Highlighting the best independent publications in fiction and non-fiction. Your new favorite author is right here.

Guest Post – ‘Keeping your costs down’ by Cheryl Williams

Costs Down

To make the self-pubbing process economically worthwhile, we authors have to keep our costs down. Therefore we must without apology seek out the most economically viable ways to get our manuscripts online or to market. In short, we have to live like retirees and spend accordingly.

Step One, the website. We need a basic website, nothing fancy, although fancy touches would be nice. We need something attractive but minimal. The site should list our writing credits, contact information, and display covers of the books we have for sale, with links to the marketplace where visitors can click to purchase our works online. It should be easy to update as we add more books. For those who try to set up their own website and get no farther than the starter page (that’s me), we have to seek outside help.

I turned to a family member with a degree in designing websites. This person asked for three thousand dollars. I admitted this was a little above my price range and kept looking. Friends suggested their contacts, who also wanted similar high prices. These individuals all dealt with business clients and had come to expect compensation at that level. Well, I’m not playing that game if I can help it. I’m a hard-working writer trying to build my business. I figured if the universe wanted me to have a website to push my writing career into the next level, then the Powers That Be would have to put the right person in my path to provide it at the right point in time.

I continued to send out feelers and let my fellow writers know what I needed. Bingo, a Pennwriter member suggested her son, who set me up with an attractive site that fit both my needs and my budget. This person also formatted my first e-book at a reasonable price, providing a few nice touches that were too complicated for me at that point in time to format. For instance, a zip file containing ‘glyphs’ of a smiley-face globe to separate chapters, and a bullet list. I was very pleased at how this manuscript looked online and downloaded to an e-reader.

But for further attempts at online publishing, I figured it would be wise to trim costs and format my books myself. Several Pennwriter members who went through the process assured me that all the information was available online. Some gave advice on various questions, for which I’m very grateful. I took notes on the style guides from Amazon and Smashwords and did searches for ‘How to Format an Ebook’ and ‘How to Create a Table of Contents’. C.J. Lyons has posted a seven-minute clip on YouTube on “5 Easy Steps to Format Your Ebook.m4v’ that’s easy to follow.

It was an adventure and a challenge, but it feels good when you’ve mastered enough knowledge to upload a manuscript online. For those interested, I’d suggest getting involved in a writers discussion group that focuses specifically on e-publishing. That way you can share tips with others who are preparing manuscripts for online publication just as you are. I’m involved in just such a group now, in the Area 3 South Hills area. If you can’t find such a group close by, why not start one?

Even the ‘experts’ had to begin at the starting line.

* * *

For more from Cheryl check out her Author page

  1. Judy BurkJudy Burk07-05-2013

    Hi Cheryl,

    Wow, very interesting post. Had no idea that a website builder charges so much for a simple website. I am so happy you learned to do a lot of things yourself. It will be well worth it long term. Also, I think it is very nice of you to share what you have learned. I wish you much success and thought your
    Angel piece was outstanding as usual.

  2. Thanks, Judy, for your kind comments. It’s always very rewarding for an author when a reader takes the time to stop by and give some encouragement. Here’s wishing you all the best!

Leave a Reply