DIY Book Publishing: Is It Worth It To Self-Publish?

September 27, 2013  |  

Aspiring authors no longer need an agent or a traditional publisher to get their books through the red tape of a big-name publisher now that e-readers and digital books make have opened up the world of publishing to first-timers and authors who are building a name for themselves. But the question remains: How easy is it to self-publish? And does it really pay to do it yourself?

First-time author Annette Leach went the traditional route at first.  She found a literary agent who shopped her book around for two years. Although she got very close a few times, being unknown combined with her tricky genre (she categorizes her book Song of the Shaman as metaphysical historical fiction) made it difficult for big name publishers to feel comfortable taking a chance on her. She also didn’t realize that the advance authors get when they are published traditionally may be the only money an author receives. Royalties come when the book has made back the advance in sales. With this in mind Leach took the steps to create her own publishing company: MindPress Media and get her book out on her own.

When asked what she thinks is the biggest hindrance for self-published authors Leach answers, “Book quality. It should be identical to the books that are already out in the market.” In order to ensure the best quality Leach made sure to find a great cover artist.

“I know they say, ‘a book isn’t judged by its cover,’ but that’s a lie, especially in this crowded book market…” Leach says. She believes a great cover helps distill your story down to one image meant to catch a reader’s eye. While this step was the longest – taking around six months – Leach asserts that it is second only to finding the right editor. Leach found prices for a cover artist ranging from $1,500 to $5,000, the biggest part of her self-publishing budget.

Next up for Leach was finding the editors, Developmental and Copy Proofing. These are the people who will help you tighten your story in terms of flow and characterization, will scan for grammar issues and can fact check your story. For an editor of a 250-page novel, according to Leach, the rate is $250 to$500.

From there Leach found an interior designer to take care of typeface, pagination, and margin issues. “ is a great website to use as a resource,” Leach says of this step. By using a large, well-known book printer, Ingram Spark, Leach was hiring a reputable source printing her books on demand. This helped assure traditional bookstores (like Barnes and Noble in Brooklyn where you can find Song of the Shaman) that they would get their book orders on time and that it would be equal in quality to the traditional books printed through the same printer.

Leach suggests using BookBaby for distributing the e-book and to keep Kindle sales distributed through Kindle and held separately. “In total I spent between $3,500 to $5,000. And that includes the steps I took to open my own publishing company,” Leach says of her end budget, an amount that can be stretched over a 10 month period or longer.

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