Budget Basics

When I edit books, I ask the author about his or her publishing plans. Ninety percent plan to self-publish. Self-publishing requires investing in oneself, and it also means creating a publishing plan, including a budget. Here are some budget basics.

  • Budgets are plans that set out expected revenues (income) and expenditures (outgo) for a specific period of time or project.
  • Budgets rely on a set of assumptions, usually based on some past activity.
  • Deviation from the plan is expected since some assumptions will not always be accurate (printing costs can go up, sales aren’t as high in a given period, etc.).

Budgeting is the process by which you relate spending with project progress. Simplistically speaking, if you budget $5000.00 for your self-publishing project and you spend $2,000.00 on the cover design and interior layout and $1,500.00 on editing, you have $1,500.00 remaining in your budget for printing. That leaves you nothing for marketing, however, in your project.

You may want to revisit your budget total for each activity in your budget. But if you skimp on the wrong thing, you could assure your book will fail in the marketplace. Therefore, you’ll need to make some hard decisions. For example, can you attract investors for your book and pay them back through sales revenues? The cover design’s job is to attract the reader, so can you find a less expensive designer to accomplish that task? The book industry standard is the Chicago Manual of Style and you want your book edited to that standard. When you find an editor, be sure you find one who meets that criteria.You want every aspect of your book to look professional, so hire professionals who work in book publishing.

When you keep in mind that publishing is business, not dream fulfillment, you increase your chances of success. Part of that success comes from realistically estimating your expenditures and revenues based on assumptions. Budgeting may not be the most fun part of writing, but it’s an important step if you want your book to at least break even.

Happy writing!


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