Natasha D. Lane
If someone were to say writing is not for the feign of heart, I think writers everywhere would applaud in agreement. Now, if this same someone were to say writing is not for those with empty wallets, we’d applaud, then check our bank accounts. We indie authors would probably check twice for good measure.
Finances can be a struggle for authors everywhere, particularly those of us wild enough to go at it alone. Indie authors, unlike traditionally published, are responsible for every step of the writing and publishing process. Those steps include but are not limited to the following:
- Professional Editing
- Professional Cover Design
In my experience, the bulk of publication costs stem from professional editing, cover design, and formatting. Of course, you could save money and ask your neighbour/mom/high school English teacher/the newspaper boy/random stranger with some experience to assist you with one of the bulk costs, right?
In short, that decision is yours. I always advise hiring people outside of your inner circle especially for the editing process. That’s a post for another time, though! Here are a few ways to save money as an indie:
1. Learn to Format Your Manuscripts
Formatting is a must if you ever want to sell your story. Amazon has systems in place which check for formatting errors before a book is approved for publication. These systems ensure words don’t bleed off the page, lines remain straight, and there aren’t large blank spaces. That being said, you don’t want to mess up your manuscript’s formatting.
A badly formatted novel will leave a bad impression, particularly for a reader new to your work. Of course, you can pay for this service, or you can learn to format. Not only are there plenty of YouTube tutorials, but some experienced authors offer courses. These courses are usually no more than one-hour long and cost a small sum. However, that’s a one-time payment for a lifetime of savings.
2. Work With Other Indies/Freelancers
Networking matters. It’s how I’ve learned to navigate the crazy publishing industry. Authors, fellow indies included, keep each other informed. They also act as referrals for external tasks such as graphic design and editing. Several of the editors I’ve worked with came through a recommendation from another author. This statement is true for the formatting course I took, as well.
On top of providing great referrals, indies want to support one another. If a graphic designer or editor knows you’re a fellow indie, they may be willing to offer a discount or special deal. Don’t expect anything for free (everyone has to eat, right?) but they’ll do what they can to stop your bank account from screaming at you.
3. Give Away Ebooks Instead of Paperbacks
This tip is pretty simple. Ebooks are cheaper to ship than paperbacks because you can send them via email at no cost. And once you have an ebook copy of your work (in either Epub or Mobi usually), all you need is that copy. You can send it to as many people as you like.
Though many readers prefer paperbacks, they’re more expensive to ship. If you know the reader’s address in advance, you can ship directly to them from Amazon. This step prevents you from paying twice for shipping costs: once to yourself, then again to the author. Still, it’s extra money that could have stayed warm and cosy in your bank account.
I do want to add a few caveats here. Amazon, like many print-on-demand publishers, offers author copies, so you pay less than a reader would for your printed book. This discount will be useful during those occasions when you really need your paperback copies.
4. Self-Edit & Use Beta Readers
Despite the number of times someone reads your manuscript, you’ll still need a professional editor. Some authors send their manuscripts in for several rounds of editing because there are different types. To name a few, you have developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading.
I sent my first novel in for both line and developmental edits. It cost a lot, to say the least. However, I’ve found that when I self-edit my novels and use beta readers, there’s less work for the professional editor to do. Less work means fewer rounds of edits and more money in my wallet.
5. Save Money In Your Personal Life
Another simple tip but still worth noting. The more money you have to spare towards your work, the better. No, money is not everything when it comes to writing or publishing a novel. But, it does make the process easier. Saving before you publish means you won’t feel the strain as much.
So, skip a few coffees, don’t go out to eat as much, and don’t buy that new pair of shoes. It’ll be worth it when you finally get to hold your book in your hands.
What other money-saving tips do you all have? Make sure to share them in the comments!
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