How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book?
Publishing a book has never been easier because of the access to online and offline resources for writing a book and publishing it. There have always been three ways to get your book published: finding a traditional publisher, finding a company to help you with publishing, and self-publishing.
There are some costs (that aren't exactly publishing costs) associated with newer methods to publish your book. However, if you’re thinking about getting your book published, you should think of these costs (not as losses, damages, or charges but) as investments towards your writing career.
What Happens In Traditional Publishing?
Traditional publishers don’t charge any money to publish your book. In some instances, they can have a book deal with you and pay you to write a book. The publisher is investing in the authors, and in return published authors are paid a percentage of their royalties. This is for print-on-demand titles.
You also don’t pay for the book cover design, distribution, and marketing. The publisher does all of that for you. The publisher usually has teams responsible for all these tasks. However, depending on the agreement you have with your publisher, it’s likely that you could market your book on the side yourself.
This means that the writers can do what they are best at, and the publisher does the rest of the publishing services. However, if you have your own cover design that you want to be incorporated in your title, you may not see them through while publishing your book traditionally. This is because the publisher trusts their book cover designers more than the author's designs.
How much does it cost to publish a book traditionally? Virtually none provided that you have a high-quality book with readable and admirable content. Conventionally, a publisher would deal with a print book, but that does come with some of the following limitations:
However, there are some things that hold back the decisions of publishers on whether to accept the manuscript. This is because they realize that there are some niche books that can be difficult to sell. Investing time and resources in such print books (or e-books) is probably not worth the effort.
Hard To Sell Print Books:
Unless you're an established writer already with your own author website with an active and loyal audience, short stories, essay collections, and works of poetry can be a hard sell. This also extends to works of memoirs with a not-so-unique storyline. People need to be hooked in with a compelling and unique style of delivery.
If the story or the poetry is all too common and people don't feel too engaged, the publishers will find it hard to justify if they should consider investing their money in you.
Anthology and nonfiction works require a lot of compelling on the author's part, especially if it's their first book. The publishers would want to see whether the writer has a command on the subject, enough to appeal to their target audience.
Also, if your book is too long, it can put some potential readers off. Anything above 110,000 words for fiction is too long. Adult books and mysteries range ideally between 50,000 and 80,000 words. Anything below 15,000 words is considered ideal for children's novels. Nonfiction works fitly range between 75,000 and 90,000 words. Depending on your genre, the length matters.
Traditional publishing might seem lucrative because you're the one who does the writing and the logistics and sales are handled by other bodies. However, publishing costs aren't the only things that writers keep an eye on. Writers also look at what gives them more freedom and control in their writing.
Writers don't want to go through the lengthy and time-consuming process of submitting their work for review to publishers and being rejected long after. For any author who wants to excel in their writing career, they take a quicker and more robust route of self-publishing.
Usually, the cost to self-publish, at face value, doesn't seem much because many platforms allow you to publish your book for free. But writers are good at writing, but they aren't necessarily good at everything else that comes with the publishing process.
The Rise Of Self-Publishing:
Self-publishing has made lots of writers kickstart their careers at a relatively weaker barrier to entry. Anyone can write a book and publish it, but that doesn't guarantee sales. All that it guarantees is that the book will be placed in a store and whether or not people will buy it will fully depend on the book promotion, marketing, and not to forget its quality.
With the rising progress of self-publishing platforms such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble Press, and more, writers don't have much work on their hands when it comes to having access to a book store where they can see their books. The digital world has also made it easier to access these platforms.
Cost To Self-Publish:
On the platforms mentioned above, the cost of self-publishing may virtually be zero, but let's look at how much does actually it cost to self-publish a book and get it marketable and sellable. Most of the associated costs are not associated with the publishing itself.
For self-published authors, these are the costs they have to bear:
• Writing tools
• Cover design
• Editing costs
• Book formatting
• Website fees
Whether you're a writer of tradition or of modernism, your writing tools will consider pen and paper of sorts.
Traditionalists rely on an actual paper and pen or even a typewriter. However, writing thousands of words may not be easy. That's why we have word processing software such as Microsoft Word. Prospective writers who don't have enough time to write on their computers can even use mobile phone apps for word processing. Every modern smartphone comes with some kind of "Notes" app, so you can write on the go or whenever you feel easy.
You can find an adequate version of Microsoft Office with a cost of $50 or more, but if you're comfortable with typing on a phone, the cost of the word processing software might be negligible.
Expert Training Or Ghostwriters:
There are some prospective writers with great ideas and stories to tell, but they struggle to get their ideas successfully in text. For that, they end up either with educational writing courses or they hire ghostwriters with whom they can have one-on-one sessions.
Expert training courses for writers or effective communication can cost upwards of $10 (when on sale) to $150. They help an author (or a prospective author) in their self-publishing journey from start to finish.
Ghostwriters will reduce your effort to a bare minimum of talking and can cost a lot more in terms of cost, but they'll do all the writing for you, and all you have to do is provide them direction. They can charge you $20,000 to $80,000 depending on their expertise and backgrounds.
"Don't judge a book by its cover" is something we've heard since childhood. The reality is that people do judge books by their covers. An appealing and professional-looking book cover will catch the eye of any ongoer.
The cover design is not the job of a writer, and even if the writer knows how to use some photo editing or art software, he may not be able to create a great book cover design as a professional designer would. Designers have been professionally trained for creating designs. A writer would want to hire one for this job.
A professional book cover designer can quote the cost anywhere between $200 and $700 for both the front and back cover design. You may save money by not hiring a very expensive cover designer, but this cost is not something to be ignored.
What Affects The Cost Of The Cover Design?
Frequently, cover designs are based on a particular set of dimensions. They've been given by either the publisher or (when self-published) are designed accordingly for the best use on e-books and hard copies.
Sometimes, simplicity works best, but sometimes not. The more complex the design, the higher the cost. Once the design of the cover has started, you'll realize that it's probably not going to be the first finished design that will appeal to your eyes. If you want a revision, that's going to cost more time and money.
Tip To Save Cost On Cover Design:
A good cover will most definitely attract the right potential readers, but if you're on a tight budget, you can request a photo-based cover design. If the photo appropriately and attractively delivers the message of the message, then the designer won't spend a lot of time in editing and illustrating the cover photo.
To avoid revisions, it's best to look for a few sample works of the professional designer you're about to hire. The portfolio of the designer may as well be according to your liking. If their services fall well within your budget, then it's a good sign.
After you've prepared your manuscript, you know that you've done your best to convey your message and story in your book, but making sure that your book is edited to be the best version of it requires some level of professional editing and proofreading.
This isn't the kind of work that could be enough for just one professional editor. So editing costs should be considered as well.
Not all edits and editors are the same, and before you self-publish your book, you have to make sure that readers will love your book. Your book will only sell if its quality is great. This is why you have different kinds of edits, each with a different professional editor:
Developmental editing will take a full review of the book and the editor will revamp and beautify your text. This kind of editing takes time and a long-term partnership between you and the editor. The developmental editor will make sure that your book has no gaps, no inconsistencies, and is an enjoyable experience for the reader.
Throughout the editing process, developmental editing is the most extensive and in-depth part and might even take a full year. Therefore, a developmental editor will charge quite a lot. This could be a few thousand dollars.
After the developmental edit, a critical top-level review is made of the big picture of the book. A substantive edit means that the editor will return you a set of critical comments and you decide whether you want them implemented in your book or not.
This may cost a few hundred dollars and the editor might spend a few months with your book. In the worst case, you can be asked to go back to the drawing board. As crude as it sounds, remember that the editor isn't your enemy, nor is he trying to compete with you. Substantive comments are quite worth it. You'll probably be better off with the substantive edits in any case.
Copy editing comes after that. This is where your grammar and factual correction are put to the test. You can even consider this a rough proofreading stage. Full-scale proofreading that can cost less than $100 comes after copy editing. However, grammatical and punctuation errors have at times proven expensive for some companies. So at times, copy editing is not worth skipping.
If your text is an academic or scientific one, then you would want the copy of your book to get reviewed by a technical editor too. There are different kinds of editors for specific tasks.
But what if you don't have enough money for a full team of editors? You don't need to hire a full team because that many editors can be expensive. but it's recommended to at least take your manuscript to a developmental editor and a copy editor. Editing can be an iterative process. While it's necessary, it's not advised to take a single professional editor for the job.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Well-Edited Book?
Editing costs are inevitable if you want to give readers a great reading experience. The cost of editing spent by self-published writers can range from $500 to $5000.
We have seen somewhat of an average cost of $1500 spent on editing and proofreading before an author gets to self-publish a book. Not everyone needs copy editing and substantive editing for their books.
People respect books a lot and times pay quite a significant amount for their favorite ones. Mistakes of typos, grammar, and punctuation are a huge letdown for readers. You want an adequately edited book to be sold, and at the same time, the more you have your book edited, the more would be the cost.
Self-publishing may be gaining traction these days because of virtually no cost to publish, but editing has dramatically gained importance.
Some titles require indexing to make it easier for all readers. This is usually done for works of academia and nonfiction. The indexing costs depend on the length of the book.
Usually, indexing costs can start from $350 and can go up to $1000. The index section might seem like a few pages, but the indexer has to go through the entire book thoroughly to index everything that's important. An experienced professional indexer will charge more, however.
For nonfiction works, it's been a blessing in disguise for readers because it gives them an incentive to reread their favorite parts while knowing exactly where they are.
To Cut Down On Editing Costs?
When you look at how much does it cost to edit your own book, the total cost of editing can seem staggering. Fortunately, there are some ways to reduce those costs.
• Try self-editing as much as possible. You've written your own book and you know it better than anyone. Before sending it out for a developmental edit, reread it and find any gaps in the book. Search for any questions that the reader might ask and you might have missed. Incorporate those answers in your draft.
• Some editors are talented but they don't have a lot of experience. As a result, their charges aren't too high. It's better to work with them than work with experienced professionals, especially if you're in the early stages of your writing career.
When a book looks good on the inside as much as it does on the outside, then readers who're interested in the niche consider such well-formatted books must-haves. Usually, formatting errors can be caught by proofreaders. The formatting stage is to make sure that the interior layout of the book is ready and beautified enough for the printing stage.
Breakdown Of Formatting Costs:
Lingering texts, improperly displayed text, presentation issues, improperly placed graphics, sizing constraints, and layout issues should be sorted out while formatting is being done.
Formatting costs range between $100 to $1500. While an experienced formatted might charge more, but other than his own experience, two important factors affect formatting costs:
The Longer The Manuscript, The Pricier The Formatting:
This is because formatting requires an eye for detail and the formatted version has to be reread multiple times and double-check for any artistically unpleasing aspects in the texts.
The Genre Of The Book:
When you format a novel, you'll find it much easier than formatting a coffee table book such as the Guinness Book of World Records where text and images are formatted in an informal manner. It means that not only the text and the images should be aesthetically pleasing, but also should complement each other.
Book marketing means that you're promoting your book to an audience. There is no limit to how much you can spend on marketing, but it wouldn't guarantee sales. usually, the marketing budget is kept between $1000 to $10,000.
Starting the marketing campaign of your book can be made inexpensive, depending on the kind of techniques you can use. Marketing costs do come into the cost to self-publish your book.
Marketing can be done in a number of ways:
Book Launch Events:
As traditional as it may sound, but sometimes authors start marketing their book even before they've started writing their book. They get the message out to the public and when the launch happens, readers would be excited to have a book of their favorite niche personally signed by the author. Such events can go a long way in terms of promotion, reviews, and sales.
Book Promotion Websites:
There are websites that can help you get your book easily in front of new readers. Self-published authors use a plethora of websites for this purpose.
How much does it cost? For starters, you can save money by going with the free tools, and later your cost can depend on how much you can put into your marketing campaign.
Many of them are offering free and paid service, both. You can start with free marketing to reduce costs and later move on to paid campaigns.
When your book sells online, it sends a signal to the Amazon algorithm and thus, your book can rank higher. Some of the best book promotion websites are:
• Awesome Gang
• Book Cave
• Discount Book Man
• Book Bongo
• KBook Marketing
• Kindle Book Review
• Just Kindle Books
• Book Goodies
• The Fussy Librarian
• Robin Reads
If you already have a customer base with an e-mailing list, you can use tools like MailChimp, MailerLite, and ConverterKit to keep in touch with your customers. This will let them know whenever you come up with a new book or any update. This can be a great tool for self-published authors looking towards book sales before they go into print-on-demand.
Social Media Promotion:
If you have an author page or a page of your book, you can create sponsored and paid posts for a specific target market. For instance, Facebook can run an ad for $1 per day, and with that, you get a full set of analytic tools.
Promotion of your book doesn't cost much on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can harvest the power of the hashtag and get your content marketed to a much larger audience.
Price Promotions On Different Platforms:
When you have successfully self-published your book, you might want to promote your book with some promotional offers. Whichever platform you use, there are some options for getting your book on sale for a few days. Lower prices even rank your book higher on those platforms, boosting your chances of book sales.
For example, if you publish a book on Amazon KDP, you can be eligible to enroll in KDP Select. With KDP Select, you can run temporary price promotion campaigns to attract more readers with a better incentive to buy your book. Terms and conditions apply though.
E-junkie can also be used for direct distribution of e-books for $5 a month.
Using Multiple Platforms:
It's always advisable to publish on multiple platforms. Although this way your costs may increase, and the royalties you earn from sales might be lesser than you expect, but if you have more streams of income by your book sales, and if you've established yourself as a reputable author, the benefits and profits will overweight the costs.
It probably would help to use an aggregator if you want to have your book published on multiple platforms. They can help you with the resources and help you need for the whole publishing process. They would charge a royalty on each sale, and they can also provide print-on-demand services.
It's not an uncommon practice that even before an author gets to self-publish a book, they get their own website made. With an author website, they can display their talent, create a portfolio, create connections and leads, promote themselves, and drive sales.
However, a website isn't usually free. There are costs associated with the domain name, hosting, and web design. So outside your book publishing costs, how much does it cost to build and maintain the website?
• For a more professional start and to establish yourself as a brand, you'll need to have a website that defines you. AuthorName.com looks much better than AuthorName.wordpress.com. A domain can cost about $10-20 per year.
• Hosting the website on a server costs more, even if you're using some hosting services. They can cost anywhere between $200 to $1000 per year. But some services offer one full year for free when you sign up.
• Now that you have your website ready, your website has to be artistically made, such that it defines your niche. You could purchase some themes or you could hire someone to design your website for you. The prices can start from $500 and reach up to $2,500. High prices are usually associated with maintenance and content in the website too.
E-Book Or Print-On-Demand (POD): What Is More Cost-Effective?
Usually, it isn't advised to pay much for ebook distribution. One advantage of POD is that authors get to print only in the quantity that they require. If you're working with aggregators for distributing e-books, expect to pay a cost or even a flat fee. However, this cost may translate to better book sales. It's advised to save money and plan strategically.
E-books might seem like a cheaper route but there are readers we crave for simply the feeling of holding a book in their hands. E-book sales in the US declined in 2019 as compared to the previous year.
If you've decided on POD and you're concerned about the cost, then you can think about trying to publish your book without investing too much in the cover.
A book with a paperback cover doesn't feel or look as great as a hardcover book, but not many people are into the little nitty-gritty of the aesthetics. But a hardcover can be expensive as compared to a paperback cover. This isn't a part of your publishing costs, but this is an area where you can cut down on costs.
The Situation Today:
Self-publishing has been the norm for many authors these days. One of the key reasons is that the cost to publish a book is far more practical and appropriate for anyone to start their writing career, as compared to what it was years ago. Authors have a lot more liberty at their hands even when deciding whether to go for conventional publishing or self-publishing.
The question of how much does it cost to publish a book while taking the self-publishing route does have several variables attached. You have to consider costs that aren't attached to the publishing itself but rather to make the book as polished as possible. In traditional publishing, it was up to the publisher to bear the cost and provide you the people and the people for editing and marketing. But for self-publishing your book, you'll have to make sure that your book is as pleasing as possible for the readers. Here you have to bear the cost of everything yourself and you have to find ways to save money while not compromising on quality.
As compared to the situation decades ago, self-publishing was much harder and some authors would even resort to writing and printing from their own backyard. The publishing process was very slow. Today, authors can appreciate the resources at their disposal and make the best of them. Despite the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, nothing has stopped writers from getting into the writing industry, because even though the writing is hard, the barriers to entry have never been more manageable.