be very helpful. Try asking a few to read your manuscript and give you feedback.
The best way is to get valuable feedback is to create a document with specific questions and an open-ended ‘any other comments’ section.
Editors can also be beta readers, usually this is called a manuscript review or manuscript evaluation. Expect to pay them for their time and feedback. You should get a few pages detailing what is working and what isn’t, if there are plot holes, and comments on the point of view, pacing, style, tone, and a suggestion on what level of editing you should begin with.
How much does editing cost?
The cost for professional editing varies, but a good place to start is the EFA average rates.
Developmental and line editing will be more expensive than copyediting and proofreading. You may not need all four rounds. The more editing you do on your own may eliminate one or two of these edits.
Each round is usually priced separately, but some editors will offer a package with two or three rounds for a flat rate. For one round, expect to pay $1,400 or more for a good professional editor. If your novel needs all four rounds, that could end up costing you $6,000 or more.
Yes, you read that right.
According to a Masterclass article in August 2021, “based on a 60,000-word manuscript[,] you’ll be spending $1,400 for developmental editing. Copy editing (fixing mechanical issues like grammar and sentence structure) will cost approximately $1,000. A proofreader often does a final pass for typos, and their fee is in the ballpark of $600.”
This estimation for proofreading seems a quite low; see the EFA rates page above.
Where can I find cover designers?
1. Social media.
Asking other authors with book covers you like is a great place to start.
2. Ask your editor/proofreader.
Editors and proofreaders have contacts throughout the publishing industry. They can recommend cover designers for your novel.
3. Fiver, Upwork, and Reedsy
All have cover designers on their sites. However, unless you can see their work, you really don’t know the quality you will get, which is why I recommend options one or two.
How do I market my novel?
With the DIY choice, marketing is solely on your shoulders.
1. Social media
Social media is going to be your best bet to start with a wide audience, so you will need to get people to follow you on social media and keep them interacting with you.
2. Local marketing
If there is a newspaper near you that reviews books, contact them and see how you can get a review printed in their paper. You may need to send them an advance copy or author copy.
Nearby bookstores may want to promote and carry books by local authors. The ones you sell to them can be ones you had printed on demand or from your offset print run. If you use a distributor, you will need to convince the bookstores to order a few copies from them. (I’ll explain these terms in a moment)
Where do I self-publish my novel?
Amazon KDP, Ingram, BookBaby, etc. are all book printers and distributors of e-books and print books.
Their distribution services are less expensive if you only want an e-book. But ifyou want printed copies, you will need to choose between printing on demand (POD) or a traditional print run of 1,000 books.
1. E-books only
This option is the easiest and probably the most lucrative for you. You will have 100% control over content, make changes easily, and get a good chunk of the profits.
2. Print on Demand (POD)
This option is the least lucrative and involves working with a printer/distributor. You can use Amazon KDP, Barns and Noble, Ingram or others for POD easily. You only pay for the books you or customers order, however the cost of printing the book is higher per book than an offset printing.
3. Traditional offset print
This usually requires a 1,000 book minimum and costs around $2,000 up front. The cost per book is lower, but realistically, if you are a new author, you may only sell 10 books, possibly up to 500 is you are awesome and have superb marketing skills.
Enjoy my editing, writing, and publishing advice? Sign up for my newsletter. I only send two per month, but they are filled with tips and tricks.