How I published a book for $150
This September I published Electrify Everything: The Clean Energy Coloring Book. It took me 4 months to create and cost $150. I self-published using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (known as KDP).
This was my second self-published book. Last year I made a coffee-table book of my art called A Brighter Future and published it through a platform called BookBaby. BookBaby’s quality has been amazing but their shipping time is quite long and they don’t sync with Amazon well.
I get lots of questions about the publishing process so I thought this could be a mini-guide to self-publishing.
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Some major takeaways:
Anyone can publish a book. You don’t have to write a 500 page novel to be an author. I have published 2 books and written a total of 2 pages (the introductions). My books are art books. If you want to publish a book, think about your area of expertise and get creative on what a book could look like.
Self-publishing a book is an amazing marketing tool. It allows you to create buzz about something fun you are working on, grow a mailing list, and when you launch it’s a lovely gift to clients or friends.
You don’t have to have a book deal to publish. There are tons of platforms that make publishing a book easy today. I have tried KDP and BookBaby and love both for different reasons.
Things to know about Amazon KDP:
KDP is amazing for the price and speed of shipping. The quality has been shockingly great too. I’m able to keep my coloring books to $10 to create an accessible price point which means a lot to me. The royalties you receive are much better than with a traditional publisher too.
I don’t carry inventory. I love this because I don’t create excess waste. Each book is custom printed when an order is placed and delivered with Prime in 2 days. I truly don’t understand how that is possible (that’s what I get for working in Bezos-land. Saving my thoughts on that for another newsletter though).
With KDP all I needed was a PDF of my book. I ran 3 test prints to get the alignment of the images right but overall it wasn’t that difficult.
The only real cost was buying an ISBN. This costs $125 and lets you sell your book in bookstores and other platforms. I spent the other $25 on test runs of the book. Disclaimer: other folks might need a designer for the cover or formatting help.
I would design the cover MUCH sooner. I made the cover about 2 weeks before publishing. Oh and I changed the cover 1 week before I published (thanks to a poll I sent out to you lovely people who voted for it to be blue not pink). I designed the cover at 4am one day when I woke up with inspiration (not how I normally work, trust me it was just crunch time).
It took less time than I thought. This book flowed out of me. I acknowledge that a 50 page coloring book is radically different from a memoir or novel, so 4 months is not a realistic comparison.
Plan time for test copies. It took about a month to get the formatting right. I was not anticipating this and gave myself a deadline that made it very stressful.
If you’d like to get a copy of Electrify Everything as a holiday gift for a climate friend or little one, there’s still time! Order a copy here.
I have decided I am going to be doing another coloring book! I had so much fun creating this one that I decided to make this a series. The current plan is the next coloring book will be about food systems. I have started major research mode so I am taking suggestions on books, folks to follow, people to meet, things you want to see in the book!
Ways to support me:
After this post, how can I not say that the easiest way to support me is to buy my coloring book 😅
I’m open for commissions. I help climate organizations simplify their messaging into pretty art. I just finished a painting for the Department of Energy!
I host climate art workshops! I’m doing a bunch for holiday parties this year and can customize them for your group/team. I do both in-person and virtual.
Ok my climate cuties I hope this was helpful! I’m here if you have any questions 😊