Keep budget to guide your self-publishing efforts

Indie authors should create a budget to manage their money for writing. You don’t want to lose track of your spending and profits. In addition, a budget ensures you think hard before purchasing a service, preventing you from wasting money. A budget also helps you get the best return on investment for your dollar.

Begin by researching prices for the services you need to purchase; list them and their estimated costs on paper or a word processing document. Those are your anticipated expenses. Next, determine how much money you’ve earned from book sales. That is your revenue.

Of course, you haven’t earned any money yet if you’re just starting out. Self-publishing always requires a small capital investment on your part. You may need to make this investment a line item on your household budget and every month add so many dollars to your writing budget. Or you may need to wait for a bonus check or take a seasonal job to cover the expenses.

The challenge to all indie authors is to initially spend as close to nothing on services so that you have very low expenses. That maximizes the amount of revenue from your book sales.

Usually what busts a budget are unanticipated expenses. In indie publishing, this usually comes after a visit to a store’s stationery aisle. Perhaps you bought pens, notebooks, a printer cartridge, Post-it notes, and other writing-oriented do-dads. Before buying anything, though, you have two choices: Spend money from your household budget or don’t buy them. I advocate the latter, at least when you’re starting out. This prevents you from mixing your household and business budgets. It also forces you to adopt an entrepreneur mentality of always asking, “Do I really need this to succeed?” The answer in most cases is you probably don’t. For the above purchases, you instead can write on your computer, use a free note-taking app, and edit by reading the manuscript on your screen.

Lastly, remember that a budget, like your writing outline, is a flexible document. You can only spend what you have available, and sometimes that’s less than you want, so you will need to cut expenses. On good days, though, the revenue is more than you expected, so you can potentially spend more than you wanted.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.