6 Things to Consider When Budgeting Your Self-Published Novel

Since making the decision to self-publish WALKING UP A SLIDE, I have read hundreds of articles dishing out advice on what service to publish with, what I should publish to, and how much I should spend.

It was the latter point that I was most interested in, as I knew that I would be publishing both print and eBook versions of the novel, and that I would be using a service that allowed me to publish to multiple channels (Amazon and co.). I also knew that I would be crazy if I didn’t pay out for a great looking cover, and hire an editor who wasn’t just a person who liked books or my Mum – but a professional editor. I was willing and prepared to shell out for quality work, because I knew that I’d be lost without it.

My first port of call was to create a spreadsheet in Excel that contained a list of tools/services that I would need, and then I did my research and priced up a variety of options for each section. I ended up with a total spend of £1,678 (or $2,848) for my cover, editing and proofreading, a handful of paid reviews and marketing services that I have budgeted for and will use once I have completed the novel, which is due in September.

After all my research and budgeting, I’ve put together a list of six things that you should definitely consider when budgeting for the production and release of your self-published novel. Here you go…

1. Book Cover

The cliché is definitely true: People judge a book by its cover, and people are undoubtedly drawn to books that have an interesting design. Just take The Fault of our Stars as an example. For some unexplainable reason, my eyes find that book wherever I am, whether it’s in a crowded Tesco or on the shelves at Waterstones. There’s just something about it, and I’m 100% sure the designers knew what they were doing when they created it.

Never read it… Can’t take my eyes off it!

I found my cover when I purchased Lucy V Hay’s The Decision, and took a shine to the book cover. I found a link to Bespoke Cover Designs inside and got in touch immediately. Peter took my book blurb and my ideas for a cover and turned them into this…


…And I couldn’t have been happier!

For £300, I got the cover I wanted, but you should have a budget in mind before you start shopping around. Once you know what you are willing to spend, it will be a lot easier to find design companies/designers in your price range and you can get the cover you want for the right budget.

2. Editing and Proofreading

I have heard multiple theories about this one, and it was the longest I have considered anything in my entire writing life. I’ve heard horror stories about self-published authors who have been found out after believing that their own editing prowess was enough to get the job done adequately, only to find out that it wasn’t the case, and their novels were filled with spelling and grammar errors, not to mention the errors in storytelling.

There have been self-published success stories where the author has been edited by their wives, husbands or best friends, but most pros will tell you that a professional editor is the way forward, and it’s best to shell out around £1,000 or more to get the best editors around. The problem with this – besides the budgeting – is that the turnaround can often be incredibly slow. You could be waiting for months for your manuscript back (although it will almost certainly be worth the wait).

I searched high and low for services, and took the decision to hand the manuscript over to a few friends (who were Creative Writing university graduates) to give their thoughts, but I also paid out for Self-Publishing Reviews Editing and Proofreading services, which set me back approx. £390 (I got a 15% discount because I purchased both services at the same time). I’ve also paid out for a second proofreader – a freelancer at £150 – just to get a second set of eyes on the finished manuscript. I thought that this was important.

If you don’t believe that you need an editor for your work, you’re wrong. After believing I was ready to hand over to an editor, I decided to do a quick ‘Find’ session on Word, to see if there was a lot of repetition in my work. I was embarrassed by the findings, and I spent another three days self-editing before sending the manuscript off. I had repeated the phrase “I walked” 57 times in 59,000 words. Not good enough. I got it down to five times, punched myself in the face, and moved on. I’m sure the editor will point out many more faults, and I need that!

3. File Conversions

I have driven myself to near insanity reading about formatting and file converting, and rather than attempt to do it myself, opted to distribute via Book Baby on their Standard Service for $99. For that one-off price, they will convert my files and distribute it across a variety of platforms. If you have the $99 to spare, I would recommend doing the same, especially if you’re as confident as me when it comes to formatting and converting files, which is not at all.

4. Self-Publishing Services

As stated above, I opted for the Book Baby service, but you can check out this comparison guide, or view the comparison chart from BWM Books.

There are so many options available to self-published authors now, and you should definitely consider the pros and cons for each service when it comes to budgeting. For example, if you’re a children’s author, you might be focussing on a printed book strategy rather than eBooks, and this decision will alter which service you need to sign up to. Be sure to read up on each service, and check for hidden costs.

5. Marketing and Advertising Services

There are going to be authors who would rather wrestle a shark than use Facebook, Twitter or any other form of marketing to sell more books and find a larger audience, but we don’t live in 1915 anymore. Word of mouth is still a huge part of marketing – and if you’ve written a great book this will be even more significant to your success – but getting your name out there in a crowded marketplace is more difficult, and that is why blogging and social media is highly recommended to authors.

However, there are marketing services out there that will beat the drum for you, and one way to do this for free is to sign-up to author directory sites (and sites like GoodReads). SelfPublishingReview.com recently released an extensive list of these sites, so check them out and get listed.

A number of self-publishing companies have marketing services available, and if you have the budget, they are worth checking out. Here is an example of what marketing services are available via Lulu.com.

From a personal standpoint, I have budgeted £500 for my marketing and advertising, which will consist of Twitter ads and sponsored Tweets, sponsored Facebook posts and GoodReads advertising (and Giveaways).

6. Reviews

There is a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of gaining reviews, and in my opinion, it depends on where the reviews and coming from and what they are saying. I could get all my friends, Facebook friends, family members and people I’ve kidnapped and bribed to give my book a Five Star review, but would it really help? I’m always drawn to the one-star reviews, not the fawning reviews that were probably written by buddies of the author.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be asking friends to review my book (I’ll be sending them a free PDF copy to read in the hope that they will write me a review), but I’ve also budgeted £337 for paid reviews from the following services:

There are hundreds of services out there that will review your self-published novel for a price, and if you’ve got the budget, I would recommend using some of these services. Whatever gets your book noticed by more readers has got to be worth paying out for, as long as those people purchase your novel and make all of your paid efforts worth while.


9 thoughts on “6 Things to Consider When Budgeting Your Self-Published Novel

  1. Julia Lund says:

    This is such useful advice and packed with information. Thank you! I have already self published an ebook, but want to offer a paperback version, so am looking at paying for a professional edit now. I love your book cover, by the way. Good luck!


  2. caroltice says:

    Interesting! I’m currently prepping a course for nonfiction e-book self-publishers, and your comparison chart is very interesting.

    I’d love to see you come back and post about results you got for your marketing spend, particularly paying for reviews from the services.


    • Daley James Francis says:

      Hi Carol, the plan is definitely to reveal what has worked and what doesn’t. It’s very much trial and error for me for novel #1, but I think it’s important to be honest and transparent! If I can help one person, I’ll be pretty chuffed! 🙂


  3. caroltice says:

    Also, how are you doing a promo on GoodReads? Last I looked, they were no longer accepting e-books/self-pubbed books…or maybe they’ve changed their policies?


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