This morning I am reading an article by Marc Coker (the founder of Smashwords) about what’s coming in near future for authors and publishers. He has some very good things to say. Here’s a quote that is particularly relevant to us.
As a self published author, you’re the publisher. You’re running a business. The lifeblood of a business is profit, because profit generates cash. If you run out of cash, you go out of business. Since profit equals sales minus expenses, and sales are difficult to predict and often minimal, it’s important to minimize expenses. DIY as much as possible, especially when you’re starting out. Invest your sweat equity (your time and talent) first. If you can’t afford editing, barter for editing, and leverage beta readers. Once you start earning a profit, then carefully reinvest. Never borrow money to finance your ebook publishing adventure. Never spend money you need to pay the mortgage or to put bread on your table.
The majority of my readers are Christian authors writing as a ministry (and as a source of income). As one myself, I can say without hesitation that the Lord expects us to be wise—good stewards of the resources He gives us. This is why my strong recommendation is to invest in good tools. This is especially true for those of us who are producing non-fiction. The premier tool for publishing is InDesign, plus Photoshop to adjust the photos you use.
As the ebook market matures, much more will be expected of us as authors. Expenses for editing, formatting, and cover design can very quickly exhaust our resources. For the price of InDesign, plus a lot of effort to learn typography, graphic design, and publishing, you can make your publishing expenses disappear. It costs me $0.00 to publish a book, both print and ebook, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and Kobo. If you are building your author platform by publishing a half dozen books a year, paying for external publishing costs can quickly bankrupt you. Also, even if you are trying to do it yourself, the loss of sales because of reader-perceived quality issues will be an increasing problem as our DIY publishing industry matures.