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  • The cost of self-publishing one book: By the numbers.

    my bookshelf with Repent and HauntHaunt My Heart is in the world and exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Haunt is my first independently published book and I’m pretty dang excited!

    The best thing about indie publishing is that you get to make ALL of the decisions.

    The worst thing about indie publishing is that you have to make ALL of the decisions.

    There were a few trying moments. My friend and fellow author Cara Bristol talked me down from more than one ledge. Ultimately, it was the best decision I’ve made so far in my publishing career.

    I honestly thought that publishing with a big-name traditional publisher would sell more books for me via their brand than I ever could  on my own. This past year has proved to me that’s not necessarily true.

    I know lots of authors don’t like to talk about the financial side of things, but I think it’s important for aspiring authors to know what they’re getting into. Sure, there are a few publishing miracles and books (and authors) that rocket to the top of bestseller lists but most of us are here working in the trenches just trying to tell our stories and get them read.

    As a reader, I never considered what it took for a book to make it to my shelf or e-reader. Now that I’m on the other side of that curtain of Oz, all has been revealed.

    I kept a list of expenses thus far for Haunt My Heart and share them now.

    What self-publishing costs. Breaking it down…

    Haunt expense wp

    So, $1,315 to get this one book published in digital and print. I suspect it cost around the same for a traditional publisher. Obviously some books have a much bigger budget and get tons of marketing/advertising/special photo shoot covers etc., which would have to be added in. I’ll spend more on marketing myself over the coming weeks and months.

    I snarkily mentioned that the actual writing of the book is incalculable. Maybe not entirely. Haunt My Heart is 68,000 words. I average–during active writing–500-1,000 words an hour. Let’s say then, Haunt was written at an average of 750 words per hour.

    68,000/750=90 hours of active writing x $20 per hour (day job wage) = $1,813

    Of course that doesn’t count the undocumented pile of hours it took for research, editing, more editing, marketing and promoting. That truly is incalculable.

    Still, you get the idea of what goes into a book in time and money.

    What can you expect to make? By the numbers.

    The next questions everyone wants to know is how much am I making per copy. Well, let me tell you, for my traditionally published books, I’ve earned less than a hundred dollars for all of the combined editions and incarnations this past year and sold a total of 420 copies since March 2014.

    Do that math…don’t worry, I’ll wait 😀

    Now, it’s true I had very little upfront financial output for the traditionally published books. The burden of publishing costs lay with the publisher. I also did not receive any advance money. What I did get was the coveted CALL, and FANTASTIC editing. Those things were very valuable and overall it was a good experience. I have no regrets and how have three well-honed stories.

    I bought some promotional cards, banners, advertising etc. for each of those publications. Plus all the other ‘stuff’ it’s taken to be published. I also attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention two years in a row to network and market myself and my book. That cost me around $1,500 per convention. I’m skipping it this year.

    Since I began this journey in July of 2011, I’ve kept receipts of my expenditures. Nearly all of them. And now that I’ve finally received a paycheck, I can deduct my expenses from my taxes. Wonder how much those receipts have added up to?

    Are you sitting down?

    $7,156.35.

    So now, perhaps you’re wondering–I know I would be–how much I expect to make with my indie published book.

    For the print copies I’ll make approximately $2.48 per copy sold on Amazon at $10.99 each. For the e-book edition, I’ll make $2.75 cents per copy sold on Amazon at $3.99 each. I make considerably more selling print copies out of my trunk and at appearances. For each hand-sold book at $10 each, I pocket a little over $5. BUT, those hand-sales do not help your Amazon rankings one iota. So there’s the rub. Earn more, but hurt your algorithm potential.

    See why I’ve gone indie?

    The benefits of exclusivity.

    For Haunt My Heart, I’m going exclusively with Amazon and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for the first ninety days. Maybe longer. The immediate benefits I see are these:

    1.  Haunt My Heart will be available through Kindle Unlimited‘s download service.
    2. Ninety percent or more of my readers are reading through Kindles or Kindle apps (or could).
    3. I have more of an opportunity of exposure through Amazon marketing and lists

    For each KU (Kindle Unlimited) download for which the reader reads at least ten percent of the book, I’ll get a royalty of approximately $1.50. KU downloads are ‘free’ to KU subscribers ($9.99 a month subscription for virtually unlimited reading from their available selection).

    In conclusion, to ‘break even’ on Haunt My Heart, I’ll need to sell approximately:

    531 print versions… or

    479 e-book versions…or

    878 KU downloads…or

    263 hand-sold print copies…or

    some combination of those three to recover the costs of publishing. That doesn’t include any profit or compensation for the time I’ve spend writing/marketing/promoting/ or thinking about this one book.

    I’m not quitting my day job. Not just yet. In my mind, the end goal is clearly to write and publish for a living and replace my day-job income.

    I turn 50 in 2018.

    I’d like to spend the second half of my life doing this crazy thing for a living from the Big Cedars.

    For a girl who’s adverse to math, that’s a lot of numbers. I hope it helps guide you on your writing journey. And may the words be with you.

    Have you ever tried or succeeded in working your dream job?  What happened? What’s your second act dream?

    Want to read my first self-publishing effort? Lucky you! You can get it here: Amazon Kindle     

    HauntMyHeartFinal (533x800) - CopyBook Description:

    A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

    Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.

    Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

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