How I published a poetry book for $2.45

I’ve dreamed of writing a poetry book for a long time. When I was a kid, my favorite books were the rhyming ones. Authors like Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss were able to build bright and imaginative worlds in just a few stanzas. I remember giggling as I tried to read Dr. Seuss’ tongue twisters out loud without messing up. Shel Silverstein had an uncanny ability to create new words and opened the door to unlimited imagination. My love of poetry only grew as I advanced in school. I loved English, Literature, and Creative Writing classes.

So, when I realized I had enough poems in my journal to put together a small book, I jumped at the chance to finally publish my very own poetry book. My experience writing and self-publishing my children’s book taught me a lot. This time, I wanted to do things a bit differently. I didn’t want to be locked into a contract with a hybrid publisher. I wanted not only an affordable price point for my readers, but a low overhead regarding printing and shipping for myself.

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After a lot of research, I chose to go with Believe it or not, I was able to produce and print my poetry book for $2.45. No joke. Here’s how I did that:

  • I was able to format the interior pages and design the cover myself with the free graphic design program called Canva. I chose a public domain image to use for the cover and used the basic fonts already included on Canva.
  • I opted for a simple softcover in a smaller size with a stapled binding, and I market my book as a chapbook. Imagine a small book of short writing you can carry around in your briefcase or purse and read on the go – that’s the traditional idea of a chapbook.
  • You can create and print your projects on for free, and they give you a free copy of your project. After that, you need to factor in the final cost of each book for selling purposes.

With shipping and administrative costs, the final cost to print and ship each copy of my book is around $4.75, so I chose to charge readers $8 per copy. Based on the research I’ve done paired with poetry chapbooks I’ve purchased myself, it seems like a very standard price for this type of publication.

this morning I woke cover

It took me a fair amount of time to design and format everything myself, but I liked it because it gave me more control over the final product. I also didn’t have the added pressures of a timeline other than my own. My advice would be to set aside a weekend where you can focus solely on creating the interior and cover design of your book. If you need help with the design aspect, Lulu does offer affordable design services.

I shared the un-boxing of my first copy on my Instagram, and it was a great moment. It’s always hard to tell how the final product will be until you see it in person, but I am sincerely happy with the way it turned out. Lulu offers a great product for an extremely affordable price, and makes it possible for independent authors to self-publish their work on a budget.

Do you have a project that’s asking to be finished? It is my aim to share what I’ve learned through trial and error with authors who might want to do the same. Let me know if you have any questions or need any feedback on an upcoming publishing project.



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