How much does it cost to research, write and self-publish a novel?

I was a total greenhorn when I started writing my first novel in May 2012. The trigger was that I simply couldn’t find a historical novel about the Isle of Elba (except relating to Napoleon’s brief exile there) while enjoying a fascinating hiking tour. Seeing the cave where the exiled hermit San Cerbone lived became the anchor point for a tale that began to grow in my imagination. And I started typing…

Now it’s published, and I dared to ask myself what it all cost – not counting, of course, all the time and emotional energy I invested over these last six years. What would you guess?

Answer: £4,408.55.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Research: £866.40
    This includes a second week-long trip to Elba, to explore the region and interview several specialists: £694.87, and the purchase of at least 24 books, some second-hand: £171.53
  • Membership of five specialist organisations: £888.41
  • Software tools: £189.82
  • Writers’ workshops I attended in Zürich and the UK: £838.49
  • Professional reviewing and editing: £934.33
  • Publishing and marketing efforts: £691.10
    This includes professional design of the cover and two maps (£554.07), as well as setting up a website and some minimal Facebook advertising.

Total: £4,408.55.

I’ve probably forgotten something, and the project isn’t finished yet, but this gives an idea of what researching, writing and self-publishing a novel involves in financial terms. Your mileage may vary, as they say.


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