The Cost of “No-Cost” Publishing

Sep 6, 2023

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  • The Cost of “No-Cost” Publishing
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One of the biggest draws of self-publishing is the idea that it’s “free.” Authors aren’t required to pay to publish, nor are there any uploading or subscription fees. While this is true—self-publishing platforms like Amazon KDP are entirely free—you might want to look deeper into the breakdown of what goes into publishing a book.

It is highly inadvisable to hit Publish as soon as you type the words “The End.” There are critical steps between the writing and publishing phases, including editing, formatting, and more. Let’s take a look at areas where you’ll likely incur costs along the self-publishing journey.

  • Editing: Authors should seriously consider hiring a professional editor to do a copy edit of the manuscript. It will ensure your book will be as professional and structurally sound as possible, eliminating typos and improving grammar and flow.
  • Formatting: This is the book’s layout, including print books and eBooks (which will differ). Formatters can also convert your manuscript to the proper eBook file type required for uploading.
  • Cover Design: Another area authors should never skimp! Nothing makes a self-published book stand out in a negative way than an amateur, “homemade” cover. Cover design is a honed skill, and professional designers have a keen eye for trends in the industry. Don’t attempt to make your own!
  • Marketing & Publicity: This all-important step significantly affects a book’s success. Many authors hire PR specialists to help create buzz, generate effective ad campaigns, and secure media placements pre- and post-launch.

So yes, uploading your book to KDP (or another platform) may be free, but when you take a step back and look at the whole picture, the road to publication is not without cost. According to experts, an author can expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 to publish a book. Some may spend less, while others may spend much more. In addition to these costs is the time and energy required to check off all the necessary boxes to produce a high-quality book. Editing takes time. Formatting takes time. Marketing takes a lot of time. What are you willing to pay for your time?

At the end of the day, it can be incredibly overwhelming for many authors, which is why some turn to traditional publishing. Under this structure, authors seek literary agent representation, who will then sell their book to a publishing house. Per the agreement, agents receive a commission on the sale (usually 15%), and the author gets an up-front advance against royalties. Advances range dramatically, but insiders agree that an average advance for a first-time author is around $5,000. Sounds great, right? Why wouldn’t everyone choose this path? Here’s why:

Traditional publishing is a long, slow process. Not only is it challenging to secure an agent, but there is no guarantee that your book will even sell. If it does, you have to earn out your advance to receive any royalties. Here’s the big pill to swallow: most books do not earn out their advances, which means authors never see a single royalty for any sale. Ouch.

So, what are we left with? Does a publishing path that balances out these two options exist? The answer is yes, and it’s called hybrid publishing.

At Fulton Books, we share the investment with our authors, finding a mutually beneficial balance. Under our royalty structure, you earn 100% of the profits made by your book until you have earned your entire investment back. Read that again: 100%! But isn’t that the same as self-publishing? Yes, however, we take care of all the prep work to make your book not only stand out but be positioned in the market to maximize sales. You won’t have to worry about hiring freelancers or surprise costs popping up. The one-time fee package means that everything is taken care of, so you can enjoy the parts of publishing you love: the writing and the rewards.

Even after you have earned your investment back, Fulton is only entitled to 20 cents per book sold. Depending on your book’s price point, your share of a physical book sale (paperback or hardcover) could earn you between $3-$4 per book sold. eBook sales are often higher due to the low production cost, which means you’ll make even more. Score! You are entitled to 100% of these earnings under our agreement. Those “no-cost” publishing contracts will give you 15-20% or less. The big question becomes: Why give a publisher such a big slice of the pie for YOUR work?

You’ve all heard the age-old saying, “Nothing in life is free.” And that’s undoubtedly true for publishing. Somewhere along the line, authors will pay—whether it costs upfront to get their book ready or whether it’s minuscule royalties (or no royalties at all). Two books along two different publishing paths likely incur the same output financially. It just depends on when and how that money is spent.

When choosing a publishing path for your book, it’s essential to do some research. Who is bearing the burden of risk? What exactly is included in your contract? Is the publisher transparent with its process and costs? We believe that authors deserve fairness and honesty. We’re in it 100% with our authors—we’re a team, and when one wins, we all win. Our authors’ success is our success. Our proven publishing model is built on creating quality books designed to succeed in the marketplace. Hundreds of authors have justified the cost, and their satisfied testimonials prove that Fulton Books is the place to turn your dream into reality.