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How to Affordably Self-Publish your Book

Updated on May 27, 2017

Self-publishing can be expensive - you hear so many stories about people dropping thousands of dollars to get their book "out there". But there are many ways that you can skip costs without skipping out on quality. Here are a few steps you can take to minimise costs, and still give your book a chance like any other.

Self-publishing shouldn't have to be reserved for those with lots of expendable income - any good writer should be given the chance to publish without getting into debt.

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#1: Choosing your Editor

Even when your manuscript is written, completed and polished for the seventh or eighth time, you still need an editor to help with plot holes and character development.

Some people will suggest going with editing companies that will do a great job - for a price. Some will charge hundreds, or even thousands, for their time and effort. Try this instead:

  • Get as many friends and family members as you can to read it. An experienced reader is even better. If they don't want to do it for free, paying them a couple of dollars is much, much cheaper than going with a professional who is only doing it for the money. Get three to five people to read it and give an honest review. If they say something doesn't look right, examine it and try to fix it (if it needs fixing).
  • Take criticism well. If a family member will criticise, an anonymous reader probably will too. Minimise the chances of a stranger pointing out a plothole by making sure a close friend does first. There's nothing worse than someone noticing a mistake after it's published. Trust me.

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#2 Choosing your Proofreader

Some companies, such as Purple Sage Editing, don't charge much for their services, but some proofreaders will charge an insane amount - one proofreader in New York, for example, charged 0.05 USD per word (vs. Purple Sage Editing only charging 0.0039 USD per word.)

A proofreader is different to an editor - a proofreader checks for spelling mistakes, punctuation and grammatical errors, and makes sure you're consistent with speech marks, font, styles, etc. This is impossible to do yourself - no matter how stringent you are, it's a known fact that a writer can't proofread their own work, because the writer concentrates on the content, not small details. This is especially true for longer novels.

Again, get a willing friend or family member to proofread your book. This time, however, you'll need someone who's excellent with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and has a keen eye for consistency. You also might need to pay them, as it's not simply concentrating on the plotline. This will probably be the most expensive part of your self-publishing journey, so it might be better to go with a professional company.

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#3 Cover Design

Assuming that you aren't going to design the book cover yourself, professional cover designers might, again, charge a lot of money for a job. Createspace and Lulu, for example, will charge between $400 and $1000. Here are some ways you can work round this.

  • Hire an indie cover designer. There are hundreds of design companies out there, and many indie designers too. People who design individually are generally cheaper, and will work hard to make you happy, as any bad feedback from a customer can damage their reputation.
  • Hire someone who can draw, but doesn't have experience in book design. After hiring two students from my university (both studied design, but neither of them had done a book cover before), I was very happy with the result. They were extremely affordable and did a great job. Plus, they were never too busy to message me on the progress and make any changes I wanted.
  • Try it yourself. Take a crash course on photoshop and play around with stock images, font styles and colouration. This might turn out horribly (it did for me) but it's a fun project that would cost you nearly nothing. Give it a try, and if it doesn't work out, think about the other options.

Make sure your book is properly laid out on the inside.
Make sure your book is properly laid out on the inside. | Source

#4 Construction of your Book

Self-publishing means having full control over everything about your book, so this means that the construction of the book is key. Make sure that you have everything you need before the actual story begins - an introduction page, a copyright page, and a chapter list (if you want one). Decide if you'd like your cover to be inside the book too. Work out where your pages would be and design carefully.

The good news is that most companies offer a 'proof' version of your book that you can order yourself and check over before releasing it to the public.

CreateSpace's logo
CreateSpace's logo | Source
Lulu's logo
Lulu's logo | Source

#5 Choosing a Company

There are many websites that will help you self-publish your book by printing the paperbacks, sending them to you, and distributing your book to other websites. Here are a few possibilities.

These all vary in prices, authors' rights and revenue, so do your research before you choose a company. Some offer free ISBNs, some connect your book to the Amazon websites without any extra costs.

I used CreateSpace, and all-in-all their website is easy to use and their books are of good quality. A downside, however, is that they only print in the US - they ship all over the world, but the packaging and postage prices can be heavy if you don't live in the States.

In your opinion, which is the most difficult part of self-publishing?

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#6 Checking Everything

So, remember - editing, proofreading, book cover design, construction, company. Is your manuscript shining? Are you completely happy with your book cover? Is the construction of the book okay - font size, page size, page numbers? If so, you're ready to self-publish. Good luck! If you've self-published recently, post the link to it in the comments below!

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    • gposchman profile image

      Gene Poschman 2 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Excellent article, I do not use a professional proofreader or editor, but I have 4 readers with varying skills and when they are done I have another month's worth of rewrite before I publish. I lucked on to these individuals through life. My wife is my editor, and trust me, she keeps me on plot points and continuity of characters. I use to feed he sections at a time, but she is a harder taskmaster than anyone I know, so now she gets the finished unedited version first. My doctor is the best proof reader I have ever met. His current comments after my last checkup was where is book 2. My son is a Math genius, who I introduced to the genre I write and he reminds me that I am not one of the giants, but I tell a pretty good story. He'll call me any time to give me feedback. My daughter prefers the fantasy genre, and provides a unique insight to my plot lines.

      I chose other in your poll, marketing, promotion and selling is the most difficult part of self publishing.

      I also used smashwords along with createspace to get my book out there.

      Gene Poschman

    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 2 years ago from Dominica

      Good article. Thanks for sharing. I have used Create Space, Author House and World Clay. I am very happy with CreateSpace. My problem is marketing.

      Here are links to some of my books:

      http://www.amazon.com/Four-Strong-Women-Joyette-Fa...

      http://www.fictiondb.com/author/joyette-h-fabien~m...

    • profile image

      Ismael Morelles 23 months ago from UNITED STATES

      great post thanks. I look forward to creating my own book someday and I know these tips will help me out.

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 21 months ago from Ontario

      very informative for someone thinking of self publishing I have written a few books but need to edit and publish them this post helps decide what I should do thanks for posting

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 8 months ago from Ontario

      Great hub as a writer myself who has written a few novels but have not yet had them published this hub helps a lot in trying to figure out the first steps to take when I do finally get around to publishing them

    • poppyr profile image
      Author

      Poppy Reid 8 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      That's great, Louise. You're doing more than most writers. If you need a beta reader or an editor, I'm happy to help you out. :)

    • gposchman profile image

      Gene Poschman 8 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I have to revise my previous comment. I now have a copy editor. Peter is Grizbokkit editorial services and he is brilliant. I write detective adventure novels circa 1930s , the Jonas Watcher series.

      I also have altered how I get my novels to the public. I used to go through 2 or 3 different sites to publish both paperback and eBooks. Now I go through Draft To Digital and I am able to get my books to all the different retailers using a single formatted document.

      Marketing and selling are still the most difficult tasks in self-publishing.

    • poppyr profile image
      Author

      Poppy Reid 8 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Fair enough! I agree that marketing is difficult. Best of luck with your books, and if you'd ever like to do a review swap, send me a message on Twitter. ^_^

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