I’m a big believer in keeping costs low when you’re getting started writing, but the VAST majority of writers advise: “spend money on this, spend money on that. It takes money to make money!”
Everyone gets to decide how to write and publish for themselves. I’m firmly of the opinion that there are *MANY* reasons to control your costs and spend less when you’re getting started. I’m suspicious that many of the writers advocating extravagant purchases are either selling something to other writers or earning enough from their writing that the cost of what they’re advocating isn’t much of a hardship.
The super shoestring publishing approach is to:
- write your book in Google Docs or in an editor/wordprocessor you already own or can get for free
- use the free version of software apps like Grammarly to check your spelling and grammar. If you have any friends who have an eye for detail and are willing to proofread for you, it’s worth asking them to do so. If they have any advice on the story, hear them out
- make a cover for free with Amazon’s cover creator or Canva
- use Amazon’s Kindle Create (free) to format it for upload as an eBook, paperback, and hardcover or ask any author friends who own Vellum or similar software to format it for you
- Upload it to Amazon, it’s easy (and free) to publish as an eBook and a print-on-demand paperback and hardcover
- find any subreddits, forums, or Facebook groups that will let you promote your book for free and post about it there once it’s available for sale
- Collect (likely meager) royalties
This is basically free. If you have an internet connection and a somewhat modern computer you should be able to do this without spending a penny. Most people, and certainly all other authors, will be able to tell that you’ve done things the cheap way, but that’s not always bad.
If you have a little bit of money, your cover should be the first thing you put $$$ into. For $10-$50 you can get a decent cover made on Fiverr (they’ll have you pick stock art, format all the text, and whatnot). For $100 you can get a pre-made cover. For $200-300, you can get a cover that’ll look like most books you buy, and for thousands of dollars, you can get a personalized work of art.
Beyond your cover, editing is the next thing that’s worth putting money into. Understand the different types of editing and what you’re buying. Don’t just hire the first editor you come across, look for people other writers have had good experiences with and get them to do a sample edit on a chapter for you. Prices for editing vary wildly, as does quality.
Proofreading (beyond asking friends) would be the next thing worth putting some money into. Everything from editing applies to this too.
You can hire people to format your book for you if Kindle Create is too much for you, but if you’re trying to save money, figuring it out yourself isn’t too hard.
How much have you spent on books you’ve self-published? What do you wish you’d spent more/less on?
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