Tag Archives: amazon

The Cost of Independent Publishing

Independent publishing is substantially cheaper than its ever been.  With Amazon and other distributors offering to distribute your ebook for a small fee and print your print book on-demand with nearly zero up front costs, publishing your book on your own has never been easier.

However, to be taken seriously in the market and compete against other high quality traditionally and independently published works, it is still going to take an investment, like any other business.  Two must-have items you hear over and over again are quality editing of your manuscript and a professionally designed book cover.

Thanks to the explosion of independent publishing these two necessities can be outsourced to professionals willing to do the work.  But, that has a cost.

In very general terms, book covers can range between $300 – $800 depending on whether or not you want an ebook cover only or a print book cover as well.  It also depends on the designer, how good they are and how busy they are.

editingThe cost variance in book editing is even greater.  First, there are many different types of editing options (proofreading, copy editing, developmental editing, etc.).  Each of these involve different work efforts by the editor and therefore have varying prices.  That being said, for a standard novel (50k – 65k words – which are short novels BTW), it can cost anywhere between $500 – $3,000, depending on the editor.

Let’s take the middle ground of those two very broad ranges, meaning your book cover could cost about $550 and your editing $1750.  That’s a $2300 investment per book.

You sure better be ready to publish and then be VERY patient on getting a return on your investment.  Why?

At the current Amazon 70% return on each ebook sold over $2.99, if you offered your ebook for that price, you get about $2 per sale.  That means you have to sell 1150 books to break even.  For some people, that may not sound like a lot .  For others, that may sound impossible.

To put it into perspective, the average self-published book sells under 200 copies.  That leaves you $1900 in the red.  Granted, most of those self-published books have crappy editing, awful book covers and zero marketing effort.  The numbers are daunting, none-the-less.

Now, some people have contacts or talented friends that can help and you may be able to reduce the cost, but, whatever you decide, do NOT reduce the quality of the end result at the same time.  Writing is an art, but publishing is a business.  You need to go into it with your eyes wide open and with realistic expectations of cost and return-on-investment.

I will say this.  If I have to invest $2300 in my first novel, you can bet your ass I’ll be marketing the living crap out of it.  Otherwise, my Chief Financial Officer (i.e., the wife), won’t allow me near the credit cards again.

I haven’t decided on an editor or a book designer yet, but I’ll let you know when I do and how the process worked for me.

If you’ve had any experience with either editing or book design, please share your insights in the comments section. We’d all love to hear from someone whose been through it.

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Book Review – One Day in Budapest

One Day in Budapest is the fourth book in the ARKANE novel series by author J.F. Penn.

OneDayBudapestPenn crafts a powerful story about the tenuous nature of society when deep seeded hatred flows beneath the surface.  One Day in Budapest follows ARKANE Agent Morgan Sierra as she teams up with Zoltan Fischer to uncover the conspiracy behind the theft of the Holy Right relic of St. Stephen and its use to foment old hatreds against the Hungarian Jewish community.

Penn’s novella is well crafted and involves such deep and subtle detail that can only come from someone who has been there, visited the locations, understands the culture and knows how to present a possible future if bigotry and ignorance were to reign.

The fast-paced story shows how quickly mob rule and generational bias can boil over into something ugly.  This possibility exists in every society and Penn does a wonderful job to show how only a couple of pieces are required to thrust the ugly parts of society to the surface.

The characters are rich and well formed, making this book a very enjoyable read.

I also had the additional pleasure of listening to the audio book, which is exceptionally well done.  Either reading the book or listening to it are both great options.

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Independent Publishing

It’s time to dump the term “self-publishing.”  Lets call it what it really is, independent publishing.

A decade ago, the only legitimate way to get your book to the masses was through the traditional publishing houses.  Sure, there were some print-on-demand options available, but the quality of those books suffered in comparison.  The marketplace also did not support or encourage print-on-demand as a valid, legitimate publishing option.  It was for people who couldn’t get a real publishing deal.

booksAmazon changed all that.

With the advent of the Kindle, the acquisition or CreateSpace and Audible, and the growth of the Amazon online store as the number one seller of books, Amazon has both cornered and exploded the market on publishing.

Their approach has been brilliant and free market at its core.  They provide book lovers three popular ways to digest the material, ebooks (Kindle), paperback (CreateSpace) or through audio books (Audible).

They allow anyone and everyone to upload their latest and greatest novel or non-fiction book.  They don’t screen for quality or marketing or value.  They let the free market do that.  They let authors control their pricing and allow authors to control their marketing.  They let them change the covers on demand or update the book to fix errors without issue.  They give the control to the artists, not intermediaries.  For providing this marketplace, Amazon takes 30% and authors are glad to give it and pocket the remaining 70%.

Like movies, where there are studio made films and independent films, publishing should be looked at the same way.  If your book is not published from one of the top traditional publishers (the studios), then it is independently published.  Readers aren’t going to care whether its small press, self financed or made on a shoe-string.  Readers are only going to care about the quality of the product, the same way film lovers care about film.

So, let’s finally bury the “self-publishing” term, one often used as an insult by traditional publishing supporters.

We’re independent publishers.  And we’re not going anywhere.

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Podcast 02 – Author Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand, author of over 20 novels, including the highly successful Andrew Mayhem Series and A Bad Day for VooDoo shares his approach to his comedy-horror novels, the changes to distribution and his latest release, Dead Clown Barbecue.


Many thanks to Jeff who suffered through a cold while recording the podcast.  He’s a trooper.

Enjoy the Show!

(Running Time 38:24)

Links Mentioned in the Show:

Jeff Strand

Lynne Hansen Design



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Publishing Options

Out of the plethora of publishing options available today, we’ve ranked three that fit the best.

Our Gabby Wells novel series is about a teen sleuth who, along with solving mysteries, must also deal with the high demands of her faith.  These stories are not written in a preachy sort of way. Though most people will probably categorize it as Catholic or Christian fiction, we would categorize it as fiction about a character that happens to be Catholic.

Because of her beliefs, her faith journey is part of her life and adds a higher level of dramatic tension to the series.  Not only must she try and solve the mystery before her, but how she solves it can have eternal consequences.

Most people will probably try to pigeon hole this type of story into the Young Adult Christian fiction or Young Adult Catholic fiction category even though I feel it is far more universal than that.

Maybe I’m just being too optimistic.


This will be a five book series, not a one-off novel, so we have to look at the big picture of how best to publish them over the next 5-10 years.  At this point we have ranked these three publishing options:

  1. Established Publisher – An established publisher, either mainstream or Christian based, would give us access to resources that would be costly to do otherwise, especially editing.
  2. Create our own Imprint – since we hope that this series will be larger than a simple self-published title, having an imprint of our own, thereby establishing ourselves as our own publisher, would give us direct access to the same printing companies that publishers access today.  This would add a level of professional credibility to our product and allow us to adjust to the growth potential with each book.
  3. Self-Publish – using something like CreateSpace or some other low-cost self-publishing option, we could publish the series this way.  I’ve read a lot of books created using this method and the quality of the printing is excellent.  And the out-of-pocket costs are minimal. There is, however, a lot more time required to develop all of the material required, formatting the various publication options (print, ebook, etc.), cover photos, etc.  Plus, we’d have to be extra careful about rights ownership using such methods.

Option one is our preference, of course, because it’s a shortcut to getting out a quality product.  I have no problem surrendering a portion of my royalties to a company that helps make the end product the best it can be.

So, we’ll see what happens.  Who knows, things may change.  But, this is where we stand at the moment.

I’d love to hear about your publishing experiences. Care to share?

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