Our thanks to Ginger Marks of DocUmeant Publishing & Design for this guest post.
Book publishing, as we are all aware, has evolved; no longer are we subject to the whims of the large publishing houses. We are clearly in the proverbial “driver’s seat.” Now, more than ever before, we the authors and small publishers are in control.
But, what are the costs of publishing that we can expect? What does it take to get your work in the hands of your reading public? As a publisher and author, I am asked these questions every day.
In answer to these questions I must offer, “It depends.” It depends on numerous factors. Let’s look at just a few:
1. The Dreaded Editor
To begin with, your manuscript should never go to press on the first writing. Read and re-write several times to smooth out the writing before handing it off to the editor—your first expense, unless you hire a developmental or ghost editor.
Notwithstanding the hiring of the aforementioned additional editors, the editing process is a three-step, back and forth, with your copy editor. The fees they charge are based on an hourly or a per page estimate. You should expect to go over this estimate if you give them additional content after the estimate is given.
Typical fees for copy editing range from $3.95–$7.50 per page, if they compute their fees on a per page basis. The reason for this disparity in fees is twofold. First and foremost, the quality of the submitted manuscript—thus the need to read and rewrite several times before handing it off to the editor—and second, the level of experience of the editor.
2. Cover Design
Once the editing is complete, the next step is to begin the layout and cover design process. If you’re lucky enough to find a designer that can do both for you, this process will go a lot faster and be tied together better.
Standard cover design fees can equate to a range of $100.00-$800.00 depending on the expertise of the designer. Of course, if you want an illustrated cover, the artist will usually charge a fee for the drawing and rights release of, typically $1500.00–$3000.00. The large design houses can, and often do, charge well into the thousands for their designers who produce covers for the likes of John Grisham and J.K. Rowling.
If you want your cover to help sell your book, you should invest in an experienced cover designer. While fiverr.com may be just fine for anonymous authors, remember: you’ll always get what you pay for.
3. Interior Design
There are several factors that need to be addressed before your designer can and should begin this process. Some important questions include; In what format will it be laid out, digital only, print only, or print and digital both? Will it need to be formatted for one type of digital product or all digital formats, i.e. PDF, ePub and Mobi?
With PDF only, you have more control of the finished look. As with print you can, if you wish, use color and running heads and footers. You can expect a per-page fee for print and PDF layouts to be in the $1.25-$3.00 per page range. Graphs and photo inserts may incur additional fees.
However, for digital formatting, since every type requires a specific layout, you should be prepared to spend at minimum $125.00 for each layout. The reason for this is because digital layout is a multistep process. Meaning, your manuscript will be laid out in one program, converted to another, and then tweaked to fix conversion errors between formats.
4. ISBN Numbers and Barcodes
Once your book is prepared and your cover is print ready, it is time to obtain your ISBN and, if needed, your barcode. Depending on the format of your book you may or may not need these pieces. If you do indeed need them, the governing agency will charge $125.00 for one set. However, ISBNs can be purchased in blocks of 10 and up at a discounted rate, whilst barcodes are sold at a flat $25.00 each.
Digital formats require an ISBN only, unless you are producing a Kindle e-book. Kindle requires no ISBN as they provide each book with an ASIN. While some companies, such as Smashwords, will provide a free ISBN, you may want to consider purchasing your own anyway. When you use their assigned ISBN, they become the publisher of record. Furthermore, you cannot use their ISBN on any additional reseller site—including your own website.
Subsidy Publishing is One Answer
This is where a small-press or subsidy publisher like DocUmeant Publishing & Design can come to the rescue, since, with these companies, you can purchase a publication package that fits your budget. Keep in mind, the more you invest in the costs associated with publishing the more commission you retain.
With a publishing package from the subsidy publisher, you can expect to pay approximately $1,000 to bring your book to print. DocUmeant Publishing further offers international distribution through inclusion in the Ingram catalog, which is the catalog that bookstores and libraries use to keep aware of new titles. While most print on demand publishers will charge you $5.00 to $14.00 per book, most subsidy publishers can keep those costs to between $3.00 and $10.00 per book. (The average cost being approximately $5.00.)
With the help of a subsidy publisher you can expect to earn between 10–35% royalty. Keep in mind that either way in marketing costs you should expect to spend approximately $1,000.00 per book, and two to three years promoting that book for it to become successful. Yes, your subsidy publisher may help you a bit with your marketing. However, the publisher typically handles the mechanics, and the author the promotion.
If your publisher feels your book is a good fit for their house, they may even cover some of the upfront expenses and marketing costs. Nevertheless, it is the author that takes the risk and gains the benefit when they use a subsidy publisher. Remember, your book won’t sell without your constant attention to marketing.
Subsidy publishers often required you to pay a 50% deposit on your publishing package when submitting the work depending on your publication plan. Every book and every project is unique; therefore, you should expect to receive a detailed quote when you submit your sample pages.
So, the next time you “go to print” you now have a few more facts and figures to make a sound decision on how and where to publish.
Ginger Marks is the author of Presentational Skills for the Next Generation and CEO of DocUmeant Publishing. As a publisher she has seen manuscripts in many stages of completion. Mrs Marks lives in Florida with her husband and neighborhood cat, mistakenly dubbed Miss Kitty.