So you want to be a writer - Tip #3 Cost vs Compensation (Part 2)

In Part 1 I talked a little about compensation.  So now it's the cost part of being a writer and your first book. I'll bet you will be surprised at how little it can cost.

Costs You Can Expect

You have to be able to promote yourself as an author and your book(s). If you don't already have one, the first thing you’ll need is an email address. While you might already have one for personal use, or even one for personal and one for writing, it’ll be easier to manage your social networking from a dedicated email account that is set for your author name. For instance, I have But you don't have to have a domain name to get your author name. I have a secondary email account that is I used this one before I had a domain, and continue to use it. Get a free email account at hotmail or Gmail, any of the providers for free and you will be set.

Website Expense - $10 - $30 a month, $0 to $100s for design

Eventually (at least several months before publishing) you need a website or at the very least a Facebook page dedicated to your author name. The Facebook page is free. Just make sure you signup as a business account and not a new "personal" account under your author name, as you will need to have the business page to create ads. Not to mention that Facebook is deleting those personal pages that aren't connected to a "REAL" person. See: Facebook Real-Name Policy.

Here is a good article on setting up that author page: How To Create A Facebook Author Page.

As for setting up your first website that will depend on your skill set. If you have some very basic skills with design (point and click) you should be okay to start with one of the services that use templates for web design. Such as Squarespace or Go Daddy. You will want somewhere to send people for information on your books, to look at covers and blurbs, and eventually have links to the retailers to buy the books. I recently moved my website to Squarespace the monthly charge is $26, or I could pay yearly and it would average out to $18. But mine is the business account, they have a simpler plan for $12. See Squarespace pricing. Because I have my own domain, so I also have a yearly domain name registration fee, but Squarespace will do a custom domain for free as part of their monthly pricing. That option would have been something like 

You can also have the website professionally designed which could cost $50 to $100s in one time fees. But that is a wide-range. Just do your research, and maybe try the templates first and take an online class on author websites.

Online Training - Optional $25 to $82 a month

I will say that when you are first getting started, you may want to spend some money on online courses. I've always done a little of this and continue to spend the money now. Just do your research on the classes and choose things you really need. They can be craft classes or marketing classes, or web-design clases? 

One of the best courses I've run in to is: Mark Dawson's Self-Publishing Formula. He has some free options, some podcasts you can listen to, and I am currently taking his Self-Publishing Formula 101 course that takes you from beginning to published. I have been revamping websites, book cover and blurbs, and all my advertising based on this course. It runs only twice a year, and in my opinion is well worth the money, no matter what genre you write or if you write fiction or non-fiction. It gives you a blueprint on where and how to start. It runs twice a year, I think the next one is September. I signed up this last March and am still working on it. The cost for this class changes, I paid less than $500 using paypal no interest for 6 months this made it about $82 a month. It has been well worth it for me.

Book Covers - $5 to $100s

You will need a book cover if you self-publish. If you submit to publishers and are accepted they will design the cover. You can buy a cover for anywhere from $5 on (search book cover design) to several hundred dollars from a professional designer (and anywhere in between) or there are ways to make one using something like I will go into more on using tools like Canva later. Keep in mind that buyers are visual, the cover represents your product. You should buy the best cover you can afford or spend the time and effort to learn how to design covers.

Book Editing - $0 to $100s

Your book will need editing. Self-editing is good, but you need other eyes on the book. Which means you may need to pay someone to edit your book. Editing is usually done by word count or pages, so depending on the size of the book and number of words, this could be a couple hundred dollars. After it is edited, the book will need to be formatted. Amazon has their own formatting guidelines, as do each of the online retailers or someone like Draft2Digital or Smashwords that will take a partially formatted book and change it into each of the retailers specified forms. If you have any word experience, this can easily be something that you learn to do versus paying for. There are also software options like Scrivener, where the license is $45 and it will help format your books. I format my own books, so don't have costs associated with this.

Self-pub versus Publisher or Agent

You will need to make a decision to submit to publishers or self-pub. To try to get an agent or submit to publishers with no agent. There aren't really any costs to self-pub on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc...and it is pretty self-explanatory. One word of caution! You NEVER pay to get an agent or to publish with ANYONE. DON'T even consider vanity press (those that charge to publish your book) These are scams and not worth your time. Agents and houses take a percentage of your sales, they never ask for money up front. If someone wants to charge you any money to publish your book--DON'T!

PROMO - $0 to $?

Promo...You will need to build a mail list and send out newsletters to FANS.... regardless of whether you self-pub or are accepted by a publishing house. There are free options to start. It just takes time. And promo leads to sales. If you don't promo you don't sell... This is something that is hard to put a price on, when you start you will be doing it yourself. I will go into more on promo later. At some point you may wish to do ads on Amazon and Facebook, both give you options to set a budget and watch your spending each day. 

Do The Research

 I can't stress this enough. Look at what other authors in your genre are doing. Look at their websites, their Facebook pages. To get more ideas search Facebook groups in your genre or subject if you are a non-fiction author. (ie, travel book groups, poetry book groups) Then join those groups and see what is going on, how other authors promo their books. My suggestion is to join them and LURK for awhile. Don't post your own work until you have decided on author name and  set up at least your Author FB page. You want to build a name for yourself and have things in place before you post your work. You can ask questions after you've lurked for awhile and maybe comment on other's work... participate, but don't share...

I hope this helps answer some of your questions! Next week I will be posting on I Have a Book Idea - Now What?

Have a wonderful week,