Indie Publishers: Make More Money by Spending a Little Money

We’re living in an exciting time for novelists and non-fiction writers. We have the tools at our disposal to release our work to the world at large without someone asking to take most of our money (i.e. publishing houses). Independent publishing is here and going nuts despite the numbers which say that most independent publishers won’t sell more than 200 copies of their release. Part of this is that many independent publishers believe that being independent means doing everything yourself.

One thing is for certain: it takes money to make money. I didn’t say it takes a lot of money to make money but it does take budgeting aside some money to invest into your business. It’s the way of business even if it’s on a shoestring budget. You need to spend some money. If you’re not willing to spend some money, then expect most of your time being tied up in things other than writing. Also expect a low return financially.

According to a Writer’s Digest/Digital Book World survey of about 2,200 self-published authors when asked how much money they spent on contracted services, the median was between $500-$999 with three being the average amount of services used.

As you can see, the services that were most used were cover art, formatting, and print-on-demand. That last one just doesn’t make any sense to me unless they are talking about actually buying the books once they are done for review purposes. But paying for a POD service is just ludicrous to me.

It seems that there would be more spent on marketing but the numbers are very general. When they say marketing, does it mean marketing services that are exorbitant in their prices or for tools to help in that aspect, or a mixture of all the above? No specifics are given though I would hazard a guess that it’s the latter in which case the number should be higher.

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What the survey also revealed was that of the over 1,900 who reported their income, those who spent money on some kind of service made more money. What I found the most interesting was that there was a correlation between spending money on services, the amount of services used, and the amount that included marketing as one of those services.

What appeared to be the break off point is the editing and marketing (click the image to see a larger version). Though those that earned between $5,000 and $9,999 were using the same methods as those who were in the $10,000 to $25,000 bracket, the key point appears to be editing and marketing of which more of the higher earners spent slightly more money on. Also, they used less in terms of services as well. This signals that it’s not only the amount of  money you spend but how you spend it.The moral of the story: don’t be cheap. Invest in your business. Have a plan and work with a team of people with a minimum of an illustrator, editor, and a cover designer (since most folks doing their own don’t know what they’re doing). Do the math: spend $500 to make upwards of $10,000 to $25,000. That’s a no brainer folks.

2 Responses to Indie Publishers: Make More Money by Spending a Little Money

  1. Katie Cross says:

    Oh, I’m so with you on not being cheap. I don’t think you have to spend thousands of dollars you don’t have to get a good book, but NOT investing in editing services or professional cover designers would be so crippling to sales. I’ve read several really amazing, and well edited books, that had terrible covers, and therefore no exposure.

    I also spot a good amount of money on my cover, but I spent the most on editing.

  2. Makes sense to me. I do a little bit of website and cover design so I do my own covers. However, the cover for my upcoming book, Blackson’s Revenge, will feature custom illustrations. Just working out the details with my illustrator last night. Of course, I had to pay for that but this guy is good to say the least and worth every penny. He’ll be doing all three of the covers in the series.

    Like you, I will be paying for editing services. I have to find someone that I’m comfortable with who I like working alongside. I’m shopping around at the moment. I have another editor but he only edits my non-fiction.

    After it’s all said and done, I will be spending between $750 – $850 approximately. If I can come in under budget, the better.

    The key for us is to have a plan and budget to invest in your business.

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