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The Cost of Self Publishing – You’re Focusing on the Wrong Thing

by Nick Stephenson in Books and Writing

We all know it’s tough to get visibility out there in author-land, not to mention how hard you need to work (at first) to get those early reviews and mailing list subscribers. After all, you just busted your butt to get your work out there – and now you’ve got to bust your butt all over again to get noticed?

Yeah… I’ve felt that particular sinking feeling myself many times in the past.

The good news? Trust me, it gets MUCH easier once you know what you’re doing (that’s what I’m here for). Which leads me onto my reason for today’s post… 

As you can probably imagine, I get a lot of emails from authors looking for help building their careers. In addition to getting questions about how to boost visibility, get exposure, grow mailing lists, get reviews (and, yes, how to sell more books) – this is a very popular question:

Nick, I’ve seen some marketing and advertising services out there that look pretty good. But I don’t want to spend money if I don’t have to. Is the cost worth it?

And this got me thinking.

Advertising is a huge help. Even the smaller advertisers are priced to help you sell enough to make a profit – they want you to come back, after all. And there are other tangible benefits that investing in your business will bring.

But this is the key point: it’s not about COST. It’s about VALUE.

To help make sense of this, I wanted to outline a few of the investments I make in my business, and in myself, which have helped my career massively.

Now, bear in mind these figures reflect my investments NOW. When I first got started, the numbers were very different. I’ve built up to this over 4+ years, and, like many people, I started with a tiny budget. And we’ll talk about that in my next post.

Here’s a breakdown of my monthly marketing expenses (figures in USD):

Email Advertising (sites like Bookbub): $540
Website / Systems Development & Optimization: $997
Mailing List Software (Infusionsoft): $450
Affiliate Commissions: $8,470
Facebook Advertising: $779
Video Hosting: $300

Total investment: $11,536 per month / $138,432 per year

Sounds like a lot, right? And it is. But every single one of those investments allows me to either (a) make more money, or (b) save time (which helps me make more money, as well as giving me the freedom to spend time with my family and doing fun stuff – which is kinda the whole point for me).

And, as I mentioned, these figures represent my business NOW. Not when I first got started. I took my profits and reinvested them into the business. Built that up. And it was worth it.

The #1 thing I didn’t spend valuable cash on was a fancy website. Or super-high-end branding. Now, those things are useful… when you have paying customers. But when you’re first getting started, it’s all too easy to get caught up spending time and money on things that don’t bring dollars into your bank account.

Case in point – my first-ever business; I spent hundreds on setting up an automated telephone system directing callers to the right “department”. And guess what? Without any customers actually CALLING me, it was a total waste of time. You can imagine, that business went belly-up pretty fast.

To put some of these crazy numbers into perspective, my total ROI on the last twelve months was in the triple digits. Or, in other words, for every $20 I spent, I made back over $100.

If someone asked whether you’d like to swap a twenty-dollar bill for a hundred bucks, what would you say?


You’d bite their hand off, right?

If anything, I want to spend MORE on investments that will grow my business. And that’s my goal for this year – find more ways to grow my business profitably. And I know I’ll need to pay to play. That’s the nature of any serious business.

But a lot of people balk at the idea of spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on their business and their career – and themselves. Why is this?

It’s because people confuse COST with VALUE.

Any good investment should give you a solid return – either in terms of money, or time (freedom). It should provide you with value. The cost isn’t the important factor here. What’s important is what your investment is going to do to help you reach your professional and personal goals.

  • Spend $100 to make $750? That doesn’t “cost” me $100. That EARNS me $650 profit.
  • Spend $3,400 to get my money and accounts managed? That doesn’t “cost” me $3,400, that earns me a year of never having to worry about my taxes or cashflow. And a good accountant often makes back their fees saving you money too – they have with me.

It’s easy to miss the value and focus on the cost. This is a mistake.

So, my question to you is this:

If you could get your author career to where it needs to be, how much would that be worth to you?

What would it mean to you and to your loved ones to get to do something you love each and every day? Never having to worry about someone else calling the shots? Having steady and sustained sales and income while you sleep?

You might not be able to put a dollar figure on it, and that’s fine. The important thing is that you can actually visualise this happening. Because figuring out what your dream career is worth to you is a major step towards making it happen. I learned this early on and it made a big difference.

So, tell me: What would it mean to you to get your author career where you want it to be?

Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you and get a discussion going. In the meantime, I’ve got an exclusive video training session for you that will break down the only three things you need to focus on to grow your business.

That means no more random browsing on social media. No “Tweet Teams”. No getting overwhelmed trying to release random content into the universe in the hope that someone might see it.

I’ll break down the three-step formula you need to use to focus your marketing and get results.

Just click below for the video series (and I’ll send you video #1 right away that will make this super-clear for you):


I’ll see you in the comments section below! 


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