The self-publishing cost of editing, production and social media.

I’m sharing the cost of publishing a printed book as I believe it’s really important for people who want to publish a book what they’re potentially up for before they start on their book writing and publishing journey.

One of the biggest challenges in the self-publishing journey is the process and cost of production, publication and getting online. I am often asked to provide advice and recommend a range of service providers for writers, so I thought it would be good to share some insights to the typical costs involved. Just note that these prices are for Australia and in Aussie dollars and there are literally hundreds of online options that you can explore to undertake some of this yourself.

I’m sharing the cost of publishing a printed book as I believe it’s really important for people who want to publish a book what they’re potentially up for before they start on their book writing and publishing journey.

1. Editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading are different things. An editor will review your writing and make structural suggestions and changes as well as recommendations about style, flow, consistency and the like

Editor Fee: Editors usually charge on a per thousand word rate with a 25,000 word manuscript costing about $2,000.

A proof reader is someone who checks the spelling of words and the consistency of spelling and punctuation throughout the document. You would usually use a proof reader immediately before the text is sent to the designer and then again when the pages have be laid out as glitches often happen in the design process.

Fee: Proof reader usually charge on a per thousand word rate with a 25,000 word manuscript costing between $800-$1,200.

The cleaner your writing (i.e. from a spelling, punctuation and structural point of view) the lower the fees at it will take the Editor/proof reader less time.

2. Design and page layout

This refers to the actual design of the book and the layout of the pages. A designer would usually provide 1-2 concept treatments for review and discussion, final concepts, page layouts, x 2 sets of revisions. The cost would Include the front and back cover design but not graphs and tables.

The cost of designing and production of a 160 page, soft cover book would be between $3,000-$6,000.

Summary and Checklist pages can be provided as separate PDF and/or a combined PDF for marketing and promotional use. This would cost approx. $500 -$800 depending on the number.

A written Design Brief should be provided to the designer at the outset to ensure the quote you receive incorporates all the elements and options you want as well as the number of revisions and corrections you want to allow for.

DO NOT take the cheap option. Your book will look cheap and so will you. This is the one place you really need to spend an appropriate amount of money.

Selecting a designer is incredibly hard from the thousands out there. Word of mouth and references are by far the best way to locate a good one that charges a reasonable fee.

3. eBook conversion (eBook ready for uploading)

One version only (i.e. if you want separate chapters and the summaries/checklists as separate documents there would be an additional fee). I’ve recently subscribed to a new service, For a really modest sum you can access their online tool and create your own eBook. You need to be reasonably savvy about online design tools but if you’ve got a WordPress site on built another website on your own this is a breeze.

Approx. $1,500-$2,000 + GST

4. Printed book

As a guide, 2,000 copies of a good quality book of approx. 160 pages will cost approx. $7,000 +GST printed offshore (including freight, customs clearance and delivery). Remember, this is in Australia.

It’s entirely possible to print in Australia, and have a small print run, say up to 500 copies of a book, but the unit price is quite high.

The cost of printing is really about balancing the total cost of the print run with the unit cost. There’s not point printing more books than you need/want, but if you are planning to utilise the book for branding and marketing, for getting you and your IP out into the marketplace you’re going to need at least 1,000 copies.

And, if you are prepared to put the effort in to promoting and selling your book a print run closer to 1,500-2,000 would be needed.

There are, literally thousands of printers, sites for self publishers, companies like Amazon that offer printing services . . . the key is to know what to ask for and to understand what’s part of the ‘standard price’ and what’s not.

5. Website and social media

The actual cost of this will vary depending on whether you already have a business website and social media platforms. If not you’ll need to create an e-Commerce enabled website that has a subscriber function (to capture emails so can engage and market to these people).

Website design, build e.t.c $1,500-$3,000

Social media platforms – creating these could be rolled into your website build.

  • It’s really important to know that your website will need both written and visual (photograph) content. If you can’t provide these you’ll need to pay someone to do this and purchase the rights to use photographs or source these from royalty free websites.
  • Of course, you can always build your own website using any one of the number of free, ‘build your own’ site offers available. If you are not that computer literate I would not recommend this unless you have lots of time to learn. I always pay a professional to build my sites and have learnt how to update them myself.
  • Time to write and post Blogs and engage social media, key influencers etc

Summary of costs for a 25,000-word, 160-page book with 2,000 print run:

  1. Editing and proofreading $800-$1,200.
  2. Design and page layout, $3,000-$6,000.
  3. eBook conversion, $1,500-$2,000
  4. Printed book, $7,000
  5. Website and social media, $1,500-$3,000

Of course, you can probably get most of these services cheaper if you know the quality you are looking for, are prepared to put a lot of time into the process of managing, reviewing, amending and reworking drafts and taking time to get to know what you need to do to brief someone properly before you start.

TOTAL Between $12,800 ($6.40) -$20,700 ($10.35)

Other items to think about when self-publishing

Marketing and promotion of the book (This includes social media advertising, review copies, media releases and media list, a specific launch event – maybe several, book signings, engagement with industry associations and organisations, travel and accommodation costs for the above, design of order forms e.t.c.)

Storage of books (Where? Your garage, spare room, rented facility e.t.c.)

Postage, handling and delivery costs (if you do a printed version) and time to package, label and post.

Time commitment to either do all the above or pay someone else to do it.

Understanding the cost of professional expertise before you start writing.

Most people focus on the writing phase, how to write, what to write etc or the marketing phase. What’s missing from much of the advice in this area is the actual cost of getting professionals to help you create a high-quality book in terms of the content, design and printing.

A related challenge to this for all first-time writers is finding good editors, graphic designers and printers and knowing how to brief them so you get the best outcome at the right price. Of course, here at all this information, advice and support is part of what you access when you join the program.

Let me know what your experiences you have had both as DIY and with professionals.