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How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish Your Own eBook

money-163502_1280As you pursue your writing career (whether it be full time or a side hustle) it is likely that at one point or another you have wondered what it would cost to self-publish a book.

To best answer this question we need to address it in self-publishing phases. Within each phase I will offer a range that you can expect to pay based on what you’re expecting to get back.

In addition, I’m also going to offer what I believe to be the primary phases that require a greater investment compared to some phases that you could possibly skimp on a little bit.

It should also be noted that the assumption is going to be that capital is not as plentiful as you might like. In other words, I’m going to offer a range that I believe appropriate for authors who are new to self-publishing. If this is not the case and you have been able to acquire a solid amount of capital then I recommend you reach out to Archangel Ink. I personally have not used them, however, I know many authors who have and they’re consistently blown away by the work provided and more importantly the results derived from such work. They are on the pricier end though, so again, I recommend this approach if capital is not an issue.

It should also be pointed out that you have some sort of writing software. Whether it be Scrivener or Microsoft Word, I’m assuming you have something already. If not, then I recommend you try Evernote or Google Docs.  Lastly, the prices provided below will be for a book comprised of approximately 20,000 words. If you’re word count is different  then recalculate accordingly (more words equals more expensive except for the book cover and marketing phases).

Either way, I recommend you break your budgeting into the following phases:

  • Phase 1 – Editing
  • Phase 2 – Book Cover
  • Phase 3 – Formatting
  • Phase 4 – Marketing/Promotion

Phase 1 – Editing: When you have completed your first draft you’re now ready to have your book edited. If you have the endurance, particularly if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend that you read your book to yourself out loud. Once that is completed OR if you can’t mentally endure looking at your work for another minute (which I have felt about my own work from time to time) then you need to outsource the editing process. This should be broken down into three sub-phases. First, you’re going to hire an editor for tone and flow of your content. I recommend you create a job on elance.com for this.  Plan on spending anywhere from $10.00 to $50.00. I personally think of the three phases

Once this is complete and you’ve reviewed and approve of the new tone and flow you’re going to hire an editor for grammatical review. This should cost approximately $1.00 for every 1000 words if you use fiverr.com. Finally, the third phase again should cover grammatical concerns. Fiverr.com is appropriate for roughly the same price, however, just be sure to hire a different person.

To sum Phase 1 up, you should expect anywhere from $50 to $100 which yields three pairs of eyes reviewing your work in addition to you.

Phase 2 – Book Cover: This phase is difficult because it is the easiest to cut corners but absolutely crucial when it comes to book sales. The expression “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” exists because most people make that mistake. You need to position your book to take advantage of this mistake. A great cover that draws potential readers in is going to sell. Book covers that look cheap (which occurs too much on Amazon) will be ignored. If you’re really strapped for cash but somewhat artistic then I recommend you look at canva.com first. If the thought of designing your own cover scares you then try fiverr.com again. You can get a decent cover for $5.00, however, you’ll have to take your time finding a seller with great reviews. If you have some extra cash I would allocate it towards your cover. Create a job on elance.com and be thorough in your reviews. Plan on spending $50 to $100 for your cover.

Phase 3 – Formatting: Nice and simple on this one. Find a seller on fiverr.com with a high amount of positive reviews and you’re looking at approximately $10.00 total. Double that if you also want to format your book for paper back print in addition to an ebook.

Phase 4 – Marketing: This phase does not have a minimum or a maximum. In other words, when you take advantage of the five day promotional period on Amazon which allows you to offer your book for free for that period of time then you can literally post a link to your book on a ton of different sites that allow you to post for free as long as your book is free or lower than $2.99. If you need a little bit of a boost in your sales, then you can take advantage of sites such as Author Marketing Club, which enables a variety of ads for the $40.00 range.

The key with marketing is to take campaigns one at a time and look at what it does to your sales. If you’re spending more money then you’re getting back from sales then I recommend you re-strategize.

So to put it all together, if you’re on a budget you can legitimately self publish an ebook $150.00 and that will enable you to create a quality ebook with a professional looking cover and some small additional funds to invest in marketing.

Whatever you spend, keep track of it so you can improve your process for your next book which I know you’re going to write!

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When Should Writers Start Building Their Email List

If you’re like me then you’ve at times allowed your focus on writing to inadvertently shift to building an email list. Who can blame us? It seems like every podcast, blog, and video out there tell us that our email list will be our greatest asset. The truth is, that is a valid statement.social-media-550772_1920

An active, engaged list of subscribers can do wonders to your business. The problem is, when and how should we begin building a list? Answering the first part of that question is what this article is all about. The second part (the how) will also be touched upon, but it is important that you know that there are countless books on this subject and adequately covering the range of list building strategies will not be possible in this post.

Don’t fret though because one specific strategy special for authors will be provided momentarily.

To put it very simply, my rule of thumb is not until you’re averaging at least 3 ebook sales per day. This may mean you write one great ebook that is selling around 3 units per day (which would likely be an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 50K to 70K). This could also mean that you have three ebooks that sell approximately one unit each per day.

Once you arrive at three units per day, then you want to create a squeeze page where you can direct your readers to subscribe. This part answers the question of how to begin creating a list.

After the squeeze page is complete then you go back to the books and figure out where you can sporadically insert a link to the squeeze page. It goes without saying that the quality of your content should not suffer in any way, so if you find yourself hindering your message by inserting a link to your squeeze page then just add it towards the beginning and the end of the book before and after the readers experience the greatness that is your words.

Just a note for those that do not know, you’re going to need some sort of lead magnet to provide a reason for your readers to subscribe. You could offer your book in audio format, or you could offer a cheat sheet of some sort that might add value to the content from your book. If you’re not happy with either of those then just try google searching the term “lead magnet ideas”. Something should come up.

Lastly, you’re going to need some sort of email platform. I personally use aweber.com, however, that is about $20 per month so if you’re starting from scratch and don’t want to invest the capital, try mailchimp.com. It is free of charge with certain limitations, but still very appropriate for somebody starting out.

Sell 3 eBooks Per Day

To bring it back to the answer of when you focus on developing your email list, I stated once you achieve regular daily ebook sales of 3 units per day. If your readers enjoy your book and you offer a valuable lead magnet then chances are you get a new subscriber every couple of days or so.

Once you have everything set up and running it is time to get back to writing. Moreover, use this list building time as a break from writing, but don’t let yourself get too far away from writing.

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Punch The Blank Page In The Face With These 3 Strategies

Whether you refer to your list of book ideas, act on a sudden shot of inspiration, or finally decide to begin writing the book idea you’ve been sitting on for the last five years you, it doesn’t matter. You still might find yourself staring in front of a blank page without the slightest idea of how and/or where to start. Then as soon as you begin typing each letter you match it with an equal amount of deletes. At this point you are completely frustrated and annoyed.

I get it. I’ve been there. Don’t panic my fellow writer. Many have been there which means many have successfully escaped.

Check out the three strategies below to help you get yourself started. This is a pre-outline stage. Literally, you have nothing and you need something, anything. Breath calmly, rest easy, and enjoy the solutions below.

Strategy #1: Open Up The Flood Gates 

Grab a huge piece of paper or a the whiteboard of equal or greater size. Just start writing everything you think of when you think of your book. Do this for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. Do not put any restrictions on anything. Seriously, if it pops in your head during this time then write it down. It may or may not have anything to do with what you want your book to say, but for now that does not matter. Write down words, phrases, sentences, draw charts, pictures. The keys are to avoid withholding thought or ideas and to write for at least fifteen minutes, if not longer.

To be clear, if you write something down and feel as though it didn’t come out the right way, for the sake of this exercise just try writing it down again somewhere else on the sheet or board. Do not cross out or try to correct. If you find yourself requiring more than fifteen minutes then continue until you are completely empty, but force yourself to push through to the fifteen minute mark.

Once you have finished this process and you are completely and utterly unable to continue writing down ideas be sure to save this sheet or board somehow. I recommend you take a picture and/or if you have an iPhone you can use the GeniusScan app to scan and save it to your phone (see example below).

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This is only an example, don’t worry if yours looks completely different.

Strategy #2: Start Talking

Find a method to record your voice. I recommend the iPhone voice recorder app, but there are a variety of options out there so pick what makes most sense for you. All you’re going to do is start talking about your book. If this is difficult, pretend you’re answering the question “What is your book about?”. Force yourself to verbally respond in as much detail as you can.

Do not worry about repeating yourself, speaking incorrectly, confronting long pauses. None of these are going to hurt you later on. The key is you’re just going to start talking about what your book could be about. If you have specific ideas about possible chapter titles then include it.

Once you’ve done this save the recording and get ready to move on.

Strategy #3: Generate Keywords

If you have any friends in the internet marketing world then chances are you’ve heard the acronym SEO. Moreover, I’m sure you have heard of Search Engine Optimization. I bring this up because I want to make clear that generating keywords in this instance has absolutely nothing to do with SEO. For the purposes of trying to get yourself to a clear starting point with an organized road map guiding you along the way to happy finished book land. Use Google’s Keyword Planner  (free) or Long Tail Pro (paid software) to generate possible keywords within the subject of your book idea. Start identifying words and terms that you feel as though you could elaborate on and begin creating a list of at least 20 words or terms. Once finished with the list you have two options.

Either record yourself as you elaborate on each keyword and term verbally or write down a few sentences for each item on your list.

After you have completed one of the strategies above you now need to organize this information into a neater visual. Review the results of your chosen strategy then try to come with a list of at least ten potential chapter titles. For each chapter, you want to list each possible chapter subtitle that would fit. If you have more than ten chapter subtitles, you may want to consider breaking it into two separate chapters.

As you write each chapter title and subtitle, do not worry about sequential order just yet. Focus more on what you’re going to discuss within each chapter. When you complete this, you are officially ready and able to begin writing each chapter.

Pick one chapter that you’re very excited about and/or you feel confident about beginning. That will building the momentum and you can slowly chip away, chapter by chapter.

I recommend writing your chapters within Evernote because you can create a Notebook and title it what ever your book potentially may be titled. Within each Notebook, you can create a Note for each chapter.

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An Evernote notebook containing multiple notes for one of my previous books

Regardless of your writing tool, you now have officially eliminated the blank page that has had continued to taunt you.

Happy writing!