Recommended resources for indie authors 

There are many sharks out there, preying on the unwary and the ignorant. ROSA is determined to educate new writers, especially those looking to indie publish / self publish, so that they do not fall prey to the sharks.

The first thing you need to know if you are considering self-publishing is that this doesn't mean you pay someone to publish your book (which is known as Vanity Publishing) but instead you become the publisher. You make the business decisions, hire the suppliers, and decide what your budget is and how you will spend it.

While you should be prepared to invest some money into this new career, it should not be in the tens of thousands, especially when you are just starting out. Anyone asking you to pay that kind of money might just be one of the sharks!

So what do you need to invest in? The first two items on the list below should be non-negotiable. The last two are recommended, but not essential, if you are computer and marketing savvy enough to manage them on your own.

  • Editor

  • Cover

  • Formatting

  • Marketing

What can you expect to spend on publishing your first book?

As with all things, you get what you pay for, so depending on your budget, you can either spend a little or a lot - but what you invest will be reflected in the quality of your product. The good news about self-publishing is that nothing is cast in stone, so you can always go back later and replace a cover or re-edit a book (retailers like Amazon might insist you do this if your book does not meet their quality guidelines).

Reasonable pre-made covers can vary in price from $20 to about $200 (about R300 - R3,000) and custom covers from $100 to about $1,000 (R1,500 to R15,000). For a debut author, we wouldn't recommend spending more than R3,000 on your first cover, unless you're rolling in cash and desperate to spend it.

Editing will be your biggest expense by far. Editors can charge anywhere from 15c per word to 50c per word. At a typical novel length of about 65,000 words, you could be spending as much as R20,000 on an editor. For a first time author, you should definitely not be spending in excess of that amount. If your word counts are extremely high (over 100k words) then you should give some serious thought to cutting back on your book length before submitting to an editor.

There are cheaper editors available, but always shop around, check the editor's credentials and experience, don't go with the first editor you find, and don't go with someone just because they're cheap or fast. Beware vanity publishers who offer editing services but cannot back it up with referrals or quality work.

Below are a number of sites we recommend for those just starting out. There are many others, and we recommend you do your homework and research before you spend a single cent.

ROSA members can also ask for referrals and recommendations in the ROSA Members' Facebook group or in their local chapter WhatsApp group, and there are many other wonderful support groups for Indie authors on Facebook, and the wider internet.

Editors and Proof Readers

Several ROSA members offer editorial and proofreading services. See our Service Providers page (linked below) for more information.


You can also check out the South African editors listed with SAFREA or PEG, however you should note that members of these two latter organisations do not necessarily specialise in or understand the conventions of genre fiction, especially Romance.

Book Covers

There are loads of wonderful book cover designers out there, with prices ranging from affordable to eye-watering. But you get what you pay for! Check out the designer's portfolio before hiring, and ensure the designer knows the Romance market. If you can't afford a custom cover, there are also many designers who sell pre-made covers at very affordable prices. Here is just a small selection of our favourites.

Raven Cover Designs

Cape Town-based author Dani Rene offers cover design, teaser graphic design and formatting services.

Covers by Tallulah

Support local! South African cover designer Tallulah creates custom-designed covers for very reasonable costs, and also has a number of pre-made covers available.

Romance Novel Covers Now

Devoted to covers for romance novels, this site also has sale items from only $20.

Go On Write

Buy credits, then spend to your heart's content. This site features a wide range of covers in a variety of genres, and they often run sales.

The Book Cover Designer

With prices ranging from just $15 up to $500, this site really has something for everyone.

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Additional eBook Services

If words like formatting, uploading, keywords and metadata leave you cold, then you can hire an eBook service company to do all this for you. Below are some additional resources to assist you, as well as a few websites that every indie author should know.

Blurb Butterfly

ROSA member Lelanie Watson is a book description make-over guru.

Kindle Direct Publishing

For those choosing to go it alone, Amazon's KDP Program is essential. Sign up for an account, follow the instructions, and voila! Your book can be available on the world's largest book store.


If you choose to 'go wide' rather than making your book exclusive to Amazon, then Draft2Digital is the easiest way to upload your eBooks to all the other major online retailers. A one-stop-shop, and easy to navigate.


Receiving payments from Amazon can be a painful process for South Africans, especially since Amazon does not pay via PayPal. We recommend Payoneer - you can use the account for payments from other retailers too, and withdrawals to South African bank accounts are quick and uncomplicated.

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