Author Topic: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?  (Read 24001 times)  

Offline Kelsye

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 97
  • Gender: Female
  • Seattle, WA
  • Writer, runner, founder of Avasta Press
    • View Profile
    • Kelsye
How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« on: August 06, 2013, 02:33:22 PM »
What is a reasonable budget for publishing a book? I outline three different budgets here: http://www.writer.ly/community/how-much-does-it-cost-to-self-publish-a-book/

I'd like to know how these budgets hold up in the real world? Are these budgets in-line with your experience? Can you break down your actual expenses?

Author of The Breakup Girl series. Writer.ly co-founder and CEO. Hopelessly happy.
Kelsye Nelson | author website | Avasta Press | facebook | twitter | goodreads | google+ | youtube

Offline Rin

  • Status: George Orwell
  • *****
  • Posts: 1994
  • Gender: Female
  • Oz
    • View Profile
    • Require: Cookie
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2013, 02:41:43 PM »
*Editing costs: $550
*Cover art: $200
*Website - I've had a site longer than I've been publishing ebooks, so I don't count this cost.

Everything else was negligible or free.

As for marketing - haven't really put anything in to book #1 - I'm going to start really pushing once I have two or three books out.
Main Series   Short Stories

Offline Michael Kingswood

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 816
  • Gender: Male
  • San Diego
    • View Profile
    • Michael Kingswood's Writing Blog
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2013, 02:42:28 PM »
It can cost as much as you want it to cost.  However, at the minimum:

$35 - Copyright Registration
$10 - ISBN through Createspace
$25 - Createspace Extended Distribution

The rest is variable.  You can trade for editorial services or just find some really anal first readers.  Cover art can range from $0 if you take a picture yourself to hundreds or thousands.  Formatting for print is a small learning curve, but not too hard.  Formatting for ebook is just a couple clicks with apps like Scrivener.

*shrug*

Doesn't cost much unless you let it.

ETA - Oh yeah, and you'll need to pay for a proof copy of your paperback, around $10 with shipping.  Again, not much.

Pericles: Glimmer Vale: Others:

Michael Kingswood | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Offline Monique

  • Status: Isaac Asimov
  • ********
  • Posts: 10777
  • Gender: Female
  • California
    • View Profile
    • Written by Monique
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2013, 02:47:12 PM »
LOL, do people really pat $1500 for formatting?

There's a lot wrong with this, imho, especially the smart spender. They're throwing away a lot of money on formatting, author photo, website, isbn, etc. And $1000 for marketing. I'm assuming this is a yearly cost? Spread over the lifetime of the book? There just aren't $1000 worth of options.




Monique Martin | author website | facebook | twitter

Offline tkepner

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 269
    • View Profile
    • Flying Chipmunk Publishing
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2013, 02:53:33 PM »
Your cover is what attracts attention FIRST! Not your writing, not your formatting, your cover can make people pick up your book first. Later, after the reviews come in, word-of-mouth and those reviews will sell your book.

You should spend as much on cover design and creation as you do copy-editing (and the publishers typically budget thousands of dollars for covers, far more than they pay their copy-editors to do the book).  And they spend many hours coming up with the designs they use.

Yes, you can do it cheaper. And a lot of those cheaper covers look exactly that way, cheap. If you can find a very good cover at a reasonable price, grab it.


Offline AutumnKQ

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
  • Florida
    • View Profile
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2013, 03:01:48 PM »
Editing: $700-$1300 for a full-length 90-100k novel
Cover: $200 - $600
Formatting: $0
Marketing: $300 over the course of a few months to a year?
Audiobook Narration: A few hundred


I haven't put out a full-length novel, but based on what I know editing is costing me for my shorter work, I think what I wrote above will be what my novel ends up costing me.

I agree about the cover being really important. Before I decided to indie pub, I was a reader who wouldn't even read the blurb on Amazon if the cover looked cheap. If I read a sample with a ton of typos, I'm out. I won't buy it. Even if the story is great, I simply can't get through it.  I'm not convinced that marketing is as important as a great story, cover, and editing. I know of authors who have sold a lot of books without much marketing.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 03:04:29 PM by AutumnKQ »

Offline AmsterdamAssassin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1523
  • Gender: Male
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Fear is the little-death that brings obliteration
    • View Profile
    • Tao of Violence - Amsterdam Assassin Series
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2013, 03:05:07 PM »
MacBook Pro 1200 euro
Scrivener 40$
iPad with bluetooth keyboard 500$
Quickmill 820 espresso machine (second hand) 150 euro


"...most realistic depiction of a blind character I have come across..." -Amazon reviewer
Martyn V. Halm | author website | blog | facebook | twitter | google+

Offline S. Shine

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 520
    • View Profile
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2013, 03:23:13 PM »
I spend a grand total of 0 cents when I started.   ;D

That's right: not a single cent!

Wouldn't recommend it though.  :D
Started publishing January 25 2013 :)

Online Annie B

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4799
    • View Profile
    • My website
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2013, 03:25:16 PM »
For novels, my budget usually looks like:

Copy-editing: 150-250 (depends on length of novel)
Cover: 30-325 (depends on genre)
Paperback formatting: free to 80 (I do my own ebook formatting and the paperback formatting is generally 30-50 but sometimes higher)

Everything else I do for myself.  For my short stories and such, many of them sold to magazines or anthologies, so I got free editing. Or I use my husband because he catches 98% of typos in shorter works (I could use him for longer works, but I feel that's putting too much on him and want him to read for enjoyment and to give me bigger picture feedback on the novels).  

Generally my rule on a book is that if I have to sell more than 100 copies to earn back what it cost to publish it, I've probably spent too much.

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2013, 03:34:18 PM »
For editing and proofreading, cover and formatting, I budget a grand.

Audiobook will cost you about $2500 unless you use the royalty share option, which you'll deeply regret if it sells well. The dumbest $2500 you'll have ever saved.

Marketing, probably $500 to $1000 over the life of the book.

All in, call it couple grand for the ebook. If it sells decently I'll recoup that within the first couple weeks.

And before everyone starts in on how not everybody can sell that many in a few weeks, consider carefully that I used that exact budget when I figured it would take me a year per title to recoup it (assuming I ever did). My theory was that there might be a reason that well-edited, well-packaged, appropriately marketed books sell better than poorly or non-edited, badly packaged, poorly or non-marketed books. I frankly don't get the immediate gratification notion that you'll make your investment back quickly (no other business works that way, so why should one of the most competitive on the planet?). And I know, I know, not everyone can afford to invest in their work, and we'd all be poorer for it if we weren't lavished with their precious snowflakes in a glutted market. Personally, mmm, not so much. I find it just an excuse to cut corners, but hey, everyone's got an opinion.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 03:42:30 PM by blakebooks »


Offline Darren Wearmouth

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 984
  • Gender: Male
  • Manchester, England
    • View Profile
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2013, 03:41:44 PM »
For editing and proofreading, cover and formatting, I budget a grand.

Audiobook will cost you about $2500 unless you use the royalty share option, which you'll deeply regret if it sells well. The dumbest $2500 you'll have ever saved.

Marketing, probably $500 to $1000 over the life of the book.

All in, call it couple grand for the ebook. If it sells decently I'll recoup that within the first couple weeks.

And before everyone starts in on how not everybody can sell that many in a few weeks, consider carefully that I used that exact budget when I figured it would take me a year per title to recoup it (assuming I ever did). My theory was that there might be a reason that well-edited, well-packaged, appropriately marketed books sell better than poorly or non-edited, badly packaged, poorly or non-marketed books. I frankly don't get the immediate gratification notion that you'll make your investment back quickly (no other business works that way, so why should one of the most competitive on the planet?). And I know, I know, not everyone can afford to invest in their work, and we'd all be poorer for it if we weren't lavished with their precious snowflakes in a glutted market. Personally, mmm, not so much. I find it just an excuse to cut corners, but hey, everyone's got an opinion.





I generally pay attention to who does well and what they say. I've used a similar logic and budget to what you have quoted, sir. So far the book is doing pretty well in the UK, not so much in the USA but I haven't started promoting yet.

I am going to use Mr. Nobody's profit/promotion percentages.

So far, so good.

Online Patty Jansen

  • Status: Isaac Asimov
  • ********
  • Posts: 11021
  • Gender: Female
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Destroyer of Science Fiction
    • View Profile
    • Patty Jansen Author of SF and fantasy
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2013, 03:48:15 PM »
For my best-selling book (book 1 of the trilogy below, which is actually free at the moment), I spent $5 on purchasing the background image. That's it. Everything else I either did myself or bartered.

For my later works, I spent even less.

I have probably spent $1000 for all books combined.

My philosophy is this:

If you are confident that you have the innate ability to write with a low level of SPAG errors (and this is an important if), I would prioritise spending as follows:

1. The cover. It's simply got to look attractive.
2. Proofread/light edit. Because you never catch everything.
2a. If you *don't* have the innate ability to write relatively error-free prose, then editing should be number 1 priority and cover second.
3. Print formatting. Because CS does a pretty ordinary job at this
4. Marketing. Run some ads if you want. Not mandatory.
5. Ebook format. Because many bestsellers are simply uploaded as .DOC files, and readers don't pay much attention to this, much less require it. An ebook is a HTML document and it must flow freely. Any formatting restrictions you impose on it are going to look crappy on some devices for some people. I've seen some *really crappy* ebook formatting from big 6 books. The simpler, the more robust. Don't waste your money on ebook formatting.

I'm about to spend *mumble-mumble* amount of money to have a book edited by a "real" editor, with credentials. She also works as freelancer for the big 6. Since I call myself a "backyard editor", I hope to learn from this experience so that it will bleed over into my other books. I'm using this as training exercise and also to test my writing against industry standard.

Offline cinisajoy

  • Status: Harvey Chute
  • *********
  • Posts: 12792
  • Gender: Female
  • Texas
    • View Profile
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2013, 04:00:18 PM »
What is a reasonable budget for publishing a book? I outline three different budgets here: http://www.writer.ly/community/how-much-does-it-cost-to-self-publish-a-book/

I'd like to know how these budgets hold up in the real world? Are these budgets in-line with your experience? Can you break down your actual expenses?
It looks like there are no exacts.
But please have someone proofread it and a nice cover helps.
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,216185.msg3013849.html#new

Please help our friend and fellow kboarder Craig Hansen.

Offline Vanades

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 120
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • words in flux
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2013, 04:07:18 PM »
I guess it depends on what kind of budget you want to do. Are you only thinking about outsourced investments (cover, formatting, marketing-costs) or are you thinking about a complete calculation that factors in the total costs of a book?

With the latter you would also have to factor in the writer's time: the time spend writing, editing, doing marketing etc. As well as things like electricity, rent, paper, ink, investments in hardware and software (percentages), etc.

The one thing I really miss in the budgets I've seen so far is a position for the writer's time (hourly rates would probably work best), because to have a complete budget you would have to factor in your own time as well. It's after all the largest investment.
words in flux
 
Daniela Scheele | blog | facebook | twitter

Offline John H. Carroll

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 858
  • Gender: Male
  • Colorado
    • View Profile
    • The World of Ryallon
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2013, 04:08:53 PM »
Budget All my money goes to feeding my family publishing Under $50

Developmental edit   free (Workshops, friends, class)
Copy editing - free (friends, family, fans, numerous time doing it yourself while constantly improving)
Cover Design $0 (Public Domain photos, spouse as photographer, GIMP)
Book formatting and layout free (I've gotten pretty good at this)
Printing $33 (Print on demand, optional $25 expanded distribution, $4.00 proof, $4.00 shipping.)
ISBN Smashwords/Kobo/Createspace free.
Author photo free (Your Facebook profile picture is fine)
Marketing free (Rely on social media and friends and family only)
Website free (Use free WordPress option(or Blogger))
Mailing List - free (Mad Mimi for me)
All other labor - hugs (for the emo bunny minions)
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 04:11:18 PM by kookoo88 »
I discuss writing on my blog

Writer of a book, Father of kids, husband of a wife, friend of emo bunnies

Offline CraigInOregon

  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *******
  • Posts: 8946
  • Gender: Male
  • Oregon
  • Novelist
    • View Profile
    • Craig-Hasen.com
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2013, 04:15:29 PM »
What is a reasonable budget for publishing a book? I outline three different budgets here: http://www.writer.ly/community/how-much-does-it-cost-to-self-publish-a-book/

I'd like to know how these budgets hold up in the real world? Are these budgets in-line with your experience? Can you break down your actual expenses?

To quote the brilliant mind of beloved Peanuts character Lucy Van Pelt, "It should be five cents."
I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. -Stephen King

Offline S. Shine

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 520
    • View Profile
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2013, 04:15:53 PM »
How much it should cost to self-publish a book is, of course, to be determined on a case by case basis; what one person needs is not necessary what another person needs. But, of course, anyone with half a brain could have figured that out for themselves. It would be rather arrogant and petty, not to mention dumb, to presume that ones own needs must be the needs of all.
Started publishing January 25 2013 :)

Offline Steve W.

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1691
  • Gender: Male
  • Canada
    • View Profile
    • Steve Whibley
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2013, 04:21:47 PM »
Developmental edit: Trusted beta readers
Line/copyedit: $600-$800 (generally $30-$50 an hour) (this is for two passes)
Proofread: less than $200
Formatting: $100 to $400 depending on what I'm after
Cover art: $450.00
LSI set up: $75

----

Total: $1500 to $2000

Steven Whibley | Author Website | Facebook

Offline CraigInOregon

  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *******
  • Posts: 8946
  • Gender: Male
  • Oregon
  • Novelist
    • View Profile
    • Craig-Hasen.com
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2013, 04:36:53 PM »
What is a reasonable budget for publishing a book? I outline three different budgets here: http://www.writer.ly/community/how-much-does-it-cost-to-self-publish-a-book/

I'd like to know how these budgets hold up in the real world? Are these budgets in-line with your experience? Can you break down your actual expenses?

Well, I'm not aware of many folks who go your "Big Spender" route.

Your "Smart Spender?" That seems not completely out to lunch... there are people who spend that much. Frequently.

But your Budget Spender? One can do it for far less. Here's what you specified:

Quote
Budget publishing – Under $500

Developmental edit  – free (Workshops, friends, class)
Copy editing $300 (College student)
Cover Design – $30 (Purchase cover art and do it your self)
Book formatting and layout – free (Using free conversion tools)
Printing – free (Print on demand only)
ISBN – Don’t get one
Author photo – free (Your Facebook profile picture is fine)
Marketing – free (Rely on social media and friends and family only)
Website – free (Use free WordPress option)

I'll give you an ACTUAL "budget publishing" plan - Under $80.00:

Developmental edit  – $0.00 (find some volunteer beta-readers)
Copy editing – $0 (Trade copy-edits with another trusted author, and also be a decent self-editor to begin with. Obviously not everyone can do this, but it is done.)
Cover Design – $5 or less (License a photo or two from a place like iStockphoto or someplace, then do-it-yourself)
Book formatting and layout – free (Do it yourself using Scrivener or other free tools or even Draft2Digital)
Printing – free (use CreateSpace)
Expanded Distribution of Print Book via CreateSpace - $25* (*a luxury that can be cut, but a good luxury to invest in)
ISBN – Use the free ones provided by CreateSpace and Smashwords; use a free ASIN on Amazon or BNID on Nook)
Author photo – free (have a spouse or relative use your Galaxy S3 or S4 and make sure it's nice. Crop it and refine as needed in GIMP)
Marketing – free (rely on book blogger sites that accept ePub, .mobi and PDF files and don't require a physical copy)
Website – free (Blogspot and Wordpress work just fine, so the only investment is your time. Or maybe $10-12/year for a custom domain name)
US Copyright Office registration - $35 (this is one expense that I never go "budget route" on because I actually know what's fact and what's myth about copyright registration... It's one luxury no one should cut.

My total? $65 to $77.*

Sure, you're trading away a lot of credibility if you rely on a proofreader who's not good (but paying for someone isn't a guarantee of high quality, either), or if you can't proofread anything yourself, or if your cover design skills are subpar.

But assuming you can pull some proofreading and basic cover design skills out of your background and experience, as some of us can... It's a LOT easier to turn a profit with a budget that doesn't even exceed $80. :)

Am I suggesting one NEVER pay for pro editing or pro covers or pro formatting?

NOT AT ALL.

But if you have a decent skill set, AND have way more time than money... my only point is that you can spend WELL below $500 (about 13-16.5 percent of that, actually) and have a lot less overhead per book to overcome.

I typically spend more. My three published books so far have covers I paid for and proofing I paid for, but I still spent a lot less than $500 per book. Probably around the $250 to $300 range, roughly.

**NOTE: If one foregoes printing, and debuts their book as an eBook only, that $65-$77 can be trimmed back further. Don't need the $25 for Expanded Distribution if you're not doing print to begin with. So that'd cut the costs down to $40-$52.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 05:43:46 PM by CraigInTwinCities »
I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. -Stephen King

Offline ChrisWard

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1480
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • A Million Miles from Anywhere
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2013, 05:10:13 PM »
Haha, who on earth would spend $400 on a author photo? An iPhone and a mate is is pretty much all you need.


For me -

Editing/proofreading - $200 or so ($17.50/hour)
Cover - $60
Formatting (paperback) - $45

Before, when I thought I could do it all myself, I got complaints about errors, bad layout, rubbish covers, etc. Now, even with those tiny outlays, I get no complaints at all. Guess I must be writing okay ...

Offline kwest

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 293
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2013, 05:11:45 PM »
Well...I now see that I pay relatively little. I pay $150 per cover (both CreateSpace and ebook versions), pay for stock images, and I pay for basic copy editing ($1 per 1,000 words through a guy I know on ODesk). What I pay is WAY cheap for copy editing, and admittedly my guy doesn't catch everything, but he catches a LOT...far more than I would. I'm a decent typist, so thankfully, that's not much of a concern for me. Most of my reviewers don't complain about typos (although they used to, when I didn't invest in the copy editing).

So grand total: about $200-$250 per book. That's a little less than my royalties every month, so that's a good balance for me. If I ever make the big bucks, I'll throw much more at my books, for sure. Honestly, I really don't think it's necessary to spend $1,000+ on a book, but I do think it adds to your chances of success. Ultimately, it comes down to your story and having that awesome cover that draws them in.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 05:18:20 PM by kwest »

Offline Christa Wick

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1388
  • Gender: Female
  • U.S.A.
    • View Profile
    • Christa Wick
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2013, 05:41:26 PM »
For ebook only, usually $20 for stock art (http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Wick/e/B00684JIKK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1). Maybe more if I want a new font I don't already own. All other costs are monthly overhead (cs6, website, mailchimp).

Maybe if I wrote in a genre outside romance I wouldn't do my own covers (especially if I did SF or Fantasy).

No beta readers, editors, proofers, or formatters. I'm not sure there's a single title in my catalog that went live having had more than just my eyes on it.

I did consider getting a formatter for the Createspace interior file and cover. When I was told I wouldn't get a copy of the base PSD/ID files (HUGE PET PEEVE OF MINE), I decided to try it myself. No sweat and I am satisfied with how they came out. Saved minimum of $150 (interior files) times 3. I don't think the time involved in performing these tasks was more than I would have spent managing someone else doing it.

Totally think marketing/PR $ is a waste (beyond my mailchimp auto-responder fee and my monthly web hosting costs).

Of course, before I self-published my fiction, I wrote, edited, formatted, marketed and published for a Fortune 500 audience.

Offline Jan Thompson

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2246
  • Gender: Female
  • USA
  • JanThompson.com/books
    • View Profile
    • JanThompson.com/books
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2013, 05:56:56 PM »
Developmental edit: Trusted beta readers

Are you saying that your beta readers are your developmental editors? Editors are alpha readers... or so I thought.


Offline Jan Thompson

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2246
  • Gender: Female
  • USA
  • JanThompson.com/books
    • View Profile
    • JanThompson.com/books
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2013, 06:05:00 PM »
My theory was that there might be a reason that well-edited, well-packaged, appropriately marketed books sell better than poorly or non-edited, badly packaged, poorly or non-marketed books.

Readers are smart. They'll vote with their pocketbooks. Digital Book World reported today that out of the top 25 ebook bestsellers this week, NONE of them were self-published. The one that came closest was Amazon Publishing, but we know that's traditional now.

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/ebook-best-sellers-hovering-near-7-00/

And BTW the average eBook price was US$7.22. That tells me again that readers are willing to pay a bit more for better written books. Is there a rush to publish for SP? Let's not bypass editing for the sake of the race.

Offline Martitalbott

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1785
  • Marti Talbott
    • View Profile
    • Marti Talbott's Books
Re: How much should it cost to self-publish a book?
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2013, 06:06:01 PM »
Holy cow, you guys are spending a bundle.

Each for 24 books I spent:

$35.00 for cover art - mostly from Book Cover Art
$150.00 for editing
$0.00 for author picture, took it off an old one I had
$0.00 for website, Google is free
$0.00 - do my own, a word doc works just fine
$200.00 in three years for advertisements that didn't do much.
$0.00 - blog