Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-published: Finances

In previous instalments of Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-published, I covered social media, moral support and contacts. Money was a major aspect of self-publishing for me. I made my share of mistakes and learned some lessons.

How I Spent My Money

So far, I spent around $6000 to self-publish one book. I don’t regret spending the money because I believe in myself and my book. If it seems steep, it’s not. I could have spent a lot more, especially on promotion, but I resisted because I hit my limit. Here’s the breakdown: publishing package $2,500, extra editorial services $1250, soft-cover books $1,350, advertising $250, and domain name and website setup $300. While my book is selling, I have a long way to go before I recoup my investment.

My Mistakes

  • I don’t want to dissuade you from using a “full-service” self-publishing company (learn about self-publishing options), but beware of their goal: to make money from the authors and not the book sales. Read more on The Book Designer.
  • I increased traffic to my website through advertising, but my sales barely increased.
  • I purchased a domain name and paid for a website. I could have bought a domain name for about $30 and created my website for free on Or I could have just created a blog for free and used it as my website. Also, my own site updates, so what am I paying that company for?
  • I believed I wouldn’t be able to create social media accounts easily, therefore I purchased a self-publishing package that included social media setup. The stupid thing is that it is free to create accounts on these sites. After the setup, I had to learn their purpose and how to use them. No one was going to do it for me despite someone else setting them up.

Spend Your Money Wisely

Here’s where I think a self-published author should spend money:

  1. Writers’ associations. I’ve already expounded on the benefits of joining associations here. What I haven’t said is that they can be expensive and not for you. Before you sign up, go to a meeting  as a guest for a small fee, then decide if you can benefit and contribute by becoming a member. If you don’t like it, move on to the next association.
  2. Conferences can be expensive too. Again, make sure you sign up for the right one for you.
  3. Publish digitally and through print-on-demand. If you want to go the full-service self-publishing route as I did, go right ahead. I have decided to move on. Self-publish digitally through Kindle, Smashwords, Nook, etc for free. If you need hard copies of your book, you can find a print-on-demand company like Lightening Source.
  4. Cover design. I judge a book by its cover. Don’t you? Find a graphic designer to create your book cover.
  5. SPEND YOUR MONEY ON AN EDITOR. I think this is the smartest thing you can do with your money. Find the best editor you can afford (a real editor; not your former high school English teacher) and get your story edited, not just the grammar. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming to do re-writes. It’s your product. Don’t you want it to be the best thing you’ve written so far? Do you want readers to finish the book? Do you want readers to want to read another one of your books? You will not regret the cost. In fact, you may actually make it back through sales because you had a good editor.
I have learned through my mistakes and hope you don’t make the same ones. We can also learn by looking at successful self-published authors like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath.

I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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