Time and cost of independent publishing

As the title suggests, this post covers the topics of time and cost of independent publishing. At the end of this post, I conclude my two-part blogs on self-publishing. I call April 2012 as a bridge month, during which I switch my blog focus from Publishing to Marketing my book.

Let’s start with the conclusions first. From when I began writing to publication, the total calendar time was 26 months and 11 days; the total cost, $2,182. (Please note that the total cost does not include the cost of marketing. That is a separate topic being covered in the Marketing blog within this website, also published in April 2012.)

Of the total $2,182, the cost of editing was $1,200. This amount includes both the first major editing and the final review right before uploading the manuscript to CreateSpace.

The rest of the total cost, $982, which was paid to CreateSpace, covered the cost of cover design, interior design, extra content changes, adding photos, and file conversion for Kindle format. So as to protect the competitive pricing information at CreateSpace, I am purposely choosing not to break down the exact details. Could it have been less expensive? Yes, it could have by having a “perfect” manuscript that would have required no change at all. For me, however, with all of the steps required to get my book published, about which I had no clue at the time, I felt that the cost was very reasonable.

Another nice feature about how CreateSpace works is that you can go at your own pace if you cannot afford to pay for the necessary steps all at once. You just need to take one step at a time, pay as you go, and you will still eventually get to the finish line, which is to get your book published.

As mentioned in my previous blog, what I liked the best about CreateSpace were the helpful staff members who were always there to answer any questions Monday through Saturday. Their handholding for a novice like me was priceless.

Now, let’s cover the topic of time. Once I started writing, I made publishing my book one of the top priorities among several competing obligations, mostly related to our investment activities. I began writing on January 1, 2010. Seventeen days later, our life took a detour due to my husband David’s sudden illness. Caring for him became the absolute top priority, and writing was put on hold – for about three months. (In case you’re wondering, David is fine now. Thank you.)

Even with this unexpected delay, because I knew all along what needed to be said, the rough draft was completed by June 2010. In other words, taking away the three months caring for David, the actual time spent – from start to finish of the initial rough draft – was two months. As difficult as it was emotionally to recollect the traumatic childhood memories, this turned out to be the easiest part of the entire process of getting to the finish line with a published book.

My daughter-in-law Kathy took a look at the rough draft for me. During the Fourth of July weekend in 2010, while we were all at her Gramps’ cottage at Crystal Lake in Michigan, she gave me her initial feedback. That was when the real work began. I needed to edit the story in chronological sequence so as to make it easier for the readers to follow the development of the story. This would help reduce the redundancies as well. She also suggested tying Japanese history with my family history. She and I ended up going through several iterations before I felt comfortable enough to approach a professional editor. All in all, this process took about nine months.

Toward the end of March 2011, I retained Joe Grimm to edit my book. Before he could give me a quote for his service, he needed to review the first 20 pages to gauge how much time and effort it may take to edit the entire manuscript. I provided those pages to Joe on April 16, 2011. Thanks to the cleanups that had been done by Kathy as well as David, Joe’s fees were very reasonable.

I continued making tweaks and, finally, on May 14, 2011, I sent to Joe the entire manuscript. He provided his detailed feedback to me on June 30, 2011. I then completed my review of his feedback and additional editing on July 31, 2011.

Now I had the professionally-edited, good-to-go manuscript. Now what? For four months thereafter, between August 1 and December 2, 2011, I was making little progress in terms of getting to the next step. That was the period during which I was trying to figure out whether to get it published the traditional way or publish it myself. In the previous blog on “Becoming an independent publisher,” I described the thought process that went into it.

In any event, on December 2, 2011, I finally signed up with CreateSpace. From there, almost every step happened like clockwork. The CreateSpace website is well organized and makes it abundantly clear what you, the author, need to get done next. In all, it took less than four months thereafter to get to the finish line. Could this timing have been faster? Once again, yes, it could have if I had the “perfect” manuscript which required no change. Then again, I liked the fact that I could keep making tweaks until I was completely happy with the final product. And I will continue to have this ability if and when a new edition needs to be published.

On February 3, 2011, two months into working with CreateSpace, the entire digital proof copy was made available online so that I could proofread it. Because I knew I was going to be receiving the physical proof copy shortly thereafter, I did not bother to proofread it online. This turned out to be a big mistake as I will explain in the next paragraph. The first proof copy was ordered for me on February 8, 2012, and I received it within the next five business days.

If I were ready to approve of the book upon receipt of the physical copy, the book would have been ready for publication by mid-February 2012, a month earlier than the actual publication timing. The list of corrections I ended up making with the first proof copy was close to the maximum allowed without incurring additional cost. I was surprised by this turn of event because I thought that I had made plenty of tweaks before uploading the final manuscript. Had I reviewed the digital copy, by the time the physical proof copy had arrived, I would have been just about ready to submit the list of corrections back to CreateSpace – shrinking the time it would have taken to get to the finish line. When you’re dealing with professionals, like CreateSpace, it is best to follow their instructions as soon as you receive them – particularly if your goal is to get to the finish line as soon as possible. There is always a reason why professionals do what they do the way they do them.

Beyond the initial large set of corrections that I had uploaded to CreateSpace, I noticed two additional corrections that had to be requested – for an added cost. These minor corrections were requested on February 25, 2012. Since there were only two, they were easy to verify online. A second physical proof was ordered to be shipped to me on March 9, 2011. Ordinarily, CreateSpace recommends that you review the physical copy before approving production. In this case, however, because the last two corrections were so minor and because I had already reviewed the previous physical copy, I authorized production by reviewing them digitally. On March 11, 2012, the paperback version was officially published. Within 2 weeks, on March 24, 2012, the Kindle-version was launched as well.

It is my nature to be looking for continuous improvement in anything and everything I do. All in all, I may have been able to shave about nine months from start to finish if I knew exactly what I was doing, where I was headed, and whose support I was going to seek to accomplish the goal of getting my book published. Nevertheless, as I write this blog, I’m very pleased that it was finally accomplished thanks to the help of a number of people who genuinely cared about my project.

Again, this concludes my post on publishing a book based on my own experience. I’m now moving on to the Marketing topic.



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2 Responses to Time and cost of independent publishing

  1. Freddie says:

    It is a thing I have to do more research into, appreciation for the post.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your article: Time and cost of independent publishing. It was very interesting and informative. I myself just self-published a book titled: My Journey to Freedom with Friesenpress. As you say in your blog, I particularly appreciated being involved in all phases of the physical construction of the book. I think that self-publishing is the way of the future. When enough new authors, and not so new ones, will have had enough of being told by traditional publishers that it could take as long as two years before they condescend to read your manuscript – and that is no guarantee that it will be accepted for publication, of course – more authors will turn to self-publication. My Journey to Freedom was on the market eight months after giving the initial order… and I took my good old time all along. So, pretty fantastic! I also found my publisher to be competent and helpful.
    Marie-Denise Paquet

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