So, you’ve finished your book! Give yourself a resounding pat on the back from me! What writers want to know now (whether they intend to self-publish or strive for publication by a Traditional house), is, how much does it cost to publish a book?
Depends. I know, variables in this business always exist, and those can be frustrating. The truth is, there simply are no easy answers.
The first thing to consider is actual publication costs.
If you intend to publish yourself, via creatspace, etc., the short answer is: Nothing. You upload your file, press publish, and voila! Your book is out on Amazon, etc.
Conversely, if you find a literary agent, who sells the rights to publish to a Traditional house, the short answer is: Nothing. The publishing house pays all publication costs.
With many Indie publishers, there are “costs” you may not at first be aware of. Many, many of those publishers require you to pay for them to format your book, etc. Some—the more unethical ones—say you don’t have to pay for them to publish your book, but, you’re on the hook to buy books from them at full retail. Which can amount to as much as $500-1000. That’s how they actually make their money—on the backs of their authors, rather than on book sales.
And often, writers don’t really realize what they’re getting into before they sign.
When going the Traditional route, with no money required from you, costs of promotion still exist. Even though Traditional publishers do put your book in the distribution channels, and do include it in their marketing channels with their Fall or Spring lists, they still expect you, the author, to do a lot of promotion yourself.
Many writers intend to self-publish, where of course all of the promotion is left up to you. Also, the developmental editing, as well as the copy editing and proofing is all left up to you as well.
So, how much does promotion cost when you publish a book?
As any author who has hired a publicist or PR company can tell you, that’s pretty pricey. You’re looking at anywhere from $5,000 up to as much as $20,000. Is it worth it? That depends upon if you have the money to spend. As we say in this business, all publicity is good publicity. And yes, everything helps.
Can you do this yourself? Yes—and you’ll have many tasks to do, directed by your publicist. But if you’re set on doing all of the promotion yourself, you’ll need two things: Tons of time. And lots of dollars for promotional endeavors. Even book reviews for self-published authors have costs—many of the for-pay reviewers charging as much as $300-500.
Before these things, all books need to be edited. If you’re striving for Traditional publishing, a book has to be pretty much camera ready when your literary agent submits it to the publisher. Yes, some editing is still done in-house, but the business has changed so much the last two decades. If your book isn’t truly ready, it’s rejected out of hand.
If you’re self-publishing, you’ll have to incur the costs yourself. If going with an Indy house, some editing will be done. But most often, only a copy edit, or proof will be done from them.
Real editing, however, is something quite different. And all books need it, as the initial phase.
Developmental editing is expensive. Make no bones about it. Successful developmental editors (those with extensive track records, which means sales to Traditional publishers—i.e., someone who is vetted by the industry itself) charge anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for a full-length book.
But the things is, you’re working with an editor who knows what she’s doing, understands the industry (what sells and why), has contacts in publishing, and not only edits your book for all the elements involved, but helps guide you through the process or revisions and beyond.
What it comes down to is no matter which route you go, your money will be involved.
So how much does it cost to publish a book? Unless you just toss one out there, with no editing, no promotion, the short answer is—a lot.
But then, you’re not going to just toss something out there, are you? You want to put out the very best book you can.
And as with anything, forewarned is forearmed. Now, go give your book the best chance possible to sell!