What Does It Cost to Self-Publish: Part 2

Last week’s edition reviewed the various elements in creating a novel that involve costs to both the self-published writer and the traditionally published writer who isn’t an A-lister with one of the few remaining major publishing houses. This week, I’m going to put numbers to those tasks.

ISBN Number. The International Standard Book Number is a unique global identifier for many intellectual properties including novels, whether print, digital, or audio. You can acquire the ISBN from a number of sources, but only Bowker (https://www.myidentifiers.com/isbn/main) is authorized to sell them. Other sources will provide one for a fee, but you won’t own the number. Buy it from Bowker and it’s yours forever. One ISBN costs $125. But you will need one for the ebook, another for the print version, and a third for the audiobook. The good news is you can buy 10 of them for $295, or $29.50 apiece.

Copyright. Register the novel with the U.S. Copyright Office by completing the lengthy online form, paying $35, and sending a copy of the book (https://www.copyright.gov/registration/).

Library of Commerce Control Number (LCCN). In the words of the Library of Congress: “The purpose of the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library's collections. The publisher prints the control number in the book and thereby facilitates cataloging and other book processing activities. The PCN links the book to any record which the Library of Congress, other libraries, bibliographic utilities, or book vendors may create.” The good news is it’s free. https://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/

Book Cover. Obviously, a print book needs a cover. But what about an ebook? Some online booksellers may require them, but that isn’t the point. Yours is just one of millions of ebooks available. You need to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to do that is to have an eye-catching cover and not a blank thumbnail like so many unprofessional writers settle for. The print book cover will have a front, back, and spine. It will be in PDF format. The ebook and audiobook covers will be thumbnails in jpeg format. There are two aspects to the cover:

a.     Images. Unless you are using an image you created or photographed, you’ll probably have to buy it/them from one of the online sellers such as Shutterstock or iStockphoto. Using someone else’s copyrighted materials will only get you sued or enjoined or both. The cost will range from about $30 for 2 or 3 images to several hundred dollars for a large batch.

b.     Designer. Unless you are a highly skilled graphic artist, leave the design work to a professional. You need to produce the most professional looking product possible in order to compete effectively with the millions of other books out there and capture the eye of potential readers. You can search for a book cover designer online using Google or another search engine. Or, you can use Mark Coker’s Smashwords list of low cost cover designers (https://www.smashwords.com/list). That’s where I found the designer I use. She’s talented, reasonably priced, and fast on the turnaround. Mark’s list also includes prices. They typically run from less than $50 to more than $100, depending on what your needs are.

NEXT POST: Still to be discussed are the necessity and costs for the services of a professional editor, formatting, and promotional copies.

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