In my last post, I wrote about some lessons I've learned so far as I'm getting ready to self-publish my memoir. I recently realized something else: I'll have to spend some money.
Nowadays, you don't have to pay to self-publish your book unless you want an ISBN, that pesky number needed to make your book available in stores, libraries, and on Amazon. However, you don't need one to sell on Lulu or the Amazon Kindle store (but anyone please correct me if I'm wrong). I was prepared to pay my cover designer but that's about it.
I recently held a contest inviting readers to help me pick a cover for my memoir. A randomly chosen winner would get a free copy of my book and some of my designer's cards.
But when it came time to pick the winner, I thought, Do I really want it to be random? To tell the truth, I wanted the winner to a reader who had never commented before. Or else a fellow writer with some clout. But that would go against the spirit of the contest.
In the end I decided: while the randomly picked person would get both my book and the cards, everyone who commented would get a free copy of my book, which meant 20 copies.
Before officially announcing this, I searched a little on the idea of giving books away for free. Some authors seemed to think if you value your work, you shouldn't give it away (the subject for a whole other blog post). Others thought you should give some away for publicity, and that clinched it for me. I'd shell out the bucks, and maybe some of my readers would Tweet, FB, or even review the book, and that would be worth it to me.
I'm getting ready to spend some bucks in other ways too. The landing page to my blog is pretty spare, to say the least. I basically threw it together with the idea that it would be temporary. That was almost two years ago. Now I'm planning on using 99 Designs to get it revamped. In case you don't know, the way 99 Designs works is you put out a proposal saying something like "I'll pay $500 to have my website redone, here are the parameters," designers present work to you, and you pick which one you like best. If you don't like any of it, you can say forget it and pay nothing.
I've also been meaning to get professional headshots for ages. For a while my cropped head from candids was okay, but now I'm starting to feel like I need more polished pictures without someone's cut off arm around my shoulders. This'll be another couple hundred dollars.
In all, I'm looking to spend, so far, between $800 and $1000. Will I make back that money from book sales? God, I hope so, but I'm not counting on it.
Then why do it? you may be asking. Partly because I want to know I did everything I could to help sell my memoir, just the way I did everything I could to try and get my memoir published in the traditional way (paid for classes to have it workshopped, rewrote and revised it a billion times, queried dozens of agents, entered every contest I could, most of which had reading fees). Partly because that money will be an investment in my career for the long term. I'll keep using the website for my other writing. Ditto the headshots. Maybe the memoir will lead to other writing gigs, and more importantly, to more readers.
Whatever gets more people reading and talking about my stuff is worth it to me.