What Does It Cost to Self Publish My Book?

Baby, take a bow.

For those of you in the under 40 set, this is an allusion to the Shirley Temple movie Stand Up and Cheer.  As a child, my favorite pastime was to watch and watch again and watch some more Shirley Temple black and white movies.  For me, Shirley Temple embodied optimism, that pick-yourself-up-and-dust-off-your-dotted-swiss-voile-and-shake-out-your-petticoats mentality.  One of my most treasured Christmas presents was a petticoat that Santa brought.  I entered the room filled with anticipation and there it was–standing by itself in a corner. It was that stiff.

So, with stiff optimism and as promised, I’m unveiling my version of the self publishing budget. This is what I’m planning to spend to bring Moonlight Dancer to clamoring fans. (Okay, as of this writing, few fans are actually clamoring, but as Raising Hope creative forces Garcia and Greene claim, “If you stop dreaming, you’re just sleeping.”)


Bowker widget                                                             60

Business license                                                            25

Copyright                                                                      65

Cover artwork                                                              150

Domain purchase                                                           10

Fictitious business name                                               40

FBN public notice                                                           60

ISBN                                                                               250

Kindle formatting                                                           29

Research materials                                                       150

Small Publishers Association membership                 89

Web hosting                                                                    84

TOTAL                                                                       1012

As you can see, self publishing is not for the squeamish. Hence, my reliance on Shirley Temple to see me through.

Have I left anything out? What does your self-publishing budget look like?

Soapbox Rant: The Hunger Games

Forgive me. I’m going to break rank.

Instead of the book review you were expecting, I’m going to talk about a movie. A movie that derived from a book, yes, but it contains not a single sheet-waving, chain-dragging spectral presence.

But more than that, I’m going to climb onto a soapbox for a good old-fashioned rant. Creak. There, I’m settled.

The movie: The Hunger Games.

Who would have guessed that, in this century, in this country, myopic movie viewers would say of beautiful and charming Amandla Stenberg playing the gentle Rue, that she is a “black bitch” or that the two African American actors in key roles have “ruined” the movie or that because of racial diversity (and literal interpretation of the book) the Hunger Games is not worth seeing. And worse. Oh, far worse. Words I would not utter.

Check out this article from Jezebel.

I thought that as a nation we had turned a corner in our compassion and generosity and understanding.

I thought, naively, that with the election of Barack Obama we were not color-blind as some have suggested but color-kind—that we could smile indulgently at the “parent from Kenya, parent from Kansas” schmaltzy sound bite. So alluringly alliterative, yet indicative of the inclusiveness we hold dear.

I even thought that maybe now we could judge each other by the content of our character.

How was I so wrong?

I hear that some cars sport Nobama bumper stickers. And now a beautiful, sensitive child portraying a beautiful, sensitive child from another time has been vilified for the color of her skin.

Perhaps it’s time we put into action those words “created equal” that define us as a society. Those words, yes, those words from a document of another time. A little something we like to call the Constitution.

Indie Publishing: Budget Line Items

Okay, I’m going back on my word. Sort of.

Is it possible to sort of go back on your word?

I had promised to give you my budget for this edition of Writer Unleashed. However, in working the budget and presenting it for review to my Numbers Savvy Husband, a few line items jumped out and surprised us.

One large expense was the annual web hosting fee. Therefore, we decided to ask our IT/website designer friend to search for a good annual price.

Another was the book cover design. Yes, this can be pricey. But everyone agrees you need a professional look.

Our discussion got me thinking. Yikes! I need to go shopping for a cover artist. Especially since my target date for posting my manuscript for reviews is April 30th. (Note: you will want to post your manuscript on Amazon and/or Nook, etc. for reviews four months before you release the book to the public.)

As I began my search for cover artists, I happened upon a very cool site I want to share with you: The Book Designer.  On this site you will find a plethora of publishing tips as well as a monthly contest of book covers. February’s cover offerings are particularly good, I think. Check it out here. Scroll down, and you can search for artists who embody your particular vision for cover art. Links are not provided, but once you find one you like, you can perform an internet search for that artist’s website. (I was not 100 % successful in locating artists from the contest, so hopefully in the future the artists will provide url’s.) I am in the process of corresponding with one artist from this contest as we speak. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Lastly, my husband questioned the ISBN fee.

Here’s the deal—you can buy one ISBN for $125 or ten for $250. Hmmm… My husband’s point is that you should buy only one ISBN in case you never do another book. But what shopper can resist a sale? No, I do not promote the Rita Rudner mathematical model of purchasing power. You know her schtick—I bought a $1000 dress marked down 50%. With the $500 I saved, I bought a $2000 sofa at 25% off …and on and on until she remarks her husband will be ecstatic with all the “savings” from her shopping trip.

But I KNOW I will do more books—I have two other manuscripts in progress as we speak. Plus, authors Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier recommend buying the block of ten ISBN’s in their book The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing because the “single number format is unique and easily recognized by industry professionals as belonging to a one-book publisher who is not to be taken seriously.”

You want to be taken seriously, am I right? So, the discussion continues. Tune in next time for Writer Unleashed, and I will provide my revised final(ish) budget for your perusal.

Ghost Novel Review in Honor of Read an Ebook Week: Ghost Island


Ghost Island by Bonnie Hearn Hill

Kindle e-book

So, you’ve been hearing a lot about ebooks and are wondering if you should try one. But wait, you’ve also heard ebooks are sophomoric, self-indulgent, self-promoting drivel by authors who couldn’t get a traditional publisher’s attention if they handed out manuscripts clad in red spike-heeled pumps and see-through raincoats.

Let’s talk about it.

Normally, today’s post would be Writer Unleashed, but in honor of Read an E-book Week (March 4-10), I’m shuffling the schedule to bring you a ghost novel review of an e-book entitled Ghost Island.

Check out this cool banner courtesy of Piotr Kowalczyk of Ebook Friendly.

Now, let’s proceed to the ebook, shall we?

Livia, the heroine of Ghost Island, hails from a foster home in Emeryville, CA and is embarking on a cruise with other high school students to Catalina Island. Her father is in jail for killing her mother, but Livia is convinced her mother is alive and assumes the burden of finding said mother.

Once on the island, Livia intends to rest, recreate, and enjoy the respite from foster care. Of course, she sees ghosts, but that’s nothing new for her. What is new is the form these island ghosts take, and the mystery and unrest surrounding their needs and desires.

Soon, Livia notices everyone in her group exhibiting strange behavior. It seems students and teachers alike enter a dream world in which the dead visit and play out the unfinished business of loved ones, taking the dreamers on dangerous quests.

Livia must discover who the dead really are—and, in fact, are they really dead? Is their purpose benevolent or malevolent? And why do some of her fellow cruisers appear to be undergoing personality transformations?

And then there’s the mysterious, beguiling Aaron who fades in and out of her own life on the island. Is he real or another of the yearning undead?

This is classified as a young adult novel, probably based on the ages and interests of the characters. I think adults can enjoy this book alongside their teens and preteens. In fact, this would be a good mother-daughter book group read as issues of authority vs. adolescence, honesty vs. responsibility will provide much fodder for discussion.

And, for those who have been waiting to try an e-book but have heard the quality and grammar of such books is suspect (and this criticism is not without merit), Ghost Island should prove the doubters wrong.