Spending Money to Save Money!

Ever find yourself lured into buying something simply because it’s cheaper, only to find that it doesn’t work and then you have to spend more than twice as much money trying to replace it with what you actually need? We’ve all been there. We’ve chosen the cheap mechanic or car salesmen only to have our car break down just a few miles up the road.

As self-publishing authors, the temptation to choose the cheapest route is a dangerous one. A cheaper illustrator for your cover may save you a few bucks in production, but it could cost you exponentially more in sales. Spending money to make money always hurts initially. It’s a risk-based investment that you can’t guarantee will pay off. However, you can almost always guarantee that going a cheap route to save money will  never pay off.

Here are some things that cost money and are worth every penny:

  • Proofreading!!!!!
  • Developmental Editing and Copyediting
  • Interior Designer
  • Cover Designer/Illustrator
  • An up-to-date, visually appealing website
  • A book trailer or other social media marketing tools
  • Education — attend conferences, classes, writing retreats, etc. These things make you a better writer and will improve your sales, your networking and reputation as a writer.

Look at these investments as what they are: things that will pay off in the future. You invested so much time into creating a manuscript that you felt proud of, so don’t sell it short. Invest the money in it that you would like to get back and you will be amazed at the returns. If you just want a book to give to friends and families, feel free to skimp, but if you’re trying to market yourself, spend your money on quality investments.

money dollar bill


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

From the Archives: “Self Publishing Authors Beware: Cheaper isn’t Always Better”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: February 25th, 2015 ]

I recently saw a commercial with the message “cheaper isn’t always better.” The advertisement illustrates that cheap is good and sushi is good, but cheap gas station sushi isn’t good (or something like that, I’m sure you’ve seen it).  This analogy immediately made me think of self publishing. For authors considering self publishing, it is important to remember that cheaper isn’t always better. When choosing a self publishing company, consider these two questions.

1. What are the upfront costs, the per book cost and royalties?

You may find a company that has incredibly low per book author costs, but don’t let that govern your decision.  Just because a company promotes a low per book cost doesn’t mean they are the best bargain — they may have high upfront costs and low royalties.  And just because a company offers low upfront costs doesn’t mean they are the best bargain — they may have high per book costs, low royalties and even requirements for you to purchase hundreds of books yourself.  You must find a good balance of upfront costs, per book cost and royalties.  Consider all of this when self publishing.

2. What services are available?

In many cases, the cliché “you get what you pay for” is true, and self publishing is often one of those cases. Not all self publishing companies are created equal, and you need to consider your professional goals and needs when choosing a company. A cheaper company often does not offer all the services and support needed to create a quality book, and if you want to be respected as an author and sell books, you need to offer your readers a quality product.

Ultimately, the self publishing company you choose depends on your goals and needs as an author. Some people can go with the cheapest option and be completely satisfied, but many serious authors find that spending a little more is worth the extra expense.  You want to find a company that will produce a top-quality product, offer you plenty of options such as professional editing and custom covers, and a variety of options for marketing and promoting your book.  As you research self publishing companies, be sure to consider all the costs as well as the value of the services offered. You may just find that “cheaper isn’t always better.”

by Jodee Thayer

You know all about hidden fees and the small print, don’t you?  At some point or another, we’ve all fallen victim to it: in paying off student loans, in signing a work contract, in paying for that one trip to the emergency room six years back, in getting called up for jury duty–and of course, in selecting a company to self-publish your book.  Back in the early age of the internet, when everything was wild and self-publishing was as yet an unformed and unregulated process, lots of people were straight-up swindled out of their money by scam websites advertising cheap publication, no problem, no questions asked.

These days, you’re a lot less likely to run across a mustache-twirling self-aware villain than you are to be taken advantage of by a legitimate, if soulless and heartless, company.  These companies offer–you guessed it–real and legitimate services, but they do so in a way that deliberately obscures the real costs beneath layers and layers of fine print.  The only way to really know what you’re getting when it comes to a self-publishing company is to read every line of the original agreement as well as every line of every product bundle–and to verify with past customers that they got exactly what they paid for in addition to quality customer service, and that they were never strong-armed into paying for services they didn’t want or need, used-car-salesmanlike.

sale

The first step to a successful (and enjoyable) self-publishing experience is to shop wisely, and only go into business with a company you trust.  Can you trust Amazon to put your needs–one customer in a billion–first?  Probably not.  How about a smaller family-run company or passion project?  You’re probably on the right track there.  The second step is not to equate cost with quality–to recognize that hidden fees are reprehensible, yes, but that there are also delayed costs in publishing.  A cheaper cover design option now might cost less now, but the cost is simply delayed–a few months down the road, it becomes clear that a cheap and unattractive book cover is, yes, costing you.  Costing you customers!  The same goes for poor interior design, and poor marketing.  You might have savvy in some of these areas, but it’s rare for an author to have a deft hand with both Photoshop and listserv blasts.  The key is in knowing your strengths and taking advantage of them, and knowing the strengths of your publishing platform–and being willing to pay for the ones you need.

Because, ultimately, the truth of the matter is that pretty much every product on the planet, including your self-published book, is inevitably shaped by one simple formula, and it’s not “lower cost = better service.”  Rather, the formula that shapes your book’s destiny is instead:

quality of service × expense of production = quality of product

And the thing about a formula like this is that if you reduce either of the terms, service or cost, the quality of the product can only go down.  Now, every company starts at a different point; some self-publishing and hybrid service really do offer better offerings for the same price as others.  That has to be researched, and can only truly be verified by checking in with the experts and with past customers of all of the different companies you have an eye on.  (Research is never a bad idea.)  As long as you are looking for balance in all things–between costs now and later, between time and energy and skill set and the challenges before you, I’m confident you’ll make the best choice in what services you pay for!

better service lower cost balance

 

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part IV

This month I have been writing about FAQ such as how long it take to self-publish and how much will it cost. This week I will address the common question “Where can people buy my self-published book?”

There are many places readers will be able to purchase your book. However, the exact answer depends on your self-publishing company and the options you choose. Many companies offer different publishing packages that include various distribution options. For instance, Outskirts Press has several different packages with the following distribution options:

Diamond, Pearl, and Ruby authors receive worldwide wholesale distribution through wholesalers including Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bertrams, and Gardners. Additionally, with the exception of Emerald books, all Outskirts Press books appear on worldwide e-retailer sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells, Books-A-Million, and many others. Ingram alone handles distribution and availability for nearly all bookstores and chains, while Baker & Taylor is largely used by libraries. Together, your book is available for order through over 25,000 sales channels worldwide.

Where your book is sold also depends on your own goals and marketing plan. For instance, you may choose to approach a local bookstore and ask them to carry your book. Self-publishing authors have access to a variety of retail options; the key to successfully selling your book is an effective marketing plan. It won’t matter where your book is sold if no one knows your book exists.

When choosing a self-publishing company, be sure to find out what distribution options and marketing help they offer, and don’t be afraid to approach additional markets. As a self-publishing author, you control how successful your book becomes.

If you have questions about self-publishing, feel free to comment below and I will try to address your topic in a future post. Also, be sure to check out the previous posts in this series:

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part III

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part II

The Cost of Self-Publishing

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part III

This month I have been writing about FAQ such as how long it take to self-publish and how much will it cost. This week I will address the common question “How much money will I make from my self-published book?”

It is difficult to estimate how much an author will earn from a self-published book because many factors influence the income. Authors earn royalties based on the sales of their books, so their income is directly linked to how well their books sell. The number of books self-publishing authors sell and the income they make from those sales vary greatly. Some authors only sell a handful of books a year, while others are capable of earning over $100,000 a year.

How do you know where you will fall? Self-publishing is all about investing in yourself. Given that successfully publishing a book involves 20% writing and 80% marketing, you should naturally spend most of your time and money promoting the book after you write it.

The income of a self-publishing author is 100% in their own hands. No one can “predict” how much you will earn as that is only a result of two things:  the quality of your book and substantial effort in marketing it to the right audience.

If you have questions about self-publishing, feel free to comment below and I will try to address your topic in a future post. Also, be sure to check out the previous posts in this series:

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part II

The Cost of Self-Publishing

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part II

Last month I wrote a post about the cost of self publishing and told you I would address other FAQ in future posts. Well, I always keep my word, so here we go. This week I will address the common question “How long does it take to self publish?”

The length of time it takes to self publish a book varies from company to company and from project to project, but it is almost always quicker than traditional publishing.

Some companies offer extremely quick turnaround times such as a few days to a few weeks. When considering these options, be sure to think about the quality of the book you want to print as well as your budget. You shouldn’t sacrifice quality for a quick turnaround time, and fast options are sometimes more expensive. While these options are good for some people, they aren’t for everyone.

Most people can expect to have their book self published in 2 to 3 months. This allows time for important aspects of publishing such as cover design. However, if your book needs extensive copyediting, the process could take a little longer.

If you have specific questions about how long it will take to self publish your book, contact your self publishing company. Also, be sure to check out my previous post answering the question “How much does it cost to self publish?” and check back every Monday for other FAQ.

If you have questions about self publishing, feel free to comment below and I will try to address your topic in a future post.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top 4 Self-Publishing FAQs: Part I

Last month I wrote a post about the cost of self publishing and told you I would address other FAQ in future posts. Well, I always keep my word, so here we go. This month, I will be doing a series about the top self publishing FAQs. Here is what you can expect.

Each week I will share information about one of the self publishing questions I am frequently asked. These are the questions I plan to cover:

How long does it take to self publish?

How much money will I make from self publishing?

Where can people buy my self published book?

I’ve already completed the first FAQ: How much does it cost to self publish? So be sure to go check out that post.

Also, if you have any questions about self publishing, feel free to comment below and I will try to address your topic in a future post. Be sure to check back every Monday for the answers to the FAQs.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.