Counting the costs

The new layout of Trang has been accepted, and I have ordered the proof. Barring any major problems, both editions of Trang should be available for sale soon!

I feel like a big reason to have this blog (other than the fact that if I don't report to somewhere, I tend to stop working) is to present my experience to people who are thinking of self-publishing so that they have a realistic idea of what it involves.

Obviously, a major barrier to getting anything published is cost. Not because you should be paying fake agents or sleazy editing services, but because when you are writing for publication, you're not earning a paycheck. For a first-time novelist, you need to have the novel done and ready for publication before you can get an advance (which isn't really an advance at all by that point); for a nonfiction writer, you need to have a very detailed proposal with sample chapters. Both take a lot of time, and putting that stuff together while earning enough money to not starve to death is a major challenge.

And then there are the specific costs involved in actually getting a book out. Not that my finances are anyone's business but my own, but I was a business reporter after all, and I thought it would be helpful to actually inventory what I've spent so far--the start-up costs, as it were.

Of course, LJ doesn't make it easy to format columns. I had to do it backwards, and it's still not quite right.

So: What did I have already? A computer, Internet access, and Microsoft Word. (I don't try to figure out the cost of paper and ink, because I'll use the same toner cartridge or paper ream for several different projects.)

Spent on creating
$67.50 for 5 yrs....Cost of domain name
$226.79 for 2 yrs.....Cost of Web host*

Spent on creating e-books:

Spent on creating hard copies:
$355.00.....Purchase Adobe Acrobat
$17.86.....Purchase initial Trang proof
$9.91.....Purchase revised Trang proof
$16.24.....Purchase large-print proof
$78.00....Fee for improved price/distribution (both books)

GRAND TOTAL: $771.30

Which, you know, ain't exactly peanuts. Obviously it's cheaper to just produce e-books. That said, I only had to purchase Acrobat once, and it's going to be five and two years before I have to pay to keep up the domain name and Web site, respectively. There will be a reoccurring cost of $10 per year to maintain the improved price and distribution for both hard-copy editions of the book. (You can see from the difference in price between the initial and revised proofs the kind of hunk that fee takes out of the cost of the book both to me and to readers.)

How does that compare with the cost of trying to get published traditionally? Well, from 2005 until 2008, I spent $427.56 on postage alone--and I know that's not all I spent, because I was sending out Trang in 2004. (This is why crap like "Send me your stuff so that I can reject it and feel important!" pisses me off.) And you know, at least now I actually have a book, which is more than I had before.

* Edited March 30, 2012, to reflect rate change.