Updated: Oct 29, 2022
As an independent publisher, I am always looking for ways to save a coin. Whether you are publishing 2 titles or 16 titles, here are three major money-saving hacks that you should use:
1. Join a self-pub author association that offers discounts on distribution services
KDP and Ingram Spark are the major printing and distribution services used by independent publishers. While publishing with KDP is completely free, the same is not true for Ingram Spark. Ingram Spark costs $25 to upload a new e-Book title, $49 to upload a new print title, and $49 to upload both a print and e-Book title. Ingram Spark also charges $25 to make revisions to an already uploaded title. If you are a multi-publisher like Sugar Cookie Books, these costs can definitely add up. Within a year, I publish at least five titles and make who-knows-how-many revisions to existing titles. Publishing with Ingram Spark would cost me an easy $250+ per year. But with this cost-saving hack, it only costs $119. That is a saving of at least $130!
Join a self-publishing author association that offers member benefits that include discounts on distribution services. The Alliance of Independent Authors new membership starts at $119. Independent Book Publishers Association new membership starts at $139. Members get access to special discount codes that allow for five title uploads and/or revisions per month FOR FREE! No more scrounging around for discount codes or holding your breath for Ingram Spark to offer a limited time discount. Upload new titles and make revisions to existing titles without worry and without spending mega bucks!
2. Go for the 100 ISBNs if financially possible
We know the more ISBNs you buy, the more money you save.
A single ISBN costs $125.
10 ISBNs cost $295.
100 ISBNs cost $575.
Independent publishers are advised against using the free ISBN offered by KDP or Ingram Spark to publish their titles (see blog post ISBNs and Barcodes! Oh my! for more on that). When you consider that each format of a title requires its own ISBN, buying a single ISBN or even 10 ISBNs is not truly sensical. Depending on whether you assign an ISBN to paperback, hardback and e-Book, or just paperback and hardback formats, 10 ISBNs yield only 3-5 titles. So even if you buy 10 ISBNs, you will find yourself constantly re-upping on ISBNs or worse, holding on to publications to avoid having to spend more money on ISBNs.
Trust me, I have been there. I initially purchased 10 ISBNs and unsuspectingly blew through them. So, I bought another 10 ISBNs and blew through those even quicker. I finally gave in and bought 100 ISBNs. 100 ISBNs yield 33 to 50 titles! That is 10x more than 10 ISBNs and well worth the investment. If I would have bought 100 ISBNs the first or second time, I could have saved at least $280. While the price tag for 100 ISBNs was not fun, purchasing 100 ISBNs has afforded me creative freedom. I can create and publish books to my heart's contentment, and that is priceless. Plus, ISBNs do not expire.
3. Group registration for unpublished works (GRUW)
Independent publishers who choose to copyright their work (see blog Learn Why You Should Copyright Your Amazing Book for more on copyrights) should consider registering works as a group. My creative juices sometimes flow and flow resulting in more than one work at a time. Instead of submitting a work one by one, I have started registering a group of unpublished works and it makes sense. There is no deadline for when you can register a work, except the obvious caveat that all works in the group must be unpublished at the time of registration. So in practice, you would simply hold all of your manuscripts until you were ready to push "publish" on a single one.
A standard application to register a single work costs $65. GRUW allows registration of up to 10 unpublished works and costs $85, only $20 more! And if you actually had 10 works to register as a group, the cost breaks down to $8.50 per copyright! Now that is a major saving if I ever heard of one.
What did you think of these hacks? Do you use any of them? Have any other hacks to share? Tell us in the comments.