Real Costs of Self-Publishing

I found this excellent peek behind-the-scenes of self-publishing from’s CEO Abigail Carter.** It’s the kind of information that is just hard to come by, and I found it really useful.

She describes not just the costs she has put into the book pre-launch, but also the struggle to get recognition via reviews. It’s a good reminder that self-publishing means you have to take on a lot more than you would if you were picked up by an agent and publisher (though the difference in your royalties may be worth it to you).

Before launch, Carter spent $2,570 to get the book ready (yeah, that number rocked me back a bit, too, but it’s so great to have actual hard numbers). In a week, she made… $75.41.

She followed up recently with another post, detailing more of her expenses, in particular her hard work to get those vital Amazon reviews. She got 102 reviews and more sales, and her expenses went up to $3,183. With sales at only $441.94. Yikes, that’s a big cost. Hopefully it will pan out for her.

If you’ve self-published, have you “broken even” yet? What did it take to get those early reviews?

**Full disclosure: I work with Abby sometimes through, because I find it to be an excellent resource for writers, editors, and illustrators. She’s a nice person. No one paid me to write about this, however.


Filed under Publishing, writing

5 responses to “Real Costs of Self-Publishing

  1. I tell you what; even the lowest of those numbers would have me bragging like crazy.
    I do have a self-pub’d poetry book, but the only sales have been the Author copies I got as part of the package. Most of those went to family and their friends.
    So, for the (?)$1500.00 it cost to finish the process, I have no online sales or reviews.
    But, hey, I have a letter from The Library Of Congress recognizing my book!

  2. With my first two books (under a pen name), I put very little money into the creation process (<$500), so I broke even fairly easily. However, I've bet the farm on my upcoming YA fantasy novel to the tune of ~$1000 so far. As much as I hope for a quick return to black, I know it's going to be a long road. But, having put that money out, I know that book is the best possible one I could produce and that, to me, is worth it.

  3. Profiting from pure writing, fiction, poetry, and the like, has got to be one of the very hardest things. Making money off your book with other business payoffs is less difficult. All the writing and editing work around business can create a decent living for people with skill and good work habits.

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