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Writing and Publishing

How Much Does It Cost to Indie Publish a Book?

The price to indie publish a book varies greatly. The answer depends on your skills, budget, and book-length.

I’ve heard people explain how you can publish a book for under one hundred dollars. While their advice is accurate, the results won’t produce a professional-looking book that will get people’s attention and earn good reviews. I suggest not trying to publish a book on the cheap.

There are also people who outsource much of the work and pay several thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars to publish a book. If you have a lot of money, that may be the option to choose.

For myself, I budget $1000-$1500 per book. Here are my typical expenses:

Developmental Edit: $100 to $800 (though you can spend much more)

Copy edit/Proofread: $300 to $600, depending on the book-length

Cover Design: $300 to $500

Interior Layout: under $100 and up

I do everything else myself, so the only cost there is my time.

For the developmental edit and copy edit/proofread many editors charge by the word. Others charge by the page or by the hour. I prefer the per-word fee because I know what my cost will be. Though you can find people offshore who will do this service for much less, be careful. They may not speak English as their primary language or even if they do, their editing work may fail to meet the expectations of native English readers. Also, with any type of editing work, the longer the book, the more it will cost.

For the cover design and interior layout, you can save money by going offshore and still get a professional result. I’ve worked with cover designers in several countries and have gotten good quality artwork. I’ve only worked with one interior layout designer, and she did a great job.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

How to Register Your Copyright

Registering a copyright for a book is the best practice for a career author and helps protect our intellectual property, a key asset for many authors. Registering our copyright provides a stronger legal footing if anyone ever disputes ownership or authorship of our work. Additionally, a registered copyright is essential in the event of a lawsuit.

(Though it’s possible to register a copyright for blog posts, other short works, and even unpublished content, doing so is expensive and cumbersome to manage.)

Beyond that, in the United States, the copyright lasts for seventy years after the death of the author, so registering our copyright helps our heirs to better earn money from our intellectual property (our writing) after we’re gone.

Registering your copyright is not hard, but it might look foreboding, especially the first time. In the United States, go to www.copyright.gov. Though most of the application process is straightforward, beware that a couple of areas could trip you up. Therefore, I strongly recommend studying Kathryn Goldman’s excellent webinar at https://creativelawcenter.com/copyright-application/

Though registering the copyright for my first book took a couple of hours, I can now complete registration in about fifteen minutes. This small investment will protect my book, both during my lifetime and for my heirs.

(This discussion about copyright and registration relates to the United States. Other countries have different copyright laws and registration processes.)

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Should You Produce Audiobooks?

Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry. And the demand for audiobooks will remain strong. Younger generations love audio, a habit they will retain as they grow older. Therefore, audiobooks are something we should consider.

But audiobooks are also expensive to produce, much more so than e-books and print books. So before jumping on the audiobook bandwagon, authors should proceed with care. It can be a huge investment that takes a long time to produce a return, if at all.

Some successful indie authors have worked out revenue-share agreements with book narrators, where the narrator doesn’t charge anything upfront and agrees to split sales revenue, often 50-50. But narrators only make these revenue-share agreements with authors who have a history of selling books. Therefore, this option is unavailable to many writers.

This means if we want to have an audiobook, we need to pay the production costs ourselves. This price can be several hundred dollars per finished hour of audio. And though the author will keep 100 percent of the book sales, they also take on all the financial risk.

But technology stands poised to revolutionize audiobook production. Already, tools exist that can produce a near-perfect text-to-speech rendition of a book. But currently, major book retailers prohibit the sale of these automated productions. I’m confident this will change.

Even more exciting is the future possibility of a computer being able to cost-effectively sample our voice and then produce a narrated book that sounds like us. I don’t know how soon this change will happen, but it will occur.

Personally, I’d love to have all my books in audio, but it’s not a good business decision for me right now. But that will change, and when it does, I’ll produce audio versions of all my books.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

It’s Hard to Land a Publishing Deal

It’s harder now than ever to land a traditional publishing deal. Publishers are risk-averse and generally require that you have a platform to promote and sell books.

Most traditional publishers won’t work directly with authors. They require you to have an agent. An agent only makes money if they land a publishing deal for their client. This means they only take on a client if they think they can sell their work.

Again, having a large platform to sell books is key. Agents are also interested in authors who will likely write many books.

Though it’s never been harder to land a traditional publishing deal, there’s never been more opportunities for self-publishing/indie-publishing.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

The Indie Book Publishing Checklist

Here are the key steps to write and indie publish a book.

  1. Develop your initial concept and vision. This step includes market research into competitive titles to gauge the book’s marketability. 
  2. Write the first draft for the entire book.
  3. Do your first edits. Continue to fine-tune until you feel you’re ready for feedback.
  4. Run spell and grammar check.
  5. Get feedback from beta readers or critique groups and fine-tune your book, though this step can also happen after step eight.
  6. Run spell and grammar check, again.
  7. Get a developmental edit. Some people call this edit a book critique, while others call it a substantial edit. But these labels can also refer to different services. What you want is big-picture feedback. At this stage, you need someone to give you an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of your book. They should address how it flows, its overall arc, and identify anything that’s out of place, missing, or not needed. You also want someone to point out shortcomings in your writing style—we all have them, but we can’t see them until someone tells us.
  8. Incorporate the feedback of your developmental edit, as appropriate, into your book. Evaluate every recommendation, but don’t feel you need to accept each one. When you feel you’ve implemented all the relevant changes, proceed to the next step.
  9. Run spell and grammar check, a third time.
  10. Have someone copy edit your book. This edit looks at writing at the sentence level.
  11. Again, discerning what advice to follow and what to dismiss, make the needed changes.
  12. Do a fourth spell and grammar check.
  13. Have someone proofread your book. This edit addresses grammar and punctuation. It focuses on details. Though many authors separate copy editing and proofreading into two steps, most of the editors I work with do both at the same time. This saves money and shaves weeks off the publishing timeline.
  14. Make a final read through the book yourself and do a final spell and grammar check. Since you’ve already had professionals review your book, make changes with great care at this point. If in doubt, leave it as is.
  15. Format your book for mobi and epub (the formats needed for e-books). I do this formatting myself using a free online tool from Draft2Digital. If you use Scrivener, it can also format e-books. 
  16. Once you’ve formatted your e-book, verify that everything looks the way you want it to.
  17. Concurrent to the copy edit and proofread phases, design your book cover. Unless you have graphic software and the skill to produce a cover equal to or better than traditional publishers, hire a cover designer.
  18. Upload your e-book to your publisher or publishing aggregator or both. Though an incomplete list, these are the publishing outlets I use:
    • Amazon, to reach the US audience, you must be on Amazon
    • Kobo, which is great for other countries, such as Canada
    • Draft2Digital, a publishing aggregator, which can also do Amazon
    • Publish Drive, a publishing aggregator, which can also do Amazon
    • StreetLib, a newer publishing aggregator, with a wide reach
  19. If you want to also do a paperback version, which I recommend, hire someone to do the interior layout. Yes, you can do this step yourself, but it’s tedious and frustrating. (I have spent over twenty hours trying to do the internal formatting myself. So now I pay someone else to do it.) They will provide a PDF file of your book. Note that Amazon and IngramSpark have different file expectations, so you need two files, one for each publisher.
  20. Verify that everything in your PDF is correct.
  21. Upload your paperback version to your publisher or publishers.
    • Amazon
    • IngramSpark
  22. Now it’s time to launch and market your book. Marketing gives us a whole new topic to deal with.

Since I’ve written and published many books, I made my own checklist (on which the above list is based) to make sure I cover everything and don’t miss a step. As more options become available and I learn more about the writing and publishing process, I will continue to fine-tune my list. If you plan on being a multi-book author, I suggest you make your own checklist too.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.