Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What it cost me to self-publish Memories of the Dead

Ok, here's the scoop. I wrote Memories of the Dead on Tuesday and Thursday of each week for 13 months straight. Following that, I put in approximately 40 hours of editing, formatting, and general clean-up for the print version--the e-copy was pretty much ready to go prior.

So.... 3 hours a day, 2 times a week, is 6 hours a week. There are 52 weeks in a year, and 4 in a month. So that's 56 weeks times 6 hours per week, that's 336 hours. Add to that 40 hours (more or less) for the formatting and whatnot and we're at 376 hours.

That's just to get the book ready.

If I multiply that by what my "free time" is worth, which coincidentally is nearly identical to my hourly wage, I "spent" $7896 just to get the book that far.

Now, to add to this misery, I spent additional time emailing reviewers, buying print copies for giveaways, and the postage that went along with it (one winner was in Canada, FYI.) We are now looking at close to $8000+.

Marketing time: getting people to notice you, what's that worth? Well, hell if I know, but I've spent a ton of time trying my damn hardest to get the book "out there", this includes Twitter, Facebook, my blog, Goodreads, LitPick, and anyplace else I could think up or stumble upon in my wanderings headlong into the morass.

But what's that worth? I don't know. But let's just say $1000. Ok, we're at $9000, right? Wow, that's a ton o' virtual cash spent.

This brings us pretty much up to today. Memories of the Dead has decent reviews, and nobody that has reviewed it has anything horribly bad to say about it, which is nice. One might think that positive reviews and/or praise will automatically lead to sales. This is, I hate to inform you, not the case at all.

How do i know this? From experience. To-date, Memories of the Dead has garnered me a whopping $30 (Rounding to the nearest dollar.)

If I subtract this $30 from the $9000 I’ve put in, I discover that I am in the red to the tune of $8970. Ouch.

Now, if I had more of a presence, mind you, perhaps bought an ad or two on Facebook, or who knows what... There's a chance that the book would have sold more, and as a result the situation would be far less bleak. True, however it is also important to keep in mind that for a book to really hit its stride it has to be in the right place at the right time--it has to ring with the right audience. The old tale that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink is applicable.

Take this as a cautionary tale based solely upon my experiences. Your mileage may, and I hope does, vary. And I wish you the very best of luck.

And who knows...maybe Memories of the Dead will hit the target in the upcoming year! Remain hopeful, my friends.


  1. First of all, I want you to know that I've done my part. I've just purchased "Memories of the Dead," and it now resides on my laptop (with the Kindle PC software installed). So you're only down by about $8968 now!

    It seems the hardest part for indie/self-published authors is to get the word out, which is why I'm always glad to put a note up on my blog. That might get that one reader that makes a difference (probably not, but we can dream).

    I've also been looking at some interesting data on what words to put in the metadata on a blog/web page to get better responses in searches. I'll probably have to put that out on a blog post since it's too much for a comment. If folks do a Google search and don't find the page or post about your book, they'll never even know about it, let alone buy it.

    All I can say is keep throwing that title out there, Tweet about it when you can, and maybe that readership will grow. And having more than one novel will help, too.

    Good luck!

    1. Oh, I keep trying, believe me. And as for a second novel...that's in the works. I have one chapter left to write, then the rough-draft is complete. Then the real work begins....