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Self-publishing sure seems expensive. Although I’m not looking at that route for myself right now, I had a browse of the prices out of curiosity and wow, it looks like it could really burn a hole in an author’s pocket. Of course, selling your work will usually be royalty-based, but it’s the creation of the prints or ebooks that’ll get you. If you go for a package deal to include everything you need, many of the big companies out there are charging prices in the triple figures. And don’t forget all the optional add-ons; do you want a nice front cover? Fancy formatting? Promotion and advertising? It all really adds up.

 The big question: do I buy cover art, or do I eat this week? Image by Images Money

The big question: do I buy cover art, or do I eat this week?
Image by Images Money

But it looks like there are a few tools out there that can help cut those prices down if you’re willing to do some of the dirty work yourself. For example, the simple act of converting your Word document to ebook is going to cost you around £30 ($50) or more. But if you can be patient and you are just looking for a basic layout, this can be done with free software too. You will have to add any chapter breaks or other tweaks yourself, but it’s a lot better than paying £30 for something you could do yourself. I recommend Calibre. It’s the program I use for converting my work into ebook for my long-suffering beta readers.

And as for the cover image of your book, commissioning a good artist or photographer is extremely pricey. I’m talking three or even four figures, assuming you are opting for someone with quality work. It’s possible to find cheaper prices, but artists are generally well-aware of how much they are worth, so you are likely to get what you pay for. A cheaper option if you want a professional cover, but you don’t need it to be absolutely mind-blowing, is to use stock images. These can run pretty expensive too but there are also sites which will offer them for free. And the benefit here, whether you go paid or free, is that you will see the image before you commit to it while commissioning a piece from scratch is always going to carry some level of uncertainty. The down-side of a stock image is that it isn’t going to be exclusive to you – someone else could easily buy a copy for their own book. I mean, it’s fairly unlikely unless you are choosing a very generic image, but it could happen.

So, have any of you come up with some good cost-saving methods for the thrifty self-publisher? Let me know!