Updated: Oct 30, 2021
CAVEAT: I suspect I'll get a lot of comments on this post about why on EARTH I spent so much money on the stuff I did, and that's fine. I'm just throwing this out there now. I spent a lot of money getting started in authorship. But, to be fair, I saved up for many years knowing this was coming. On top of which, I'm not great at being frugal. When I decide I'm doing something, I'm balls-to-the-wall, all-in like a crazy person. To make it easier to follow, I've lumped my expenses into option and non-optional below!
In my last post, I shared my journey to release day, and what the stats looked like on that day in terms of email subscribers, preorders, social media following etc. I'm 100% aware that no author's journey is ever the same, and each book can be different. What I'm really chronicling here is my specific journey, and what I felt like I learned.
(me and my misters on release day, celebrating with Starbucks)
I thought it might be helpful to get some context regarding up-front expenses. I'm going to chat through what I threw money into, and why, and what I wouldn't spend money on again.
For context, I still work a very demanding day job that I won't be leaving any time soon. I've also got a lovely hubby and a three year old son, so my free time is very limited. When I started researching indie publishing (which seemed like it had an easier entry point than traditional publishing), I got overwhelmed quickly. Like, really overwhelmed.
Ultimately, I opted to hire an author coach to do a couple of things: 1) help me fine tune my book and approach, 2) help me prioritize where to spend my time, 3) help me weed out things I didn't really need to focus on. This was absolutely an expense most people will never do, and that's fine. But for me, she was critically important to my success, and making the most of my very limited time.
I also spent a fair amount of cash on book and author marketing courses. Some of these were super great and some weren't so awesome. There's a lot of great, free content out there. But again, I had limited time and wanted to get right to the most important stuff that I could start utilizing right away. To me, if you're going to spend some cash on courses, the most bang for your buck is Mark Dawson's courses, Hannah Richards Social Media for Authors and Sugarpunch Marketing. I learned the most from those folks and never regretted spending those dollars. For what it's worth, they all share a lot of great free content on Instagram as well!
In my last post, y'all heard me talk about how hard I thought it was to find my "brand look" ahead of time, but I'm glad I did it. Hannah Richards is the only reason I have any sort of "look" at this point. I also spent some cash getting a professional logo (Etsy), buying commercial fonts and images (Etsy), purchasing a solid cover, and setting up a great website (via Wix) that did almost everything I wanted it to. You certainly don't have to do this, but it was critical for me, and now I don't have to redo anything in the future.
A couple other expenses I didn't really foresee but didn't think I could get out of were BookFunnel (ARC delivery, giveaways, newsletter building), Proofreading and Formatting.
In the end, I'm horrified about how much money I spent, but also confident that I've got a good plan to get in the black within 18-24 months.
Author coaching, dev and line editing.........$4500
Custom logo/fonts/images/Book Cover.......$350
Bookbundant promo (it sucked, btw)............$199
TOTAL OPTIONAL.....................................$5849 (hot damn, that's nuts. thank gawd this is optional hahahaHAHAAAA. imagine me nervous laughing here)
Dev and line editing aren't really optional to me, but I paid for them along with my author coach, so that's why I lumped them there.
Proofreading Book One.............................$325
Formatting Book One................................$200 (ebook formatting cost me $50 but I opted for really fancy paperback formatting which was $150)
In the future, I'm estimating further book releases will cost me $750 in editing (I'm still doing both dev and line, since I'm so new), $200 for formatting and $150 for cover design for a total of $1050 per book. You could easily pare this down by formatting for free on Reedsy, I just wanted something extra special on my pages (here's where I bring us back to me being incapable of "starting small"....ugh). You could also do just a line edit and skip dev entirely, that would save you some cash as well. And maybe invest in Vellum and format all your own books for free after you pay for that software. There are lots of options here.
In my next post, I'll talk about the marketing I did before launch that I felt worked really well - and what didn't. Definitely some wins and losses on that topic, ugh.
Comment below if you have any questions!