Thinking about self-publishing but worried about the cost?
Very few of us have the resources to compete with the big five publishers. Even if we aim to publish the highest quality book possible, we must watch our spending very carefully.
Publishing budgets vary wildly. I’ve heard some authors bragging that they spent nothing on their books – which frankly makes me regard their books a bit dubiously. I’ve seen beautiful, well-edited indie books published for between $1,000 and $3,000. And of course, I’ve seen jaw-droppingly gorgeous books produced for many times that amount.
Do you want to limit how much money you spend on self-publishing your book?
1. Use free eBook formatting software. If your book has already been professionally edited and you are not looking for custom design, you can use free tools to create high-quality book interiors. Personally, I’ve been very impressed with the Reedsy Book Editor. I also am a big fan of Vellum – which isn’t free, but allows you to create lovely books without a designer.
2. Scrappy cover design. A poorly-designed cover will repel readers. A custom cover by a professional designer can cost upwards of $800. Before you spend the big bucks, check out alternative cover sources. Use Fiverr for $5 prototypes. Contact artists directly on Deviant Art, Renderosity or Epilogue to request custom art or use of work already created. Use a service like 99Designs to run a cover design contest for $299.
3. Skill share. First, sort everything that needs to be done into three categories – things you can do yourself (at a professional level), things you need to pay someone else to do, and things you can barter with friends. Most of the writers I know have other professional skills. For example, you may be a top artist and perfectly capable of designing your own cover, while a friend of yours may be an eagle-eyed editor. Work together! Trade a cover design for a copy edit.
Would you like more information on how to get all your editing, formatting and design done on a tight budget? Sign up for my online class How to Self-Publish Your First Book. You’ll gain a wealth of resources for your indie publishing projects – plus tools to help you set and manage your budget.
Save $150 when you join during this weekend preview special.
Do you know any other great sources for budget-minded authors? Hit reply and let me know! I’d love to share them with my students.
Uncertain if you book is ready to be released into the wild? You want to publish your best book possible. It can be challenging to know if your manuscript has any weak areas, or if it’s been properly edited.
If doesn’t matter whether you intend to self-publish, or send your manuscript off to agents and publishers. Taking the time to work through these stages drastically improves your manuscript and your ability to realize your publishing goals.
While not every book goes through each of these steps (or needs to), each action adds value and refines the final book you will offer up to readers. While it’s easy to make big changes in the development stage, these changes become more and more emotionally difficult later on. Here’s a quick manuscript editing checklist to help guide you.
Stage one: Development
Stage two: Editing
Stage three: Final Review
In a very crowded market, it may feel impossible to get your books the attention they deserve. Many authors complain that they spend incredible amounts of time on marketing, but don’t see many sales result. Worse, they don’t even have time to write!
It doesn’t need to be that difficult to find your audience and give your books the readers they deserve. Here are four steps to getting your book noticed.
1. Publish your book with a professional, compelling cover design and description. It doesn’t matter how many eyeballs you get on your book if the cover turns them off.
2. Create a compelling offer. No, “buy my book” is not a compelling offer. Imagine readers are discovering you for the very first time. What can you do to make it easier for them to take a risk with a new author? Limited time low pricing can work, but doesn’t help support your career. Can you offer a free sample? A bundle with other products? Companion material that is free for you to produce and distribute — such as guides, education, videos or audio?
3. Expand your reach. With a beautiful book and a compelling offer in place, NOW you are ready to start spreading the word about your book. Start sharing with your personal network, grow your following on social media, share your free content on sites such as LinkedIn and Medium, email your list, schedule readings and talks, offer guest posts and reach out to influencers.
Caution! If you don’t have an attractive book and a compelling offer to send all the attention to, your efforts will not have the impact you desire. Your time will be wasted.
4. Advertise. Yes, sometimes you get out what you put in. I’ve seen the best results with two particular ad channels. I love the precision and control offered with Facebook ads. I’m blown away by the reach and result achieved with BookBub ads.
While these 4 steps will help you with an individual book push, you’ll fare even better if you grow your personal audience. Perhaps you’ve heard of Kevin Kelly’s theory that an artist really only needs 1,000 true fans to support a career?
What if instead of a constant hustle, you spent your time gaining your 1,000 fans? With a solid fan base, each work has a strong launching pad that will amplify all of your efforts.
Want help with this?
Insider tip: My blog friends can use the code BLOG100 for a $100 credit towards full course enrollment.
Do you struggle with the same book marketing challenges as other authors in your field?
I released a book marketing challenges survey earlier in the year and received responses from 93 authors. Some authors were just starting out self-publishing their books, others have published traditionally for years and years. Despite the wide range of experiences, there were a few themes that kept coming up.
Here are the most-reported book marketing complaints:
Scroll down to read actual quotes pulled from the survey. But first, here are the numbers:
Primary income sources: 93 authors completed the survey. 10 of these authors make most of their income from book sales. The other 83 authors have another source of income.
Publishing cost: While many authors spent none of their own money publishing their books, others spent over $20,000.
Marketing budget: While most authors spent less than $500 marketing their books, many more invested thousands of dollars into their book marketing efforts.
Stage of career: Authors that answered the book marketing survey were in all kinds of stages of their writing career. Some were very well established, others were just starting out.
“My main problem is getting interest in my books.”
“I feel like I’m not reaching the folks who would buy my books if they knew about them.”
“I don’t know how to stand out in all the noise.”
“I thought i had a decent fan base but with a new book out this doesn’t seem to be reflected in sales or reviews. There’s so much online noise out there, how does one stand out? How do I make the most user of my time?”
“I don’t know which market or platform is the best for my books.”
“I don’t get noticed among the hundred and thousands of other releases. My blog is… a waste of time. No one visits except writer friends and colleagues.”
“I don’t want or need marketing tips that are fast and easy. What I want is marketing that is EFFECTIVE.
“Despite having consistent and topical blog posts, I also rarely saw a return on the effort, and I’m burned out!”
“Instead of wasting my time say buying useless adspace or sending free copies of my book to a website with only 3 visitors, I want to know where I should focus my energies to find people who want to read my books.”
“I have worked hard cold-calling book bloggers for reviews, sending personalized review requests, and soliciting free newsletters to promote price-reduction sales, and looking for guests posts for an author who neither will promote nor spend any money to promote. I have failed in both reviews and sales garnered.”
“I will probably do a guerilla marketing campaign, dropping cards and stuff. But I don’t know if that will help at all. I feel like such a noob.”
“I can promote until I’m blue in the face, but the only thing that seems to get results is giving away my books, something I am loathe to do on anything other than a one-time, limited basis.”
“Posts that I make are not always seen. I don’t know how many times to make a post or know when to make to reach my audience.”
“I deactivated my Facebook account a few years back primarily for lack of understanding. Although I have a Twitter account I have not taken the time to make it truly viable as a tool.”
“Social media seems like one massive endless swap and shop; people do stop to browse yet after piles of junk mail and slightly damaged articles offered as a real deal, they peruse seemingly legitimate offers warily.”
“I have trouble getting people to click through to blog posts and engage on topics surrounding the books. People are happy to approach and say that the books sound really interesting, but getting the clicks and better numbers is difficult.”
“I’m clueless when it comes to the internet. I’m sure I’m not using it properly to maximize sales.”
“With so many other novels flooding the market, it’s difficult for me to find the time and motivation to chase marketing avenues. Oh now I have to write a blog, oh now I have to tweet about this, oh now I have to make a Facebook page about that. “
“Marketing is a full time job but so is writing and I simply don’t have the time or the energy to do both.”
“I don’t have the time or energy to put as much into social media as authentic relationships would demand.”
“Can I do it all alone with no contacts, author involvement or budget?”
“Which social media sites have the potential to help you market and which are a waste of time and effort?”
“I’ve gone to conferences and read all the information but it’s not sinking in.”
“I have great ideas, but no time to implement them.”
“I struggle with being authentic while also promoting my book. I don’t want to be one of those authors who is always pushing a link to her book (and there are a lot of them!).”
“I don’t know what words to use to attract people without being cliché.”
“I hate being a salesman for myself. It feels awkward.”
“Plus, how do you promote yourself on social media without annoying people? I share when someone else says something positive about my work (through retweets, reposts, etc…) with a ‘thank you’ included, and I’m fine to share when my work is discounted, but otherwise, I don’t know how to promote my work without feeling like I’m being a slimy used car salesman.”
“I don’t like talking about my book or, worse, ‘selling’ people on my book. I just really hate being like ‘Buy my book! Buy my book!’ It is the worst.”
“Can I do it all alone with no contacts, author involvement or budget?”
“I don’t have the resources to do anything that will make a big impact.”
“I want to hire a professional to help me, but I don’t know if it will be a good investment or not.”
Do any of these book marketing complaints sound familiar to you? Clearly, you are not alone. Authors work very hard to identify effective ways to promote their books, while salvaging some time to write and work on their craft.
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Authors and publishers must keep track of a great many details when launching a new book. Here is a checklist to help guide you through the process, from the book inception all the way through the first month of publication.
TIP: This checklist goes along with my recorded webinar: How to plan a book launch
TIP: You can download a printable, pdf version of this checklist here.
From the moment you first have your book idea, start the first section of tasks.
Ready to self-publish your first book? I’m leading a course called How to Self-Publish You First Book on Gutsy Creatives. Click here to register.
Best of luck on your publishing journey!
Want to know what you can do before publishing to improve your chances of success?
This one-hour recorded workshop teaches you ten things you can do before you send your book to an agent, or before you self-publish your book.
It doesn’t matter if you plan to publish independently or through a traditional publisher. To give your books the best chance for success, take the time to get your author platform in order, your community hopping and your identity as an author established.
Publishers and agents alike take a good look at an author’s online presence, social media and website, network and community when deciding to take a chance on a new author. Luckily, with all the free tools and resources out there, it isn’t hard to build a respectable author platform with minimal investment of money and time.
In this workshop, I walk your through ten things you must do before you publish your book to increase your odds of attracting an agent or reaching a big audience.
Starting from scratch? No problem! Let me illuminate a publishing path.
Already have an author platform established? You’re ahead of the game! Come to pick up some new tips on how to optimize your online presence and get the most out of your real-life community.
BONUS: I also share insights on how I was able to raise $9,800 on Kickstarter to fund my non-fiction book project and attract an agent at the same time.