By Andy Dus
“The Real Cost of Self Publishing” is a monthly blog where we ask a self-published author to break down his or her expenses in order to give others an idea of the costs involved in creating a successful book. Today we talk to the amiable Aubrey Rose, author of “Me, Cinderella?”
Aubrey Rose (a pen name) hadn’t written fiction since high school when she began crafting short stories two years ago. Rose started writing erotic short stories, quickly moving on to novellas and novels.
She hasn’t looked back since. The prolific author has now self published over 11 romance and erotica books that often feature big beautiful women protagonists and include paranormal elements. Her latest book, “Human Shifter,” is the third in her werewolf romance series.
Rose’s biggest success is the romance novel “Me, Cinderella?” The novel tells the story of Dr. Eliot Herceg, a reclusive math genius whose heart is awakened after a chance meeting with Brynn Tomlin, a woman who has always been afraid to trust herself. With the help of Brynn, Eliot begins to confront the ghosts of his past — while Brynn’s insecurities pose problems of their own.
In August, Rose was invited to include “Me Cinderella?” in “The New Adult Romance Boxed Set,” a digital boxed set that also offers four other romance titles. It was a hit: The boxed set has appeared on both The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.
“Me, Cinderella?,” which is offered in print and ebook, has sold approximately 6,500 copies, mostly in the ebook format. The boxed set has moved an additional 30,000 units.
When Rose made the decision to self-publish, she didn’t have a clue how to make a book cover and couldn’t market to save her life. She has clearly gone beyond amateur status, as the author made $7,000 last month off of her writing. Some of her books are offered for free, others for prices ranging from 99 cents to $8.99 for the print edition of “Me, Cinderella?”
Below, Rose details the costs involved in producing the e-version of “Me, Cinderella?”
Rose designed the cover herself, using Photoshop. Each of the photos the author utilized was sourced from free stock photo sites such as Dreamstime and Sxc.hu. She also signed up for a free trial at Depositphotos; this gave her thousands of stock photos with which to work.
Cover design total: $0
Rose taught her boyfriend the skills needed to format an electronic version of the book, and he completed the project.
Ebook formatting: $0
For editing, Rose traded beta reads with fellow writers she had met on an online forum, some of whom are professional editors, to do large-scale plot and character edits. Rose brought her finished chapters to a local writing critique group for polishing. Her boyfriend did line edits for typos.
Editing total: $0
In order to market Me, Cinderella?, Rose started a blog through WordPress and then moved onto her own-hosted site. She opened up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Triberr. Rose filled out her Amazon author profile and linked it to her blog, which automatically gets posted to her other social media sites. However, the most important aspect of Me, Cinderella?’s marketing has been Rose’s mailing list. She has a free account through Mailchimp and now has over 500 subscribers. Rose includes a link to her mailing list in all of her books. This has been the predominant source of subscribers for Rose.
Marketing total for the single book: $10 annually for her website hosting
A few other expenses cropped up once Rose decided to join four other self-published authors for the aforementioned romance boxed set. She spent $300 for a Netgalley account, in order to secure independent reviews for her novel. Netgalley is a site in which reviewers can request advance review copies of books in exchange for providing an honest book review. Rose also chipped in $100 and $20 for ads on Bookbub and Bookblast (mailing lists to go to readers; the sites send out daily emails with offers of discounted or free books).
Marketing total for the boxed set: $420
The Bottom Line: Rose has spent roughly $430 on realizing and promoting the e-version of Me, Cinderella?
Rose is excited to share what she has learned in general with other self-publishers. She offers the following advice:
• “You don’t need to spend a lot of money. There are two major factors to a book’s success: the cover and the writing. The cover gets people to buy the book and the writing gets people to review the book and spread the word.”
• “If you can’t make a cover yourself, expect to spend $50-$200 for a designer.”
• “ If you struggle with grammar, it is worth picking up Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Until you hone your skills, expect to pay $100-$500 for copyediting for a full-length novel.”
• “You don’t need to complete a print version of your book. Ebooks account for 99.99% of my sales and most of my novellas and short stories have no print version. They sell just fine. Print versions cost an arm and a leg; nobody will buy them except your mom.”
• “You don’t need to spend a lot of time marketing. Pick the right keywords on Amazon to get into proper categories. Also, title your book with a subtitle that tells clearly what the book is about. Spending a ton of time posting on Twitter and Facebook won’t get you new readers. As I mentioned earlier, the most useful marketing tool is a mailing list. Start a mailing list using one of the many free providers (I use MailChimp). It is also a good idea to start a free blog using WordPress. This will give you a forum to direct readers to your mailing list. Your future books will depend on the strength of your mailing list for an initial boost.”
• “You should not price your book high. While there are some exceptions, most new fiction authors don’t have a reader base that will spend more than a few dollars on a book. Readers just aren’t going to buy a book by an unknown author unless it is priced low. Initially pricing your first book at 99 cents allows you to build a reader base and rank highly on bestseller lists, improving sales when you raise the price to $2.99 or higher. I always price my books at 99 cents the first week to gain readers and to give a discount to my fans that buy the book as soon as it is released. Later, I raise the price.”
Have other authors taken different approaches in regard to cost? Absolutely. We’ll discover The Real Cost of Self Publishing from another author next month. Stay tuned! And if you’d like to share
your self-publishing costs with us, either with your name associated or anonymously, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BlueInk Review offers credible and unbiased reviews of self-published books exclusively. Visit us at www.blueinkreview.com.
Andy Dus is a senior at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he studies communications and ethnic studies. He is BlueInk’s Fall 2013 Intern.