Last week, the wonderful Anya Cosgrove shared the process she used to launch her first indie-published book, and a couple of people wanted to know more about her ROI in terms of dollar figures. I don’t ask people financial information because many people consider that information very private and I respect that. But I know that it’s very helpful to know figures when thinking about your own book launch, so I thought I’d share mine for the upcoming launch of my new YA magical realism novel, Silence at the Lock.

Today, I’m going to share what I’ve spent, so far, to prepare the book for publication and to begin promoting it. I’m going hard-core with this launch because I am hoping it will be the beginning of a my serious delve into the world of magical realism as a novelist. So I’m spending some money on new promotional ideas and, as always, investing in a very good cover design and professional editing.

So here are the costs I have accrued so far for book production. 

CoverStephanie Spino374
Line EditingBookish Fox1500
Licensing of MusicRhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell300
Print TemplateBook Design Templates49
WebpageBolton Studios40
Updating Back MatterElissa Hamon75
Print DistributionIngramSpark49

Total – $2,407

And here are the costs I’ve accrued to promote the first book in this series, Steele Secrets, since my hope is to bring people into the series and have them buy all three books, including the new one. 

Email PromoMany Books25
Book Cave20
Modern Mrs. DarcyFREE
Book Doggy18
Bargain Booksy30
List BuildingBookFunnel – MagRealFree
List BuildingBookFunnel – Woman in FictionFree

Total – $158

A Bit of Analysis

Please, feel free to ask specific questions about these expenses in the comments below, but perhaps it will tell you a bit about why I’ve spent the way I have.

First and foremost, I believe in paying people a reasonable and ethical wage for their labor. So I don’t balk and paying $1,500 to have someone edit my book because I know – I work as an editor – the kind of hours, expertise, and effort that work takes. I also am happy to pay several hundred dollars for a good book cover because, again, it takes a lot of expertise and knowledge to create a professional, unique cover.

Additionally, I consider many of the people I hire for these tasks to be colleagues. So I’m happy to pay my virtual assistant her very reasonable hourly-rate to help me update the back matter in my books, and I’m quite pleased to pay my web designer to craft an attractive, functional webpage for the new book.

Along those lines, I also believe in paying artists for what we create, so paying for licensing fees to use song lyrics from Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell is really important to me, and in this case, a kind friend gifted me the money to be able to include those lyrics.

In terms of the ISBN purchases, you can get those free from Amazon or other distributors, but through the wisdom and experience of friends, I have learned its worth the cost to buy my own ISBNS and have the free and clear of any particular retailer. (In this case, I bought a set of 10 so that I have at least four more books’ worth.)

For book distribution, I use three services – Amazon/KDP to sell on Amazon, IngramSpark to distribute print books everywhere but Amazon, and Draft2Digital to distribute ebooks to everywhere but Amazon. Again, I use these various services because some retailers will not sell books that are distributed by KDP, so the additional expense there is worth it to me.

I’m also working out the details of a barter with illustrator Corey Egbert, who is creating an original piece of art for me to use as a pre-order bonus, and so that will be an expense in terms of my time and energy but not in dollars.  And the kind Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy is someone I’m honored to call a friend, so she has said she’ll include Steele Secrets on her great list of ebook deals next week when all these promo run.

I will likely accrue a few other expenses for things like ebook formatting and printing of bookmarks and such. When I do a full ROI evaluation after the book launches, I’ll include those costs as well.

ROI So Far

So far, the only measurement I have of ROI is newsletter sign-ups for my new magical realism email list. I haven’t spent any money on the two promotions that are ongoing or forthcoming, but I do already have over 110 people on my list. So that’s great.

My other promotions with FKBT and such run next week, so more on that soon.

But the breakdown in terms of how many copies of Silence at the Lock I need to sell looks like this:

  • 366 print copies at ~$7.00 net per book.
  • or 1,082 copies at ~$2.37 net per ebook.
  • or some combination thereof.

Of course, those needed sales figures don’t take into account the profits I might receive from the sale of the other two books in the series, so there is that.  But still, it’s a hefty reach. . . but one I’m committed to making, hopefully within in the first two months after release.  Stay tuned!

A Few Things I’ve Learned

  1. Save up so you can pay these expenses outright rather than accruing debt to handle them. You don’t want to have to calculate credit card interest into what you need to make a positive ROI.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – a launch team, people who might barter with you for goods, friends who will promote your book on their sites.
  3. Try to pay people equitably, even if that means you have to work a little harder. After all, you want people to pay for your labor in the form of your book, so share that kindness with others, too.

Now, what questions can I try to answer?  Anything you’d like more details about?