A self-published author is not only a writer, but a graphic designer, a book publicist, a distributor, a social media promoter and many more jobs that I have forgotten to mention. But where should an Indie author spend their money? Books don’t sell themselves, but if an author is putting on a number of different hats, they need to be savvy with their budget – unless of course, they have a money tree growing in the back garden.
Paying for cover art
This is a good investment, so long as you know where to go to source a good graphic designer. In my case, because my cover ideas are pretty straightforward, I have done my own covers for The Buddha’s Bone and The Blue Man using Canva Pro.
Paying for a typesetter
I have heard that authors can find good copy editors and typesetters through Reedsy, though personally I haven’t explored this option myself; I do my own typesetting to keep costs down.
Paying for an editor
A good editor is a worthwhile investment. If you don’t know anyone with professional editing skills to proofread your manuscript, I would definitely advise hiring one. In my case, I am lucky to have an editor with a PhD in English Literature who is happy to correct my final drafts in exchange for a copy of the book and a nice bottle of wine. It isn’t a boast; I am very lucky.
Playing for advertising
Yes, yes, yes. You absolutely should pay money for ads to get your work out there. Ads that work for me are Bargain Booksy (if your book is under $4.99 USD) at a cost of approx. £25/£22 per ad, in my case for literary fiction and horror. Every time I run a Bargain Booksy ad, I see a spike in sales, so I would most definitely recommend this. I have also had success with Awesome Gang in terms of driving traffic and click throughs for my book links. Lately I’ve managed to attract new readers for The Blue Man by running sponsored ads on KDP.
Paying for reviews
No, no, no. An author should never have to pay for reviews. Yes – I know reviews are hard to get as an Indie author – but paying for them is a waste of money. Save your cash for ads. Reviews might help readers decide whether to buy your book or not, but I doubt they will cause a major spike in sales. Lately I have been solicited by numerous dodgy book reviewers offering to review my book for a fee. Basically I don’t respond. I’m fortunate to have willing ARC readers for my books who will accept a free mobi, epub or print proof copy in exchange for an honest review. Bookroar is another site I recommend, where other authors and readers buy and review your book in exchange for credits for their own books. I really feel that authors should offer free review copies to acquaintances or book bloggers in exchange for a review without having to pay anything (other than the retail cost of their book and possibly postage, if mailing a paperback).
It can be expensive enough as an Indie author to get your book out there, so save your extra cash for your marketing budget: advertising helps to reach readers and reviews help boost visibility, though an author shouldn’t have to pay for them.