These are the essential resources I’ve used to sell 70,000+ fiction books over the last six years without an agent or publisher. Current as of January 6, 2019.

NOTE: I only list services I’ve actually used.

COVER DESIGN

Listed price is for a complete cover (eBook and print-on-demand). Prices fluctuate due to exchange rates; they might also change. These are listed from most expensive to least; this is not a quality ranking. These designers can also create things like Facebook banners, logos and so forth. Note that some designers have long lead times, so contact them a minimum of 3 months in advance of your publication date.

ILLUSTRATED COVER DESIGN

  • Tom Edwards (varies based on complexity of illustration; my cover was ~$950) (sci-fi)
  • Alberto Besi (varies based on complexity of illustration; my cover was $800)

INTERIOR FORMATTING

  • I recommend Vellum ($29 per book/$249 for unlimited use). Beautiful, simple and intuitive eBook & print formatting with a single click. It’s Mac only, but I use it on Windows with MacInCloud ($30 for 30 hours). It’s one of the best programs I’ve ever used. Scrivener ($40 Windows/$45 Mac) and Adobe InDesign ($20/mo) can also format eBooks and print interiors, but are far less user-friendly.
  • Ampersand Book Interiors (~$125+ per format) custom eBook/print formatting that matches your cover branding.

BUSINESS & MARKETING TOOLS

  • Book Report (free up to $1,000 in royalties per month; $19/mo thereafter): a much improved dashboard for displaying/analyzing your KDP sales data that requires no installation.
  • Book Funnel ($5/mo): seamlessly delivers your free books (e.g reader magnets) to email subscribers. Vital for building your mailing list.
  • Prolific Works ($20/mo): allows you to give away free books to Prolific Works’s readers and join cross-promotions with other authors to generate mailing list subscribers.

MARKETING INFO

  • Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors ($750) is the best course on PPC ads (FB, AMS, BB) on the market, specifically designed for authors. Not enough to be wildly profitable out of the gate at this point, in my opinion (because of competition), but consider it a 100/200-level PPC course that teaches you the fundamentals far more cheaply than trial and error.
  • Kindle Boards (KBoards) Writers’ Café: the single best indie publishing resource on the internet (free or paid).

CRAFT & MARKETING BOOKS

These lists usually devolve into useless 35 page appendixes. I’ll be frank: I read a lot of books. Most are not good. These are indispensable.