This article has been written for those hard-working authors who love writing and want to better understand how to free up precious time, whilst lessening the financial burden of publishing a book.
There are many ways to save money during the writing and (self) publishing processes. Some of these ideas are easy to understand and implement whilst others are more involved and will take dedication to the learning process before you will start to see their benefits.
Remember that, in the exciting and evolving world of self-publishing eBooks online, the responsibilities of the writer are so much more than just the writing itself. Being in control of the additional duties can be both a blessing and a curse.
Whilst the learning curve can be steep and the journey might seem a lonely one, for those authors dedicated to the process, the opportunity to empower yourself through self-publishing, whilst saving money, can be just as rewarding as the writing process itself.
I have written this article in easily digestible chunks which are organised in an easy-to-understand format. I truly hope that reading this helps you take immediate, cost-saving action and that this in turn makes the experience of writing a more enjoyable one.
Saving Money during the Writing and Publishing Process.
How not to save money
I really need to start this article with this warning.
Before you even think of publishing online, your book must have a great-looking cover, be well laid-out and free from formatting errors. Do not try to blindly cut costs by hiring the cheapest bidder for the cover design, proof-reading and conversion phases of your eBook. Any mistakes made during these important jobs and you will run the risk of readers leaving negative reviews of your eBook on Amazon, which will result in a shorter-than-expected writing career.
Again, and I cannot stress this enough, recruit professional people to assist you in creating and publishing your work.Trying to save money by hiring a friend of a friend with no experience or portfolio of satisfied customers will cost you dearly in sales and royalties later down the road.
The first and probably the biggest saving will come from publishing digitally.Creating a professional looking eBook with a stunning cover and great marketing description does not cost anywhere as much as you might think. Choosing to publish digitally will also save you money by avoiding the cost of expensive print runs. Creating an eBook is a once-off cost and I would really recommend that every author seriously consider a strong digital strategy when publishing.
During the writing process, the majority of authors use MS Word as their word-processor.The latest installment of MS Word (2013), will cost approximately R750 ($70) for a year’s membership. However, it is possible to use a free word-processor such as Apache Open Office or Libre Office to do the job.
I have placed the links to these free word-processors on my website and they can be accessed here: www.myebook.co.za/author-resources/software-to-read-write-record-your-book
Consider having a network of trusted friends or colleagues who could act as Beta-readers for your work. These Beta-readers can help you correct the more obvious mistakes in your manuscript. The aim here is not to avoid having to pay for an editor, but to make the editing work that is required considerably less, resulting in a smaller bill from your editor. Read this blog post for further advice on saving on the editing process.
Assuming that you have hired a professional company to convert your manuscript into a great-looking eBook, you are now ready to publish your eBook in the online stores such as Amazon’s Kindle Desktop Publishing platform. Armed with some coffee and a willingness to learn, (as well as the time!) this a great way to save money.
If you are new to the eBook industry I would recommend first targeting Amazon as not only are they the biggest online platform for selling your eBook but they also have the easiest to use interface and their reports are easily extracted and understood.
Just as a cautionary note, I would not recommend doing this yourself if you need your eBook published within a short time frame. However, if you have sufficient time on your hands, this is a great way to save money whilst getting your eBook into the world’s largest store.
Here is the link to get started: kdp.amazon.com
Having a website or blog is a great and low-cost marketing tool for both you and your eBook. Google does seem to prefer regularly updated content from blogs and tends to rank well-written blog articles higher in the organic search results than static webpages. Whilst creating a professional website is becoming cheaper (I currently pay about R50 [$5] to host mine each month), it is still a cost that can be avoided.
Many of the top self-publishing blogs online today are created using free blogging platforms. An example of two popular (and free) blogging platforms are:
Website/ Blogging Tips
Here are some useful tips if you choose to enhance the marketing of yourself or your eBook via blogging.
Blogging Tip 1
Not all your blog articles need to be written by you. It is sometimes a good idea to source relevant content from other industry experts and include these contributions as guest-posts on your blog. They benefit from the additional exposure, whilst you get great new content for your visitors. It is a win-win situation.
Blogging Tip 2
Make sure that you have a reliable analytics-tool plugged into your website/ blog with the aim of fully understanding who is visiting your website. This is vital once you start wanting to charge people or businesses for advertising space on your website. Luckily, if you use the two free blogging platforms above, adding Google Analytics into the backend is not that difficult.
Blogging Tip 3
Once your website or blog is well-established and attracting numerous visits from around the world consider letting Google rent out some advertising space on busy pages. They will only serve advertisements they consider to be relevant to your visitors, and you earn money each time a visitor clicks on an ad. This system of letting Google advertise on your website is known as Google Adsense.
Trying things differently.
Do you want to be paid for writing short content/ articles for other websites/ blogs? Platforms such as eLance, oDesk and Freelancer are overflowing with jobs for writers of online content. Whilst it might not always be the most exciting work, it has the added benefit of enhancing and improving your writing skills whilst providing an extra source of income.
Investigate the Print on Demand for your paperbacks
Print on Demand is the process where, (using Amazon as an example), a customer orders your hard- copy book through Amazon online. The printing process is then only started once the order has been placed by the customer.
Using a specially formatted PDF version of your eBook, Amazon then only prints the exact amount of copies ordered by the customer. These copies are printed and then shipped directly to the customer by Amazon. With this arrangement, once you have uploaded your specially formatted PDF book into the Amazon back-end, your job is done. Amazon automatically handles the printing and shipping process without you having to lift a finger! This process will help you reduce the heavy financial burden that accompanies printing hard-copies of your book.
The downside of this process is the heavier shipping costs associated with the shipping of your books ordered by customers from countries that are not well supported by Amazon. For example if a customer from South Africa orders your hard-copy book from Amazon, this will more than likely be printed in the US and then shipped to SA, and the high shipping-cost involved will eat into your potential royalties.
To list your book within Amazon as a Print on Demand option, use Amazon’s Createspace platform.
Sponsored Ads/ Chapters
Armed with a well-designed cover and a great marketing description of your work, it is possible to approach businesses to pay/ sponsor for the publishing of your eBook.
Clearly understand and indicate what cost or process you wish to be sponsored before you start approaching investors. For example, if you want someone to sponsor the proof-reading and editing process (normally one of the largest expenses), find out how much is this will be, exactly. Have you received multiple quotes from different suppliers for this service? Make sure that you anticipate these types of questions from potential investors before you approach them.
You also have the option of either selling advertising space at the end of your eBook, or having other writers or companies contribute an entire chapter towards your eBook. The golden rule when selling advertising space or chapters, is to always focus on the reader-experience. Make sure the company or people you approach for sponsorship have products/ services or information relevant to your target audience. If you get this wrong, once again you risk upsetting your readers and receiving complaints in the form of negative reviews.
Government Grants for Authors
Does your government offer a grant scheme for authors? Make sure to investigate this option within your local author forums, otherwise use Google to investigate what your local opportunities might be.
Here are examples of organisations who make grants available to South African authors:
I really hope that I have given you some actionable information with these ideas on how you, as an author, can save money whilst publishing your book. It is absolutely possible to emerge from the self-publishing process without having paid an arm and a leg for the various services.
As always, beware of scams targeting authors that sound too good to be true, or that promise the world, whilst leaving you confused about how or what work will actually be done. As I always recommend to better protect yourself against being scammed by regularly browsing the Writer Beware Blog.