In the interests of transparency, here is a breakdown of some of the costs of self or independent publishing.  Not all of the costs are necessary, but they are representative.

  • ISBN numbers – $100 each if purchased individually or else you can buy 10 for $250.  You need one for a print book and a separate ISBN for an ebook.
  • Barcode – $25 each.  You need one for a print book, but not for an ebook.
  • Website admin – About $150/year per site.  We use Bluehost which is fairly inexpensive and user-friendly and our websites are pretty barebones, but the costs do add up.
  • Business cards – $30.  You need them to pass out when you go to conventions or readings or anywhere and, please, don’t print off your own.  It looks really sad.  Don’t believe the ads, they are going to jack up the price on shipping.
  • Library of Congress Control Number – Free.  Woohoo!  Finally something free.
  • Cover art, layout and design – Between $150 and $500.  Really, you can spend as much as you have here.  This is where you should spend though.  Despite the proverbs, people do judge a book by its cover.  A crappy homemade cover says you don’t care much about this book so you probably didn’t get decent editing or really take the time to make sure the ending made sense. Did you ferret out the plot holes or spend the time to make sure your characters are consistent?
  • Bookmarks or stickers – $100 for 250.  These you tuck into books that you sign at conventions or give to reviewers or whatever.  You don’t need 250, but it is hard to find a place that will do a small run and not charge $3 per piece.  If you know of such a place, please speak up down in the comments.  PLEASE.
  • 50 advance print copies to give to reviewers or for giveaways on Goodreads – $350.  This is variable.  This was about the cost for us to print 50 copies of DCT going through CreateSpace for a 388-page paperback book.
  • Shipping of print books to reviewers – $100 to $200.  Again, this is a variable cost and since we are still in the review investigation process, we don’t have hard numbers.  Plenty of review sites, particularly ones that cater to self or independently published books, have a way to upload an epub copy so the cost is minimal. On the one hand, the more books you send out, the more potential reviews are out on the Internet creating buzz about your book.  On the other hand, there are tons of review sites that consist of one person reviewing 20 books a year to an audience of 50 readers and getting hundreds of free books sent to them by publishers and writers.  It’s a sweet gig for them, but not for you. Choose wisely.
  • Paid reviews – $149 to $425 each.  Publishers Weekly charges $149.  Clarion Reviews charges $335.  Kirkus charges $425.  BlueInk Reviews charges $395.  They take two to four months to get back to you with these and they don’t promise to be enthusiastic about the book, but they are established names and supposedly their reviews are worth more and will generate  book sales.  The Return On Investment of these reviews is debatable.  We are doing some test scenarios on these paid reviews and will report back on the results in a few months.
  • Advertising – $200 to A Million Gazillion Buckaroos.  Again, we are investigating various advertising streams and computing their ROI and we’ll get back to you all on that, but an easy and common route is to set up a $200 ad campaign on Goodreads. (more…)