I’m republishing something I wrote about my experience with the cost of self-publishing (it was a reply to my post titled “Let’s be Serious Now, Shall We?”). I’m doing this because I happened to read at least 3 comments (@ blogs) about the “high cost” of self-publishing today. My experience might provide some counterpoint to those remarks.
The following has been slightly re-edited from the original:
“I’ve been astonished by how INexpensive it’s been to get quality professional assistance for my cover and formatting. Mark Coker suggested people I could hire for the cover and formatting (for ebook); I thought it was wonderful to have recommendations from an expert like Mark. The lists for formatting and cover weren’t long and I looked into cover design first. All of the people were obviously talented but one more than the others struck a chord with me and I contacted her (bear in mind this is very subjective; the others were outstanding artists but I was looking for a specific “feel” so this is no negative reflection on the others). I chose DigitalDonna.com (Donna Casey) and I could not have been happier; working with her was a joy, her ideas were wonderful, and she’s fast as lightning. Further, she worked with a friend of mine who provided a picture. The story about how the cover came to be is a short story in itself but let me tell you what I thought was going to be a long drawn out painful experience was nothing of the sort. And her fee knocked me over; I thought I read wrong. I’ve spent more on a fancy lunch in Chicago. When I realized I was going to publish a paperback I needed a back cover and Donna expedited that and made enhancements I never thought about and I had the cover in hours (I should have asked for both when I asked for the ebook cover & she did offer it but stupid me declined; I should have listened to her). The cost of that was again so nominal it was amazing.
For formatting I went “down to New Zealand” and worked with Pat Rosier and she was also a true pro; rapid turnaround time, perfect product, and inexpensive. When I had weird formatting problems that showed up on downloads from Amazon Pat said I needed a “Kindle specialist.” (There’s another story here and it’s very odd; I’ve mentioned it elsewhere but if anyone is interested let me know — I’ll share.) So, this cost me a bit more money but I was desperate and I found a gal named “Hitch” owner of Booknook.com and she was another absolutely delightful person and she bailed me out quickly and her fee was more than fair and reasonable.
I’ve figured it out and the cost for an ebook cover and formatting came in under $175 (US).
Now, I’m the kind of person who learned a long time ago that time is money; when I was a paralegal and the attys saw me doing anything my secretary should have done they hit the roof. As a paralegal doing legal research they billed me out to the client at about $150/hr. (incredible, but true and this was 8-10 yrs ago). If I was doing what they hired the secy to do (which was easy enough for me to do because I was a legal secy yrs and yrs ago) then that meant I wasn’t working as a paralegal and billing clients! I still use this model, believing my time is money so I need to find areas where it’s better spent and leave other things for people to do who have the skills I may lack or who function in areas I don’t need to enter. In other words, sometimes spending money is quite cost effective.
I have no art talent and know nothing about how it’s digitalized so it would take me a year (at least) to create what would only be a really lousy cover. I’m more comfortable formatting documents but that’s a lot more of a specialized skill than formatting a business letter and would take me at least 5-6 hrs to probably get the hang of it — so I had to ask myself if I couldn’t find a more productive way to use my time than mucking about with formatting… I decided my time was far more well spent writing content for my web page or reading about promotion & marketing.
Authors need to think about these things and know they can get great services for less than several people enjoying a big night on the town — and that’s almost any town. My “major” expense (and I hate to use the term “major”) came with the paperback but I caught a $100 discount offer at CreateSpace, brought over my own cover (that Donna Casey created in about 2 hrs once she already had the front and the CS team said I needed to allowed 4 weeks for them to make!) and by bringing over my cover (formatted for paperback, front, back and spine etc.) I knocked off another $150. I was really frugal when shopping at CS and purchased their minimal services but opted into the ProPlan for only $39 more (to expand distribution). My paperback, which I have to tell you looks FANTASTIC, cost slightly over $500 because of the savings re: the discount offer and that I had a cover already made (and this price includes the slight charge for Donna to create the cover CS needed for the paperback).
BTW: I formatted the ms for the print book; that was well within my comfort range.
I know the term “very expensive” is relative but my experience is that you can self-publish an ebook with a pro cover and pro formatting for a truly nominal amount and even go into print for less than you might pay for an average 3-day vacation at an ordinary hotel in a ho-hum city and cheap airfare.
I paid more to AT&T for my web design and shared hosting package than I paid to self-publish my ebook and produce a paperback.
Art Mills (who wrote the very compelling book “The Empty Lot Next Door”) told me he had a totally different experience with his print company, XLibris. He would not recommend them to anyone and freely says so. I was appalled when he told me his experience. So if I’m giving a plug for CreateSpace, so be it; my experience was great (and I love their author support and tracking system that goes with even their most nominal package and their people are top notch when it comes to customer service and response time). CreateSpace has treated me as if I was the most famous and successful author in America; really, I’ve been so impressed with them.”