I have scoured self-publishing resources and advice blogs in detail for the past few weeks. I sifted through the information and put together a kind of business plan. I wanted to know the balance between what money I could expect to spend vs. what sort of return I can hope for. I also needed to learn the minimum amount of my own money required to publish a first novel by myself.
There are more ways than one to publish a book. Obviously, the bigger the scope, the more expensive the prospect. A straight upload to Kindle using Amazon’s own cover artwork can cost nothing. Going to print, even on demand, ups the cost (if one follows the most common piece of advice out there—hire a professional to tackle the cover work and layout). Several more articles suggested that any book worth buying must also have an audio book component. An audio book requires booking a recording studio for the time it takes to read one’s own manuscript without errors, then pay for the mixing and editing and final audio file formatting. I’m not going to attempt that. At least not at this moment.
A print edition would be satisfying, but to do professionally does come at a cost. I broke down the costs for the minimum quality of print edition I would be willing to offer, and reached an amount of $1700. That’s not unreasonable, and I’d only need to sell 215 copies at $12 to make that back. But what if no one wanted to buy a print edition? I love the promise of holding a tangible printed softcover in my hands, breathing in that sweet smell of freshly printed ink on paper, and being able to say, “I wrote this!” But… I’m not willing to burn that money before I know I have a chance to earn it back. I’ve gone that route before with a short film I made. That film cost much more than $2000 and I never earned a cent of it back. So I’m a little gun-shy with investing in myself, however much I believe.
I have determined that the best approach is to publish in phases, the way a real estate project unfolds. I have the means and the resources to publish electronically now. That puts the novel out there immediately and available for sale. I have to market the book (and myself) properly, but if I do it right and manage to achieve even limited book sales, I can put the proceeds towards phase 2: Print on Demand.
If the book sales achieve dream phase, I will take the other piece of wise advice and put the money towards an audio-book edition.
The conclusion: Approach everything professionally. You are the publisher, and you want to earn the respect of the book buying public on the same level that you want to earn the respect of the reader as an author. This means taking as much time as is necessary to polish what you are offering and how you are offering it. And expect the process to take some time.