Budget for Your Baby

Self-publishing whether print or e-books has become easier than ever for authors in today's world. Even for authors who secure publishing contracts for some of their manuscripts, there are reasons to pursue self-publishing on some of your materials.

For example:

  • An e-book made available on your website only (no other venue) can be used as a free download or very inexpensive download in exchange for an email address, review or other contact information. It also draws the reader to your website will they will learn more about you and what you have to offer.
  • A book written on a topic in which you have popular message that resonates with your audience, yet might not resonate with a publisher may be perfect for self-publishing. For example your message on faith, grace (or some other topic that has hundreds or even thousands of books on the market) may not turn a publisher's head, but could sell well on your own book table or virtual bookstore.
  • A bonus add on such as a short curriculum, study questions, a coloring book, etc. all can be created as self-publishing tools that can save you money...as long as its still done right.

Yet if you choose to pursue this route, as with any "baby" it will cost some money to birth it and to raise it properly, so plan accordingly.

While there are areas you can cut back due to budget, there are two important areas where it is wise to invest. The edit and the cover. The following are some quick reminders:

There are four different levels of edit. Be sure to obtain the level you need to make your book the best it can be. The lowest level-the copy edit-is an absolute must. But this level only relieves grammatical errors. If your book requires more, then it's better to do it before you put it in print than have it forever live as a marker that isn't your best work. 

Even a .pdf downloadable e-book needs a cover. And you want the outside of your book to shine as much as in the inside over which you have spent time in labor. While you can create one yourself, it will more than likely not have the same shine as hiring a graphic designer who specializes in creating that cohesive look. You don't want to create one that hinders sales rather than helps sales.

A couple of inexpensive options to consider are:

1. 99 Designs - as inexpensive as $99  (but be selective)

2. Check your local university in the graphic arts department for a designer. However, be sure they have created a cover before OR can elicit the assistance of someone who has. If the dimensions for the book are incorrect with the margins they create, the spine, etc. you will either have a faulty book OR the printer will charge what is known as back charges for you to get it corrected. Then your inexpensive cover just got expensive. 

3. For those that what greater experience and input, my designers start at $500 for 2-3 comps. But they are skilled, creative and know what works.

The bottom line is don't scrimp on your baby just as it is about to be birthed. Birth a book that you will be proud of and that reflects your skill, because once it is out there, it will either come back to herald your efforts or to haunt them.

Karen Hardin - Literary Agent and Marketing Guru