Printing costs have become more reasonable, but you understand that they are probably your largest expense item. Other costs associated with the production of the book include:
Book design – Your cover entices readers to take the book from the shelf, and the interior layout keeps their interest.
Editing – Make sure your facts and your English are correct. Friends and business associates can help, but hire a professional to do the final review.
Permissions – If you use information or pictures not prepared specifically for your book, get written permission from the owner of the copyright for the work. There may be a fee.
Author photo – Your picture goes on the back of the book, so look your best!
An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and a Bookland EAN bar code are required to identify your book and get it into bookstores and Internet booksellers.
When you self-publish a book, you establish a business, as well. Contact a CPA with small business and publishing experience to guide you through the start-up. The simplest and least expensive form of doing business is a sole proprietorship. Just select a name for your publishing company, check to see if anyone else is using it, and then register it with your local government. Consult your CPA to decide whether a corporation or limited liability company is a better choice.
If you’ll work from home, consider a post office box with a regular street address from those companies that provide mailbox and shipping services. It provides an image of a business location, and may save time and money to have everything under one roof.
What about shipping the book? If you’ll handle this yourself, buy an initial stock of shipping supplies.
Marketing and publicity costs are another major expense. Buy a domain name for your book and develop a web site. Make it attractive and easy to navigate so browsers will buy, and give them an easy way to pay, for example, an online service like PayPal.
Print business cards, postcards, bookmarks, posters, refrigerator magnets, or other tchotchkes. Be creative to make your book stand out.
Will you travel to sell your book at festivals, bookstores, or special events? Estimate the costs of hotel, food, gas, airfare, etc. A national book tour sounds like fun, but when you estimate the costs, how many books at $12.95 will you have to sell?
Associate with an Internet book retailer advantage program for small publishers, but some require an upfront fee.
Add up the expenses to get your book published (production costs), the initial marketing and publicity expenses, and the business formation costs. Say the total is $8,000 to produce 2,000 books; the per-book cost is $4.00. If you sell the book for $12.95, then $8.95 per book goes to recoup the initial costs. You’ll have to sell 894 books to earn back the initial $8,000 you spent – to reach your breakeven point. How long it takes depends on your marketing plan.
Want to change the numbers to see other options? This would be a great place to use a spreadsheet. Set up a workbook with details for all your costs and options. The formulas are very straightforward. It will allow you look at various options such as changing the press run or increasing your marketing budget, and see how that affects your breakeven point.
Finally, remember to pay taxes on your profits. As a sole proprietor, you file and pay taxes as part of your personal tax return. Keep good records of your income and expenses-the information helps you run your business and file your taxes. You’re self-publishing your book to maintain creative control. Don’t lose the financial control.