How do the numbers stack up?

Here's a breakdown of all the money I spent self-publishing the book. I think it's useful to compare this to what a vanity/hybrid 'publisher' might ask you to pay, and what you might get for similar money. 2,000 books? Promotional videos? Online advertising?

These figures were correct at: 12/03/2020

Illustrations: £1,500

I found my illustrator, Joshua Mitchell-Taylor, on Facebook. I paid £1,500 for the full image rights, so whatever happens from now on, they're mine. I think a lot of illustrators like working in this way; they do the job and get paid in full, rather than waiting for a split of proceeds which may never come (especially as the promotional work is out of their hands).

Editing: £100

I got mates' rates here, I think. My friend Ellie Burridge is a talented writer and I paid despite her insistence that I didn't need to.

Graphic Design: Free

This is ridiculous, of course; I should have paid well over £500 for this but as my friend Pete Spicer of WHP had encouraged me into self-publishing, I think he felt that he wanted to contribute to its success. The work he and his team did made a massive difference.

At this point I had everything I needed to go to print.

Printing: £1,700

I went with a company called Ex Why Zed, whose price and quality were unsurpassed (I shopped around and they were the best). I ordered an initial print run of 2,000 books, which works out as 85p per book.

So, in terms of bare-bones publishing, by this point I had spent £3,300 (it should have been more like £4,000 but hey, it's who you know, right?). I had taken delivery of 2,000 books. My work was just beginning!

Facebook Page: Free

I invited all my Facebook friends. Around a third (200) signed up. Over the following 6 months, the number increased by 75% so I now have around 350 likes. 

Promotional videos: £800

I went with Storm Videos and it was worth every penny. I came away with three different videos: One of me reading the first three pages of the book, another of various friends reading, and most usefully, a hilarious video of my first signing.

Facebook advertising: £200

A waste of time, as far as I could tell. Maybe got me a couple of sales.

Roller banner: £140

I went for an extra-wide one (150mm) and I have never regretted it. I use it at every book signing and it's a useful instant backdrop.

3m wide flag: £200

I had this custom-made by TKing Associates. I use this for outside events, where it always looks fantastic.

Website: Free

I make web-based software for a living, so it didn't cost anything. But with sites like Wix and Squarespace you can do this yourself for a very little money.

So, all told I've paid £4,640. I've sold over 700 books, 95% of them for the retail price of 6.99, so I'm in profit already, and I have another 1,200 available to sell - if I continue making £6.99 for them then there's £8,400 still to earn; although I've started donating them to schools and hospitals who, it turns out, are always looking for books. The nice thing is that having covered all my costs, I have the choice.

I own all the rights, so if I want to do some other kind of right or publishing deal with these characters I can. 

Self-publishing definitely isn't for everybody, but for me it made sense. It's a lot of work but I couldn't be happier.