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
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).
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.
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.
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.
Facebook advertising: £200
A waste of time, as far as I could tell. Maybe got me a couple of sales.
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.