August 30, 2014

The Real Cost of Self-Publishing: Amy Misakonis

By Cassidy Ritter

“The Real Cost of Self Publishing” is a monthly blog where we ask a self-published author to break down his or her expenses in order to give others an idea of the costs involved in creating a successful book. Today we talk to children’s book author Amy Misakonis about her first book “The Best Place For Me.”

Amy Misakonis is a Project Manager for Sigma Space. For undergraduate school, Misakonis studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and for graduate school she attended Rollins College in Winter Park. After her son was born, she was inspired to write children’s books.

Her first book, “The Best Place For Me,” is a journey through cities such as New York, Rome and Paris with enchanting images and fun rhymes. At the end of the adventure, a special message is delivered to the book’s young audience: “Right here with you is the best place for me.”

Misakonis has also self-published “My Wish For You” and is in the process of publishing her third book. 

“The Best Place For Me” was published in 2013.  It is available in paperback, hardcover and as an ebook. Misakonis sold 91 books in 2013, not including ebooks sales. 

Below, Misakonis details the costs involved in producing her first book.

The Breakdown

Editor: $0

Misakonis edited her own book. She did not hire an editor because she did not want the added expense.

Illustration total: $750

Misakonis used an illustrator for both the cover and inside images. She found her illustrator on Twitter. Upon looking at his body of work, she loved his style and saw that he had done children’s books before. Misakonis came up with the drawing plan (her ideas for each illustration including some sample images) and bounced the ideas off her illustrator.   The illustrator charged a flat rate of $50 per illustration.  There are 15 illustrations, including the cover illustration in The Best Place For Me, totaling $750.

Layout and design total: $728

For layout and design, Misakonis used CreateSpace. She uploaded the drawings and text in what was essentially a Word document. From there, CreateSpace helped her format the book and come up with ideas for the typography of the cover. The company also produced an internal title page for her book.

Ebook formatting: $0

Ebook formatting was part of the CreateSpace layout and design fee.

Hardcover conversion: $99

Misakonis also paid CreateSpace for a hardcover conversion.

Printing costs: $924 

For printing, Misakonis used CreateSpace. Initially, she printed 100 books, both hardcover and paperback. She printed about 40% paperback and 60% hardcover. The paperback print cost was $3.65; hardcover $11.30. These prices did not include a shipping fee, which totaled about $1 per book, as reflected in the $924 above.

ISBN: $20

Misakonis paid CreateSpace for two ISBNs (hardcover and paperback). These were $10 each.

Website total for the first year: $138

Misakonis felt that a website would help her brand herself. She thought it was essential for marketing and credibility. She built the website herself using WordPress.com.  She paid for a design template through WordPress.com, which was about $60. Misakonis wanted more flexibility with her site and decided to transition to WordPress.org. This led to a fee just under $25 to have her website name transferred from one host to another (domain transfer). She also pays a yearly hosting fee to GoDaddy of $54.

Publicist total: $416

Misakonis uses Jennifer Halligan as her publicist. Halligan is a publicist for authors and primarily focuses on young adult or new adult genres. Halligan helped Misakonis with website development, put together book launch parties, online book tours and a press release. She also helped enhance Misakonis’ social media presence. This fee for her publicist included some activities for her second book as well.

Marketing materials: $238

Misakonis designed marketing materials (bookmarks, business cards, postcards) herself but paid $238 to print these materials.

Additional marketing: $270

Misakonis promoted her book at art festivals that she attended over a four-month period, paying fees to join the festivals and other associated costs.

The Bottom Line: Misakonis spent $3,583 on publishing and promoting her first book, The Best Place For Me.

After publishing her book, she came to some realizations. She offers the following advice for other self-publishers:

–“Self publishing a children’s book is a lot different from publishing a novel or a nonfiction book because there can be a lot of hidden costs you don’t realize. (For example), if you’re not going to be the one who’s the illustrator then you have to pay for the illustrations. And then if the illustrator wants royalties, you will have to account for those costs as well because that will reduce what your profits are on your book.”

–“Children’s books are very, very hard to sell as a self-publisher because there are so many books out there and so much competition.”

–“You are very limited in what you can do (design-wise). When you use places like Amazon, they only sell paperbacks, and most people want their children’s books to be hardcover books. And unless you want to make a significant investment of more than $20,000, you can’t print board books on your own. There are little things like that when publishing children’s books that you don’t know right out of the gate.”
–“Definitely do your research on what your genre is and decide on what your budget is and try to stick to that. If you have a lot of money you can invest, that’s fantastic. If you don’t, just choose wisely where you put it. For my first book, I used CreateSpace for a lot of the layout just so I could learn the process. The second time, I didn’t need to use them for that. It made a big difference in the cost of the book because I didn’t have a fee to do that, but it was really great for me to learn what they did, how they did it, what would make a good quality book.”

Have other authors taken different approaches in regard to cost? Absolutely. We’ll discover The Real Cost of Self Publishing from another author next month. Stay tuned! And if you’d like to share your self-publishing costs with us, either with your name associated or anonymously, please contact us at info@blueinkreview.com.

BlueInk Review offers credible and unbiased reviews of self-published books exclusively. Visit us at www.blueinkreview.com. If you like to receive more blogs like this, straight to you inbox, sign up here.

Cassidy Ritter is a junior at the University of Kansas, where she studies journalism, business and global studies and is a correspondent for the “University Daily Kansan.” She was BlueInk’s 2014 summer intern.

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2 thoughts on “The Real Cost of Self-Publishing: Amy Misakonis

  1. for my book, ‘the a to z book of birds’ i wrote, illustrated, edited, designed and together with a friend emailed the material to worldwidepublishinggroup who, for a relatively low fee, $1400.00 produced and distributed the book in hardcover, soft and ebook which can be seen on amazon, ingram, etc. there are other such companies, of course, no matter what you pay you are not going to make any money unless you work at it.

  2. This is a great blog series! New authors are always curious about what others are paying and what’s “normal”. Thank you for sharing this information to help out your peers!

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