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Home > Self-publishing on a dime (or several thousand dimes) (7/17/19)

Self-publishing on a dime (or several thousand dimes) (7/17/19)

October 9th, 2019 at 10:00 am

Originally posted
July 17th, 2019 at 08:52 pm

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've finally self-published one of my novels! And, because we've got so much going on financially (and because I have zero confidence in my ability to sell copies, TBH), I've tried to do it as cheaply as possible. Here's what I've spent so far (and what I've managed to do for free).

Editing/proofreading: Free. (AS did a round and I did several.) Well, I did purchase some book editing software a couple years ago, but I did that before I even had concrete plans to publish, so I don't really count it.

ISBN/barcode purchase: $79. (Well, I bought 5 of each in bulk for $395, but I intend to publish other books so I'm only counting a fifth of the cost for this one.)

Cover design: Free. (I found a free photo on a site called Unsplash, and AS designed the cover.)

Formatting and test paperback copy: $85.24. I used a platform called IngramSpark, which also makes the ebook and print-on-demand paperback available on most bookselling sites.

Marketing/publicity: $19.39 so far. Since I'm publishing under a pseudonym, I wanted an author pic that didn't look 100% like me, so I paid someone on Fiverr to make a line drawing of my photo and alter it a bit. That cost $14. Then I shelled out $5.39 for a review copy that I sent to a site, hoping they would give me some press. (They said they would but haven't so far, so we shall see.) Other than that, I have a Facebook account, Instagram feed and blog under my author name, and those are all free to use.

50 copies to sell personally: $226.13. It would have been about $279 but if I ordered at least 50, I would get a $49 formatting fee refunded, so I did that.

Total cost so far: $409.76.

Total revenue/sales: $0.

So far I know I've sold at least 3 paperback copies through online, but I won't get paid until the next billing cycle, so I'm not counting them. I make less than $2 per online paperback sale, so less than $6 that I know I have coming.

Oh, and I have at least three real-life people who want to buy a book directly from me. I'm going to charge $10 for the book if I sell it personally, and they cost $4.52 apiece to print and get delivered to me, so that's at least $15 net expected.

So I guess I'll make at least $20 on the sales I know for sure? Obviously I need to keep marketing myself, but this is the hard part. I hate boasting, and plus I'm beset with self-doubt about whether the novel is any good. Sometimes I think it is but other times I'm like how can I know for sure? I'm too close to it.

But obviously, I need to get out there and hustle for at least $380 more in net revenue if I want to make up for the cost of getting the thing out into the world!

9 Responses to “Self-publishing on a dime (or several thousand dimes)”

mumof2 Says:
July 17th, 2019 at 10:50 pm

have you thought of doing a book signing in a book store in your town...or see if they sell them in their store....or get local media to write a quick article...just an idea

Lucky Robin Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 12:41 am

When I read it I will put up a review for you on Good Reads.

Lucky Robin Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 12:44 am

What do you get on an ebook sale?

CB in the City Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 05:00 am

It's interesting to know the costs of self-publishing. I thought it was an ebook, but it sounds like you are publishing hard copy?

ceejay74 Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 06:05 am

mumof2, I know I should consider such things, but I find them terrifying!! Smile Bookstores don't carry my physical book (though it can be ordered from virtually any bookstore).

Aw thank you Robin!! I don't know yet what I get for ebooks; they don't give me a sales report until the end of the month. That's how I figured out how much I make on paperback sales.

CB, it's available in both formats! The paperback is print-on-demand, so it takes a week or two to get to people. The ebook is sold for Kindle, Nook etc. on the usual bookselling sites.

Lots of Ideas Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 07:02 am

Some ideas to get some traction:
You could give a few copies to local libraries to get them in circulation.
AS could write a review on Good Reads or other review sites.
Carry a copy with you, and ask AS (and others) to do the same, so that people see the book. Read it in public.
Look for a local bookstore and ask them to carry a few copies. If you are too shy to do that, perhaps AS could be your ‘agent’.
Do you know anyone who belongs to a book club? Suggest your book to them, and offer to attend the meeting and discuss it. The group would be small, but a place for you to practice being ‘an author’.

Treat each event as an adventure, a few scary hours to live through, to get the result you want.
Best wishes!

crazyliblady Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 11:34 am

Another free publicity idea would be to have a book talk at your public library and give people information on how to buy it online or sign their book if they have one. And I love Lots of Ideas idea of donating some to libraries.

crazyliblady Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 11:36 am

Also check if your state has a group called a "humanities council." They sometimes have book clubs.

disneysteve Says:
July 18th, 2019 at 04:37 pm

As I said, my daughter went through this process a few years ago. All 3 of us posted about her book on our Facebook pages and that brought in a lot of sales from friends and family. She also was active on Twitter and posted there. She started a YouTube channel and posted videos promoting the book. A couple of her teachers bought copies. Once she started college, she hung a print of the cover on her dorm room door and wrote, "Ask me about my novel" or something like that. A few friends bought copies and a professor or two.

Now that the book has been out for 5 years, she still sells one on Amazon now and then. I have no idea how people stumble upon it but it's all good. She managed to make a small profit on her book which I thought was amazing for an 18-year-old self-published author.

Oh, her school library also set up a display highlighting her book. The librarian thought it was neat that one of their students had published a novel. You might want to check your local library. They may do something similar for a local author. Bookstores too.

Although it might involve a small cost, consider getting a table at a local community event where various vendors set up tables. Or even better find a vendor who goes to those events and see if they would be willing to share a small bit of table space for you to sell your book.

I see that you're doing print-on-demand. Do you have any copies in stock? If not, I think you ought to do that and definitely carry a couple with you. We were shipping copies to folks all over the country and even one to a friend in Australia who bought one. DD didn't do print-on-demand. She printed 100 copies (I think) and only has about 20 left.

Good luck!

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