How To Self-Publish On A Budget

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Can You Afford to Self-Publish Your Manuscript?

Self-publishing your book will cost some money. If you take a closer look at the whole process though, you will see that getting a high quality, professional looking book in front of your customers is not prohibitively expensive. In fact, if you consider the increasing costs of marketing anything these days, self-publishing your ghostwriting project could be viewed as an affordable step.

Let’s break down the abstract idea of “costs” into specifics.

Recently, I worked as a ghostwriter, editor and designer for a client’s debut business book. He brought about 60% of a completed book to the process, text he had derived from work with his real estate partners, business coaches, colleagues and mentors. The text needed a writer’s touch, but it was pretty solid stuff. Gratefully, the guy really knew his business.

On this first example I won’t delve too far into nuts and bolts details of publishing. Instead, I’d like to start by looking at the end results. Just take a look at the client’s finished product.

The Ultimate Seller's Survival Guide Front CoverThe book is handsome.

The cover is polished and professional.

The layout, I don’t mind saying, is top notch.

What did all of that cost my client?

Before opening the specifics on that can of worms, let’s look at what my client would have spent in terms of time and resources in order to conventionally publish his book.

1.) He would have had to finish writing the book on his own. However knowledgable he might be about his subject, a “non-writer” has a steep learning curve in getting together a publishable book;

2.) Once that book was completed, he would have to hire an outside editor and proofreader;

3.) With a completed manuscript, he would have had to commit significant time to researching and locating a list of agents potentially looking for his type of manuscript;

4.) After a round of queries and manuscript submissions, provided anyone was interested, he would have had to re-write the book under the agent’s specifications;

You want to talk about barriers? Take a look at that laundry list of things to do before the publisher even gets to work on the manuscript. Even if my client had gone through all of those steps the right way and had an incredible streak of luck, he still would not be guaranteed publication, let alone success on the market.

Standard publishing for my client was the bigger risk.

Instead, my client went through DIY channels. He hired me as a ghostwriter to help flesh out his ideas. Working then as an editor, I transferred a more polished manuscript onto a line editor and proofreader.

Together, this team brought his book in for completion for under $5,000 in total costs.

My client isn’t going to reach a mass audience with a book published in this manner. That was never really his goal though. The objective of a traditional publishing arrangement is to get a book out to the largest possible audience. Maybe he could have gotten there, but that’s not what he wanted. Instead, he wanted a book to target potential customers.

He wanted a manuscript-length business card.

How successful has this project been? As of last quarter, my client is the #1 seller of residential real estate in all of Northern Utah. Not bad.

My recent path to publication is similar. No, I didn’t write the definitive book on how to hire a ghostwriter (at least I haven’t yet). I did, however, recently self-publish a work of fiction and I am happy to share those costs to illustrate how affordable self-publishing really can be.

Full disclosures first off. I’m a novelist in disguise.

My upcoming supernatural fiction novel, The Strange Air is scheduled for release in March of 2019. Because I possess a native DIY streak of my own, I plan to self-publish the book. I want to be in control. I want to see the project all the way through to the end.

Afterward, I may want an agent, who knows.

In the meantime, I have decided to build my subscriber fan list through publishing a series of short, novella length fiction to give away through my author site. The story I published, The Widow’s Tale is roughly 15,000 words, anywhere from 1/4th to 1/6th the length of a “normal” novel.

Be aware, the breakdown of cost I am giving you is proportionately smaller. Contractors work on word count, so you’ll pay less for smaller books.

Developmental editing: $212.00

Line editing/proofreading: $250.00

Cover design: $299.00

There is no accounting for the cost in terms of hours or money associated with the time it takes to actually write the book, but in the terms of contracted services, $761.00 to get a book into the market place is pretty good. Now, a cover is a cover and will cost about the same amount regardless of book size, but if you extrapolate the editorial services out to full length, the range is $1600-2000.

As you can see, the above business book give-away example applies below with fiction as well. In this highly competitive market, you need a giveaway as a part of your marketing plan.

One of the best ways to get your message to your customers, whether your eventual aim is to sell a house, or a novel, is to hook them with message. Used to be you could get that marketing message to them in the Yellow Pages, or on a TV ad, but your audience if more sophisticated now than ever before.

Remove the artificial barriers from your thought process. Those barriers are limiting beliefs that are dragging your sales down. Getting a professional looking giveaway on your site can be relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the possible boom in business and legitimacy you’ll gain.

Do you have a ghostwriting project you want to discuss? If you’re serious about having your fiction, screenplay or non-fiction story professionally written, and you have a budget, please contact me via email, or call for a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation.  

Erick MertzHow To Self-Publish On A Budget

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