Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
I published my latest book, Kingmaker, on October 8, 2023. While some may think the process is expensive, the cost to self-publish a book is actually quite affordable if you do most of the work yourself.
Today, I’ll share my process of publishing Kingmaker without breaking the bank.
This time around, though, I can definitely see why some authors prefer using professional services. Just designing the cover alone would have saved me a lot of time.
That’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors to how much it’ll cost to publish your book.
It all comes down to how much of the book you can work on yourself. Not to mention that authors should never edit and proofread their own work.
10 Steps I Took to Publish Kingmaker
Technically, this is the second book I’ve self-published. And while I published A Freelancer’s Tale while spending nothing, I wanted to do something different for Kingmaker.
So far, I’ve spent less than $250. However, I plan on spending quite a bit more when it comes to marketing. I’ll go over that in a moment.
What steps did I take to get my latest book self-published?
1. Writing Kingmaker in Reedsy
First, I wrote the book using Reedsy’s book editor app. It’s a free platform that has everything a beginning author needs from text formatting options to creating goals and deadlines for yourself.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using a different writing app. In reality, the best writing app is the one that works best for you. What this means is that you should try several and stick to the one you like most.
This time around, Reedsy just worked awesomely for what I needed. The only two things I would have liked in Reedsy would be online collaboration and more formatting options when exporting.
2. Using Grammarly as a Backup Editor
I use the Grammarly Chrome Extension in just about everything I write online. It works great with WordPress, scans through social posts as I type, and works beautifully in Reedsy.
Editors can cost quite a bit of money, depending on the type and size of the manuscript. The most I’ve personally seen a freelance editor charge for a book the size of Kingmaker is around $4,000.
Since I don’t have four grand to drop on just the editor alone, using Grammarly to continuously scan the manuscript as I type just made better sense. Even the pro version is considerably cheaper than hiring a proper human editor.
Does this mean that grammar-checking apps are superior? Not necessarily. They are a cost-effective solution to help you crank out a legible story. And I have seen human editors butcher a manuscript.
At the end of the day, it really depends on who or what you trust more to proofread or edit your book and if you have the funds to cover those expenses.
3. Using Beta Readers to Help Fine-tune the Plot
Although you can hire beta readers to test out the flow of your book, most will do it for free. If you don’t know, beta readers are individuals who’ll read through the manuscript and provide critiques, insights, and ideas about making the story better.
In my case, I offer beta reading first to those who have monthly memberships to WriterSanctuary. It’s one of the perks as they can see how my books appear as a first draft.
Thanks to the input I received, Kingmaker is a much better story than it was when I originally wrote it.
My point is that you shouldn’t underestimate the value of beta readers, especially those who are interested in the genre in which you write.
Think about it this way; movie producers often use test screenings to see if the audience likes the movie and figure out what elements need changing. It’s the same process, only the medium is different.
As an added bonus, some of your beta readers may also double as front-line editors. In fact, I had a few who were pointing out things that needed fixing from a grammatical sense. And some things were found that Grammarly missed.
It’s always best to have another set of eyes going over the manuscript to find those little mistakes that you, Grammarly, and other readers will miss.
4. Props for the Book Cover
The only cash I spent publishing Kingmaker was for the props I used to create the cover. I spent $230 at various stores in the Denver area for the costume and skeleton that were used in the photographs.
One of the schticks for The Witcham Chronicles is essentially cosplaying a scene and a character from the book. Then, I’ll apply a filter to make it appear as less of a live-action photo.
The book cover is probably where a lot of new self-published authors will spend a bit of money. Although you can use the free version of Canva and other online tools to make the cover, you want to make sure the image is unique.
Stock photos are helpful when trying to get images you want to entice a reader to buy your book. However, those images are also used by other authors. The more unique your cover, the more it stands out.
5. Using Photoshop for the Cover
I’ve been using Photoshop since 1995. Nowadays, I pay for a monthly subscription to Adobe as I use it for a lot of client work. It only made sense to use it for the book cover.
I don’t include Photoshop as an expense simply because I use it for everything from the blogs to creating infographics for clients. So, it’s something that I already have at my disposal regardless if I’m creating a book cover or not.
If you’re creating your own cover, there are a lot of tools available you can use online. For instance, I used the free version of Canva to create the eBook cover for A Freelancer’s Tale. I used my own photo in Canva and made the necessary adjustments.
That means you can still create a unique cover even while using free apps.
Another you might be interested in trying is Photopea. It works nearly exactly like Photoshop only that it’s a free online platform.
In fact, it’ll use Photoshop PSD files when editing an image. The only downside is that it’ll have ads running on the sidebar.
6. Exporting Kingmaker from Reedsy
Reedsy allows you to export your manuscript as ePub, MOBI, and PDF files. This covers most eBook and print retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The only real drawback to this is how Reedsy puts a branded line within your book. It’s a simple line that says the book was exported using Reedsy. Personally, I have no problem with this. However, I can see how it might ruffle another author’s feathers.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of writing apps out there that have built-in methods to export as various file types. Some of them will do so for free.
What’s nice is that I can now use these versions of the file to sell Kingmaker directly from my blog. That is as soon as I set up WooCommerce.
7. Uploading Kingmaker to KDP for eBook
After receiving the files from Reedsy, I then upload the book KDP. Kindle Direct Publishing is perhaps one of the easiest and most recognizable methods for selling a self-published book.
There are a few settings pages regarding how you want your eBook to appear on Amazon, which include things like the description, keywords for searching, cover art, and price.
Although the process of adding your eBook is somewhat time-consuming, it’s relatively easy. The only thing I would suggest about the process is to have certain things ready to go such as the book’s description.
You want to take your time describing what readers can expect from your story and create some text that is engaging and searchable on Amazon.
8. Uploading Kingmaker to KDP for Print
The print services for KDP are not all that bad. It can take as little as two days for someone to buy a printed copy and receive it in the mail.
Yet, it can take a couple of weeks when you buy the author copies in bulk.
Uploading the manuscript is similar to an eBook. In fact, if you upload the eBook version first and then click the option to add the printed version, Amazon will auto-populate most of the information for you.
Perhaps the biggest difference between print and eBook is how the cover art is processed. You can either upload your own, providing you have the correct dimensions for the book size and story length. Or, you can use the Cover Creator app built into KDP.
Cover Creator is a free tool that can help you add a cover to your printed books using your own photos or artwork. However, it is quite limited when compared to Canva, Photoshop, or any other design app on the Internet.
While Cover Creator takes a bit to learn, it’s a free alternative for creating a printed cover for you’re paperback or hardcover variations.
9. Setting Up Accounts Outside of Amazon
Amazon isn’t the only retailer for selling a book. You also have Barnes & Noble and a long list of digital outlets you can sign up to use.
In my case, I am creating accounts for the major retailers. Then, I’ll use something like Draft2Digital or perhaps IngramSpark to distribute the book to the others.
It’s important to note that if you use KDP Select on Amazon, you can’t distribute the eBook elsewhere. While it’s possible to reach a much larger audience with KDP Select, your eBook becomes exclusive to Amazon.
I don’t use KDP Select at the moment simply because I don’t want to alienate digital readers who would rather use other platforms to buy books.
10. Basic Marketing for Kingmaker
Once publishing the book, that’s when the real fun begins. And in this case, I suppose “fun” is a subjective term.
One of the reasons why self-published authors don’t make a lot of sales is because of a lack of proper marketing. No one is going to read your book if they don’t know it exists.
As such, marketing can be an ongoing expense.
However, there are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling to pique the interest of readers. For example, you can market the book by:
- Sharing the link on social media.
- Blogging about the process of publishing your book.
- Announcing the publication on your YouTube channel or TikTok feed.
- Adding the book to your Goodreads account (if you have one).
- Including the link to your book in your email signature.
My point is that there are a lot of free methods to market a book. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of spending a few bucks.
For example, you could always do a book signing at your local bookstore. But that’ll cost a bit to set up, even if you’re just purchasing 20 author copies to hand out.
What I’ve Spent Thus Far on Kingmaker
To write and publish Kingmaker, I spent less than $250. However, that isn’t the only cost to publish a book once it’s up on Amazon.
As I said, the aspect of marketing will probably be an ongoing expense. Remember, one of the keys to success for any self-published author is getting the book in front of as many people as possible.
Depending on the services you pay for when creating your book, it can get pretty costly down the road.
Below is how much I’ve spent so far producing and marketing Kingmaker. This is updated in real-time as I am tracking my expenses for another blog project.
Plus, I’m actually quite curious as to when I bring in enough royalties to break even. Not to mention that some expenses are tax deductible.
The bottom line is that self-publishing can be quite expensive depending on how much of the work you can do yourself.
What Would I Do Differently?
There are several services that I wish I had the money to use. For instance, I am curious to compare a paid human proofreader or editor against the power of Grammarly. Then again, that’s mostly because I think it would make an interesting blog post.
As I have so many things going on, any service that would free up time for me would be more ideal than doing it myself.
Overall, though, some things I think I would do differently with Kingmaker include:
- Scheduling more time: It took two years from the time I finished the first draft to when I published the book. I know I can do better than that.
- Having better preparations for release: I truly wanted to do more for the release of Kingmaker, like have a party or something special for my audience.
- Pay a graphic designer: I love being creative in Photoshop. However, a paid cover designer would have saved me a lot of time.
- Having a marketing strategy ahead of time: Some parts of marketing could have been established long before the book came out.
- Being more active on social media: Social media, despite being a dumpster fire most days, is one of the easiest ways to market yourself or your book. I would love a larger following for promoting Kingmaker.
- Less procrastination: I sat on my hands quite a bit over the last couple of years. By procrastinating some aspects, my debut novel didn’t get the pomp and circumstance I would have liked.
Overall, I had a lot of fun writing and publishing my newest book. I honestly don’t know why other writers dread making edits. I love diving into my stories and making changes for the better.
In any case, I’ll use the experience of publishing Kingmaker to help with Fury, the next book in the series.
What’s Comes After Kingmaker?
Kingmaker is part of at least a four-book series. However, I have no intention of stopping there. I have a lot of ideas for other stories to tell, which range from horror to science fiction.
Not to mention finishing up a few tales for Wattpad and Inkitt.
For me, writing is a part of who I am. Even though I don’t make a lot of money as an author, it’s still one of the most enjoyable, relaxing, and comforting things I do throughout the week.
It’s not about making a ton of money in royalties or being featured on various podcasts. It’s more about being proud of a body of work that I truly find myself engrossed in creating.
Each book I self-publish provides new insights and knowledge about the process. As such, I am continuously growing regardless if the book sells a lot of copies or not.
In the grand scheme of things, that is one of the driving forces behind why I take on so many different projects: to keep learning.
What Are You Writing?
Publishing Kingmaker was yet another milestone for me. It’s the first fiction book I’ve completed and published, which is massive considering how many I’ve left unfinished or trashed.
It’s my hope that my experiences can help you find your own path as a self-published author. Especially if you can avoid the same mistakes I made.
What are you working on, and what has been your greatest achievement?
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