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Self-Publishing Budget

With every passing day, I'm getting closer and closer to A Dark Sky Opens's release — and as an indie author, this inevitably means budgeting for publishing expenses. Which sounds a lot more fatiguing and stressful than it really is.

But here's the thing: It's fun to spend money! This is especially true when it means spending money on bringing your dreams to life, which is the very heart of self-publishing. I absolutely adore these final preparations: cover and interior design; the creation of web art, book swag, and promotional materials; adjusting my website; preparing ARCs.

My experience with self-publishing When Stars Burn Out was, quite frankly, rushed and quite overwhelming. This was because I wasn't ready. This was because I rushed the process. This was because I had already made myself an expert on traditional publishing — but the whole self-publishing experience couldn't be more separate or individual. Now, I know better, and I know a great deal more and am *actually* prepared.

Which is why I figured I'd share the basics of my self-publishing budget to those of you who are feeling the way I did when I published When Stars Burn Out. Again, this budget is super bare bones; it doesn't include paying for ads, blog tours, or advertising. Instead, this budget exclusively covers what it takes to get your book published. Nothing after the fact. I will save that topic for after A Dark Sky Opens is published, and then I can give you an updated log of what all of that entails! :)

So, let's dive right in: If you're interested in self-publishing, the very first thing you'll need to research and budget for is a qualified editor. This is unspeakably important. While the stigma against self-publishing is growing more feeble by the day (and hardly exists at all anymore, if we're being honest), there's still the risk of that reputation relapsing. The biggest reason for this is because self-published authors tend to skip having their work professionally edited — and honestly, that makes sense, because this is easily the priciest part of self-publishing.

But we all know how this goes, right? This means they typically end up publishing work that is very rough around the edges, if not outright terrible. Because let's face it: The writers who are okay with bypassing this essential step typically have an aggrandized and (sadly) warped perspective of the quality of their work.

Rarely is a writer capable of viewing their work in an objective manner — which is yet another reason why a professional editor is essential. Not only do you want verification that what you have written is a good story (things such as: well-placed plot points; symbolism; continuity of theme, and the execution of the thematic revelation; etc.), you're going to want to make sure it's free of typos, continuity errors, and other such things that will destroy a reader's interest.

When Stars Burn Out was an unusual experience, editing-wise, because it got into Pitch Wars which offered a lot of developmental feedback. By the time I hired my editor, the book itself was already copyedit ready.


Copyediting cost me $1,500. Proofreading cost me $930. Total: $2,430.

Now, keep in mind that if I'd also paid for any level of developmental editing, I'd tack on an additional $2,000 to this total, making it: $4,430. This is why I highly, highly encourage every writer on earth to call upon their critique partners for developmental feedback. It's already hard enough to pull off $2,430, let alone another $2,000 on top of that, right?


This is a little tricky, because technically Amazon offers indie authors a free ISBN, but that will ultimately limit your distribution channels drastically — so, it's much better to cough up the funds for your own ISBN, which allows you to also publish through IngramSpark.

Doing this will open up your distribution to requesting bookstores and libraries, which is big for self-published titles! This levels the playing field big-time. This also means you're able to release a hardcover version of your title, in conjunction with paperback and eBook options.

So, my advice is to skip the free ISBN offered by Amazon and invest $125 in your own ISBN.


This self-publishing cost is subjected (arguably) to the highest degree of variability, so keep that in mind as I tell you: I've consistently spent $175 for my full paperback and eBook covers and formatting, which is a steal, honestly, as this includes book swag, website sliders, and a ton of other stuff.

I work with Qamber Designs and can't recommend them enough! They book out for months in advance, though, so be sure to contact them early on if you're interested in working with their team! :)

Whelp, those are the basics! Again, I'll post an update here after navigating marketing costs for A Dark Sky Opens (I didn't do *any* of that for When Stars Burn Out, so I'm relatively out of touch with what that entails). I'll also include what it takes to set up a launch party — which is a known way to break even on your total self-publishing costs in a single day (or, in some cases, already make a profit off your work).

I was really hoping to attend BookCon in 2021, which is a known way to sell a lot of copies of your books, while also forging important networking connections, but I unfortunately have no idea what the future holds for BookCon with COVID-19. *sigh*

Regardless, every dime I've spent on self-publishing has been absolutely worth it. This easily has been the best decision I've ever made: being bold enough to go indie, to believe in my work enough to take full control of my destiny, and trust that I'm not just a good writer — I'm also a good business owner! Self-publishing has brought so much pride and excitement and fulfillment, I can't even envision going traditional anymore

Are there any costs you're especially interested in hearing more about? If so, let me know!

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