What it Costs to Publish a Novel

The hard truth is that you cannot pubish a book for free. Shortcuts diminish the quality of work, the impression in makes on potential buyers, and all but quash attempts at seeking representation.

Up to now, yours costs have included:
    I. Learning the craft:
  • Five or more novels, both in and out of your genera
  • Five or more books on writing.

  • II. Composing the manuscript:
  • A computer — or paper.
  • A word processor or composing software — or a pencil.
  • Internet access — or a dictionary and thesaurus.
  • A word frequency counter — or a metric ton of coffee to keep you awake while you compile a word frequency list by hand.
  • A few thumb-drives to copy and protect your work — or a team of scribes; monks are great workers.
Next, in the near term:
    III. Enlisting Beta-Readers:
  • A computer printer — or the services of a printer/office supply store to replicate Beta-Reader Agreements and your manuscript for readers.
  • Printer ink and paper for self-printing.
  • Envelopes and postage for distribution and return of your manuscripts — if drop-off and retrieve are not possible.
Reasonably, the only new costs, above, include:
  1. Books to read and books to study — if you don't have access to a library or acquantances from whom you can borrow
  2. A word frequency counter — if you don't use a free resource
  3. Printing copies of the manuscript
    • Do not relend an already read manuscript. You're hoping readers will correct errors, and pencil-in comments at points in the narrative they find unclear. You do not want a second reader tainted by the remarks of previous readers.
    • You may be tempted to reprint just those pages on which remarks appear and redistribute the manuscript with replaced pages. This will extend the beta-reading period for precious months.
  4. Distributing and retrieving the manuscript

After feedback from Beta-Readers:
  • At least one professional editor
  • A graphic designer for cover art


Until recently, there was a dichotomy: Publishers versus Vanity Presses. Publishers, now Traditional Publishers, were the agent-editor-publishing house route, while Vanity Presses were pay-to-publish printing houses employed by those with the assets to get thier work in print and order a few cartons of books for their... well... own vanity.

With the advent of self-publishing, many of these presses—not publishers—present themselves to writers as self-publishing houses, but still charge for their services.

Never pay to get your book published. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers Print-On-Demand (POD) services and charges NOTHING to upload your manuscript to the Amazon book list. Though the requirements are stringent, they are not daunting.

There are other companies, search "Print on demand book publishing." I have not researched others. Because Amazon has the largest megaphone, I choose to publish there.

I welcome
comments and reviews of other POD companies if their services are free: their remuneration being solely on the sale of your books.

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