Ch. 9: Self-publishing costs

A snapshot of the costs and challenges of self-publishing

I recently published a very transparent look at the costs and financial realities of self-publishing my book, Derby Life, after running a successful Kickstarter campaign. Trying to pull the numbers together for what I had spent on pre-production, production, and marketing, and the financial figures for sales and more was very eye-opening for me.

Financial transparency in publishing is something I care a lot about. If we don’t publicly talk about costs and payments, that leaves a lot of power in the hands of platforms and big entities, and makes it much harder for writers and small outlets to make ends meet. So I encourage folks to share information about what we earn and what we spend in relation to writing and publishing, to help create a better picture of what is normal for other writers.


This week, my agent, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, will start the process of pitching my book proposal for Don’t Steal This Book: Why Paying for Words is Radical and Necessary to publishers. I have so frequently been on another side of this process—as an agent’s assistant, an acquiring editor, or a freelance editor; as a semi-self-published or totally self-published author, but this is the first time I’m doing things the “traditional” way.

I’ve been exploring and researching the subject of money and publishing formally for years, and informally for my entire career. But it’s still pretty exciting and nerve-wracking to stand up and say “I have something to say on this subject, and you should pay me for that knowledge.” It’s pretty meta, actually, since the book is about how people (readers, publishers, etc) should pay for words.

So, fingers crossed, and stay tuned. I imagine I’ll have an update sometime in the next…year?


Finally, I’ll be at Digital Book World this week, flying out in a few hours. I’ll be speaking about inclusive publishing and Kickstarter on Wednesday afternoon. Let me know if you’ll be there and would like to grab a cup of coffee.