Photo by Hidayat Abisena on Unsplash

How much does it REALLY cost to self-publish a book?

The reality of self-publishing a novel

I never really appreciated the book review, until I “impulsively published” my novel, Remember the Moon. I had no idea how difficult the elusive book review was to acquire. They are like the Holy Grail of the book world. I followed all the proper steps, that I had researched in my role as a self-publishing entrepreneur.

I was able to feel pretty good about a couple of things:

My author platform

  • Author website with both my books prominently on display with links to buy
  • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest pages established
  • MailChimp Mailing list (from a newsletter signup on my website)
  • Author pages on Goodreads and Amazon
  • I’m an Amazon Affiliate
  • Incorporated an “end of book request” where I listed all my links and contact info and asked readers to leave a review on Amazon and included info about my other book.

My Publishing Process

  1. I asked for beta readers. 34 people signed up and got the beta version of the book. 17 actually provided me with feedback that was incredibly valuable and I put their names into the acknowledgments of the final version.
  2. Paid for professional Editing. I paid for two professional developmental edits, one copyedit, and two blurb writers
  3. Paid for a professional, custom cover design.
  4. Formatting the ebook and print book. I formatted and reformatted the book myself (I used to do this sort of thing in a past life) until it was perfect.
  5. Uploaded to IngramSpark (print book) and Amazon (ebook). OK. I got a little impulsive and just popped it up there using without more pre-planning. I don’t recommend doing this. Take your time, set up a pre-order and give yourself a couple of months to send the book out for reviews.
  6. Reviews. I sent free versions to all my Beta readers and all the others on my mailing list, asking everyone to post Amazon reviews.

So, I figured I was in good shape. Not that Oprah would be calling me the next day or anything, but I felt fairly confident that since the beta readers had already read the book, there would be little to hold them back from posting a review on Amazon the moment they got the email from me announcing my new arrival.

Guess what? Nothing happened.

Oh sure, I got lots of congrats from friends and family on Facebook, but then, the dreaded… chirp! Nothing. I asked for reviews on Facebook and I got one posted on Amazon. I was so grateful, I gushed my thanks on Facebook. “Sure!” she said. “I can’t wait to read it!”

A week and a stomach flu later, I posted another “gentle” (I hope) plea on Facebook for a review. I got one more beta reader who obliged and I was oh, so happy.

Not all was lost though. I sold 27 copies. 27! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but hey 27 actual people plunking down money was pretty sweet.

And now, here is what I have done since:

  1. Signed up for KDP Select so I could set up to 5 days of my book for free. I set a free date (I will leave that as a surprise and will announce it here on the day, so stay tuned).
  2. Connected my LibraryThing account with my author status and set up a free ebook giveaway.
  3. Posted to a group on Goodreads asking for a review. Two people accepted and I sent them free versions. (No reviews so far). Be sure to make this a local offer, as you will otherwise spend $$ shipping your book around the world.
  4. Tweeted a few of my statistics so far, both lamenting and happy. Amazing how that got retweeted. There is sympathy out there!
  5. Got listed on BookBub
  6. And on
  7. Signed up for as many book and novel contests as I could find.

OK, so how much did it cost me to publish and market my book?

  • 1st Developmental edit (for structural edits): $500.00
  • 2nd Developmental edit: $750.00
  • Cover design: $300.00
  • Copyedit (for grammar, consistencies, spelling, etc): $650.00
  • ebook formatting: $500 (I did mine myself)
  • Uploading to IngramSpark: $50
  • Small Scale Marketing (Bookmarks and business card printing, paid promos): $300
  • Book Bub (the most successful marketing I did for my book that got me over 200 reviews on Amazon and over 50,000 downloads): $750

Total: $3,800

And profit so far… drum roll… $75.41!

Yup, only $3,724.59 to go till I break even.

Good luck in the jungle!

Writing about widowhood, life, grief, art, writing and publishing. #singlemom #author #memoirist #writer #widow #9/11widow #artist

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store