How much does it cost to self-publish a book?
That’s a simple straightforward question. Unfortunately, the answer is not nearly as simple. Let’s take a look at the reasons.
There are several steps in the publication of the book:
- You, as the author complete your draft. The draft needs some degree of editing, maybe a only a good solid copy edit or maybe a content edit involving substantial revision.
- Your book needs a cover and its interior must be designed. Producing the specialized files that meet a printer’s specifications requires extensive skill with Adobe Creative Suite – InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Bridge – particularly when your book is illustrated.
- You must choose a printer. That means finding someone who can print the book you want,: hard cover, softcover, or ebook; black & white or color; illustrated or not; the trim size you want; the appropriate quality of paper; the kind of bindings you want, etc. In choosing a printer you must also consider what distribution option options you want: Will you hand-sell your books or distribute them through your website? Do you want the book to be available in online bookstores? Which one? Do you hope to get your book into brick and mortar stores? The answers to questions like these are all important in choosing a printer. Getting the information to make your choice may take considerable research.
- What will the printer charge to produce the book?
As a self-publishing author you get to make choices at each step of the process of producing your book. Some authors try to minimize some of the steps above or skip them altogether. That doesn’t go well. One choice is to take the DIY approach. We recommend doing whatever you can do well. The fact is that even the most skilled among us generally can’t do everything themselves. You will probably need help. Do you rely on friends and relatives to edit or design your book? If the friend or relative is a professional editor or book designer, that’s great. If they aren’t, then it’s not such a good idea. Guy Kawasaki offered very sound advice to self-publishers in his book APE: How to Publish a Book. He said, “…you’ve invested many hours in your book. Don’t blow it now. The whole point of self-publishing is to produce a book faster, better, and cheaper than a traditional publisher. [The] ways of avoiding the “self-published” look are simple and easy, and they increase the attractiveness, professionalism, and marketability of your book.” One of the best ways to make your book look professional is to hire professionals to help you with the things you can’t do yourself.
For each self-publishing author, the question is not, how much does it cost to self-publish a book? It is, what will it cost me to self-publish my book? That means looking at each of the unique aspects of your book.
One of the reasons author services companies like Author Solutions or Outskirts Press appeal to inexperienced authors is that they offer a package of services for a fixed price. That’s simple. It answers the question of what it will cost. You write a check and don’t have to think about it again. There are a couple of problem with these kinds of packages though. First, you often pay more than you should. Second, the services promised are often less satisfactory than you thought you’d be getting, especially in the area of marketing.
The self-publishing author who takes the time to figure out the services she actually needs and hires professionals for those services gets a good deal more bang for her bucks.
If you ask someone, “What will it cost to self-publish my book?” and they give you a quick answer, treat that answer with a healthy grain of salt. The response from the person you asked should be the beginning of a conversation exploring your wants and needs for your book, not the end of one.