Go Fund Yourself: A Realistic View on Self-Publishing Costs

money-in-black-and-white

 

So I have noticed something interesting the last few weeks and I actually took time out of my insane writing schedule to address this particular topic.

I came across several different posts on Facebook, either posted by an aspiring author or friends/family of an author, that has set up a Go Fund Me account.

I was shocked to say the least, especially after reading the more in-depth funding page that tells the story, and asks for money. I’m going to be honest, the ones set up by family or friends, are very sweet and I’m not trying to be bitchy, but some of the pleas were a little ridiculous.

I actually read one that wanted people to donate money because they needed it for an editor, a proofreader, a beta reader, and an eBook format editor. They also asked for money so that they could quit their job to focus solely on their writing.

Oh, and did I mention that most of them hadn’t actually finished writing their books yet.

Say whaaattt?

I scratched my head over this and I swear I now have a new wrinkle forming on my forehead after scrunching up my face when I read these Go Fund Me pages.

Let’s break down the actual costs, but first I’m going to tell you aspiring self-publishing authors a secret.

It didn’t cost me a damn thing to publish my first book.

Okay, now that we got that admission out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

 

1) The most important thing is to….drum roll, please, FINISH YOUR DAMN BOOK FIRST BEFORE YOU THINK ABOUT PUBLISHING COSTS.

*Exhale*

Before you or anyone else of your loving family or friends sets up a Go Fund Me page, why don’t you finish writing your first draft? I get it, I really do understand what it takes to write a book. I’ve written seven and I’m almost finished with my eighth.

I have three kids. I know how hard it is to find time to write and I have been known to stay up into the wee hours of the morning because it was the only way I could get any quiet time. I know what it’s like to drag your ass out of bed after a few hours sleep.

I get it. I’m an author and guess what? There are thousands of us in this world and we all find the time to write because it’s what drives us to the brink of sleep deprivation and insanity. I’m sorry if you have a full time job, two kids, and a mortgage to pay. I know other authors who are in the same boat and they have never even thought to ask for money to help them on this journey.

But, I digress. So again finish your book first and then worry about the costs.

 

2) If you have finished your manuscript, then I have a tip for you. Put it in a drawer or hide the file on your computer and walk away for a few weeks or even a month.

See? I just saved you a bunch of money right there.

 

3) After you have taken some time off from your writing, go back over it and revise and edit several times.

Again, cost savings…huge.

 

4) When you are ready to throw up if you read another word you have written then you are ready to think about the future.

Now is the time to think about self-publishing vs. regular publishing. What route you decide is your decision and your decision alone.

I chose self-publishing for a few reasons.

-I was a little scared to death of submitting my work because it felt so personal to me,

and..

-I’m a control freak.

This will take a few weeks and the thinking process is entirely free!

 

5) If you chose the regular route of mainstream publishing, be aware that you will need to have a query letter. This is a one page letter in which you try to sell yourself and your book.

This wonderful one page letter can also be the source of many nightmares and plunge you into the depths of self-doubt so great that you will question your ability as a writer.

Also, be aware that the unwritten rule is that you can only query one publisher or agent at a time so get comfy.

 

This could save you thousands because it could take you a few months or a few years before getting a contract or generate any serious interest.

 

6) Self-publishing cost’s are all over the spectrum. You can go high-dollar or you can find some short cuts to ease the cost.

-Editor. The average cost for an editor is about $100 a page. If you have a 300 page book it can be out of reach, especially for most first timers.

There are some ways to save though. You can check Craigslist or run an ad yourself. Always ask for references if you do this though. You can do a Google search. You can check Goodreads as well. There are several people that do this on the side and most of them seem to be graduate students in the English Literature field.

You can also check with local colleges and grade schools. Again there might be teachers that want to make a little extra cash.

There are many different software programs as well, but I stick with Word. I thought that I could edit all by myself and that was a disaster. I am lucky to have a mother who worked as a paralegal for forty years and she slashes my manuscript as good as any pro editor out there.

-Copy Editor.

I actually think a copy editor is all you need if you self-publish. They focus on grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation.

Average cost is around $30-$50 an hour. For an 80,000 word manuscript, you’re looking at $1000-$1200.

Again, look around because you might be able to slash the cost in half.

 

-Proofreader.

A proofreader goes over the manuscript after the editor to see if there are any glaring mistakes.

I see no use for them. You should be able to do it yourself.

 

-Beta Reader.

You absolutely do not need to hire a Beta reader. If you have friends or family that you trust to give you an honest opinion of your work then that is all you need.

If you don’t want to let anyone you know read your book, then think about joining a writing group. They have them in almost any town and you can also check out your local library for book clubs that might be interested.

 

-eBook Format Editor.

These guys can run anywhere from $199-$1999.

Look, I’m not a computer genius, but even I was able to format my first book. It takes time to get the kinks out, but after you do one, it does get easier.

 

7) Marketing.

I hate promoting. I am the worst at it, but I do it from time to time…moaning and groaning

First thing you need is a website and start blogging. The cost is free, but you will have to shell out about $20 bucks a year for your domain.

Second, get on Twitter. It is the BEST place for authors. You can connect with great people who are going through the same writing woes as you and everybody I have talked with are always very supportive.

Third, start a Facebook page. That’s pretty self-explanatory.

 

8) Don’t quit your day job!

It can take years for an author to really make any decent money. I know that you have stars in your eyes as you type away and dream of fame and fortune, but seriously, get your head out of your ass.

Can you make a good living? Yes, you can, but it doesn’t happen overnight so before you set up a Go Fund Me page, realize that no one wants to support you financially for the next several years.

Trust me, the lure of you being an author, will wear off quick for them.

 

In conclusion, yes it could cost an aspiring author thousands of dollars, but it doesn’t have to! The most important worry you should have is that you finish your book. You can take several months off and still be left staring at your computer screen.

I understand that there may be some great people out there who want to help, but the greatest assistance you can give an author is your support emotionally.

I have always said that if you want to publish your book, you will find a way. I think the best part of being an author, as far as publishing goes, is figuring it all out on your own because at the end of the day, no one cares more about your book than you do.

 

One last note..

Finish your book first before you hit me or anyone else up for money!

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