Posted in book covers, books, cover design, creative writing, ebooks, editing, publishing, self publishing, writing

Indie Author Basics: Production Costs

What does it cost to be an indie author? It’s question many new writers want to know. When you take on the production cost of a book, you need to know where those costs will fit into your budget.

***Quick note to say I will be moving my weekly posts to Tuesdays***

Editing

The cost of editing depends on what type of editing you need for your project.

Developmental editing is the most involved and the most expensive. A developmental editor will help you work out problems with the story/characters and help improve the flow and style . It will cost you about $0.08/word or $20/page.

Copyediting is less involved and doesn’t dig into story or character problems. It mainly deals with improving sentence structure and readability, as well as generally tightening up the writing. It will cost you about $0.02/word or $5/page.

Proofreading in the least involved and least expensive, but requires the writer (or a previous round of editing) to have cleaned up the manuscript as much as possible. Proofreading aims to catch typos and punctuation errors, not fix major issues. It will cost you about $0.01/word, $3/page.

Cover Design

The cost depends on whether you want an ebook cover only, a full wrap cover for a paperback, or both, as well as whether you want a customer cover (with stock or exclusive photos) or a premade cover.

Premade covers are the least expensive option, but offer the least ability to customize. Most quality premades are in the $30-$50 range. Most premades are only ebook covers, but many designers offer an add on option to turn it into a full wrap if you need it.

Stock photos in a custom cover will be less expensive than using exclusive photos. Custom covers are usually in the $50-$150 range for ebook covers and you can plan to add another $30-$50 to add a full wrap to the package. The range has to do with how many photos are need for the cover. More photos means more cost.

Exclusive images guarantee no one else will have your same cover, but you’ll pay for that privilege. Plan on $500 and up for a custom photo shoot.

Formatting

Formatting for ebooks and paperbacks can be learned by those with knowledge of Word or the willingness to learn software like Jutoh, Kindle Create, or Calibre. InDesign is a professional level software that has a steep learning curve, but is doable if you’re on a tight budget and willing to put the time in.

If you want to hire out formatting, the cost will depend on the type and difficulty. Images will up the difficulty in any project, as will graphics like charts, table, multiple frames, etc.

For fiction ebook formatting, plan on $150-$250. For print formatting, plan on $200-$300. Most formatters will offer package pricing to do both at once.

Setup and Extra Help

Most authors with basic computer skills will be able to create their accounts and upload their documents without help. Those who run into problems or have limited computer skills or access, having someone tackle this part of the publishing process is available. An average cost is around $20/hour.

Production on a Tight Budget

If you are working with a small budget and want to do as much yourself as possible, be honest with yourself about your skill level in each category.

Learning to format in Word is a great way to cut costs. Designing your own book cover when you have no design experience is not. Start with a premade cover and upgrade when your budget isn’t as tight.

Editing your own book is extremely difficult. If you can’t afford a professional editor yet, trade with another author or see if a local teacher could help out for a lower fee.

The goal is putting out a professional product. Save money where you can, but not at the cost of putting out a subpar book.