How much does it cost to self-publish?

June 14th, 2012 → 8:00 am @

To self-publish or not to self-publish? A tough question for authors. If you decide to take the route of self-publishing, what does that all entail? What’s the bottom line for your writing business?

We welcome back publisher and marketer Carol White who is eager to share her knowledge about self-publishing, specifically its costs:

“While it doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive, getting a book published does require some money to do it in a way that will give you a real chance at success. As I’ve discussed before, using a “self-publishing company” will only lead to heartache over the long run. People are now thinking that “if I just e-publish, I won’t have to pay anything.” This too is faulty thinking as you will see.

What we need to remember is that self-publishing is a business and, like any business, there are costs associated with running it. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but depending on how much you can do for yourself, you will have (minimally) costs in this range whether you e-publish or p-publish:

Business set-up: ($20-$500+) Depending on whether you set up as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation and what the laws are in your state regarding licensing, taxes, etc.

Business tools: ($50-$2000) computer, software, bookkeeping/checking account, business cards, stationary, website – some things you may already have, some you may have to acquire

ISBN: Block of 10 costs $250 from the US ISBN agency, Bowker. NEVER buy your ISBNs from someone else and NEVER buy a singleton. The numbers identify who the publisher is and if you buy one or more from someone else – they are the publisher, not you. As a small press, you don’t need any of the other services offered by Bowker.

Book Production: This includes editing (about $500-$2000 depending on what needs to be done), cover design (roughly $200-$1500), interior design, and typesetting (depends on complexity and book length – $200-$2000). If you can do some of these tasks yourself, then those costs can be reduced or eliminated, however, I don’t recommend skipping editing or editing your book yourself, even if you are a professional editor – you are too close to it.

Marketing: ($500-$5000+) Depends on your goals for your book, how you will distribute it, what types of publicity you want to do (print, broadcast, internet, & live appearances), and, again, how much knowledge you have to do some tasks yourself.

As you can see, the only cost that e-publishing avoids is printing, which runs from about $1.50 per book on up, depending on size of print run (and whether it is off-set or POD), format & size, page count, color usage, etc.

Because the book business is so hyper-competitive with about a million new books being produced each year, you really can’t cut corners if you want a professional book that will get noticed and garner sales in a range to be profitable. But successful publishing is a business and has costs like running any business.”

Carol White is an author, speaker, writer, and book marketing coach. In addition to co-authoring the best-selling, award-winning book, Live Your Road Trip Dream, Carol is a frequent guest speaker at conventions. She is also a published writer for magazines and websites and has spoken about publishing to groups including IBPA’s Publishing University, the Northwest Association of Book Publishers, and the Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Association. She has an active book marketing consulting practice that includes both domestic and international clients. 

Thanks so much, Carol! Knowing these costs involved with self-publishing will certainly be beneficial to every author’s writing business. Be sure to visit Carol’s website for even more help in book marketing and publishing, as well as her previous guest post on Pricing for Retail and Discount Schedules. She is a wealth of information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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