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    The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book

    by Miral Sattar
    May 15, 2013
    Self-publishing can be a low-cost way of getting your work to the marketplace, but it's not free.

    At every writers conference or self-publishing panel the question that almost always inevitably comes up is: “How much will self-publishing really cost me?”

    Because the book publishing industry is one of the last industries to go digital, it’s going through a quick transition. As a result of this shift, authors no longer need to go through the traditional gatekeepers to publish high-quality books and are instead moving toward self-publishing. Launching a book is like launching a startup. Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but getting it edited, then formatted, designing a cover, and having a marketing strategy around it.

    "Not having an editor is like not QA’ing a software product or not testing a drug before it goes out into the marketplace."

    Below, I break down the costs of how much professional services will cost you for a high-quality book.

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    (For the purposes of calculation we’ll assume you have a manuscript that is 70,000 words.)

    1. Developmental editing

    Once you’ve written your book, a developmental editor is important. Many authors think they don’t need an editor. Everyone needs at least some type of editor. Not having an editor is like not QA’ing a software product or not testing a drug before it goes out into the marketplace. An editor will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions, and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. They’ll look at the big picture and make sure everything flows and is consistent.

    Costs:
    1-5 manuscript pages/hour for a manuscript page that’s 250 words, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association.
    $45-65/hour based on the experience of the editor
    70,000/250 = 280 pages
    280 pages /5 pages per hour = 56 hours
    Low end is 56 x $45 = $2,520
    High end is = $18,200

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    2. Copyediting

    Once your manuscript is in good shape, the next thing you need to do is hire another editor called a copy editor or line editor to go through and catch spelling mistakes and adjust for grammar, punctuation and consistency.

    Costs:
    2-10 manuscript pages/hour
    $25-50/hour based on the experience of the editor
    Low end: $840
    High end: $7,000 (if it needs a lot of work)

    3. Cover design. Yes, books are judged by their covers

    Readers judge how a book looks on a shelf and how it looks on an iPad or black-and-white Kindle. For iPhone users, a thumbnail of the cover is probably the first thing a reader sees. It’s important that your cover design be optimized for print, digital, thumbnail sizes, and how it looks on an e-reader or mobile device. You might have your own images, or you might need to buy a license to use the images. Some designers even sell premade cover designs for as low as $50.

    But if you want to hire someone to make a custom cover design, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $3,500. The higher end is for award-winning designers who have done Random House- or HarperCollins-type covers, according to book design maven Joel Friedlander.

    Costs:
    Low end: $150
    High end: $3,500

    4. Formatting for print and digital conversion

    If you’re tech-savvy, you can set up your book on your own for free using programs called Sigil, Calibre or Pages. If you’re looking to hire an expert, you can find someone to do the print-on-demand conversions for as little as $150 or as much as $2,500 to convert from Word or InDesign. The costs will usually be $200 for a text book that’s less than 400 pages. The higher costs are if your original file is in PDF, has a lot of pictures, or is highly illustrated. PDFs are much more complex to convert.

    Costs:
    Low end: Free
    High end: $2,500 or more based on interactivity and pages, according to book design maven Joel Friedlander.

    5. Getting an ISBN

    An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is recommended if you’re doing a print book or want it placed in a library. A lot of third parties sell ISBNs, but if you don’t purchase your own ISBN you may not be listed as the publisher of your own work! Not everyone believes you need an ISBN. If you plan on only selling your book in e-book form, then you do have the option of skipping the ISBN and using the default numbering system for Amazon, iBooks or BN.

    Costs:
    $125 for one ISBN
    10 ISBNs for $250
    Bowker is the authorized ISBN retailer in the U.S.

    6. Distribution: FREE

    You can do this yourself by following the instructions to get your books distributed into the various retailers. However, if you use a third party they do take a percentage of each book sold.

    7. Getting your book printed

    You no longer have to pay upfront for printing costs because now there are so many print-on-demand options. With print-on-demand services like CreateSpace or Lightning Source, the book only gets printed when someone buys it. It’s also not recommended to print books if you don’t already have a distribution deal in place. Otherwise, you might end up housing 1,000 books in your garage.

    8. Getting reviews pre-publication

    reviewsImageThere are many resources for authors to get professional reviews. Sites like Kirkus, Blue Ink, and Publishers Weekly all sell review packages for indie or self-published authors. There’s also a great list of bloggers that you can reach out to for reviews for your book.

    • Cost of review from Kirkus: $425
    • Cost of review from BlueInk Reviews: $396
    • Cost of review from Publishers Weekly PW Select: $149

    9. Marketing & PR

    This is probably the toughest part after you’ve written the book. You can pay someone to help you market and set up blog tours for $10 to $40 per hour on BiblioCrunch (my company). For $10 you can get a college student, for $40 to $65 an hour you can get a professional marketer. We recommend you pay someone at least 10 hours to market and on the high end 40 hours. If you have the time, you can do a lot of the marketing yourself. Also, good book publicists can get you radio spots and press pickups for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per month.

    Costs:
    Low end: $100
    High end: $5,000 and up.

    It’s a lot of information, but spending money on quality editorial services will set your book apart from the sea of books in the marketplace.

    Miral Sattar is founder and CEO of BiblioCrunch, an award-winning author services marketplace that matches authors with quality, award-winning professionals to get new books and apps to market. She has worked in the media industry for 11 years, most recently at TIME where she launched several digital initiatives including an iPad and mobile site, mobile apps, a video and podcast channel, blogs, and SEO strategy. Her writing has been featured in TIME, CNN, NY Daily News, among other media publications. She has a MS in Publishing (Digital + Print Media) from NYU and a BS from Columbia University in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. You can follow Miral on Twitter @miralsattar or @bibliocrunch.

    Tagged: amazon barnes & noble costs distribution ibooks Indie Publishing kobo self-publishing selfpub
    • Eric

      Thanks Miral for the good and useful information. I don’t mean to get into another debate between traditional print vs. digital self-publishing, but under the right conditions with a niche market, don’t you feel offset printing is still a viable and advantageous option? I’ve been studying the self-publishing industry over the last year and we decided to use the traditional offset printing route for our first book. Unless authors are seeking a national best-seller, I don’t see why more consideration isn’t given to offset. With guerrilla marketing, publicity and networking, it isn’t as cost-prohibitive as many think. Your thoughts?

      • Eric, depends on how many you printed? For first-time authors I’d advise just print-on-demand because there really is no upfront cost to the author. Otherwise, you might just be spending money on something you might not be able to sell or distribute.

    • These prices are highly inflated. You can get good developmental editing for free by seeking multiple beta readers, and you can find good freelance editors for easily under $500 a manuscript (I paid $250 for 75,000 words and my editor did great work). And, both formatting and cover design you can do yourself. You just need to take some time to learn how and to take advantage of either free stock photo sites or sales on stock photos. When it comes to marketing you can spend lots of money on ads, but there are free ways to market as well, like seeking book bloggers and taking advantage of social networking. I think authors seeking to self-publish should look into all the professional avenues above, but most won’t have the money to go that route, and there are quality options out there to help you get your book completed.

      • Deana

        Lauryn, the information and pricing in this article is actually pretty accurate…if you are going to publish a quality book. The key word is “quality.” And, as far as editing, I went the cheap route, once. It was awful, but, I got what I paid for.

        • Deana, how much did you end up spending on poor editing before you came across a good editor? We had an author who spend thousands and thousands of dollars on poor editors before she finally found a good one that she paid market price for.

          • Deana

            Hi Miral…I only took the cheap route once and that was enough. I believe I paid a dollar a page for a basic copy edit.

            It’s difficult to know whether your editor will do a good job, whether you’re paying a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars.

            Reputation / testimonials help. I also recommend that an author ask for a sample edit of the first chapter or at least the first dozen or so pages…especially if they are looking at paying a few thousand dollars on an edit.

            Like some have said on this thread…you need to search. It is very possible to land a really good editor at a very reasonable rate. You just need to take the time to find them.

        • Skip Michael

          The pricing is not accurate and is inflated look around. Where it is true, you do get what you pay for.. you don’t want or need to over pay. Like POD, editors are going to have to change their prices, or Indie’s will go else where. Self publishing means you do most of the work yourself. The big publishing house and their minions want you to think you cannot do it yourself or that you can’t find “professional” people to do it at a much lower price.

      • Hi Lauryn! You can definitely go the budget publishing route, but a beta reader can’t edit your book as well as a professional, publisher-level quality editor. You can definitely get an editor for $250, but like Deana mentioned below, it’s a gamble and you get what you pay for. I’ve come across so self-published books that have so many typos b/c they didn’t spend any time or money in editing and have that selfpub feel. Also, your covers are lovely, but not everyone has design talent. The costs are actually for hiring a professional designer. And, yes, agree! Formatting can be free if you are savvy enough to DIY (like I mentioned above).

        • Thank you, and I agree that you do get what you pay for. Which is why you need to take the time to find someone who does quality work. All I’m saying is that there are people who do quality work for reasonable prices. I love self-published books. I read a ton of them, and I completely agree that typos take away from the story and that there are people who don’t take the time to do it right. But doing it right doesn’t have to cost you the farm.
          Formatting takes time to learn, but anyone can learn it.

        • I had a really good experience using 99designs to come up with a design for my e-book cover. (And no, I don’t work for them – I swear!) You write a creative brief, and the site’s community of designers submits designs… you provide feedback… in the end, you either pick one you like, and pay $300 ($200 goes to the designer), or you say “none of these make me happy,” and you pay $0. I waded through some pretty awful options but am thrilled with the one I selected.

          • That’s great! I have used them for logos and have really loved what the designers on there have come up with.

          • Someone just told me about a site called “Go on Write” that has some wonderful coverart.

      • JoAnne Dyer

        Beta readers are helpful, but generally they’re not professional editors. They are readers, and their input should be considered that of readers, not of editors.

        If you paid $250 for a 75,000-word book, you may have paid your editor less than $10 an hour. Most professionals with experience, education, and training won’t work for $10 an hour. Why should they?

        Unfortunately, many writers simply don’t know what they don’t know, and they think that if they find someone who got good grades in high school English class to read their book for cheap or even for free, they found an “editor.” Be wary.

        Note: I’m a professional copy editor. I’d charge a minimum of $1500 for a 75,000-word book.

        • I completely agree that you can’t just ask your friend who was good in your high school english class to edit your book. My editor is a college educated young woman, who not only majored in english but was in the English Honors Program at NCSU, and was in the to 10% of her class. She didn’t have the experience that other editors have had but she did an amazing job. (And she didn’t charge me $1500)

          • That’s awesome! Please send her my way. I’m pretty sure we’ll see these prices change and the range get wider as time progresses and more professionals enter the field. Was she a developmental editor? Or copyeditor?

          • B. Rasine

            Majoring in English and being in the honors program does not an experienced editor make. It’s great to support students fresh out of school, but in general, I find it damaging to our industry to pay such a low fee to an editor. We need to support writers, editors, copyeditors, designers, everyone in the supply chain, and pay them fair wages, just like we expect readers to buy our books for a fair price. Otherwise it’s a race to the bottom, and guess who wins. The people controlling the online platforms.

            • She’s not as experienced as others. She’s just good, which is why her rates are lower. That’s the point I’m trying to make. There are skilled people out there getting into these fields who can do great things if given the chance. I’m just starting out. I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t find someone else who was just starting out to work with me. Yes, writers, artists, creators of all kinds need to be paid correctly for their services. But we all need to work together. Editors need to be paid fair wages, but so do writers, and until I get to a place where I can pay my editor thousands of dollars for her work she’s going to work with me to make it reasonable for both of us. This isn’t damaging to the industry, it’s changing it, but I think in the end it will be a positive change for everyone.

            • Skip Michael

              Lauryn;
              Don’t listen to these so called “Professional” people, their prices are inflated. They have all kind of excuses as to why you should use “them”. They border on being con-artist. You keep plugging away.

            • hopeful

              I’m starting a self publishing initiative, so I was reading your comments. I was a little turned-back when reading Miral’s costs in writing. Even though the professional costs were a bit high for me, I needed all your conversations. I’m still going to take into consideration cost, although I was already determined to publish my nonfiction at any cost. You have encouraged me to really focus in on putting out not-only quantified but qualified material. #veryhopeful

            • GUEST

              Lauryn,
              I’m with you. Everyone who is agreeing with this article seems to be an editor with high end pricing. I’m all about supporting the industry but you can’t 20k publishing if you only make 35k a year. Get real, people.

          • Arlene Prunkl

            How do you quantify that “she did an amazing job”? Have you had soaring book sales? As a developmental and copy editor, I’m shocked that another editor could charge $250 to edit 75,000 words. Didi you not have developmental or substantive editing done? Even if you had only copy editing, the fastest copy editing goes at about eight pages per hour. Leaving room for e-mailing and other project management time, that means you paid your editor about $6 – $7 per hour (assuming you had only copy editing) for a single pass of editing. What editor can live on that? What editor can take care and pride in their work for what amounts to babysitting wages? And we’re not even talking about the quality of her editing. I charge $45 per hour, a mid-range rate, and I’d never copy edit a manuscript of that length for under $1500.

            • Arlene Prunkl

              Sorry for the typo. I was typing in a state of shock. :-)

            • Arlene Prunkl

              Another aspect of this is that professional editorial standards (in the Editors’ Association of Canada, of which I’m a member) state that to produce optimal work, an editor should spend no more than five hours per day actually editing. The remaining hours should be spent on administrative and marketing tasks. At the rate of $7 per hour, that means you’re paying your editing $35 a day, before taxes. Nobody can live on that. Goodness, if I were paying someone $35 a day to live on for a week, I’d feel embarrassed.

            • Arlene Prunkl

              Still making typos. Still in shock.

            • First, book sales may correlate with good editing, but they are not the cause of them. To judge how well a book has been edited based on it’s sales makes no sense. There are many well edited books out there that don’t sell well, and some not-so-well edited ones that do. To say that my editor did an amazing job is to say that she was thorough and I was pleased with her work.

              Second, that’s wonderful that you make $45 an hour to edit. I’m so happy for you, but until I’m making $45 an hour to write I can’t pay someone else that wage. Which is why I hired someone who is in a similar place as I am in their career. You obviously have a career as an editor. Some of the rest of us still have day jobs, and I do hope that one day I am in the place to pay my editor more. I’m sure as both of our careers grow our agreements will change.

              If you want to make that kind of money as an editor then work for a traditional publishing company, but if you want to work with indie authors then you’re going to be working for a lower price point. Some of us aren’t in it just for the money. I didn’t swindled my editor down to an unreasonable price, we both agreed on the price of her services.

              You say what editor can take pride in their work for that, but you expect a writer to take pride in their work for far less. Personally I take pride in my work regardless of how much money I’m making, and I feel my editor does the same. There are writers and editors out there who do what they so simply because they love to do it, and I hope people looking to self-publish but don’t have $10,000 to spend on it realize this because there are some great stories out there that I know would never have seen the light of day had an author not found a way to publish affordably.

            • Alissa McGowan

              While I completely understand where you’re coming from, editing is a career. For most people, writing (fiction in particular) is not a primary source of income. I’m assuming that since you’re not making thousands off of book sales that you have a day job? Professional editors do not. We edit for a living, and that means we need to make a living wage.

              I love everything about what I do. I love reading. I love helping writers improve their work. I love getting to read books before they’re published. I love the opportunity to have input on stories that will be shared with the public. I would love it even if I did it for free. But I don’t have that luxury.

              My prices are on the low end of the spectrum, and I would charge $550 at minimum for a manuscript of 75,000 words. And that’s only if it was clean enough to need nothing more than proofreading, which means I read for typographical errors, spelling, and grammar only. Anything beyond that would be $850 and up.

              My rates are only that low because my company is new, although I personally have several years of experience. They’re also as low as I can possibly make them while still being able to feed myself and my cat. I’m in an early phase of my career, too, but I could get a job at Starbucks and make better money (plus benefits!) than the rates I see requested by writers on Elance every day.

              I edit because I love it, and I’m not in it for the money. It would honestly be easier just to get that job at Starbucks and at least be guaranteed of my next paycheck.

            • And I agree, if editing is your career then those prices sound reasonable, but there are freelance editors out there who are just trying to break into the field and do no edit for their career – people who are trying to build a clientele and a reputation, and some of them do quality work. I understand that the end goal (for many people at least) is to be in a position where editing is your career and then you will need to make a respectable wage at it. All I am suggesting is that if you are a writer unable to write for your career then the only way you may be able to afford to publish your book is to seek someone out who is just getting started, that those people exist, and are an option when you choose an editor.

              I don’t mean to offend anyone or suggest that the work an editor does isn’t worth a decent paycheck. My editor works miracles and I’d pay her much more if I could. All I’m saying is that there are different paths in the publishing world and authors should be aware of all of them.

            • sharontosun

              Lauryn, I am a first time author just finishing my book. I am in the same place as you. I was so sad to see those high dollar amounts. I hope I can find someone like you did. Thanks.

            • Just ask around. Get on Goodreads. It’s a great site to meet other writers and network.

            • James M. Tate

              I wanted to ask… Where do I find a good, cost-efficient editor for an ebook… I’m new on here but you are helpful so far, so I wanted to know…

            • Kevin

              Thanks to all for these great comments. I’m one of those guys with that “dream” thing. I have a particular set of skills in my chosen field, narrow as it is, and have discovered a huge whole in the discipline that could/should be addressed for safety reasons alone. The reader base would be narrow so I’m wondering if it would be worth it. My point to all this is my father’s experience writing a book. It’s incredible! His writing was atrocious but he had a niche. He had a “cheap” ghost writer (whatever that is) and that was it. The paperback was written in 1985 and is still selling today. My sister took over the book after he died and still sells it out of her house. She publishes it herself in a black and white monstrocity that readers don’t seem to mind. They just want the information. In all of these great comments and advice above, I don’t see the issue of content playing much of a part. Thanks and best to all.

            • M. Dianne

              So glad I tripped on this website. So much of copy editing, editing, proofing, and other services for the author have been presented in such an obscure light, that many don’t know how to determine or justify what its actual value is to the finished product!

              With that been said, and as an author who’s had several books published w/ a small press, I can stand in honesty that the work for editors should not be divisive to a standard. In other words, it should be a fair amount based on many things. Good samples of others’ work are always the way to make that judgment.
              As for how you, Lauryn, replied to Arlene, I agree. There are two parts to a book’s technical genesis . The set-up, edit, print, and distribution.

              The sales is based on the author’s proactive decision to promote, advertise, and market his/herwork. In fact, that is the true life of a number one seller. It’s like a new pair of shoes. They have to be taken “out” of the box to be used, seen, and experienced.

            • Skip Michael

              Any editors reading Alissa’s post who are interest in make reasonable money for editing, at a lower price than hers, keep in touch I just might use you.
              Her “company” has t make money and their profit is built into her fee.

            • tom rose

              There is a lack of logic or thinking through the situation in your opening shots.

              You draw an invidious comparison between part-time authors and full time editors, but it does not hold. In your scenario, an author makes money only when books sell. Whereas traditionally the publishing company took the financial risks, but rewarded authors poorly, the self-publishing author pays all the up-front costs and takes all the risks. That means they will often lose money as well as the time they invested, but if they are even modestly successful they will make far more than they would with a traditional publisher. Those kinds of author are genuine entrepreneurs.

              If the editor joined the author, illustrator, printer and publicist in a genuine business enterprise and shared the risks then they would be in exactly the same position as the author.

              Conversely a writer that writes on commission for newspapers, magazines, or on-line media gets paid by the word or the hour, just as does your idea of an editor.

            • You kicked her ass. Well said.

          • M. Dianne Grotius Berry

            So glad I tripped on this website. So much of copy editing, editing, proofing, and other services for the author have been presented in such an obscure light, that many don’t know how to determine or justify what its actual value is to the finished product!

            With that been said, and as an author who’s had several books published w/ a small press, I can stand in honesty that the work for editors should not be divisive to a standard. In other words, it should be a fair amount based on many things. Good samples of others’ work are always the way to make that judgment.

            As for how you, Lauryn, replied to Arlene, I agree. There are two parts of a book’s technical genesis . The set-up, edit, print, and distribution.

            The sales is based on the author’s desire to promote, advertise, and market their work. In fact, that is the true life of a number one seller. It’s like a new pair of shoes. They have to be taken “out” of the box to be used, seen, and experienced.

      • lorriebeauchamp

        As a community, we need to encourage emerging writers to work with other professionals, so that the quality of our reading experience does not devolve to the point that people will be turned off from the self-published end-product.

        While it’s great to get things done for free and/or for a “bargain price”, it’s the equivalent of a writer putting in thousands of hours on his or her book, and then giving it away. Why would you do that? Isn’t it worth something? Yes, it is. And so is the editing, the graphic design and the photography. So it has to be paid or traded for, unless we want to see a world where all creativity is devalued to the point of being offered for free globally (and I’m not saying we don’t, I’m just saying it’s a slippery slope).

        This is good advice for people who have the time and energy to learn how to do everything themselves, but bad advice for the average novice writer. And according to my recent experience, these prices are NOT AT ALL inflated.

        • My advice IS for the average novice writer. You say that my advice is good for “people who have time and energy to learn how to do everything themselves.” My advice is for the people who don’t have $10,000 to publish their book with. I would think most writers just starting out will have an easier time finding time (even if it takes longer to publish) than money. The sums of money that are listed above make self-publishing unrealistic for the average author, especially an author publishing their first book.

          You say that “While it’s great to get things done for free and/or for a “bargain price”, [that that’s] the equivalent of a writer putting in thousands of hours on his or her book, and then giving it away.” I disagree. If I had spent $10,000 publishing I would have literally been giving my book away for free until I made that back, and not many self-published authors are making that kind of money off their first book.

          Writers want people to read their work, they want to gain a following, and yes you need to have a quality piece of work to do that, but if you can’t do it affordably then you can’t continue to do it.

          Just because something is less expensive does not mean that it is poor quality. There are wonderful professionals out there who do quality work for reasonable prices. Can you spend $18,000 on editing, yes, but I believe if you take the time to shop around that you can find someone who’s work is comparable for a reasonable cost.

          • The $18,000 is for books that really really really need the editing. And believe me, there are some pretty poorly written books. I know an author spend $40k before her book was in readable condition. I’m a huge fan of bartering myself so you don’t need to take the costs of publishing as a sum, but more of what professional services do you need to hire for?

            • Sangeeta Mehta

              Great article, Miral! I personally charge less, but my definition of editing is very specific. Writers should ask themselves what kind of feedback they’re looking for (an overview? comments in the margins? line-by-line editing?). I can see a book doctor charging $18,000, though, especially if they are doing research and basically rewriting the book.

            • Thx, Sangeeta!

            • I don’t mean to offend anyone who has spent that kind of money to edit their work, but to me, any book that needs that much editing probably wasn’t ready for that stage in the publishing process.

            • Tommy Boy

              I think your advice was good. I think the article was good also. I read it as it was saying you could pay up to that much or more. But also that it could be had for less. I am not an English Lit nor have attended writing classes. I am however a published author of two books. I am one of those writers that have run on sentences, mistakes in grammar, improper punctuation etc. etc.. I found to college courses that were teaching writing and asked the professor if I could present my book for project grade. He read my book, called me back in two days and said my book was perfect as it had every textbook error Imaginable and would be great for the class. At the end he gave me copies of all the students work on my draft plus his creative review on my work. There was no cost for this except to acknowledge the college, the professor and the students (class of / year and semester) I then took my book to a graphics class and did the same thing. A friend of my formatted for submissions for me. My second book I took to the same professor, he read it accepted it and commented that I hadn’t learned a thing from the first book. We had a good laugh, lunch, and a growing friendship. This isn’t for everybody and some colleges do not allow this but it worked for me and may work for you.

            • Diane Johnson McCarter

              I’m going to write my first book, the road less traveled, crazy, dangerous., wild, multiple marriages .gah, it’s really crazy wild, but it is ….portions of my life. That may sound trite…..it’s anything but. Your advise is wonderful! When I read 18,000, 40,000 just to get it started……no possible way! I’ve got a story to tell and it’s a doozie …….I do plan on continuing ….you’ve been phenomenal. Thank you!

            • tom rose

              Quite right. Don’t give a fortune to the many parasites that are hitching a ride on your skill and knowledge and trying to appropriate the profits from your future sales (and then some). 18,000? 40,000? These are absurd fees when most books sell at most a few thousand copies. Why do you think the advice is wonderful? It might be heart-warming for professional editors, but for writers it is dreadful.

            • IdiocyAbounds

              If someone has to spend 40K to get a book in readable condition, she was either RIPPED off (which is very likely) or had no business writing a book.

          • lorriebeauchamp

            We’re not disagreeing; I think you’re right to encourage self-publishing as a great new way to find readers. My point was simply that the rates noted in the article were NOT inflated. You’re lucky that you found an editor who did a good job for $250 – the last book I proofread took 50 hours to do properly and professionally. (PS: I think you meant “whose work” in your last line, not “who’s work”).

            • Diane

              I completely agree with Lorrie. These prices are not at all inflated. In my experience, whenever I have an author come to me after having gone through “beta readers,” they have received advice that has ranged from poor to barely useful. If you value your work enough to invest the time in it, you should value it enough to invest the resources necessary for a quality product. Readers know when something has been done on the cheap. And it’s those books that have been pushed out there with free and cheap services that ruin self-publishing for the serious writers.

            • Beta readers aren’t enough to turn your manuscript into a finished product, and if anyone thinks they can skip over the editing process by simply having beta readers then I completely agree with you, that’s simply not good enough. But, I’m not saying you should have a beta reader copy edit for you. I’m suggesting they are a useful alternative to spending $18,000 on developmental editing, and I personally find their advice invaluable. Granted you do need to find the right beta reader (and you need more than one), someone who’s not a family member or a friend, someone who can be critical and honest with you, and it doesn’t hurt if they have some writing or English background. When you’re looking at developmental editing I can’t think of anyone better to point out to you where there is something in your story that doesn’t add up, a character that isn’t fully developed, or a plot hole, than someone who is like one of your readers. In the end your readers are your harshest critics, they are the ones leaving reviews which can seriously affect your sales. I think if anyone got advice from a beta that was “poor or barely useful” then they did not find an adequate beta reader.

            • Okay, I understand where we had a disagreement, and I think I may have misspoken. I do agree that you can pay those prices – that they are realistic costs of some editors, artists, ect… where I think the author of this post wasn’t entirely accurate was in her low end of the spectrum. This article seems to focus on the higher end of what these services cost and doesn’t fully explore the more affordable options (and while less expensive can translate into lesser quality, it doesn’t always). That bothered me because I think it will scare off many writers from pursuing their dream if they think it can’t be done at a manageable cost. Readers do pay for quality, but quality doesn’t always have to be expensive. Readers also pay for a story and I think in the end a good story will always triumph over imperfections (Afterall I still find mistakes in the books I read that were published by big name companies).

            • lorriebeauchamp

              Thanks, Lauryn, for taking the time to explain. I’m confident that writers and readers will find a way to connect, regardless of what’s going on in the world around them. Right now, a lot of professionals are having to reprice their offerings, which is precisely why a capitalist economy encourages competition. The market will speak for itself.
              In the meantime, the Internet has given us access to more knowledge and technology has made everything more accessible to the do-it-yourself types. However, we need to be careful that we don’t trigger a complete devaluation of people who are trained in specific roles (in this case, proofreaders, editors and book designers). This seems to have already happened in the teaching profession, and I think it’s tragic, although possibly self-correcting. The truly exploitative will hopefully get weeded out.
              The key, perhaps, is to find someone who is doing it with passion, versus someone who is doing it for the money, or doing it just for the exposure/experience factor.

            • I completely agree. I think right now there are a lot of things that are changing in the publishing world which has caused some upset, but I think there’s room for all of us out there, and with time we’ll be able to all work together to meet each other’s needs.

            • irene

              is their anythink on the internet where you can let people read your book from their and see where it goes.hi

            • 히다야툰니사

              i had just finished writing a book – may i know where can we find affordable editors – is there any forum/ website to reach out to them?

              this article is a bit scary for a first timer like me. luckily i scrolled down and read your comments – thank you it’s been very helpful

            • Robin S

              Did my Aunt’s book on LuLu. Paid transcription from audio about 300.00 for about 175 pages. One person did the first edit, I did the fine tune edit and formatted the text to include chapter heading. Did the full color cover myself. Pulled it altogether on Lulu myself and I believe the actual color cover printing with a 9×11 b/w photos inside cost with delivery was about 3,000.

            • tamalabaldwin

              Reading this article scared me. I am not a published author but I have always wanted to write. I have a background in marketing but I am an artist now and I would love to do “good” now rather than later – and tonight I had an amazing concept for a book. I discoverd CreateSpace and I can design a book cover or ask one of my designer friends to help with that, however I knew there were other costs involved. The cost of the developmental editor was surprising. Marketing a book properly is naturally going to be expensive. Thank you so much for sharing other cost effective ways of getting a book complete. I am all about shopping around so thank you for sharing another side of the spectrum.

            • IdiocyAbounds

              Do NOT let this article scare you. It is SO way off it reeks.

              I personally know several self published authors who have gorgeous books and they did not spend 1/3 of the amounts suggested here.

              Finding quality people is imperative, and many of the higher priced ones are no better than someone on their way up, just make sure you pay attention to recommendations and reviews and do not assume anyone offering services is qualified.

            • tom rose

              So far as I can see the PURPOSE of the article is to frighten away as much of the competition as possible by persuading first-time writers who cannot get, or do not want, a traditional publishing deal that they cannot afford to self-publish either.

            • A.D

              Word up mamita I believe all that was all to make herself money like promoting herr company fuk that b1+©$ company. U are right its notcheap ursaying but less. Expensive, …. Discounts and free is da shhhhhhiehhhhht

            • bryant little

              Thanks for that I really needed those encouraging words of those.

            • LiberalGilt

              If you can get the same thing for free, they ARE inflated

          • Well said.

            • Amos Soma Fuller

              Hey John. I was reading this thread and ran into you..haha. If John says “Well said” then it is.

          • Sunny boy

            Thank you, I do agree!

        • Sophia Martin

          If a person wants to self-publish, not only is it a good idea to learn how to do everything themselves, but that’s the point of self-publishing. If you have a high-quality book and you don’t want to do everything yourself (okay, maybe minus something like the cover; I get that not everyone has an eye for graphic art), submit to agents. A traditional publisher will do it all for you, except for the marketing.

          • litekepr

            I totally agree with you — I work with so many writers who insist they want to self-publish so they can have “total control”. But – they shouldn’t have “total control” if they have no idea what they are doing. Slow down and take the time to learn the process, learn how the industry works, hone your writing skills, spend the time to write a high quality book, and understand that you can pick up wonderful feedback from publishers and others who don’t accept your book – but do know what makes a quality book that can sell. I did every bit of the research myself in the beginning in addition to working a 60 hour a week job – and still managed to get books written and published. While it took time – I wouldn’t trade the things I learned during that time, its been invaluable to me. I’ve also been published by 3 very different publishers and have self published and published books for clients – but I didn’t do any of that on my own until I had experience with a couple of qualified publishers and really understood how the process works. I’m finishing my 32nd book and am still loving the journey :)

            • Realword

              Hey I want to get started in self publishing my children book. What to do and how to contact you about it?

        • IdiocyAbounds

          IT is NEVER “professional” (read smart business practices -and an author is in business) to over pay for something and to suggest so comes from the same mindset as those who illegally practice “price fixing”

          There are many many people who do quality work for much less than you are suggesting is “expected”

          Her prices are highly inflated and totally ridiculous and your comment is just silly.

          • lorriebeauchamp

            What have you published? What is your experience? Can you provide a link so we can see the quality of your writing? To judge something as “ridiculous” and “silly” infers that you may have some credibility, so please share your credentials with us @IdiocyAbounds (we already know you have opinions, based on your “name”, but opinions, much like good writing, need to be qualified to have value.)

          • Sunny boy

            I do agreed with you totally. I am still in the process of copy editing my book etc. I went through seven different editors and they charged me for work not properly done. English is my second language and they never caught that in my writing, and I despised them for that, because I know I have issues and still I paid them and I am still not using their editing I don’t trust them.

        • LiberalGilt

          Book writing devolved years ago. Where have you been? Take a look at the best sellers. They are comic books compared to writing a decade ago.

        • Sunny boy

          Your prices are really inflated, for someone on a low budget you supposed to do self publishing because the market is saturated with thousands of writers what if my book sucks? I will be up to my neck in debt. Come on let’s be real you wrote this to discourage people like me with their dreams.

          • lorriebeauchamp

            This discussion is a year old, @Sunny boy. I didn’t write the post, so I don’t know why you are directing your comments to me. I encourage all writers to follow their dreams. I self-published with no help at all, and with a zero budget. What prices are you referring to in your comment?

      • Paul S.

        It’s true that you may find inexpensive editors, but often you get what you pay for. Typically, a writer is too close to her own work to be able to see it for what it really is, not what she thinks it is or wanted it to be. An experienced editor is worth every penny because they’ll help that writer get to that end.

        As for do-it-yourself cover design: unless you are a graphic designer, don’t. Your book may be the next great best-seller, but if the cover isn’t stellar and doesn’t attract a reader to open the cover, it will sit on the shelf. You only have one chance to grab the reader. Make it your best effort.

        The prices listed are quite typical. Editors, typesetters, cover designers are all professionals, just as are writers. They deserve to be paid for their work, too.

        • Sophia Martin

          On editors, in my experience, many authors who *have* paid professional for editing don’t get a quality service. If an author tries it out with beta readers, they should be able to tell whether the comments and line-editing the betas are giving them is high quality or not. The main disadvantage of going with betas is it can take longer. First, you have to find readers who are the right fit, and then, you can’t rush them or even necessarily fix a deadline (depends on the situation) because you aren’t paying them.

        • Carolyn Jewel

          I agree that in the main these prices are way out of range. While it’s absolutely true that an inexpensive editor often does poor work, I have never heard any developmental editor quote 20K. That’s nonsense. A more typical rate is $2000 for a 100K word novel, assuming the writer has basic competency.

          If your copy-edit takes so much work it costs $7K, then the book and author have bigger problems than finding out where to change a semi-colon to a colon. The CE’s I know all quote an hourly/page rate and give you an idea of how much time they think it will take. I think the hours here are inflated.

          I work with editors who also work for the trad publishers, and the cost is in the range of 1,500 – ish. It’s not wise to skimp here. The best editors may not advertise, by the way, so there’s no way to Google your way to standard price as that would omit a crucial part of the actual market. These editors are among the best, worth every penny, and get their work from word of mouth. I know I’m VERY careful about who I refer to my editor.

          As to covers, Paul is absolutely right. There’s just a vanishingly small chance that an author has the skills for a professional cover. However, my cover artist does covers for the Big 5 and she charges far closer to the low end. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be appropriate to commission a cover at the high end of the scale. Fantasy, for example, made need original artwork, and that’s not cheap.

          • Annette

            The RANGE time and costs is important to note. You don’t have to pay the highest price, but having a professional help you will elevate your book to a much better level. You get what you pay for!! and if you are unwilling to pay a bit for excellence, your book will reflect that. I’ve seen too many self-published books that look, feel and read like a self-published book! Do what you can afford, but don’t skimp on professional assistance! I took that advice and my book became an award-winning, best selling book that I’m very proud of. I knew I was a good writer, but the 2 editors I used made my writing so much better! The cover design and internal layout adds another level of quality and excellence that some programs just don’t measure up to.

          • A good developmental editor can indeed cost $5000 or more and is worth it if you are willing to spend the time, money, and effort to try to compete in the general book marketplace. This kind of editor knows the book market, probably has worked at several successful publishing companies and/or magazines, and will hand-hold the author through the elements of plot, theme, narrative arc., etc., until it’s as good as the Margaret Atwood novel it’s going to sit next to at the bookstore. Developmental editors don’t bother with grammar,punctuation, that’s for copyeditors. Then you’ve got the proofreader to clean it up completely.

            • David Lewis

              Maybe I’m crazy here, but someone who needs guided through the elements of narrative probably shouldn’t be writing a book.

            • Rebecca K.

              David Lewis, you make a point. It sounds more like coaching than editing. That’s fine, but it’s a different job.

            • sunny boy

              You are wrong, I think that anyone with a good story telling ability is born that way, but needs to be guided because anything in life needs training, if you want to please others!

        • There are plenty of experienced editors outside of the states. I’ve outsourced much work to be done and found very good copy editors. I’ve also been ripped off hiring somebody from in the country. I asked for developmental editing and got standard line-copy editing done instead. I was disgusted after I found out how much money I had lost before I realized.

      • Andrew Chapman

        Nothing inflated in these prices — the high end is the high end, which is going to occur when a lot of work is necessary. There’s no way to compare the needs of one book project vs. another, and thus the wide ranges in these prices. Do you think it should cost no more than “x” to build a house?

        Plus, publishing a book is no different than starting a business. You have to put in money to get results. And yes, you *can* find people to do work on the cheap, but 9 times out of 10 you get what you paid for. The fact that you found someone to edit a 70,000-word manuscript for $250 is more luck than likelihood. And to be blunt, I’ll bet you that I could open your book and find at least three typos or grammatical errors within 5 minutes.

      • Randy

        Seems that its quite natural for the editors who replied would say these prices are not inflated. It’s in their interest to get the cost and demand as high as posible.

        • Steven Staniszewski

          Wow. Such cynicism. A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold. Look at any number of books on the shelves and you’ll be able to tell the good from the bad within a few pages.

          Any decent editor cares more for the quality of work than the cost of the services. We’re no different than any service provider, so why should we be expected to be paid peanuts for super high-quality work?

          • David Lewis

            I was with you until “We’re…” That explained all the bias.

      • Paul is right; you get what you pay for. Yes, you can go lower, but these are not at all out of whack in my view.

      • irene

        i thank you for all the info you provided.i just wished with all my heart that i could write my book.but i know now that i will just hav e to put it up and forget about now.again thanks.

        • M. Dianne

          Don’t you dare do that, Irene. Don’t let all this technical conversation have anything to do with not seeing your book in print! If anyone asked me what ONE THING is the winning ticket above all things to it happening, I sure wouldn’t put all these steps first. it is ABOUT FINISHING! Finish it like any project. That’s your part. Then, once you do that, get someone to help you rehearse in the submission of your manuscript!

      • jada

        can yo u give me your guy whom you published your book with in reply vis email ( jadablue11@me.com) thank u

      • While I agree that some of the prices seem high, I encourage you NOT to mistake developmental editing with beta readers. Beta readers are readers-period-whether they also write is incidental. You cannot compare their reading skill set to that of a professional editor. Perhaps one reason why there are so many poorly written books out here is because of ‘editors’ who only charge $250 to edit an entire manuscript. Seriously, no professional editor can make a living charging that and none I know does…& I know quite a few. That’s someone telling you they are an editor..is my guess. $250 for75,000 words? Ridiculously low.

        I think this blog is TERRIFIC even though some pricing seems a bit high. She delivers a great overview of what a writer needs to consider and I’m making copies to deliver to my students-Thanks Maral!

      • AMS

        Actually, I think those costs are very much in line with what’s fair. Though I’m sure you’re right in that you can find someone to do it cheaper. You just always have to be aware of what you’re getting for your money, i.e. “you get what you pay for.”

      • Joyce

        Lauryn, where did you find a list of editors?

      • oregonartistbyron

        This makes a lot of sense and this is what I am attempting to accomplish. There has to be a way to publish without buying the farm in the process or educating another person’s children just to write or publish a book. Especially if you are professional to begin with in your particular field. The story I tell is mostly visual to begin with with wording mainly to guide the student in the proper direction to create the effects found in Art. So, how can this be done without all the extra go between people to accomplish this task of publishing a good instruction book for others to use, to gain knowledge i have to offer before it leaves with me in the grave?

    • I am an independent publisher, and founder of the “In 30 Minute” guides. I would like to warn new authors about #5 (getting an ISBN). You do **not** need an ISBN if you are publishing a digital edition of a book. Amazon’s KDP program, iTunes Connect, Nook Press, Kobo, and other distributors of ebooks do not require ISBNs. Even if you are publishing a print book through CreateSpace (recommended as an easy way to test the waters) you can get away with using CreateSpace-supplied ISBNs.

      Bowker, the U.S. monopoly that controls the issuance of ISBNs, misleads new authors by encouraging them to get ISBNs for digital editions of their books, without informing them that they are not needed (quote from the Bowker website: “Buy an ISBN for each format of your book. ISBNs may be used for either print or digital versions of your books”).

      Further, the rates Bowker charges new authors and small publishers buying in small lots are rip-offs. If you’re a publisher needing lots of ISBNs, the price is $1 per ISBN
      — but you need to order 1,000. If, on the other hand, you only have one
      book and plan on releasing only one version (such as a single
      print-on-demand title) Bowker demands $125 — a 12,500% markup. Bowker also targets inexperienced authors with overpriced website widgets, barcodes, and other services.

      My advice to new authors is use Amazon KDP to publish your first title as an ebook, and use CreateSpace for the first paperback editions (using CreateSpace-supplied ISBNs). This is a great, low-cost way to see if there is interest in your books. If the books do well, and you want to expand to retail, then get serious with Lightning Source, offset printing, ISBNs, and paid reviews.

      Good luck.

      • Ilamont, agree! You don’t need an ISBN, but professional review sites do require you to have one before you submit to them. And if you’re serious about publishing we recommend getting them for libraries. It’s interesting that in Canada ISBNs are free. I hope the US goes the same route and the debate will hopefully turn into, “Should ISBNs be free?” vs “Should I buy an ISBN?”

        • The U.S. is unfortunately not likely to go this route. Bowker (or ProQuest, which apparently has some management control over Bowker) operates an ISBN monopoly that gives it extraordinary market power in the U.S. This enables it to get away with mercenary pricing that targets new and naive authors. They would fight any attempt to have this control taken from them.

      • lorriebeauchamp

        You can get an ISBN from the Canadian government at no cost at all. You just need to fill out the paperwork and register your book.

        • Lynne Cantwell

          Right, but you have to be Canadian. Americans can’t get free ISBNs — we have to buy them from Bowker. But ilamont is correct — if you’re only publishing an e-book, you don’t need an ISBN.

          • nadia

            I think I’m going to do it all myself. From start to finish. For better or worst. I’m in.

          • Pat Keebler

            I thank you all for your input. However, what bothers me the most is that I have not read a book from any publisher that did not contain errors (in recent years). After reading all your comments, I am even more nervous about trying to get published!

            • Skip Michael

              Learn all the points to be self published. Learn how to convert your book to digital. For print go to CreatSpace, which is owned by Amazon. They have self help that guides you. Don’t be fooled into buying their services, you can do it all. The problem of the so-called “professional” editors can be overcome, do some research. Talk to local people, I looked at my first book as a learning experience, my second book will be better, my third even better and so forth.
              Jump in the water.. Lots people will help you.

      • Kirsten Thomas

        Good article, and good discussion. Question: The links for distribution info only seem to refer to ebooks. I am trying to publish a hardback book (not that I am closed minded about also doing it as an ebook). How do you get setup for distribution on a hardback? FYI it’s a cookbook. Thanks for any/all info.

        • You can publish and distribute a print book using CreateSpace. They do decent – not stellar – but decent color these days. Try it, they’re the most economical for now.

          • Kirsten Thomas

            thanks Carla

      • dcj

        Thanks for posting this information. I just want to clarify something. Can you use the ISBN supplied by Createspace in iTunes Connect, Nook Press, and others?

    • Thanks for this. The costs seem well outlined and in line with what has been my experience in publishing ‘eloves me, eloves me not’. I do think the last category is understated though both in overall expenditure and rates for marketing professionals. Also, there is no mention of designing, developing, hosting a book/author website and/or developing social media profiles and content marketing, which are increasingly important, especially for the self-published author. Thanks again!

    • Thanks Miral, but I too find these prices daunting. Formatting is very inexpensive which is why I wouldn’t do it myself. I would make mistakes and for less than $100 I might as well hire someone professional. Unless you have an artistic sense you shouldn’t do your own cover design, but Createspace has a cover creator you can use that has produced some great covers. As for editing, I do think writers can trade manuscripts and copy edit and even do developmental editing for each other. We are all professionals. If you pay for developmental editing your low end is too high. There are some well known book doctors who work for $1500 to $2000. I hesitate to admit I got a great book doctor for well under $1,000 but he didn’t use track changes. I had to send him a hard copy. That said, he was worth it. I got a quote of $1500 from a best selling novelist. You need to ask around. Even on your site, you rarely see a request for a bid for over $500 so in reality authors can’t afford to pay these prices.

      • Hi Erica,
        Formatting can be free. A lot of authors can do it themselves. Also, it’s super easy to format simple book with no pictures and just text.

        It’s mentioned above you don’t have to hire someone for your cover, but if you do go with a PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER, those are the market prices.

        I believe you’re referring to the bids in the early days. We’ve adjusted the pricing to market value. The average editing/cover design prices are well over $500. So, we’re getting market value for a lot of our BiblioCrunch projects.

        Also, a lot of books are getting typos in there. And it’s very easy to spot when an author hasn’t gotten their work edited by a good editor. It’s usually reflected in the book review comments or when seeing a poorly designed cover.

        Also, these are market rates for professionals who you might need to hire. If you are an experienced writer then you can certainly barter your services for someone else’s which is great!

        Miral Sattar

    • Thank you for providing self-published authors with a point of reference, Miral. Many truly don’t understand the financial commitment involved. As a book publicist, I can attest that the low and high ends of Marketing & PR costs are on target.

    • Jason Brick

      I love that she likens book launch to a startup company — it’s a point I’ve made in my speaking engagements for years.

      But, as others have said, she is way off base on her high-end prices. Though she makes a few good points, Ms. Sattar is either…

      (a) A phenomenally terrible negotiator for her own self-publishing projects

      or

      (b) Pulling some data our of her rear end

      • Hi Jason,

        All the numbers are sourced in the article. And I negotiate pretty much everything and am a huge fan of the bartering system if you can get value that way.

        Best,

        Miral Sattar

      • Andrew Chapman

        Jason, how can you say she’s way off base on the high-end prices? Truth is, there is no upper end, simply because the amount of work necessary (or desired by the client) can be endless. Your point is like saying $1,000,000 is way off base for the high-end price of a home.

        Having been in self-publishing for over 25 years, I’m amazed how people will balk at prices to be paid for *professional* publishing services. Why do you think it’s reasonable to pay a computer tech, auto mechanic, plumber, CPA, or any other professional rates that are $50, $100, or more per hour, but yet when it comes to a publishing professional, it should be cheap, cheap, cheap. A true publishing pro has put in many years learning the ropes, perhaps has specialized training, and may have software/equipment to pay for and upkeep. And that’s not counting general business overhead.

        You say you’ve been making the point for years that book launches are like startups — and yet, would you advise someone looking to start a restaurant to do everything on the cheap?

    • Way too high. Are you trying to scare writers? Instead of doing the work themselves by hiring experts, they’ll start flocking to those scammy companies who will take 15% (or more) of the royalties.

      My developmental edits for an 80,000 word book tend to be around $3000. My copy edits are about $400. Formatting is $40 for ebooks and about $60 for the print books. My covers are about $100.

      This could all be done cheaper if you want to do the covers yourself (provided they’re good) and learn to format your own books. Editing, I still think you should have a professional or two. However, do your homework. Shop around. Get recommendations from other authors. Pay the editor to do your first chapter so you can see the quality of his or her work.

      I could probably cut the cost of my developmental editing if I had critique partners work on my story first, and thus hand in a better book. But I go straight to the DE with the manuscript.

      Granted, if you have a poorly written book, the editing cost could be way high. In which case, the author is better off putting his or her time and money into taking workshops and classes in craft.

      • Debra said: “Way too high. Are you trying to scare writers? Instead of doing the work themselves by hiring experts, they’ll start flocking to those scammy companies who will take 15% (or more) of the royalties.”

        Yes! That’s my concern here as well. These prices will make the Author Solutions scams looks reasonable, and they’re not.

        I think it’s important to note that a quality product CAN BE PRODUCED at the lower end as well. The high end of pricing does not guarantee high quality (see Author Solution’s and their oodles of divisions), and the low end does not guarantee low quality.

        I wonder if editors/cover designers specializing in different genres charge different rates. I *know* the editors for romance would charge $2K or less at the high end–they also charge by page, not by hour. I’ve never heard of pricing editing by the hour. Perhaps that would be found in literary fiction editors?

        The most professional self-published romance author I know (Courtney Milan, who always lands on bestseller lists) produces books indistinguishable traditional publishing and spends $4-$7K for a book that IS carried in libraries, has foreign rights deals, etc.

        So maybe trying to generalize prices and the costs of quality over all genres gives an inaccurate picture. The romance genre has been self-publishing longer, so their prices have matured into more reasonable figures.

      • This was great advice and your prices seem reasonable. As a brand new writer $3,000 is still a little out of my budget for DE, but as I get a little more established I would be perfectly happy with all of those prices. Thank you for sharing this, and I also agree about your comment on taking workshops.

    • Miral, I think you’ve done an excellent job of giving authors an idea of what they should plan for if they decide to self-publish. The fact that you can buy some of these services very cheaply is irrelevant for the author who wants to produce a quality book that can compete head to head with those from traditional publishers.

      I think what most self-publishers don’t understand is that there are many different motivations for publishing, and many different goals on the part of the authors who take this project on.

      An author who wants to upload a Word doc to Kindle to “test the waters” is in a very different position than an author who is planning a print run and large-scale media penetration, and they are both very different from an artist or photographer self-publishing a book that will be printed in Asia. Each of these cases requires a different solution, so just because you had your cousin proofread your book doesn’t mean that that will work for everyone.

    • Thanks for providing this point of reference. Like some other commenters, I’m surprised by the potential costs. I do like seeing the whole process.

      Perhaps marketing — shown as the last step — belongs at the beginning. Building an audience at the outset (e.g., by blogging) helps gauge and create demand for the eventual book.

      PS I’m glad to be in Canada where ISBNs are free :)

    • You don’t need to spend this kind of money to self-publish a good book successfully. But you do need to be conscious of quality. My advice to new authors . . . put your first manuscript in a drawer and come back to rewrite it after book number three.

      • Skip Michael

        Darn… why did I read something like this about two years ago..

    • Andrew Chapman

      To those of you who think these prices are too high, you really need to think through the work involved (as I thought the writer reasonably laid out).

      The analogy I like to use is building a house. Building a book is like building a house. There is NO high end, because it entirely depends on the needs of the project and the desires of the client. You want something slapped together by unlicensed dayworkers or do you want professionals building it? You want a shack or do you want a nice home? Do you want to go for quick and cheap or build long-term value?

      The issue of fairness of these prices was also raised, making self-publishing “unrealistic.” Not true. First, fairness goes both ways, meaning the service-providers deserve to earn their worth; second, EVERY business has a cost barrier to entry. It may be “unfair” that I can’t open a restaurant for $10,000, but that’s just the way it is. It’s also “unfair” that some people can’t afford to buy a car. So, really, there’s no relevance when it comes to fairness.

      Lastly, as someone who first self-published in 1987, I have little sympathy those who complain about the costs of putting out a book now. Without even accounting for inflation, the total price of self-publishing a book today is far less than it was only 15 years ago, and even more so than it was 25 years ago. And that’s not even taking into account how much easier it is now.

      • Andrew, really digging your home analogy! I actually was speaking to a former exec at a Big Six yesterday and she said sometimes editorial costs can get close to $100,000 on a book if it’s really that poorly written.

        • Andrew Chapman

          Thanks, Mirai. (And thanks for writing this great piece.) I started using the analogy when aspiring self-publishers would ask me how much it costs to publish a book; one day, I casually asked back, “How much does it cost to build a house?” From there, it stuck as my way of explaining the complexities involved and why the costs can add up. I’m glad you added the story of the $100k at the Big Six, which really reinforces the point!

        • They simply turn such books down.

      • Andrew Chapman

        P.S. — Remember that, with a professional, you are paying for much more than you may realize. You’re compensating them for:
        • All they’ve learned, especially mistakes that they will save you from
        • Their formal education and training
        • Their cost of doing business (equipment, software, rent, etc.)
        And keep in mind that $50 per hour, for example, does not equate to $100,000 a year as it would in a typical employee wage situation. That $50/hour is only for billable time, which is always less than 40 hours a week. The professional has to invest time in marketing, ongoing education, administrative tasks, communications, complimentary initial consultations or reviews (or at least consideration of your work), and more. Many service-providers might only end up with 25-30 billable hours per week. If they need to take a day or two to attend a conference… that’s money spent and no money earned. If they take vacation or sick or family time… that’s no money earned. And on top of all this, they need to (hopefully) sock away a stash of money to make up for the “income roller-coaster” that will happen from time to time.

    • Wendy Stegall

      Hi there, there is also another step in the publishing of a book and that is the index. I index books and if it is a non-fiction book then chances are it needs an index in the back. It can cost around $3/page to hire an indexer. this is a nice breakdown of self-publishing and a friend of mine found it and suggested i contribute this tidbit ! best to you

    • David Kudler

      Ms. Sattar, I just realized that I never actually commented here; thank you for the excellent run-down. The cost of trying to self-publish while maintaining as professional a publishing process as possible is something I’ve been asked about a lot.

      And, once again, I apologize for misspelling your last name. ;-)

    • Dr.Robert Runte

      As an editor, I charge 50-$60/hour freelance…or you can get my services for free by going to my publisher — the publisher pays me for the editing costs, the artist for the artist costs and so on. The publisher I work with doesn’t pay advances, but she invests in the authors who come to her $3,000-$5,000 in costs they don’t have to pay themselves out of pocket… So going to a small reputable press is a sensible alternative to self-publishing if you want professional quality without a lot of out of pocket expenses.

      I think the $18,000 figure quoted is way too high. If someone came to me with a book that needed that much work, I’d tell them up front that there was no way they could ever recoup such an investment, and refuse to take the commission. Investing $18,000 in a book that might only sell a few hundred copies is simply insane. There are plenty of great writers who could ghost write a book for you for that.

      On the other hand, people who are claiming they got developmental editing (as opposed to copy editing) for under $500, I find that hard to believe those are professional editors. If you do the math, that just does not work out to a living wage. At that rate I’d have to do essentially a book a day, and frankly, anyone who is doing your novel in 8 hours is not giving your work the attention it deserves….

      The other thing to consider is that it’s not just the quality and experience of the editing, but the compatibility of the editor. Getting a top business editor to edit your novel would be a disaster, and vice versa. The editor has to know and love your genre. Even within a genre, you need to try a few editors out before you find one who really gets what you are trying to do. The ideal editor is one who makes you rewrite stuff, which you absolutely hate at the time, but afterward you say, ‘yeah, that made my book way better!’ If you say, ‘man, I hate this new version’ then that was the wrong editor.

    • Robert

      These prices are inflated.
      You do not need to print 1,000 books to store in your garage.
      I had a 244-page book printed 200 copies at a time. Cost? $5 per book which included shipping from Florida printer to CA.
      Book was priced at $19.95 which I listed on Facebook as an independent vendor.
      Facebook paid 70% royalty (about $14) and shipping. And Facebook paid me in 14 DAYS!
      That beats Print On Demand or trad publishing.

      • Skip Michael

        wow.. interesting.. think I will try this… are there any restrictions?

      • Janice

        Hey, im Janice and I wrote Praying For Our Children, it was almost 250 pages. Where did you get your book printed? email manybooks9@gmail.com

    • Russell Blake

      Mmmm, well, maybe. But for me, not so much.

      I’ve self-published 21 novels in 24 months. #21 will release end of June. I pay a for a line edit and two proofreads. About $100 for a cover. My total investment in one of my novels is usually about $1000, no more. I don’t use a developmental editor, because, frankly, if they haven’t written and sold about a million books, they probably don’t know much more than I do about what makes a story “good” or not, regardless of their academic or vocational credentials. I’m sure that will elicit howls of outrage, but that’s my belief. In support of it, consider this: Last year I sold 100K+ novels, mostly in the $4.99 range. This year I’m on track to sell 250K novels, mostly in the $5.99-$4.99 range. When a quarter million people a year are buying your novels, you probably have reasonable grasp of story, structure, character arc, etc. I’m not disparaging those who earn their livings doing DE, I’m just saying I don’t do it. I have a trusted couple of beta readers who are themselves editors of some ability, and they generally don’t have a lot of suggested changes.

      So we disagree on DE being a “necessary” step.

      What we agree on is that every MS needs a line edit. And even the best line editor will miss stuff or introduce nits, which is why a proofreader is essential as well. I use two, because one of the two is really more of a quasi-line editor as well, and the second usually catches anything the first one misses.

      I then do a final draft read on my kindle, and invariably spot typos or errors. Of course, I’m also the sort that spots them in trad pubbed books by big names, so all that proves is that nobody’s perfect, and that the final line of defense is always you.

      I have found that working closely with two editors has markedly improved my craft, as I incorporate their counsel and corrections in future works. So my third draft is usually pretty clean. I say this because my first draft isn’t. But I depend on my own abilities, and an investment of an easy 100 hours or so on second draft, and another 75 or so on third, to straighten out most of the issues.

      I think that if you can’t muster $1000 to invest in a product that your start-up business is going to ask consumers to pay for, then you can’t afford to be in the book selling business. You should probably stick to being an author, and hope that you can make it through the slush pile, get an agent, secure a publisher’s interest, and hope for decent advance (if you think $5K is decent for a year’s work or more, then that’s right up your alley), and then they will do the quality control and packaging.

      I’ve blogged about this constantly throughout my 24 month career, such as it is. If you are going to be a book seller, you must be prepared to invest in quality control and packaging, or you’re cheating your customer – the reader. Book selling is different than book writing. Book selling is crafting a finished product worthy of charging for. Few authors actually have the time or the skill to generate finished product that’s up to par, hence my counsel to hire professionals. I will say that the numbers you cite seem inflated, because they fail to take a few factors into account – namely that you can shop globally for your services, and aren’t forced to pay what a NY-based editor or an LA-based cover designer would charge. There are plenty of talented folks in Canada, Asia, UK, etc., including many ex-pats with very high skill levels, who gladly will charge $10 an hour to do a competent line edit. They just don’t live in a high cost country. So you aren’t forced to subsidize the infrastructure of the place they call home. You’re shopping for the skill set, not the cost of their condo.

      I use a formatter in the UK who is brilliant. My cover designer is in the Philippines, and has created thousands of covers for trad publishers and indies alike. My proofreaders are retired and live in Canada and Mexico. My editor lives in a very low cost area of the U.S., and mainly does it for me out of love rather than money, as far as I can tell. The point is that you don’t need to pay Madison Avenue rates to get a quality job – you just have to be resourceful, pay attention to and participate in some of the better forums, and eye everything with great skepticism, including the claims of what “fair value” is for these services.

      That’s my take from the trenches. I invested about $10K USD in my first 10 novels before I started making enough to where I broke even on the investment. At no point did it occur to me to skip the editing and proofreading process. At no point did I think it was okay to pawn off a substandard product on an unsuspecting public. I was prepared to invest up to $20K into my new book selling business as a reasonable start-up cost, and I saved up and set that money aside before I began. As you plainly state, all businesses have start-up costs, and if you can’t afford them, you can’t afford to be in that business. Those that dump their un-edited MS onto Amazon with a home-made cover are doing themselves, and more importantly, the reader, a HUGE disservice, and it’s a sure recipe for failure in an already competitive business. Many don’t like hearing that, because they have confused being an author with being a book seller, and they feel that they shouldn’t have to invest anything but their time writing the work – which is the author part, NOT the book seller part. Again, if you want to be an author, and prefer to have a publisher handle all the other aspects of book selling, that’s fine. You make way less because you’ve shifted the risks and costs onto someone else. If you want to make the 70% royalty from a $5 book, you are accepting the responsibility for not only writing the book, but editing, proofing and packaging it. That has a cost. It also carries considerable risk that you’ll never make most, or any, of your investment back. That’s why the reward is outsized. So’s the risk.

      If you decide to skip the steps of QCing your product because it’s economically more appealing to you, what you’re basically doing is putting out a sub-par offering you know isn’t at the same level as something that’s been professionally polished. You’re cheating the reader, in essence. And businesses that cheat their customers generally don’t do well. They can for a short time, but in the long run, they fail. Which is why I argue vehemently for paying the freight to generate a high-quality product.

      Our only disagreement beyond the need for DE is really just the costs cited.

      Nice blog post.

      Russell Blake
      Suspense Author & General Malcontent

      • I agree that a number of the figures are inflated. I know more about writing than most developmental editors. Now if it’s your first or second novel and you haven’t had anything go through editing previously then it is probably a good idea. But for someone who is an experienced writer, no. It is an unnecessary expense. And you can find good copyediters (something I do consider necessary) in the $500 dollar range. You can get very good covers for around $100 although I routinely pay closer to $750. There is no reason on earth to pay more than that unless you simply want to. It is pretty easy for a writer to get a book on the retailers for the $1000 range.

      • Skip Michael

        You are right on the money Mr. Blake. Nice meeting you.

        • Russell Blake

          Nice to meet you, as well.

    • By the way, few successful independent authors suggest going with “professional” review services. I certainly recommend avoided PW like the plague.

    • Kathy

      How about instead, $30-50 premade cover, trade editing tasks with a friend from the indie community, and don’t worry about ISBNs, don’t bother with print there’s no money in it, and don’t hire marketing weasels?

    • Steven M. Long

      Self-published books need (if you care about the self-publishing business) to match the quality of books published mainstream. This is very possible, if you break up the tasks associated with a publishing house and outsource each one.

      As far as the editing goes, as other people have said: you get what you pay for. If you want developmental and copy-editing that’s professional, you need to be willing to pay professional rates. The “I’ll copy-edit your manuscript for $250!” trend limits self-publishing by creating a “B-level” feeling to it. Ultimately, as the market evolves, mechanisms (indie gate-keepers) will emerge to help readers filter the vast amount of self-published material. When that happens, the difference between a $250 “editor” who just graduated from college, and a $50/hour editor with real editorial and book-doctoring experience, will become clear.

      I recognize the cost – in the current market, who wants to pay $1,500 – $3,500 (for a mix of editing, cover, etc.), when there’s no guarantee you’ll see even part of that money come back to you? To me, the question is whether you’re ready to invest in yourself and your writing career long-term as the model changes, or whether you just want to get your work out there. That work you had edited cheaply? It’s going to be yours – out there – in perpetuity (unless you take it down for a rework). When you don’t make sure it’s the highest quality it can be, you’re devaluing not just the work an editor does, but the effort you put into the writing, and the entire self-publishing industry.

      It’s rough to get your mind around that kind of expense, when authors are used to having publishing houses take care of that stuff, but it’s the price of taking control of your own writing life. In the “old days,” you might spent as much or more going to writing conferences just for the chance to pitch your work to agents and editors.

    • Lorna LA Lewis

      Had I read this article first I probably would’ve never written my novel. Thank God I didn’t because this is wayyyy too much money! It does costs, but certainly not this kind of money. I paid $1500 to have my first novel edited. As I continued writing and learned more, I found a lady who’s FABULOUS and she only charged $350. She’s just starting out and trying to make a name for herself. She edits because she loves reading and she’s an English major. The cover costs me $130. $100 for the graphic designer and $30 for the stock photo I used. There are other options you just have to do your homework and talk to other authors. There are many out there who will help.

    • Sophia Martin

      I understand that people want to know this, but if you are considering self-publishing, know that you can do most of this for free, especially if you just do ebooks. The cover may be a stumbling block for authors who don’t feel up to graphic art and don’t know anyone who can do something for them. Also, I paid about $75 for Tweetadder in order to have a tool to manage my Twitter account, although I still do a lot of interacting and such on Twitter myself. You can meet beta-readers on various forums online who will proof-read as well as provide valuable feedback for free, often in exchange for your doing the same. This can take the place of a professional editor if the people you choose know what they’re doing.

      I would absolutely NEVER pay for reviews, and I think doing so taints any review you get. There are many ways to get free, honest reviews only. Check Goodreads groups, for instance.

    • Krystol Diggs

      After reading this article, I see that these numbers may be accurate. But, what if these “professionals” still have errors in their work. Who looks over their work once you have paid all the money to get self published. As a Vanity style publisher, I feel that all authors should have their work looked over at least twice. There are so talented editors, formatters, and proofreaders who are unnoticed. Those are the people that i gravitate towards. i feel you have to go with what your budget will allow, but make sure the manuscript is as great as it can be. I know traditional publishing houses still make the same mistakes and haven’t dished out as much money as these numbers portray for self publishing. I guess, it’s rush and routlette with anyone that you may work with in this industry.

    • Andrew

      I am looking at self publishing a book but don’t know where to start to find an editor any suggestions?

    • rwang0

      You always get what you payfor, but kudos on a great checklist and guide on how to get it all done!

    • Barbara

      Having published four high-quality books over the last few years, I would describe these costs as accurate. In fact, in some markets, the high-end numbers might be low.

    • gus

      gee whiz after reading all these obstacles i fear i may have to become an editor first in order to save up enough money to publish my own book! [ok before you criticize, keep in mind my mentor as a youth was e.e.cummings…]

    • Bob

      Someone should have edited this article.

    • Sue Brown

      I have written a book about the life of my grandparents (first part of book is their ancestry) and am having it printed myself. It is a keepsake book just for the larger family, not to be sold to the public. Do I still need to get an ISBN number?

      • Skip Michael

        no

    • irene

      thankyou for all the instructions i read up on.was very helpful.but unfortunately it is to costly for me.and it hurts me that i cant do this being unemployed.many people have told me that i should write that book i explained to them about.and are still trying to get me to write it.if your interested in what i want to write about email me and i will tell you my story.again i thank you…

    • irene

      I thankyou for all the information i read up on.was very helpful.but to costly for me.i am unemployed and jobs are hard to come by now.i told many people about my book and they still keep pushing me to write it.but how.they really think it will go.if you are interested in what i want to write about please email me and i will tell you my story cityskylights@yahoo.com

    • Lisa Myer

      Writer, beware. The costs cited in this article are priced according to NYC standards. I live in Austin, Texas — home to one of the nation’s leading universities — where there are an abundance of skilled editors and proofers. I used to work as a freelancer, editing dense, complex legislative reports. There’s no way I could ever command $18,200 per project, even with my 20 years of experience. That’s half of the average yearly salary. The most any writer should ever pay a developmental editor is $40 per hour, and that’s for a rush job. The typical going rate for developmental editing in most cities is $20 to $25 per hour. So if you want it done well for a reasonable price, hire an editor/proofer and graphic designers who do not live in cost-prohibitive areas of the country.

      • Jennifer L

        As Lisa points out, the going rate for editing depends upon where your editor lives (unless if it is for a larger self-publisher). The going rate in Australia for freelance DE is about $40 – $65 per hour (shock, gasp).
        I only edit non-fiction books for business owners, as that’s what I have written myself, and I set my editing rates at half Lulu’s service prices (but in Aus dollars). I think it is fairer to charge by the word or by the page, especially since I work quite quickly. Who wants to pay for snail’s pace editing? And for self-publishing business authors, typo free and understandable writing is essential to their reputation. By the way, copywriting pays a lot better.

    • It really can add up, especially if you use the more expensive choices. Definitely shop around and do plenty of homework before making decisions in these matters.

    • Clearly it’s very expensive to publish if you pay for all the professional services. The compensation is that your royalty will be 20% to 85%, rather than 3%-12%

    • P&P Gamer

      This article sounds like you shouldn’t try to get published on your own. I read a lot of material trying to see how to work on getting a project that a friend and I are working on. It’s a Pen and Paper RPG, yes I know its a difficult project alone to get started; and we were hoping to actually get it printed. Once we get the material to more a printable state we are hoping to get a kickstarter to work for us for both advertising and getting funds to get it printed. This can help but at the same time it can be discouraging seeing some of the numbers. Yes, I know the saying you get what you paid for, but what we need is a lot of volunteer work until it sells (hopefully). In the end it’s really when you get material out there to the readers is when you know if you hit it or not.

      • Jennifer L

        Why don’t you get out a beta version with top originality but maybe a few flaws and let all your friends test it out, before investing any money or anyone else’s money. Surely you have a design student in your circle that could use the experience, and so on.

    • le intarnet n00bz0z

      hey thar edtirors! edit thsi if yur so vrey kewl

    • Steve Brumme

      Mark, thank you for being so clear and thorough. I wish you lots of success in your writing career. It appears that you have what it takes. It is an enjoyable career. After reading this I feel my genie in the bottle has just grown.
      Be well,
      Steve

    • Steve Brumme

      Miral, my previous email was meant for you, the author of this article. Thank you for being clear and well informed. I will take your and run with it. Wish me luck and success from the work ahead to get my book into the hands meant to read it.
      Be well,
      Steve

    • Chantilly Rose

      Lorrie Beauchamp needs a new haircut

    • Royal Queen

      Thank you for the information. A lot of it I found to be quite true depending on the location you are purchasing from; who you may know or they may know and etc.

      GOOD RESEARCH <3

    • Mini-pub girl

      Maybe I missed something, unless you are using stock photography, original photography for work hasn’t been taken into consideration in this conversation. I just finished 2 books for self published authors and I think I ended up making $1.53 an hour or less after all is said with shooting, prop and food styling, photo editing and driving to location for clients. Not sure I would ever do this again for self published authors. I think the higher end of her estimate is valid.

    • Josh

      good article! I never thought about a marketing college student for PR lol, the PR Boutique is another good option for lower end budgets :)

    • Ja’El

      Quick question, I’ve been inspired by a few women in my life and I wanted to write maybe a 50 paged book focusing on single life and married life. Im not looking to be a famous author or anything. I kinda just want to put a good read out and charge maybe about 7.99-12.99 for it. I live in Michigan and right now I’m just looking for ways I can profit from home and raise my children to the fullest.

    • Skip Michael

      Lauryn April;
      You are to kind with your words. The article was BS.. most likely put out by the big publishing firms trying to justify there high prices. Total cost for putting out my first book, around $400 which included editing by no less than 3 editors. Produced my own cover, was good… no made some mistakes that I wont make the second time. All part of learning.

    • Scott

      People, just relax. I had a roommate in college who published while he was still in school and didn’t have much money. Also as a designer myself, I’m not sure who the heck will pay $3k for a cover design. What the flip, lol. How about pay your friend $30 for a cover design. Stuff like that shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

    • jacquiwrites

      Thanks for the information!

    • newbie

      After reading this article and many comments I have to ask a very important question. What is really a livable wage? By my math $45/hour is almost $100,000/yr. Most career fields never make that kind of money and those that do usually require far more than a bachelors degree and at least 10- 15 years of experience. As far as I know a livable wage is somewhere around $40,000 – $50,000 or around $20/hr. So why would $45/hr be the standard or be the lowest per/hr fee of a quality editor? I would gladly pay around $20/hr for quality work.

    • TruckinMack

      Miral, Thank-you for a very informative post. It didn’t cost me a thing and you gave me lots of information to think about. My only complaint, you never actually told me the one thing I was looking for, ‘How much it costs to get a book printed.’ You told me pre-production costs and post-production costs, but you omitted the most important detail I was looking for, the actual production costs of having a 70,000 word novel printed and bound in either a leather, hard cover or paperback form.

      • In Miral’s defense, this is something that really can’t be “told” – authors need to do their own research and get quotes from various printers, and use cost calculators on various POD websites specifying book size and number of pages, not word count. Printing could range from $2 to $50 (well, you did specify “leather”) depending on what service you use, the binding and the paper, the book size, and how many you order, if it’s POD or traditional, etc. CreateSpace and Ingram Spark will probably be the most competitive/easiest to use. 48 Hour Books, is good, too, for short run. BookBaby has great quality short run but they’re more expensive. I’d guess a trade paperback standard in that word count would hover around $4 each for POD at CreateSpace/Spark. And as Miral states in the article, there are no up front costs for printing POD. Hardback, endpapers, leather… a whole different story.

        • TruckinMack

          Thanks Carla. I will consider your advice particularly trustworthy as my book is a short story collection, and the story I am working on most right now has a main character ‘Carol King’. I like the weird coincidence.

          I’m not sure how I will set up ordering, selling or distribution. I’m 6 stories, 25,000 words into it, so I’ve a ways to go, not counting polishing, editing, and the like. Right now I’m showing selected people my work to ensure what I am writing is enjoyable. So far, so good, but still a long ways to go.

          I may try to have individual stories published in various media before I have the whole collection ready. We’ll see how successful that turns out.

          Thanks for your help.

          • Just don’t ask me to sing! :-)
            I hope my SelfPubBootCamp stuff will help you find your path. Micropublishing beforehand in Scribd and Wattpad is great. Builds platform. Good luck and have fun!

    • Sonia La Shawne McDade

      After reading this thread.. I simply have to ask myself why bother? Perhaps my words are better left etched in the memory of my computer to be discovered upon my death and read by those who’s opinions really would have mattered in life..my family and friends….

    • Lee Diogeneia

      I know I am late to this, and I probably don’t need to reiterate that this article made self-publishing seem intimidating. Oh wait–I just did.
      $18K for developmental editing charged to an emerging indie author is SHAMEFUL! I would hope whomever is charging that isn’t seeking to work with naive (wealthy) indie authors and is simply some senior D.E. at Random who *might* consider doing it if someone is willing to pay him/her what s/he makes hourly at the day job. I think is almost irresponsible to include that number here as if it is perfectly acceptable and normal.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think editors should devalue themselves just because many indie authors don’t have a lot of money. I’m an editor and I spend quite a lot of time defending my craft and my freelance prices to writers who think editing is overrated or that I should simply be honored to help them because they did all the work (of writing).

      Editing is work, too. The best part is when a new writer convinces an editor to give them a price break and then chew that editor’s head off over every redline or suggestion s/he made during the 40-50 hours s/he spent editing the MS! (Hmmm… maybe that’s why the senior at Random is charging indie authors $18K for D.E.!).

      As an indie writer and a freelance editor, I understand both sides. The state of the industry means that writers have to be savvy about more than just writing. I recommend networking your arse off. Don’t go it alone. Instead, form a tight network of fellow writers, editors (many are writers too), graphic artists, web designers, marketers, and so forth. Trade skills, help each other out. Also, do a little research on how to work with beta (test) readers. Orson Scott Card offered some advice about how to turn regular folks into “smart readers” by having them answer a specific set of intuitive questions. (BTW, plenty of successful, traditionally published authors SWEAR by test readers and writers groups, so I wouldn’t devalue this resource. You just have to learn how to get them to return feedback you can use.)

      Good luck to everyone!

    • Jen

      $18,500 must be an extreme high end. I have yet to see an editor who charges that much and I’ve seen prices for highly sought after, well known editors who edit best sellers again and again.

    • mitzi prefontaine

      i have just finished writing a 120 page book and I’m so emotionally drained from having done this that i would love to find a company that will take it from here editing to publishing, cover design to getting it on the shelves. any ideas ? and what cost should i consider paying for all this?

    • Kohaku

      First I have been trying to publish for almost 10 years. Second the pricing you give is so out of the range for a normal writer who wants to publish. Its ridicules the cost you put up, what am I trying to publish a book framed in gold. Check the facts again. This was not helpful and truly very discouraging for a new writer. Your prices are saying that their dream may not come true because they don’t have a lot a money.

    • Judith Rogal

      Eeeeeee gads! Y’all are enough to scare off any novice writer. I’m with Lauryn April and Tommy Boy on this. Great thinking out of the box there, Tommy Boy!

    • crazy enough

      I write very high quality material… Seriously people can only compare my writing to some of the greatest in time… I think my writing is above average but not that great…. Either way people say otherwise…. My writing is really really different from what is out there on the market…. No one will publish it… The only people that will publish are scamming publishing companies or self publishing…. So i checked into making books myself…. It can run way up there fast depending on materials chosen. For a real high quality book i am looking at around $300-$500 for just materials. Even on the low end it can run around $20 a book for materials. That isn’t even choosing to do very high end hand printing in the cost. I can go to a printing company with a rough made book that is cheap as possible. I will never support ebooks and only believe in physical ownership… What i do know is most people are willing to pay $5 for a book, but not no $80-$1200… Hand making a book is no joke, let alone all the art, or even the time involved in writing a real book that is worth reading cause it holds deep value and insight. I would recommend finding a local printing company to work with on available formats, designs and costs to create a physical product that is affordable. Once you know all that information then do everything yourself. It is a lot of work. But once your ready for the printing press you can then run a kickstarter on the the kickstarter .com website. Post your product and promote it. Promotion is a great part of the key to success as well as your quality of writing. That is the biggest two things that should be on your mind as that will help you on how to design the book. Book covers sleeves are not important…. If they were then people wouldn’t pay crazy money for old books without them… It is just a trendy thing but your over all layout must be something marketable…. The printing company can generally help you realize that end as well… Promoting is just getting out there and promoting… You can pay for ad’s in magazines, websites, post fliers locally, social networking, even tv commercials if affordable. The best option is to send a free book to some one for free promo through newspapers and media. If you get media support then your bound to make some sales. But in order to get attention on a large scale your writing quality must be very good. Also don’t forget to file as an author and copyright your material. I would recommend global copyright services as it will protect your work and as you grow can pay people to translate the book into other languages and open your market up globally. If i ever get around to finishing my first book and making some money, i then plan to use that to open a publishing company of my own called playful malice…. I have already paid for the .com and built the site and even filed papers to publish as a company. I have been taking orders for years and have around 100,000 people that want to buy my book, but even so the costs even doing everything myself is pretty insane… it has always been about the art for me though… I will offer two versions of my book, one a limited and numbered edition made with the highest quality materials by me and another mass manufactured by P&P Printing Inc.(a local book, magazine, banner, etc.. manufacturer). Nothing comes easy and it is a everyday struggle to even survive let alone invest into a dream… Literally a dream as my first book is about my dreams wrote out in a lyrical poetry form and mixed with extremely deep philosophical dialogue. It all comes down too, do you have a passion for what you do and how far are you willing to take that passion. I will end up spending around $500 alone in materials for my limited edition book to hand make but we are taking real high quality materials and work. I will have to charge around $1,200.00 for one of those books, seriously. But they will stand the test of time and last through the ages…. Heavy duty pieces of real art. My other books will cost me like $8 a piece from the printing company and i will retail them around $15… It is very daunting especially on the diy end of things and even have ship them myself. Like i have proof read my book like 100 times or more. I still enjoy reading it. I have had people tell me they have read it more… That at least tells me i am doing my job as a writer as they want to re-read my material that much. I already have thousands of hours into this book and the art involved… It is surely a business of sacrifice… The real question is how deep does your passion go for what you are doing and does it have a marketable sense to it? Cause really you must be ready for a long road unless your a spoiled rich kid, rich person or being supported by some trending corporate brain washing company… As far as editors and everything else along those lines, you need to look no further than a college as it is generally easy to find a young person looking to get their name on something for a career start and get it done free or dirt cheap. I bet your saying omg $1200 for a book! Yeah but i am planning to use materials like 24k gold leafing, milled leather and suede, heavy vellum paper, high end inks and paints for silk screening each page…. It is a lot of work to just setup and prepare everything… Like i said my some odd already easily invested 10,000 hours of writing heavily layered material and editing has to be worth something. By the time i am done i will have about double that invested in just time. Not including all the time learning processes and to write like i do. I didn’t learn in school i learned from people in hollywood to people on top the music industry. That was free luckily and they invested time in me cause i had the passion for it and they saw it. I met all of them on writing forums, so you never know who is lurking around the next bend. I have had crazy offers for my writing and even with all that here i am struggling to make my own name without being used. I can’t say it enough….. You better have a great passion for what you do!!!

    • Holy crap. Not sure where you got those prices from. I thought Iw as paying a lot, but looking at your numbers, versus mine for my new series – I got a bargain. I had a professional editor, I got a professional illustrator, I got a professional converter (and some deals because? He likes me! lol). The only thing I am having an issue with is printing and finding a printer for my books. I do digital. But, I have a lot of people asking when Ill have paperback copies for my series. I think its about time I just did it. Even if I only order like 10 books at a time. FYI my editor was less than $100. Just have to look around kids :o) I am one of those people that does not have $10,000 to publish a book – any book, digital or otherwise. Hell, I don’t even have a $1000 to do it (right now). Hence why I did weeks of in depth research, contacting people, viewing articles, forums, websites, blogs, etc. I’d rather get my hands dirty and be stressed to the max for a month finding the right fit for me, than to not do it at all. FYI: To the one person: Just because I got an editor for less than $100 does not automatically mean my book is going to be crap.

      • FYI to the person spouting off about keeping it in the community: You just were really rude by correcting someone on a public forum about the way they spelled something. Nazi Grammar much? If anything, or if NOTHING ELSE, don’t you think we should all be nice to each other? Jeez. Your post (to me) came off really nasty, insecure, and rude.

        • Suzette

          I’ve written a cool book and I have contacted Mascot Books for help. They charge a lot but I think they might be helpful. Does anybody have any experience with this company?

    • Preston

      The worst assessment on the costs of writing I’ve ever seen.

    • A Troubled Author

      I’m making a book, it’s called Listen to Thy Heart the diary of Elizabeth Abigail Gregory Valley Forge Pennsylvania 1777, and I’m thirteen, and I don’t want to get in trouble by paying for the authoring costs, is there any way I can get it published and do it for free?

      • Well of course! You can publish on Smashwords and Amazon KDP for your ebook and CreateSpace for your print book. Good luck!

    • I’m an upcoming Self-publishing author and i’m honestly motivated by these numbers. I’m a firm believer in the notion “You get what you pay for” If you truly want great quality work, that will provide you with those amazing sales that you are desiring, sometimes you have to go out on a limb and “invest” in your craft. I’ve always wanted to be a writer/author so this is very serious to me & i’m willing to truly invest in myself so that my work can reach people across the country & more!

    • Amit Amin

      I’m looking for a editor for my book if anyone is interested.

    • Timothy McIntyre

      Miral is right about the value of a great cover, that is what makes a book sell. My book “I’m a Type A — How the Heck Will I Ever Retire?” has sold great mostly due to an incredible cover. You also need a good website, and mine is fantastic, I get 100’s of hits a day. Use a strong indie designer who is really creative, I used Audria at DesignbyIndigo, she was fantastic, and the price wasn’t bad. You get what you pay for.

    • Richard Dodd

      This is a terrific article on self-publishing that lives at the crossroads of author’s dreams and book publishing reality. I’ve worked with writing groups, ghost editors and writing doctors. I pick and choose who can deliver the most value for the money. My most important lesson learned is to work with professionals who are published and/or have a proven track record in working with authors. My soon-to-be-released novel is being published by Lulu Publishing.

    • Arty Kraft

      The prevailing standard for nearly every service in this desperate, Turbo-Capitalist society, ranging from contractors to dentists, from florists to publishers, is the Maximization of Profitability dictate. Hey kids, idealists everywhere, comrades in pens the day of expecting someone, somewhere will truly care about your work because it’s important are, with few exceptions, over. It’s about the green, about the green, about the green.

      Oh, about 20 or 30 years ago, a flood of MBA candidates ascended to the top of the corporate chains and insisted that the old-fashioned stalwarts who insisted on quality, meaning, substance, quality, and high literary standards had become dragons and were summarily let go. Now, let’s sing it to the rafters, let’s praise the god of mammon, it’s all about the profits. Amen.

      The culture? Fuggitaboutit. Literature? What’s that? We’re talking numbers. We’re talking ’bout the flavor of the month. Is everyone happy??? Yeah, we’re sufficiently distracted via our digital virtuality.

      So when you read that Simon & Schuster invests so heavily in self-publishing, they’ve simply dedicated themselves to profiting off the slush-pile hopefuls. It’s like the lotto, except slightly different.

      Good luck you fellow idealists. Keep your head high, your nose to the grindstone and, quite possibly, for every million attempts there will be that ONE magical success. In the meantime, you’re simply spinning your wheels and, unwittingly, contributing to the corporate bottom line, and in the process inflating CEO bonuses. In other words, say your prayers suckers, you’ll need them.

    • professional editors

      Nice blog !
      I really appreciate your work. You had done great research on it. Good work.
      This blog is very interesting and useful to me.

    • John Lawless

      I am looking at producing a 250-300 page doctoral dissertation. It would have already been scrutinized for spelling and grammar. It would be non-fiction genre. What would I be looking at for cost of conversion to a manuscript and publication?

    • Rick Carter

      I published my first book in 1976. Wrongly I was forbidden to publish another or to republish it. No it wasn’t 49 shades of grey .. LOL.Nevertheless I have always been slow to put things together as I like to get things right! I am writing another long overdue book and then several others. However I am short on monies now and I need help. I always enjoyed giving and I hope to find another helper for myself! I could use a few beta readers for non-fiction – it’s about one journey I’ve taken over a half century. Got any ideas! thanks and blessing to you all ! PS Where can I find your book Lauryn April? Thanks! Rick Carter =)

    • GG Andersen

      I found the article informative.
      Lauryn April with all due respect – Writers by nature are intelligent but more so we READ. This article didn’t take the position of being the “Holy Grail” to publishing. It simply allows upcoming writers the opportunity to see what all is entailed.I for one am grateful someone took the time to give that glimpse. Thanks Miral it was appreciated!

      GGAndersen

    • Timothy McIntyre

      If you are going to cut corners self-publishing, don’t do it with the cover!! I had an eye-catching and super unique cover created for my non-fiction book (and pretty inexpensive, it was designbyindigo.com) and I am selling a ton of books on amazon. I just know it’s the cover. People judge your book so quickly, don’t give them a reason to pass you by.

    • oregonartistbyron

      I am writing/typing my first instruction book on Art: I am retired, have little money. So i have been touring these sites to see just what is realistic and is not worth looking at in the process of having my book published and marketed.
      I am a Professional Artist, with Art in sixteen countries in private homes and business. Therefore, I can create my own cover, my own pictures and instruction in my book most likely much better than anyone I would talk to, so why do I need an editor that most likely does not know it any better than I do?? I have spelling correction and grammar correction on Microsoft Word. So is this editing game just for someone to make a living??? Or is there a real reason to have another person just read the manuscript prior to having it published? I am brand new at this game and I have read a lot of what has been stated here in this comment section. A lot makes sense, then the outlandish costs this women states seems to be clear our of site, to the point they do try to scare a person off.
      So what is your take on what i have just mentioned. I would be interested in hearing what you think. Or can a person do it all himself through study and research on his own computer?

    • Author Justin Cox

      Writing has become a merciless arena. The pricing of the above article is correct if you go with a company such as Authorhouse however, there are various alternative avenues that are yet to be explored. I publish each book for $2500.00 which includes a video trailer. Heed my advice:

      1.) Go to a local college and ask an English professor
      to edit your novel for $100.00 no matter what the length.

      2.) Research an illustrator to design and create
      your Cover. I use Simon Goodway from Michigan.

      3.) Research each Publisher before signing with
      them. I recommend Publisher INGRAM SPARK.

      4.) Develop your own marketing plan before you spend
      money on marketing. Call and ask a radio personnel what are good ways to market
      your book.

      5.) Give out free copies in return for online reviews.

      6.) Have a professional website made for free and
      then pay only to maintain it. You can search what graphic design company works
      for you.

      – Author Justin Cox of, Anadella and the Forgotten Kingdom

    • SocraticGadfly

      These prices are inflated because of the amount of downsizing not just in newspapers and magazines, but also in the book industry. It’s sad to say that, but true, as one can see the results. (Misuse of contractions, among other things, is ever more common in books from top-level publishers.)

    • gypsyroselea

      This is really interesting, I think a lot of writers don’t factor in editing, design, formatting etc into their idea of what’s necessary to publish. Just because I can write doesn’t mean I can edit – sometimes I can’t even spell! Luckily I have an editor and a designer to help out with this.
      It’s very helpful to have everything laid out like this and explained the way it has been here but some of the costs mentioned seem pretty steep to me as we include editing, design, formatting, a pre-print run of 50-200 books and a bit of publicizing in our packages (£350-750) but i suppose English costs are lower and it’s cheaper for us as we do it all in-house.

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