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033 - How Much Does It Cost To Self Publish A Book?

corona virus costs Apr 12, 2020

Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here!

First, let me say that I hope you are holding up during this time. I pray daily in hopes we all return to a wonderful new norm on the other side of this global shut down.

It’s really not the norm to be talking about pricing for publishing a book…or really any business services for that matter! But, I want to talk with you about what often stops people from taking the dive into any business venture…”Yeah, that all sounds great, but what is it going to cost me?”

Writing a book is an investment. You need to know that up front. It’s an investment of time and money to produce it and it’s a lifetime worth of self promotion if you want to sell it or the products and services it represents.

You don’t just write a book and people find you…you have to find them. And you have to know your why behind writing it. When I start talking costs your going to learn very quickly why I stress over and over the importance of getting uber clear on your goals, visions, and objectives for your most optimal return.

When it comes to all things book you’re never going to find any consistencies in pricing.

Pricing for editors varies based on word count and your talent as a writer in most cases. New editors are looking to get work and are willing to discount to get it; seasoned editors charge more all the way around just because they are good at what they do and they generally have a waiting list (or at least want you to believe they do); and all editors charge based on the kind of editing you want to have done and the talent you have as a writer. Obviously the price tag goes up if you are a horrible writer.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s say you have a 40k manuscript you want edited and your a pretty decent writer…in other words, you have a college degree and English is your first language. You will find prices for editing will range from a simple edit to a proofread, to a copy edit, to a developmental edit. You will probably pay somewhere between $600 to $2500 for an average editor. For all of my books I paid about $2000 each. There wasn’t much creatively that happened with these edits. It was a pretty basic edit. I wasn’t writing a novel and didn’t need any real expanding of characters or scenes. I just needed to make sure my sentences flowed well and there were no spelling or grammar issues.

Cover Design
Since I’ve been a cover designer for the last decade I have a lot to say here. Honestly, I get a little frustrated when I have people contact me expecting that I’m going to put in all kinds of crazy hours developing out their book cover for $500 bucks! It seems understandable to most authors to pay for the manipulation of their content but many authors quite frankly disrespect graphic designers and shop for price. I will tell you that if this is your approach we are just not a match. I take a lot of pride in my work and I’m good at it. I put in far more time than I charge for too. I think any dedicated artist or design can understand me here.

The average fee for a full time cover designer right now varies across the country from $50-350 per hour. It’s going to take a good designer a minimum of 20 hours. Nothing is really automated in a good book layout. A good designer will do everything by hand and meticulously go through your book chapter by chapter. Now, if you need any special call out boxes, images, or special characters it will obviously take longer and therefore will cost more. You can expect to pay a professional designer more than a one-off designer because they, like editors, are specialists at their craft. They will also be around thriving in their work and available later for re-printing, or for helping you identify brand or image for supplemental sales or marketing pieces as you roll out your book. A one-off designer may never be found again and your files and images could be lost forever.

A book cover designer not only does the front cover, but they will do the spine, the flaps, the back, and also project manage all the assets like the author photo, the price, genre, and barcode. They will also work with an editor for corrections once your book is laid out and before it goes to print.

A professional book designer will also move you into interior book design.

Interior Book Layout
Many times the book designer is also the interior designer. In my case, I’ve always done both and don’t take on many clients where I do either/or. I don’t think it looks consistent to have each done by different designers. As I do, many professional designers will give you a price for both cover and interior design and layout. When this is all you do you can get pretty good at fix pricing. I generally know how long it will take to do a typical book layout and design. Some clients are very picky and others just want a book and trust my best judgement. The typical book layout will generally take 20-40 hours to layout and then a few back and forth corrections. But, on occasion I get a client that wants to make massive changes at this stage and unfortunately they have no idea how much harder it is to make changes at this stage and costs generally go up. This is not the time to be making such changes. It will be very costly for any author if they don’t make these changes in advance with the editor.  For a 40K word manuscript it’s going to take a good designer a minimum of 20 hours at the same $50-350 per hour rate. In the world of graphic design, time unfortunately is money. Get a fixed price with a defined scope and know where you may have to pay extra. Or, just submit your manuscript and don’t make too many changes and you will have no worries.

So every time we talk about printing we have one option in my mind. Avoid print on demand and go direct to a high-quality professional printer! When you try to cut costs on the output of your book you minimize it’s appeal. A visually pleasing book will always showcase a high-level of quality in everything you do. It’s like the difference difference between a Corvette and a Chevette. Do they even make Chevette’s anymore? I digress. Anyway, I think you get my point. When someone holds your book in their hand I want them to say “WOW, this was very well done! Of course let’s do business! Tell me more about you…”

When you go direct to a professional printer you can obviously expect to pay a bit more and you will need a safe dry place to store the final product, but it’s worth it in my opinion. A small run of 100 250-page books in hardcover will run you around $1500 give or take. You will also have to include original shipping to you or direct to a distributor. They won’t do one-off shipping to your buyer and they won’t keep track of sales. So, this brings us to distribution…

Whether you sell via Amazon or find another professional distribution network you will have to pay a small fee per book sold. This is just the cost of doing business. I have far more to say on distribution that we will touch on again soon.

So the one thing we haven’t talked about is coaching. Obviously if you don’t know what you are doing you are going to need a bit of hand-holding to get through this cumbersome project. The one thing I always hear from authors once their book is finished is “Wow, writing the book was the easy part!” And yes, once you get the hang of the process you can easily repeat it again book after book, but it’s the aftermath that can be quite overwhelming. I have heard all kinds of pricing models for coaching and coaching systems. You can pay hourly for a bit of help and find a friend to do cover design and layout or editing (I wouldn’t recommend it) and you can wade your way through learning may of the other phases, but honestly I could not produce my first book without a bit of help. I sat on it for 10 years til it finally began to be written. I’ve seen complete coaching and ghost-writing systems go for as much as $40K and watched some new authors muddle their way through novel writing and kindle ebook-ing (is that a word?) for hundreds. I like to say the best system will be somewhere in the middle. I wouldn’t pay more than $5K for a coach to be honest.

If you can get a high-quality book done for under $15K your doing pretty good. Of course this depends on page count, hard or soft cover, and the number of books you print. But for (100) 250-page books this is about what you can expect from a good system.

Check out my downloadable Let’s Get Your Book Published eBook and open up to chapter 10 for additional details on pricing. I’ve tried to be very real and truthful in full disclosure in both my book and all my podcast sharing. I think it’s best to know what you are getting into because this really needs to be well-thought-out to get you positioned properly for a good return on your investment of both time and money.

I really look forward to educating you on the entire process and getting you going on your book project. I love what I do and I hope you have found this information valuable for your future planning.

As always, I’m wishing you peace, love, and light and extra comfort and safety in these new times. Remember, every storm eventually runs out of rain. We will get there and we will get there together!

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