How to self-publish your book on a low budget

Vasylysa
6 minute read
05.08.2022

Publishing a book is not cheap, especially if you want to do it yourself. On average, costs range from $2,000 to $5,000, and sometimes reach up to $20,000. Those are scary numbers, right? 

And the question that worries you at the moment: Is it possible to save money on publishing your story? We hasten to inform you that it is real. Even more: Today, we will tell you how to self-publish your book on a low budget. Get ready to find out some useful tips.

How to save money on editing?

Self-publishing budget consists of the expenses on editing, book cover design, formatting, marketing, printing, distribution, and more. Several aspects influence the publishing costs. Editing is one of the most expensive. Manuscript proofreading rates cost between $.01 and $.02 per word, and developmental editing accounts for $.07 and $.12 per word. Thus, if your book contains at least 70,000 words, you must pay from $700 to $8,400, depending on your need. That sounds costly.

However, if you don’t have a financial opportunity to hire a professional, you can edit your book on your own as a last resort. Let’s take a look at a few rules to stick by:

  • Take a break from your story. Please don’t rush to start editing your book as soon as you put the finishing touches on it. Give yourself a week, two weeks, or even a month. You have to cool down and forget your story a bit to take a fresh look at it.
  • Read it out loud. When we read silently, we can miss a lot of things. Read out loud: It allows you to find weak points in the manuscript.
  • Print your manuscript. So far, you have seen your book on your computer screen or in a notebook. The new format also helps you look at your story differently.
  • First, fix the plot holes. They include factual errors, impossible events, out-of-character behavior, continuity mistakes, and unresolved storylines. Then, you can proofread your manuscript for misspellings, grammar, and punctuation errors.
  • Do scene-by-scene editing. Don’t try to edit the entire book at once. Take one scene at a time, focusing on the details as much as possible. 

After you’ve edited your manuscript, check it for typos and minor errors using special tools. Here are some of them:

What about beta readers?

No matter how hard you try, you may overlook some of the weaknesses in your book. If you can’t afford an editor, you can’t do without beta readers. Such non-professional test readers at least can form a general impression of your book. They can also:

  • Find plot holes and pacing problems
  • Say whether the characters and plot are clear enough
  • Fix misspellings.

You may ask: But where to find beta readers? First, turn to your spouse, partner, friend, parent, or kid (if you write for children). Their help is free. 

The second way is to ask a book blogger who usually has a tremendous experience in reading. Offer a copy of your future book in exchange for their opinion.

One more tip here: When you are looking for beta readers, choose those who are your target audience. For example, if you write fantasy, find a fantasy fan. More likely, they know everything about fictional worlds and mythic creatures and can give valuable feedback.

What about formatting and book cover design?

Words are not the only essential thing to care about before publishing a book. When plot and error editing is over, it’s time to start formatting. Most self-publishing companies have their requirements for what pages of your book should look like. But nobody has canceled the general rules.

What things should you consider while formatting?

  • Font. As a general rule, you should prefer 12-point Times New Roman.   
  • Margins. Your pages should include one-inch margins on all sides. 
  • Indentations. Indent a half-inch for the first line on a new paragraph.
  • Line spacing. Double space all lines.  
  • Alignment. You should set the left alignment. 
  • Page numbers. Page numbers begin with the number one and are counted continuously. 
  • Scene breaks. You can add a blank line or three asterisks to show that a new scene begins.
  • Sentence separation. Make sure there is only one space between sentences after a period.
  • Ending. Write the word ‘END’ in the center to indicate the end of your manuscript.
  • Page size. The standard page size is 8.5 by 11 inches.

You can try these formatting tools to simplify the process:

Why shouldn’t you save money on book cover design?

A book cover is the first thing potential readers notice while entering a bookstore. Your story can have a super engaging plot, but nobody will find out if they don’t take your book into their hands and read the annotation.

It’s better to hire a book cover designer. There are a few more reasons to choose a professional book cover design:

  • Designers know market features: What works and what doesn’t
  • They catches the hook of your story
  • Professionals are familiar with all the genre peculiarities
  • They have access to high-quality images and professional fonts
  • Artists can draw a book cover from scratch
  • Designers knows how colors psychology works
  • They creates additional marketing materials.

The book cover matters not only as a beautiful dress for your story but as a powerful marketing tool. Indeed, you can try to create a book cover on your own to save money. There are a lot of tutorials and online tools for this purpose. 

You can also buy a premade cover as its price is lower to target a wider audience and compete with custom designs. However, premades still fit the canons of the genre. They are diverse and different, so you’ll indeed find what you need. Moreover, there is an option to make some little changes as well.

Where to publish your book for free?

The best choice for you is the ebook format, as most book retailing platforms allow uploading your story for free. Some self-publishing companies also offer printing services for extra pay. So you can use this option in the future. 

Let’s take a look at the most famous platforms.

Kindle Direct Publishing

It’s one of the largest online bookstores. Royalties account for up to 70%. After uploading, your book appears on the website within 24-48 hours. You can sell several books using one account.  

Barnes & Noble Press

Another largest book retailer offers royalties up to 70%. You can use marketing services and print your book for an extra payment. Authors get paid monthly. The website includes a convenient online calculator for royalties.

Rakuten Kobo

It’s one of the most popular book retailers in Canada. Writers can earn up to 70% royalties. You get production-ready files. Rakuten Kobo offers exclusive promotion services for extra pay.

Apple Books

Like most big online book retailers, Apple offers up to 70% royalties. Its users tend to pay higher prices for books.

Lulu

It’s a mixed self-publishing company that offers extra paid services: Editing, Book cover design, marketing, etc. But it’s free to upload books. Authors can earn royalties up to 90%.  

How to promote your book?

Fortunately, we live in the Internet era that provides many ways to promote books online on a low budget. Some methods don’t need money at all – just your time if you manage marketing on your own. We want to share some of them.

Social media marketing

Social networks will be enough if you are an aspiring author and don’t have the opportunity to create a personal website. After all, Instagram and Facebook are not a place where you can share photos of your cat. These networks are a marketing tool.

Create author pages where you will promote your books and attract new readers. What do you need for this?

  • Engaging content. Not just texts but also practical and valuable materials, for example, writing tips or insights.
  • Interactive content. Post memes related to your profession and play games with readers.
  • Questions. Consult with subscribers about what book cover concept to choose, where to organize a book presentation, how to name a new character, etc.
  • Giveaways and contests. Give away your books for subscribing and organize competitions for the best review or fan art.
  • Cooperation with fellow authors. Organize joint Lives and tag each other in posts. It will allow you to reach a wider audience.

Author website

If you already have a personal website, use it to promote your author’s brand as well. In particular, you can:

  • Keep a blog. Tell readers about your creativity, the process of writing a book, and writing insights. You can also share moments from your personal life. Your blog should make them want to subscribe.
  • Send newsletters. Your emails should also be original and engaging. Try some out-of-the-box topics for newsletters. It can be not only news about the book’s release but also extra chapters or selections of fan art works.

As you can see, Internet promotion does not require money, only time to create content and regularity. Discover other ways to promote your book for free in our article. 

Bonus: 10 ways to save your self-publishing budget from Jenna Moreci

Jenna Moreci is a bestselling author and writing coach. She shared 10 ways how to save money on self-publishing. We’ve prepared a quintessence of them:

  1.  Choose package edits.
  2. Arrange virtual events.
  3. Don’t save money on the cover art.
  4. Collaborate with other writers.
  5. Offer digital incentives.
  6. Try Vellum software.
  7. Make some friends among authors.
  8. Use promo codes and discounts.
  9. Buy in bulk.
  10. Slow down!

You can find out more details in her new video:

Conclusion

Now you know more about how to save money on self-publishing your book. In particular, editing is one of the most costly parts of this process. However, you can do it yourself, using several rules and the services of beta readers.

A book cover is something you shouldn’t skimp on because it’s the face of your story and a powerful marketing tool. That’s why we recommend hiring a professional designer.

Book promotion has also become available thanks to the Internet. After all, exciting content and interactivity are often enough to attract new readers and subscribers.

Have you ever published a book yourself? Which stage was the most expensive?

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Vasylysa In her spare time, Vasylysa likes reading books, writing fiction, gardening, and walking. She hopes to publish her own book and become a famous author one day.
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