Is Createspace really free?
I can tell you – but let me give you a few caveats first.
First, I like technology stuff and I am pretty good with Microsoft Word and websites and internet stuff.
Second, I am a bit of a do-it-yourselfer. I don’t mind giving tasks away, but I do like to know how to do it myself first so that I have some background on exactly what I should expect from people who do work for me.
Lastly, I absolutely want to produce a top quality book (or product, or whatever), but one of my great teachers in business taught me that you have to “ship”. Meaning, you have to put a date out there and then work as hard as you can to get whatever you are working on as good as it can be before that date. Then get it out there. Plan on doing a revision, or plan on looking back at your work and wishing you had done things differently.
But don’t let your quest for perfection get in the way of getting done.
Okay, so those are the caveats and I hope they will help set the stage for my cost analysis of self publishing with Createspace.
Let me just start by giving you a number (in USD) and then I will work backwards to show you how I arrive at the number.
Total cost: $400 – 700
That isn’t so bad, is it? Oh yes, I am assuming you are writing your own book. The price of having someone ghostwrite your book for you is not factored in to this cost.
Now let me start by saying that you won’t have to pay all of that up front at one time.
And Createspace is not going to charge you a penny to publish – let me repeat that: Createspace does not charge a thing to publish your book.
Editorial services: plan on spending anywhere from $100 to $500 on an editor. I paid $300 to Createspace to use one of their staff editors with my first book. It was totally worth it. She was professional and gave great advice.
As an example, on a later book, I paid $150 for an edit of a less complicated, smaller book I was publishing on Kindle. On a per page basis, I paid more for edits of the second book than what I paid through Createspace. And you know what? The experience was worse. My editor ripped out a lot of what I felt was my “voice” and replaced it with hers. Plus, there were still blatant grammar problems.
If you don’t have a good recommendation for an editor, then use one through Createspace. For the money, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Overall, plan to spend around $300 on an editor.
Book cover: The book cover is monumentally important. Or is it? I completely believe it is monumental. But, like with an editor, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for. I’m not meaning to offend designers. But I think most designers would agree that the capability of the designer is the most important factor in getting a good cover. Not the price.
With that said, I like 99designs.com as an option for getting several covers to choose from. Recommendations are a great option too. Quite frankly, I have used Fiverr.com on several occasions too. On Fiverr.com, you pay $5 for a service. Guess what, there are some people who are really good book cover designers there. And there are duds too.
Overall, the average cost for a cover is about $100. You could get one done for $5, or you could spend $300 on 99designs.com. Or anywhere between.
Formatting: Your book has to be specially formatted for print. That means choosing a book size (6×9″, 5×8″, etc) and then getting the innner, outter, and gutter margins done right.
You have to make sure your chapters and other important pages are on “right-facing” pages. You have to make sure page numbers appear in the right place. And on and on.
This work is all stuff you can do yourself. (I even put together a whole course on it).
So my cost was time when I did my first book. Even subsequent books cost time. Formatting is time consuming work. It is not a bad idea to outsource it – especially if you are not already savvy with the inner-workings of Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages.
Overall, plan to spend about $50 on getting the formatting done.
Book marketing: With editing, a cover, and formatting, you can spend less than $500. Way less if you are a bootstrapping do-it-yourselfer.
But the one cost you absolutely cannot avoid is book marketing.
Wait, you do want your book to sell, right?
So you will need to do a press release. You should promote your book via a website and Facebook and Twitter. That means you will need a website and hosting and some nice graphics to use on all these services.
I am not great with social media. So I actually hired someone to help me with posting to Facebook and Twitter. It was money well spent. I am already balding – I don’t need to lose any additional hair through stressing out about what to say on my next tweet.
Overall, the cost up front will be around $50 with web hosting, a domain name, and social media management totaling about $100 / month. A press release will cost you a minimum of $25. If you can handle the social media stuff, then that will save you $50 / month.
Now, if you don’t have this kind of money, what do I recommend you cut?
Frankly, I would say get your cover done as cheaply as possible. And figure out how to do the formatting yourself.
Covers can be replaced down the road. But the book marketing and editing? Don’t skimp on those. An editor is going to help you get your book good. Readable. Sellable.
And book marketing is what drives people to find your book and eventually buy it.
I hope that helps!