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Let's Talk About The Money, Honey

I asked my email list if there was any specific angle of self-publishing I could cover during 31 Days to Self-Publishing A Book. (On that note, if you have questions please let me know during this #write31days challenge! I’d love to be of any help.) Sarah from Our House In The Middle Of Our Street asked this:

I’m curious about the money aspect of it: how much does it cost? What kinds of time/money are you investing to self-publish? Are the books made (like, 100 at a time or something) that you will have to eat the costs if they don’t sell, or are they printed as paid?

Really smart questions! Thanks for asking, Sarah.

How much does self-publishing cost

Self-publishing can cost as much or as little as you like. In theory, self-publishing could be absolutely free. Using KDP, for example, you could upload a simple Word Doc (they’ll do all the converting to Kindle format), slap up a cover with their Cover Creator tool, fill in a few informational fields, and hit publish. BAM. Easy peasy. Not a penny out of your pocket (other than the cost of your time for writing content and entering information.) Of course, a cheaply published book will not be as quality had you put more time and energy (time is money, right?) into the production.

On the other hand, self-publishing could cost you thousands of dollars. The extensive self-publishing process Jeff Goins outlines, for example, pulls out all the stops. Hiring a freelance editor and cover designer could get pricey. If it’s important that you have copies on hand to sell, printing will require an investment. You also could spend lots of money on the design and upkeep of a top-notch site to promote your book. The more you invest, the more polished and professional your final product will be.

Referencing Goins again, he says, “There are substantial benefits and hurdles to both traditional and indie publishing. Before you decide which route to go, be sure to weigh your options:

  • If you do it yourself, you’ll have total freedom, but you’ll also have to front the costs. The plus side is you get to keep most of the revenues.
  • If you go with a publisher, you’ll compromise some of that freedom, but you’ll get a lot of professional help. The downside is you share the profits with the publisher.”

So the good news is whatever money you put into your self-published project, you’ll have the opportunity to make back.


Self-publishing can cost as little or as much as you want it to.

What kinds of time and money are you investing to self-publish

Keep in mind this quick formula for self-publishing costs:

more time spent = less money spent

more money spent = less time spent

For my book project, I was able to spend a teensy bit of money (around $50) up front. That basically paid for my cover art (isn’t it rad!?) and a few minor costs like ordering a proof copy of the paperback. To be your real life guinea pig, I greatly underestimated how much cover art would cost. In my mind, cover art and cover formatting were the same. But they aren’t! Remember a few days ago how I said self-publishing comes with unexpected costs? It’s on you, a self-publisher, to do the research. You’ve got to be very specific in considering project time and costs. Subsequent expenses for getting Re’and into your hands (like cover formatting, interior formatting, etc.) have been paid by my time.

Speaking of time, the hours I’ve put into this project feels like a fortune. I cannot tell you how many tutorial videos I’ve watched, how many Google searches I’ve preformed, or how many templates I’ve played around with. (I’ll share those details in upcoming posts, to hopefully save you some time!) I’ve spend time listening to business strategy podcasts and stayed awake at night making marketing plans. I’ve certainly been sinking more time than money into this project. But, you know what? To me, it’s worth it. I really have enjoyed being able to direct my book project. I’ve learned tons. The experience has been priceless. 

Having said that, if there is a next go-around I certainly hope to be able to pay for more of the work to be done by experts! 

Will you have costs if books don’t sell

Because I chose a print-on-demand (POD) model, the short answer is I will not have costs if my books don’t sell. (Other than the cost of therapy for my bruised psyche. Only kidding. Kinda. For real, I’m kidding.) As I mentioned in a previous post, seeing my book on a shelf isn’t important to me. That’d be cool one day, but right now it isn’t my goal. POD means that printing happens only when books are sold. This is great because 1) I won’t be propping up furniture with unsold copies of my books and 2) the cost of printing is paid for by the reader. Amazon offers great pricing graphs to give you an idea of how you should price your book so you’ll make a profit, but essentially Amazon won’t let you sell books for anything below their cost of printing.

Hope this helps! Thanks again for asking, Sarah. If anyone else has other self-publishing questions I can answer, please leave a comment!

Part of 31 Days To Self Publishing A Book #write31days 2014.


  1. Catherine on October 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Great post, Victoria. And I remember a certain message from someone about cost. 😉 I love the POD model and it’s part of what sold me on Amazon. My goal is to put my book in people’s hands and I’m already thinking of other ways I can do that, even if I don’t make a profit.

  2. Bek on October 6, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Love this post! I’ve always wondered about self-publishing and the costs associated with it, and now I know 🙂
    Looking forward to more posts like this!

  3. […] Let’s Talk About The Money, Honey […]

  4. On Book Formatting - Victoria Easter Wilson on October 13, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    […] As I’ve mentioned before, one general rule of self-publishing is: […]

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