When I moved to America in 2015, I knew two things: I wanted to travel as much as possible and I didn’t want a nine-to-five. So, I focused on turning my writing side-gig from Jamaica into a PR business in the U.S.
A few months into this long and difficult process, an independent author reached out to me. He had come across my blog online and loved the way I marketed my work. How would I feel about helping him market his book?
His book looked amazing and I was delighted by the proposition. Thereafter, several other independent authors reached out to me. I declined most of them for the same reason: their books did not look professional at all.
The Average Cost
The cost of publishing a book can range from $0 to $6,000. That said, if you know the right people, you can invest thousands of dollars in your book without spending the equivalent cash.
My client, for instance, had a professional book cover done by a friend who was an artist. He also happened to edit books professionally, for a living. So, he edited his own novels. I read both and they had no typos.
With that in mind, calculate cost based on the total estimate of outsourced work. The three most important services to outsource are the book cover, editing, and typesetting—in that particular order.
Here are some additional cost factors to consider:
- ISBN numbers
- Number of pages
- Paperback vs Hardcover
- Number of illustrations
- The outsourced services
Your book cover is your chance to make a good first impression. It also serves as a quality signal to your potential reader. Your book cover hints at whether you invested in professional services and whether the book is worth its price. Coupled with a captivating title and blurb, this is what sells your book.
Editing comes second because a book sold is a sale either way. However, without proper editing, those sales will ultimately lead to poor reviews and, eventually, a reputation for producing poor work.
Typesetting also impacts how readers interact with your book, whether you publish via eBook, print, or both. The more complex the formatting of your book is, the more experienced your typesetter should be. I learned this the hard way, but thankfully, it all worked out in the end.
Low Budget Books — $0 to $1,000
There are tons of poorly written books online telling you to publish your own poorly written book and make a killing. Some of these actually do perform well, but usually only because they find kindred spirits among other writers who won’t invest in their art.
Personally, I’m not paying for a book the author didn’t want to put their own money into. If a book doesn’t have a professional cover, I likely won’t buy or read it. If I start to read it and realize there was no professional editing done, it’s the first thing I mention in the review.
If you don’t believe in your book enough to pay for it, why should anyone else? That said, some genres generally do well as low-budget books, such as erotica, romance, and fan-fic.
Medium-Budget Books $1,000 to $2,500
Self-published books within this cost range are of a markedly different quality than low-budget competitors. Though my client received a lot of his services for free, the cost of the services he received for his books falls within this price range. Mine does, too.
In fact, when I tell people I published a novel, they always ask if I self-published or had a traditional publisher. I usually keep a paperback handy and when I show it to them, there is a look of surprise, followed by them asking again:
Did you say you self-published? Really!
Books within this range have a much better chance of competing with traditionally published books. They also have a tendency to grab the attention of people who would otherwise have never read self-published novels. I have witnessed this firsthand, myself.
High-Budget Books — $2,500+
If you have the means to invest more than $2,500 in your book, I would recommend saving it for your marketing campaign, instead. A budget of $2,500 is plenty to create a book of decent to high quality.
However, there are some exceptions:
- The illustrations for children’s books, graphic novels, and comics can be costly unless the author is also the artist.
- Technical books aimed at the academic community generally require exceptional proofreading, expensive research, and extensive peer reviews.
- Converting text to high-quality audiobooks can reach triple digits per recorded hour.
That said, I know someone writing a vampire novel who paid $2,000 just to edit the first draft of book one. So, there are everyday people willing to spend the extra money to produce an excellent final product.
An important thing to remember is that money alone does not determine the quality of the book. The number of hours invested in the final product does. But, I don’t mean the years you spent writing the book. Even the worst writing can be polished to perfection by an amazing editor.
Great writing is a crucial foundation for a good story. But, your graphic designers, editors, typesetters, beta readers, marketers—and other members of your publishing team—are what will make it a great book.
Good luck on your publishing journey!
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