Self-publishing need not cost a fortune but, if you want to produce something worthwhile, you will have to spend something. But it’s important to remember the golden rule:
Never spend money self-publishing than you can’t afford to lose.
You can never be sure in advance how many copies you will sell so publishing is always a gamble. Even the big traditional publishers get it wrong sometime so you might too.
Funding the book from your savings
That’s by far the safest route. Decide how much you can afford to spend, set that as your budget and stick to it. If you can’t afford to do exactly what you had in mind, you may need to save a bit longer. Alternatively, you can adapt your plans to suit your budget.- perhaps by starting with an ebook as that’s the cheapest option and adding a print edition later when you can afford to.
This involves getting a lot of people to invest a small amount of money in your project, usually through one of the crowdfunding websites available online. I haven’t tried any of them but I have heard of authors who have used the system successfully. You usually offer something in return for the investment and scale the gift to fit the size of the donation. So you might give a free epub to people who give a little, a free print book to people who give a bit more and a signed, free book to people who give even more. Although crowdfunding seems like an exciting new development, it’s a new form of what used to be called subscription publishing where publishers funded a print run by selling copies in advance.
Borrowing the money
This is a a bad idea, especially if you use a bank, credit card or payday loan company that charges high interest rates. It’s an even worse idea if you put up your house or some other asset as security. You can’t tell in advance how many copies you will sell and, even if your book is successful in the long-term, you can’t guarantee that the money will come in fast enough to cover the repayments and the interest.
Which neatly brings us back to that Golden Rule which is worth repeating.
Never spend money self-publishing that you can’t afford to lose.