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How Much Does Self-Publishing Cost?



How Much Does Publishing Cost?


Launching a book is like starting a company. Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but also setting up a marketing strategy, and get editing, book formatting and cover-design for your book. See how much professional services will cost you to produce a high-quality book of about 65.000 to 80.000 words.

This is mentioned as the first step as marketing of your book and establishing an author platform can and should start before your book is even finished. You certainly can do some of the marketing yourself, for example your social media presence. Professional help should include an author interview, articles about you and your book, help with marketing campaigns, advertisements and most important of all: first establishing a book marketing plan and the author’s platform / brand. 111Publishing is offering all this for $159 for 3 months. Media publicists can get you radio spots and press articles/interviews for anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per month.

Once you’ve written your book, editing is important. Every writer needs at least some type of editor. She/he will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions, make sure that everything flows and is consistent, and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. If you write non-fiction consider also a fact-checker, to make sure there are no errors or broken links. 3-5 manuscript pages/hour for a manuscript page that’s approximately 250 words, will cost you, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association:
$45-65/hour based on the experience of the editor. Spell-check, get beta-readers or use inexpensive editing software to prepare your manuscript before you hand it over to an editor, who charges by the hour, in order to save editing time. However there are many professional editors, who charge you less and charge you by the page, sometimes even starting from $2/hour.

Once your manuscript is in good shape, the next thing you need to do is hire another editor called copy editor or line editor to go through and catch spelling mistakes and adjust for grammar, punctuation and consistency. Costs are approximately $20-50/hour.

Readers and even book reviewers judge how a book looks on Amazon, B&N or Kobo online sales pages or on bookstore shelves. For phone users, a thumbnail of the cover is probably the first thing a reader sees. It’s important that your cover design is optimized for print (TIFF) and digital (jpeg) thumbnail sizes, and how it looks on an e-reader or mobile device. Get lots of tips for cover design on Joel Friedlander’s website. If you are a professional photographer you might use your own images, or you might need to buy a license to use certain images. If you are lucky, you might find free images. Some e-book cover designers even sell pre-made cover designs for as low as $50.

But if you want to hire someone to make a custom cover design, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $1,500. The higher end is for award-winning designers who have done very professional covers for big, traditional publishing houses.

There are many resources for authors to get professional reviews. Sites like Kirkus, Blue Ink, and Publishers Weekly all sell review packages for indie or self-published authors. There’s also a great list of bloggers that you can reach out to for reviews for your book. 2012 review costs by Kirkus are $425, BlueInk Reviews $396, Publishers Weekly PW Select $149. More reviewers can be found in our former blog posts. You certainly can ask top authors in your genre if they would review your book and then use their comments/reviews as a blurb on your books cover.

This is pre-publishing task that you should leave up to a professional, unless you are very tech-savvy, and learned html programming, as free programs, such as Sigil, Calibre or Pages don’t deliver always great conversions, especially if the text is not pre-formatted. If you’re looking to hire an expert, you can find print-on-demand conversions for as little as $150 or as much as $500 and over to convert your manuscript from Word or InDesign. Higher costs are if your book has a lot of pictures, is highly illustrated or if your original file is in PDF, which is more complex to convert.
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is necessary for a print book, upload it to Apple or you want to see it in libraries. A lot of third parties sell ISBNs, but if you don’t purchase your own ISBN you may not be listed as the publisher of your own work! Never buy it from someone else than the authorized seller in your country (Bowker for the USA).If you plan on selling your book in e-book format and don’t want to use Apple online retail, then you do have the option of skipping the ISBN, which will be $125 for one ISBN and $250 for ten ISBNs.
You can do this yourself by following the instructions to get your books distributed into the various retailers, which is easiest at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. There are service companies, among others:BookBaby, Autorems (for Apple only)  or eBookpartnershipThey all charge only a small yearly fee and your books’ revenue is 100% yours.

Never use a third party as they do take a percentage of each book sold – mostly between 10% and 15%, and if your book is successful you might loose quite a bit!

A proud moment for every author: to discover their book in a bookstore or library. However, be aware that bookstores take high commissions 40-50%, and even have the right to return unsold books – unless they are printed in demand (which bookstores take only for pre-ordered books).

Many large US book distributors won’t take you on before you have at least five to ten books in print, and they charge a fee for their distribution, usually 20-30%. As an author-publishers with at least 3 books you might be better off with Lightning Source / Ingram and CreateSpace combined – also due to the print on demand possibilities that both companies offer.

Lightning Source connects you with the world’s largest distribution channel of book wholesalers and retailers. In addition to distributing books through their parent company Ingram Books, they print to order, which means, your book is printed and ready for shipment in 12 hours or less. With over 30,000 wholesalers, retailers and booksellers in over 100 countries your titles will gain the maximum exposure. They work with over 28,000 publishers of all sizes around the world. They deliver digital, print, wholesale and distribution services through a single source, and makes it easy for you to reach more customers in more places.
For small amounts of print books an author is better off to have it POD, (printed on demand), done by CreateSpace or by Lightning Source, who are also the distributors. POD is produced only after receiving orders.The printing might be higher priced, but you can decide on discounts and there will not be any returns from book stores for unsold books, which can be costly. On the other hand, readers cannot find your book in stores, but have to order it there or order online. However, you save high upfront costs for printing.
You might also consider trading services with other authors, in order to get the help you need for your project and to save money. Or you could consider to raise funds through crowd funding, such as Kickstarter or Indogogo. As an author your can do some of pre-publishing, but spending money on quality editorial services will set your book apart from the majority of (self-) published books. It takes consistent, quality production over time. Don’t ever fall into the ‘overnight blockbuster’ mentality. Think of yourself as a writer who will never stop producing quality books.
Self-publishing costs money. If you want readers to buy your book, you will need to make an investment in order to produce a quality product, above and beyond your beautiful writing. And don’t fall into the trap of the so-called “Publishing companies” or “Self-Publishing” providers, who offer you a bundle of services. Stay independent and carefully check out each pre-publishing provider, get in touch with their author customers to learn about their experience and compare editing, design and printing prices.

Read also:


If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only $ 159 for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: Once you are on this website, click on Seminar to register.

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Hyper Smash



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How Publishing works – Part 1

New self-publishers are often confused about how the editorial process works. They want to know what takes place at each stage of their book’s development. It seems that if you have a map, it’s easier to understand where you are on the road to getting your book into print. Let’s take a look at the stages through which your book moves.

Although you are anxious to see your book in print, you realize you will have to go through a process to make sure you’ve created the best product you can for your particular market and the goals you’ve set for your book.

Keep in mind that the entire editorial process may be long, extending from before the completion of the manuscript through proofreading of the final page proofs. Self-publishers need to understand the whole process so they can hire people with the specific expertise needed to complete their project. This schematic is intended to be a simple and helpful “map” to the journey of your book from manuscript to printed books.

Manuscript: Developmental Editing
Before you even finish your book, perhaps before it’s more than an outline, a sample and an idea, you may start the editorial process. The first kind of editing you will encounter is developmental editing. Developmental editing, as the name implies, helps develop the author’s concept, the scope of the book, the intended audience, even the way elements of the book are arranged. The relationship between author and developmental editor is intimate, and their work is something of a collaboration.

It can require a great deal of time, as the author responds to the editor’s suggestions, and may require a good deal of patience and tact, since the editor may be instrumental in helping to shape the final work. Developmental editing can be assigned to specific editors, or some of these functions may be done by either the author’s agent or an acquisitions editor at a publisher. Self-publishers who make use of this type of editing will hire freelance editors to help with the development of their project.

Manuscript: Copy Editing
When the author and developmental editor have finished organizing the manuscript, and the editor considers it complete and ready to take the next step, it will go to a Copyeditor. Copyediting is accomplished by editors who examine the manuscript line by line, word by word. It takes people who are meticulous, excellent at spotting errors, and who mostly don’t mind working without interference or accolades from the world outside.

Copyeditors have vast knowledge of English vocabulary and usage, command over style resources such as the Chicago Manual of Style or other style guides in use at the publishing house. In reviewing the manuscript, they will be paying attention to and correcting:

  • Punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar
  • Errors in word usage
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Consistency in treatment of material
  • Adherence to establish standards of style and formatting
    Ambiguity, incorrect statements, lapses in logic, libelous comments, etc.
  • Accuracy and completeness of citations, references, notes, tables, figures and charts

When the copyeditor has finished her work, the manuscript goes back to the author for clarification of any remaining open questions, and then the changes are input into the manuscript.

Manuscript to Book Page Proofs: Production Editor
The manuscript is next routed to a Production Editor who will be responsible for the entire production process:

  • Scheduling the project and tracking its progress
  • Hiring and coordinating the work of the book designers, illustrators, indexers, proofreaders
  • Getting estimates from printers or print brokers for the physical production of the book
  • Making sure the books are properly printed and delivered on time.

The last stage in the editorial process is proofreading the book. This step can be easily overlooked in self-published books, to their detriment. The proofreader is the last guardian of the publisher’s reputation for accuracy and care, the protector of the author’s reputation for diligence, and sometimes the least noticed professional to handle the book in its journey. Proofreaders examine the book’s complete and final pages for more than typographical errors, although that’s a big part of the proofreading job. In addition they will be on the lookout for:

  • Inconsistent line, word, or page spacing
  • Mis-numbered list items and mislabeled captions
  • Improper word breaks
  • Page break problems like widows and orphans
  • Irregularities in the use of the books type fonts
  • Accurate and consistent page headers, footers and page numbers
  • Accuracy and completeness of tables, figures, charts, and graphs
  • Consistent use of abbreviations and acronyms

The End of the Line
When the proofreader is finished with their work, the book is corrected for the last time. Once the pages are set, the final page proofs can be sent to an indexer, if one is being used on the project, and the book will be ready to go to press.

Re-blogged in part from Joel Friedlanders article in a great resource for writers and self-publishers. He is a fantastic teacher of everything book design, typography and book marketing, just to name a few.



Hyper Smash


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This Is NOT Your Book – Or Is It?

Misspelling, formatting errors, grammar flaws – are self-publisher AND publishing houses not editing anymore? Joel Friedlander wrote a great blog about the the editing process.

What readers / customers say on the Kindle Forum about these issues:

Carol Hannon says:
I, too, have discovered numerous misspelled words, punctuation, hyphenation, special character errors, and missing text in many Kindle books. And I’m not talking the little self-published books, either — I’m talking professionally published books from the major book houses. I have no idea why this is happening, but I’ve left feedback on some books’ pages about the errors. There’s no excuse for it in this electronic age. What I hope is that when these errors are fixed, if they ever are, will Amazon automatically download the revised version since our purchase is on record?

jh says:
I’ve bought a couple of books that had particularly frequent and glaring errors, hinting at poor OCR* rather than human error. Things like “1” turning up in the middle of a word instead of “l” or “I”, which a human wouldn’t accidentally type.  But yes, plenty of poorly proof-read copy in titles that aren’t by big-name authors. Though you do see that in physical books too, especially early editions. Misspellings, funky punctuation, even the old “there/their/they’re” issue…
*OCR = optical character recognition, in case anyone’s not sure what that meant. Basically a computer scanning the page of a physical book/manuscript, recognizing the letters as best it can, and digitizing it.

Santo de Vaca says:
@Carol Hannon: I bought a book with some really terrible formatting issues. In the physical book the first letter of each chapter was elaborately drawn and this didn’t transfer well to the electronic version. They fixed it a few weeks after publication and I had the option of downloading a fixed version of the book, which I did. I’m not sure if this is the norm or not for corrections.

Granny Daisy says:
As an avid reader, I often find errors in print and kindle books. Even in established authors you find misspelled or miss used words, or incomplete sentences. I am beginning to think publishers are saving money by not paying proof readers.

J. Robertson says:
I have found spelling and grammar errors in many paper books as well. So I think its all about the proof reading being done.  I have downloaded several “free” books, unfortunately, they were not free of misspellings , missing words, and other errors. I just overlook them since they didn’t cost me anything. I haven’t had that problem with the books I’ve paid for. Guess the old saying is true, ” You get what you pay for”!

What do you think as an author?  Should a book be free of grammar and spelling errors, professionally edited and formatted? Well I guess it is a non-brain-er for every author who wants to be seen as a professional and who has already invested months or years into the manuscript.



Hyper Smash


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The UGLY Duckling



Book Store

Book Store


I just read a marvelous book on self-publishing and I would have given it a 5-star review for its content, but it was – against the own advice of the authors – not copy-edited, not even spell-checked – and the layout was not done professionally. While reading these errors were so disturbing, that I will give it not more than a 3 or 4-star review.

“It doesn’t cost any more to produce a good-looking book than it does to produce a bad-looking one” Joel Friedlander wrote in his great blog about sloppy, self-published books:

This is true for both, paper books and e-books that are often shambles from a book design point of view.

But not only that, these self-published books often lack the basics, such as putting them through word spelling, copy editing, beta-reading and having done a professional layout (and converting, if it is an e-book), rather than just smash-word it on the cheap.

Another blogger wrote:
“Needless to say, poor quality e-books are becoming something of an embarrassment for publishers trying to convince readers to pay a premium for downloads (as Kassia Kroszer recently pointed out in Publishing Perspectives: it is hard to justify higher e-book prices when the product simply isn’t up to scratch), and clearly it’s an issue publishers need to address sooner rather than later if they want win this argument.

The problem of substandard e-books partially stems from the fact that many publishers currently lack the means and expertise (and, to some extent, the will) to produce high quality e-book editions themselves. Their workflow and production process are set up for print, so the quickest way to create e-book files has been to outsource the job to third parties, inevitably with very little quality control.”

If self-published authors want to be taken seriously, and compete with paper books (both, hard and soft cover) from commercial publishers, they need to offer seriously edited book content and also a professional book layout.



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