Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adventures in Self Publishing - Seriously, Don't Spend Any Money

Just read a depressing thread of a guy asking if the company he was about to shell out $4,000+ to package his book was worth it.  He mentioned that a friend did everything himself and spent $40,000.  The comments told him not to spend more than $1,000.

Honestly, I don't think I could spend 40 grand on a book if I tried.  Having a book fail is a soul crushing experience.  Having a book fail and going into debt over it, I can't even comprehend.  Before shelling out any upfront costs ask yourself -  why do you want to publish a book?

If you want to share your story, fluff your ego, be cool, or just have it out there, great.  There are tons of places to give away your book for free at no cost to you.

If you just want to make money there are a billion better things to invest in if you have that kind of cash.  Yes, a handful of folks have made it big self-publishing.  You won't be one of them.  I'm too jealous to look up their success stories, but I'm guessing shelling out a few grand to charlatans was not part of their rise to fame.  From a pure investment point of view it's not a good risk.

Or, if you're like me, you enjoy writing, you like the process of putting a book together, you enjoy the petty thrill of seeing your own work up there on Amazon, you like making enough to treat the family to ice cream once a month, and despite yourself you still hold on to an irrational dream of some day making it big - you can do that on the cheap, free even.

Here are the total expenditures I've made in my illustrious career:

$8 on a prop chain, my only pre-published expense.
~$25 on proof copies, but these are more a gift to myself because it's an awesome feeling, and cheap enough that I'm not being a pathetic schmuck for getting them.
$20 on ten stock photos, my first self-funded expense.

Even those were all optional.  You might counter that my stuff sucks and isn't selling.  True.  But if I sold my car and got a team of pros to work me over, it would still suck, just maybe with fewer typos and a slightly less crappy cover, though seeing the quality of some of these companies, probably not.  And it still wouldn't sell.  Maybe better, but not enough to cover expenses.

1 comment:

  1. In the beginning, I made all my own covers, and they weren't that great. I began to search for, and find, talented folks who were able to make me covers for very little money. Later on, I learned a lot more about cover design, and I can now put together a decent cover on my own, although for certain projects (like my COMMANDO series) I still like having them illustrated.

    But you still have to be careful. It is a very predatory environment out there right now. I have friends who get quotes for ebook covers in the five-figure range. It's utterly ridiculous. And yet, people will pay out because The Word on the Street is, if you don't have a professional cover, your book won't sell. Well, you need a cover that doesn't suck, but you don't need to spend $1,000 on it, either.

    The best money that can be spent in this biz is not money at all - it's time. Taking the time to educate oneself about the process is priceless, both in the money you'll make as well as the money you'll save.