I hear it all too often when I tell people about my ongoing adventures in writing and publishing: "Wow...you publish your own work!? You must be independently wealthy otherwise you wouldn't be able to produce a quality book." But many of us independent authors somehow manage to publish on a budget, sometimes a relatively tight budget. I think it goes without saying that the more you can do yourself, the more money you'll save, instead of paying for every little service self-publishing companies offers. The primary production costs for a book go towards cover art and everyone's favourite pastime, editing. I think most authors would agree that those are also the two most important. The costs associated with either can vary dramatically, yet both are vital to the success and sale of your book.
I am a big fan of mastering new skills. When I first began my journey as a serious writer, I made the conscious decision to learn to do things for myself as much as possible which includes designing a book cover. Of course, there's always a steep learning curve involved when acquiring a new skill set. If you don't feel this adventurous, consider contracting the work out to a design service. Just keep in mind that it pays to shop around. While sometimes you get what you're looking for at fiverr.com, canva.com, or covervault.com, it's always a good idea to look at different options and compare design services beforehand.
When it comes to editing your writing, first determine what kind of editing you really need. And yes, even though I'm a huge fan of doing things myself, even I work with an editor. The least expensive is line editing, which is essentially checking for typos. Things just become more expensive from there, especially if you need someone to point out plot holes, continuity errors, or advise you on character development. You definitely save a lot of money by getting your manuscript in good shape before sending it to an editor. While online editing websites such as grammarly.com or the Hemingway app do will get you on the right track, having beta readers on hand will be of great advantage.
Formatting your manuscript is another skill I decided to learn. Thankfully I am married to my very own geek, who had no problem teaching me what I needed to know to get started, such as setting page breaks, adding images, and creating unique design elements to give my books a polished interior. Even the sometimes dreaded conversion from a word document to a PDF or other format is relative child's play. Again, if you are not a big computer nerd, there's always an online service that can help you accomplish these tasks, and make your files ready to upload to various self-publishing platforms - for a price.
When it comes to ISBNs, most independent authors choose the less-expensive option of using free ISBNs for print provided by the self-publishing service of their choice, such as createspace.com or blurb.com. However, if you use one of those free ISBNs, then these companies will be listed as the publisher of record. If that doesn't bother you, then that’s definitely the more cost-effective option. But, if you want to be in total control, then you can purchase your ISBNs directly from Bowker.com. And the motto here: The more numbers you buy, the cheaper they are.
Publishing your book is actually not as complicated as it sounds. The most cost-effective way to publish is to upload your completed manuscript and book cover directly to retailers such as Amazon (via createspace.com or kdp.amazon.com for the Kindle version of your book) without utilizing a middleman. If you know how to upload photos to social media and attach a file to an email, then you possess the necessary skills to publish a book. Just remember, publishing is an exciting journey, and it doesn't have to break the bank!
Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads and Google+.