If you’ve done the market research and talked with other indie authors of your genre, you should have an idea of what to expect. Now, let’s take a quick look at what some of the basic production costs are going to be.
1) Write the book and get it critiqued. - FREE
Make sure it is 100% ready before you send it off to an editor. Use Critique groups to help you make the story as good as it can be. If there are no local crit groups in your area, check out some of the online sites. There are plenty of them out there, just make sure that your work is protected when you post it. Look through the rules and FAQ’s for the site and make sure your work is not searchable via sites like google. You don’t want your book all over the internet before you publish it.
One of my favorite sites to work with is.
2) Have a Pro, edit the book. - $0 - $the sky is the limit!
Your product (your book) is a direct reflection of the work you’ve put into it or the money you’ve put into producing it. While it is important for you to produce the best looking book you can, you still have to remain cost conscious. You have to find the balance between quality and affordability.
I’ve seen many people with the “You can’t put a price on art or quality” thought process. I’m not saying they’re wrong. But this often leads authors to adopt a “blank check” mentality where this is concerned. They become willing to pay whatever it takes to have the best and their budget goes out the window. When this happens, it could set your books break-even point so high it might take years to hit.
Any good business person is going to do their research and find the most cost-effective way to do things before they invest. And so should every indie author. Don’t overextend yourself by drowning your book in debt before it hits the market. Your book needs to be able to recoup its cost before it can make you any money.
Remember this, make it your mantra when you’re tempted to spend more than had originally budgeted.
Just doing simple research will bring up hundreds of options where freelance editing is concerned. You could spend anywhere from $200-up to $2,000 on this step alone.
High price does not always equal better quality work. My first editor charged me close to $1,000 to edit Immortalis. When it was done and published, the single biggest complaint I got was “poor editing.” I spent a lot of time researching freelance editors and ended up finding one that did twice the job, for less.
3) Printing and Distribution. $0-$117 (Book Setup for print only)
Unless you plan on going door to door with a stack of books, you want a printer who can distribute to the big guys like Amazon.com
The printer you choose will have set fees for setting up your book. Make sure you know what those fees are before you decide to use them.
Just as an example. My printer Lightning Source charges $35 for setup of each file(book interior & book cover), plus a listing fee, and optional fees for proofs.
Createspace, another popular choice has various plans for book setup and distribution that may cost less.
No matter who you choose, you want to have your printer selected before you move on to further steps in the book process.Your printer will dictate Book Layout and Cover Design specifications!
4) Book Layout. $0-$400
This can be done in word, but it is quite a frustrating process. The layout is how you book will look when printed; all of those fun little details like: headers and footers, font, page breaks, page size, margins, etc…
You can hire out for this, or you can look for programs that help you do it yourself. I found one on Self-pub.net that was quite inexpensive and unbelievably helpful.
5) Book Cover Design. $100-$the sky is the limit!
You can easily find artist willing to create you a beautiful cover and the rates will be just as widely varied as editing. If you’ve created your budget ahead of time, you will have a much better idea of what you can afford. Again, price does not always equal better workmanship. Sometimes it’s just expensive to be expensive. I’ve seen beautiful covers made for $80 and equally beautiful covers made for $1,000. Only you can decide what is affordable for you, but keep your budget in check.
One note to remember here, your designer will want to know some things before they make your cover. I learned this the hard way. Know what your book dimensions will be before this step. Know the page count, know the size of the book, paper or Hb. Do your book layout first.
6) ISBN’s. $10+ (Mostly for print but sometimes required for ebooks as well)
Every book has one so you’ll have to purchase these. If your planning on releasing multiple books, the cost of your ISBN goes down significantly. Check the link here for pricing. Also, ebook distributors like Smashwords and Pubit, offer you the option of using their ISBN for cheap ($10) or free.
7) PCN or LCCN. (Only cost 1 print book and the postage to send it in)
This isn’t a necessary step but, just an option for you to consider if your books will be available in print. If you want your book able to be on library shelves, you will need one of these numbers.
Please note, you will have to send them a copy of the final product after publication.
8) Copyright. $35
File online! Yay! This is a MUST! Do not skip this step. Always protect yourself by filing the copyright.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what the basic production costs are, you can attempt to budget accordingly. Please note, I did not list any marketing cost here. This is only a listing of the items you’ll need to make the book. We’ll take a look at marketing costs in a different post.