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How much does it REALLY cost to Self-publish a book on Amazon? 10 tips to Save Money Self Publishing

Updated: Apr 26

How much does it REALLY cost to Self-publish a book on Amazon?


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I have recently been approached by multiple publishing companies who tell me that it costs between $2,500 to $4,000 to publish a book! What? That is like SEVEN of my car payments.

The truth is that you can self-publish a book on Amazon for free … Kinda! I was able to get to this point of publishing my book for about $1,500. This is counting the money that I consider to be sunk costs. I will be making a future blog post about my final breakdown, so join my email list for more information.

But...

Today, I will share some tips on how to save money when self-publishing.


Tip #1- Don’t pay for your writing program- Now, I know many people prefer to use Scrivener to write their books. I love Scrivener, but the truth is that publishing is expensive enough, and you can write a KILLER book without spending a dime. I wrote the entire manuscript for “Since When Did Single Sad” using Microsoft Word. I happened to get the program for free through my University, and it was one of the most valuable things I have ever paid for.

If you do not have access to the Microsoft suite, you can use the Google suite such as Google Docs to write your story with. My writing coach, Stefanie Newell, has a YouTube video about writing a book using both Microsoft Word and Google Docs.



Tip #2- You don’t necessarily need a manuscript critique- One thing that I consider to be a sunk cost was the purchase of a manuscript critique. On the one hand, I got access to an incredible writing coach who was an invaluable resource when it came to all things writing. But on the other hand, it was also tricky because I feel that I could have possibly saved the money for further along in the process. Here are my pros and cons of getting a manuscript critique

Pros

- If you are a newbie, a manuscript critique has someone with a fresh set of eyes go through your manuscript and locate what you need to work on

- If you get a great one, you can skip certain rounds of editing (aka developmental editing)

- Manuscript critiques can give you access to amazing coaches

- Once you get a manuscript critique, you know exactly what you need to work on

Cons

- Manuscript critiques can be expensive, and the cost to get a couple of editors might be more worthwhile

- You might have to get developmental editing if you get a not-too-good critique anyway.

- It is not necessarily the best use for your money if you have published before

So, I recommend a manuscript critique for first-time authors who have no idea where to go with the editing.


Tip #3- Don’t skimp on editing: Editing will be the most expensive thing that you pay for. I went through two rounds of editing: content editing and proofreading and another two rounds with myself and other people. You need to pay for great editors, and the cost will not necessarily be cheap. For my editing, I ended up going with ebookLaunch.com. They were the most reasonable for content editing and made sure that my book was free of errors. Make sure that you compare the costs of the different editors. There are usually two types of payments. One type of editor will charge per word, and the other will make a quote for you. The editors who charge per word will often be a lot cheaper than those who give you a quote. Also, when editing, make sure you check places like blogs and fiverr.com.


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Tip #4- Try to get bundles when possible: After my book was completely edited, I decided to get someone to proofread my novel. At this point, I could not use the same people who edited my novel as proofreaders because they couldn’t edit the type of document I had converted it to. I did the formatting myself, but I found on Fiverr someone willing to do both the formatting and the proofreading at about half of the rates that other people were charging. When going to Fiverr, there is ONE THING you can do to ensure success

Read the reviews: There are stars that people will leave after jobs. Those stars are great, but you must read the reviews. What are people saying? How responsive was the seller when it came to things like responding to changes and editing? Were there any problems that were listed more than once? Once you have read these reviews, you will start to see patterns. The person I went with had about 200 5 star reviews.

Often, here are some bundles you may see: Some combination of copyediting/ line editing

Formatting/ proofreading

Cover design/ social media images


Tip #5- Do Beta reading: If there is one thing that saved me TONS of money on developmental editing, it was beta reading. Read this post here for tips on how to find beta readers. Good beta readers will point out your weak points and praise your good points. The way to get the most out of your beta readers is by asking them a series of meaningful questions about what they liked and what could be improved in your novel.




Tip #6- Don’t fall prey to marketing and publishing schemes: There are a lot of good programs out there that want to help you write and publish good novels. But for every good publishing company, there are people out there who will charge you $3,000- $5,500+ to “self publish” your book. These companies will often do everything for you, and all you have to do is minimal work which varies from company to company. When you start out, it can be comfortable to run to these places to find help. After all, you have never done this before. However, the truth is that you do not need all of the add ons that these companies will charge you to be successful. Some of the most prominent authors on Amazon have a few self-published novels. If they can do it, you can do it too.


Tip #7- Keep track of everything you pay for: You need. To. Keep. Track. Of. EVERYTHING. Every “ little” purchase that you make should get written down somewhere. Why?

I will give you an anecdote

Have you ever been to the grocery store without a list? I bet that you probably ended up with a whole lot more than what you intended to buy. Without having a goal or something to look at, you will inevitably spend way more money than is necessary. I keep track of everything that I spent by going in and writing them all down on spreadsheets. Do not ignore the effectiveness of writing things down to keep yourself together.

Also, this spreadsheet will be necessary for when you make book sales. If you never keep track of what you are spending, you will never know if and when you break even.








Tip #8- Be careful on the “small” vanity purchases. There are a lot of small purchases that you can make when writing a book that can hurt you. There was a time when I was creating proof copies for my novel “Since When Did Single Mean Sad,” and I knew that I would not make a hardcover book on Amazon because I was going to sell through IngramSpark. I almost made the mistake of ordering a hardcover Amazon Proof copy even though I knew I would never see the hardcover on Am azon. If I had gone through with that, I would have spent $12. And if you ever heard the term “ a penny saved is a penny earned,” then you know that saving money is essential.




Tip #9- Don’t pay for marketing… In the traditional sense

This is going to be Controversial

One of the BIGGEST reasons authors choose to opt for Traditional publishing over self-publishing is because traditional publishing houses have a budget on how much they want to spend for marketing. But, If you are marketing your book yourself, marketing can be one of your biggest expenses, and it may not even reach your target audience. Here are some things you can do instead to bootstrap your way to success.

1. Build an author website: I invested some money in the Author Brittany Wang Course, and it was one of the best expenses I have made.

- Author websites give you a presence in google

- They help you to be more professional

- You cannot do #2 without this one

- It can be a huge sales funnel.

2. Utilize your platforms: I have about a couple of hundred Instagram followers, and I am growing my Pinterest platforms. Utilizing your social media is one of the best things you can do for yourself. These people are probably already invested in your life. So, having them support your product or business will benefit you.

3. Trade out what you would do for advertising with keywords, categories, and SEO: So, there are particular tactics that you can use to make yourself stand out on Amazon. If you do these correctly, you don’t have to worry about spending money on advertising.

4. Invest in information: When I was cultivating my best-selling book (I’m claiming it), I invested money in cheaper resources that taught me how to do the things that I was striving for. This would include guides, information, books, and pamphlets.

5. Give yourself time: If you are starting from scratch, Don’t wait to build your platforms up. I am blessed that I already had an Instagram platform, but I wish that I had started building my email list much earlier. When cultivating blog posts, it can take up to three months for your blog to start gaining traction. So, you must start growing your platforms as you write. The other benefit to this is that you can begin to drum up some excitement for your novel as you begin to grow your platforms.

6. FOCUS: One thing that I wish someone had told me is that focus is vital. In the beginning, when trying to grow your platforms, you will be tempted to try and diversify, diversify, diversify Facebook and Pinterest and blogging and Tik Tok. However, being on too many platforms at once is how you burn out and not do them at all.

My top three platforms

1. Author Website

2. Pinterest

3. Instagram

Becoming familiar with the platforms you are on and giving them 100 percent is the key to success. If you are reading this and you do not have an author website, I recommend starting one right away.


Tip #10- Research everything: And I mean everything. One of the easiest ways to fall into traps and waste money is to jump into things feet first. Think of yourself as a reporter. You would never just write a journalism article without researching and then expect it to go viral and impact tons of people. To get the best result, you have to do your research. Time=money.

Bonus tip: Look for free alternatives: There is almost always a free or low-cost alternative for every paid program that will do the same job. Here are some of my favorite free programs. And no, these programs are not those where you have to pay $50 a month once your free trial expires (I wouldn’t do y’all like that)


Product usage Free version Paid version

Designing graphics Canva.com PicMonkey.com

Scheduling Tailwind Later.com

and social media posts

Removing Backgrounds PhotoScissors Adobe Photoshop

from Photos

Stock photos Unsplash Shutterstock


All in all, by taking these steps, you can save thousands of dollars on self-publishing. Where are you at in your publishing journey? Drop a comment down below.

Your friend and internet penpal


Gabrielle Denise


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