5 Tools to Offset Self-Publishing Costs

5 Tools to Offset Self-Publishing Costs

By Kassandra Flamouri

1. Kickstarter

This one is huge.  When my publisher went under, I wanted to self-publish—but I didn’t want to invest a bunch of money on a book no one wanted to read (a mistake I’d made once already with a bilingual short story collection). So I ran a pre-order campaign on Kickstarter to make sure I at least had enough people interested to cover my publishing costs. I ended up getting nearly twice the amount I was asking for and was able to cover basic publishing costs like an ISBN number, IngramSpark publishing fee, cover design tools, and a month-long NetGalley listing.

A word of warning, however: When you set a goal for a Kickstarter campaign, make sure you factor in the costs of fulfilling rewards. When I set up my campaign, I assumed that most people would want the digital version of my book and that my shipping costs wouldn’t be that bad. I was wrong—nearly everyone wanted a paperback. So instead of $15.00 for each paperback reward, I was really only getting around $3 after printing and shipping. Luckily, I got way more pledges than I expected and was able to cover the costs and meet my profit goal, but it was by a surprisingly slim margin. The bottom line: You’re going to need more money than you think, so don’t be shy about asking for it.

2. Fiverr

Fiverr is a great resource if used (judiciously) to supplement your own work and skills, but it can’t replace them. You can’t pay someone twenty bucks and expect them to pour their heart and soul and creativity into your project. But if you have a solid creative vision and just need someone with the technical skills to make it happen, Fiverr can be a great place to find that someone. My attempt at hiring someone from Fiverr for a full-service cover design was a disaster, but when I tried coming up with my own idea and hiring someone to clean up my sketch and render it digitally, the results were fantastic.

3. Bookbrush

Bookbrush is kind of like Canva but specifically for books. You can make some pretty cool mockups and ads and download up to fifteen for free. You can also try out the cover design tools, though you’ll have to pay for a subscription in order to download or save covers. I did the subscription version ($99 for the year) and used the artwork I’d commissioned from Fiverr to design a cover I absolutely adore. The only warning I have for this service is that I ended up having to pay someone about $15 (yay Fiverr!) to tweak the formatting to make the print version work for KDP and IngramSpark. To be fair, though, the issues could very well have arisen from my own mistakes. And the e-book cover was a breeze!

4. Reedsy

Formatting a manuscript for print is a NIGHTMARE (I mean, if you’re like me and don’t have professional InDesign skills or the money to pay someone with professional InDesign skills). I have done it successfully using Microsoft Word, but it took forever and the results, though pretty darn good, were still not quite perfect. The only reason I suffered through it was the fact that the book required more customization than Reedsy could offer (poems, stories, two alphabets, oh my). When the time came to publish my novel in all its straightforward formatting glory, I just couldn’t face the thought of wrestling with Word again. What took me weeks (months? It’s all kind of a blur, now) with Word took about three minutes with Reedsy. You just select the trim size and make a few stylistic decisions and voila! It can format your work for digital distribution, too, and delivers both an EPUB and a MOBI version of your e-book. All formats include a note giving credit to Reedsy for the typesetting, of course, but that’s a tiny price to pay, especially when it saves you weeks of work or hundreds of dollars (or both).

5. Books Go Social

To be honest, I do have some reservations and caveats for this recommendation. The service is mostly geared toward marketing books through promotional packages that include four to eight weeks of tweets, with an optional month-long NetGalley listing OR three months of email promotions. I took advantage of a sale and also got a $75 ad budget. Unfortunately, the ads had a minimal impact, but I’m not sure it’s any fault of theirs, necessarily (see Where to Spend Your Advertising Budget by Glenn Miller).  At the end of the day, the $90 I spent to was mostly worth it just for the NetGalley listing, as the cheapest option through NetGalley itself is a whopping $450. Be warned, though, that Books Go Social’s execution can be a bit haphazard. If you do go this route, stay on top of them and make sure you give explicit instructions for the timing and content of whatever promotional materials you choose. I think this can be a great tool, but proceed with caution and, as dear Professor Moody would say, CONSTANT VIGILANCE. In the future I will probably give Xpresso Book Tours’ package a try. It’s a bit cheaper at $65 for a month long NetGalley listing, though it comes with a waiting list and no promotional tweets.

Guest post written by Author Kassandra Flamouri

Check out her books by clicking HERE!

CLICK HERE to sign up for her FREE WORKSHOP: GRAMMAR FOR WRITERS


As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


StarDust by Nicole Wells #giveaway

Nicole Wells had been guiding people spiritually for over 10 years. In UpSpark, she weaves in everything she’s learned in an emotional heartwarming journey, with a psychic paranormal fantasy twist. An observer of people and life, she crafts inspirational romance stories that make you laugh and cry, reflecting our human condition with tenderness and hope. This New Adult contemporary romance is her debut novel.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram *Amazon * Goodreads

StarDust (The Five Elements Book 2) by Nicole Wells ~ Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

So you’ve got psychic powers, now what?

When superstar Aurora manifests telekinesis, her beliefs about everything are put to the test, even the ones about herself. Can she heal enough to let love in?

Brayden is an easygoing guy, until an Australian beauty steals his heart and turns his world upside down. The stakes get even higher when she threatens to expose a secret that’s been kept by his people for millennia.

Can they recognize their precious love for what it is, and save the world in the process?

Enter the world of the Five Elements with Aurora and Braydens story.

This book contains some topics that may be triggering.

Goodreads * Amazon


UpSpark (The Five Elements Book 1)

Get ready for an award winning story that reached Amazon’s top 500 for all e-books (over 2 million), now fully revised!

Can they find themselves and each other before time runs out?

Enya’s dreams of making a difference in the world are devastated the summer after high school when she finds out she has a fatal disease.

A cross country road trip to Native American reservations helps her find meaning. But Jacob, her best friend and traveling companion, has longed for them to become something more.

Their expedition is just the start of an amazing love and spiritual journey, but a one-in-a-million phenomenon changes everything.

“I get the feeling like I’m reading Fault In Our Stars Part 2.”

Winner of the Readers’ Favorite 5 Star Award

Goodreads * Amazon

The Gift of Writing

So there I was with a newborn in my lap, sleep deprived and awake between nursings. Writing. There was a story I was gifted with that suddenly wanted to be told, and whether I cobbled it together during the day on my cell phone or wrote in the wee hours of morning while my little one slept, I managed to get it all down in three weeks.

For almost a year prior, I had seriously dallied with the idea of writing, and since high school I had fancied the idea of one day becoming an author. While I was pregnant, however, the starts and stops on the world I’d honed since I was a sophomore never tugged the full idea out of me. Instead, I found myself with a complete, and completely unexpected, novel. It was a gift, and my welcome to the world of pantsing.

You see, I am a planner. A we-need-to-turn-this-car-around-because-I-forgot-the-kitchen-sink type of planner. I am not accustomed to waiting to see what my characters had planned, or discovering them as they slowly choose to reveal themselves. With UpSpark, I had only the first scene and the last scene, and it was a full tilt ride filling in everything in-between. What an exhilarating experience to let go of control! I had no idea I was capable of indulging this creative muscle, following it down whatever dark alleys it lead me, to come out the other end into euphoric sunshine.

And now the floodgates are open. I have so many ideas. More so, I have an addiction now. There is no comparable meter stick in my life to this whirlwind of simultaneous wonder, creation, and pride when I strap myself into the sofa, fire up my laptop “control panel”, and dive in to explore new stories, no holds barred.

Well, I guess you could say my kids are wondrous creations I’m proud of, and that’s certainly true, but my stories don’t make dirty dishes or laundry, and when they talk back, it only makes me laugh.

Speaking of, don’t tell my kids, okay? This is just between you and me. They have no idea I can let my hair down and go with the flow. And as much as I love and enjoy the community and friends that I’ve found with this endeavor, the stories that I have been so blessed to be able to share, and the opportunity to touch people with my words, it’s this discovery of these new pieces of me, at the ripe old age of forty something, that I truly treasure. What value would you put on loosing the binds that held you back all your life? I didn’t realize what constriction was, but I’ve gotten a glimpse of who I’ve been and who I am. For a little bit longer, just to be between you and me, this is my precious secret gift from writing, a new superpower of possibility: Mommy can do anything.

I am proud to be one of many tour hosts sharing Stardust by Nicole Wells.

The Time Is Write: How Making Time to Write Each Day Helps Keep Me Grounded

The Time Is Write: How Making Time to Write Each Day Helps Keep Me Grounded (Guest post by Desiree Villena)

Lately, time seems to have lost all its usual meaning. When everything is done at home, the divide between work and leisure becomes hazy — one long, delirious blur without our typical routines to divide the days. This can make it hard to maintain momentum in your writing, especially when you feel a million competing voices in your head telling you all the things you should be doing: working harder, spending time with family, reading more, sleeping more…

I, too, often struggle with how to balance my creative projects with personal and professional demands. But though structure may have vanished, there’s still the same number of hours in a day. I’ve found that carving out dedicated writing time, even if it’s just a little bit every day, helps me regain a sense of meaning — I can’t control what goes on in the world outside, but I can control what happens in my stories.

Whether you’re writing a book that you hope to publish soon or crafting tales purely for your own enjoyment, writing for even a small portion of each day can do wonders for your artistic and emotional health. Here, I outline my approach to balancing writing with my other commitments, and delve into how working on my stories keeps me from feeling overwhelmed in the chaos.

Making use of small moments

Maybe you’ve already got a consistent writing schedule that keeps you on track — but for most of us, that’s a hard thing to establish! Building a reliable writing routine has been something that plagues even the most dedicated of authors. Personally, I’ve never quite been able to commit to a strict writing routine. While sometimes I wish I could make myself write at the same time every day or hit concrete targets, life is too unpredictable, and I’ve come to realize different writing tips work for different people!

Especially when you have a full-time job, a family, or other obligations that require your time and mental energy, dedicating hours of each day simply to write can feel like an unrealistic luxury. So my philosophy is to allow myself flexibility to write when I can, taking advantage of small pockets of time. Morning runs can occasionally serve as great brainstorming sessions, and gaps between meetings can be a great time to start outlining my next chapter. I even find myself jotting down ideas while watching TV or doing chores — inspiration can strike at strange times.

Writing does not have to be a 9-to-5 job or a non-stop marathon. Everyone writes at their own pace, and little chunks of time can quickly add up to great progress. Breaking up your day with short bursts of creativity can also help replenish your energy, giving you something to look forward to throughout the day.

Keeping my vision in sight

Dedicating at least small bits of each day to writing also gives me a sense of purpose as an author. Every day, I’m asking myself to treat writing seriously, and reminding myself why I write in the first place: while it can be challenging, especially when I’m struggling with a difficult passage or trying to edit, it is also an immense joy to bring characters to life on the page.

Keeping in mind my larger vision for each project also gives me something concrete to work toward — thinking about what this short story might look like when it’s complete, or where this character arc goes. Imagining my future readers once my work is published also helps give me a sense of purpose as I try to write stories that resonate. I ask myself questions like How would I describe this book? Why does it matter to me? Keeping sight of what I’m trying to write and why I’m writing serves as a potent reminder of why my work matters, even in confusing times.

Turning each day into a non-zero day

My philosophy of writing is dedicated to the idea of the “non-zero day”: doing something each and every day to advance toward my goal, even if it’s a tiny step forward. Progress is progress, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to tackle a challenge like “finish a story” or “edit a draft” — setting small, achievable, goals is a great way to keep myself motivated.

I aim to do a little something every day to stay grounded in my writing habits. Even if I’m not adding a single sentence to my work in progress, I can find other ways to still develop my craft: doing research, sketching out character backstory, or reading other books for inspiration. If you’re stuck on a book you’re writing, you might spend time looking at comparable titles, thinking about how’ll market your finished work to your audience, or developing your author website — granting each day a sense of purpose.

Giving myself freedom to explore

Even with all my strategies for maintaining inspiration, writer’s block inevitably hits sometimes. When this happens, I often find it helpful to allow myself to use “imperfect words” and freewrite without filtering.

The goal of freewriting is to write unhindered by self-consciousness or the expectation that a story has to be immediately polished. I go wherever my mind takes me. That means, if I feel inspired to take a total detour from my current project by starting a story in a new genre or embodying a silly new character, I let myself go for it! Sometimes using a creative writing prompt or taking part in a writing challenge also helps me regain that spark of imagination.

I never want to lose sight of the passion that urges me to write in the first place. That’s why my approach to my writing is to make it a funhabit — like a daily treat, not a job or chore. When I feel overwhelmed by what today might hold or wonder what tomorrow might look like, writing grounds me in the present moment — harnessing the emotion and noise of the world and making today count.

Lately I have been especially grateful for each sentence I put on the page. Even as we lose our sense of time, we do not lose our sense of purpose: words have immense power, and will always make themselves heard.

Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing resources. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories — and occasionally giving writerly advice! She looks forward to writing in coffee shops and libraries again soon.


Black Zodiac ~ giveaway

Black Zodiac by Zizi Cole
Genre: Supernatural Horror, Suspense

Bastian Bucco, ghost hunter. Charged with gathering the souls of those chosen to fill the Black Zodiac. A nexus that holds the ultimate power. The souls must be of those who died suddenly. Those whose lives embodied the essence of the Black Zodiac.

The things that motivate people in life, carries over into death. Sex, revenge, power- these are the stories of the chosen ones. The ones to fulfill his duty. But why were they chosen? What, or who has selected these beings?

Find out in the Black Zodiac. Things will never be the same…

Goodreads | Amazon


Zizi Cole, a born and bred native of Missouri, resides in a small town with her two boys and cat.  When she isn’t writing, she likes to spend time with her children and do some reading.

She is a writer of horror, and more recently, has branched out into the realm of fantasy. She’s been an active member in the Indie community- making the best-seller list in her categories, she has also been nominated for several awards including “Best Horror Author”. Zizi’s co-authored fantasy, Afflicted, won second place for “Best Retelling” with Enchanted Anthologies in 2017. Her DAMNED series also took third place for “Best Horror” with Wild Dreams Publishing. She looks forward to meeting her fans at events and connecting with them on social media.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads


Would you like a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I’m Zizi Cole. I have been published for almost three years now. My first book Sweet Nightmares came out April 29, 2017. I started writing my first novel because I was bored and laid off from my muggle job. I wrote Sweet Nightmares in a month. Once it was done, I knew I had to publish it. It was a compulsion.

I think realistically I have always been a writer, just haven’t always put pen to paper. I would journal my feelings and thoughts when I was younger and still do when things become too much, but it was something I’ve always done. I would tell stories to my cousins. We would do a round robin type of storytelling.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I’m shy. People tend to think that I am loud and outgoing, which I am once I get to know you, but I’m innately shy and takes me a while to open up. I was never good at making friends, but the friends I have are ones that I will have for the rest of my life.

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born and raised in Missouri. I still live in the town I went to high school in. It was only the second town I have ever lived in my entire life. It is a small town, quaint town.

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’d spend it with my kids.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I watch the Golden Girls or Gilmore Girls. I like the comedy and repetition. I also read or listen to audiobooks.

How to find time to write as a parent?

I find time to write as a parent after work, usually after the boys go to bed. Now that they are older, they give me time to write after I get off work, but I have a hard time concentrating on my books when I can hear them in the other room.

My best time to write is in the morning before everyone gets up. It is calm and peaceful, giving me time to think and let my imagination go wild.

Do you have a favorite movie?

I am a fan of the Hunger Games movies. I’m not sure what it is about them that pull me to them, but I absolutely love it.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

I would love all of them to become a move, but I would like to see The DAMNED series to be made into a movie trilogy or Black Zodiac to be made into a Netflix original series. I would also love to see The Missing in a movie. Can I go back to my answer of all of them? 😊