Publishing a Book - Understanding the Costs to Self Publish a Book

Publishing a book can get pricey, so it's helpful to have some information about the costs. In the past, authors could avoid these costs by trying to finding an agent to represent their work and then a big publishing company to publish it. Since the publisher assumed all the risks and costs, all the author had to do is write a good book. While you can still explore this option, it's important to realize that publishers are downsizing and getting even more selective about the manuscripts that they choose for their lists. 

With the advent of digital, print on demand printers, self publishing has become a viable option for authors around the world. Still, it's important to account for all the costs, hidden and otherwise. After all, you've worked hard to write your book and need to make a profit from it.

Publishing a Book: ISBN, PCN, and Copyright Fees

If you want your book to appear on bookstore shelves, it must have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which is the standard 13-digit identifier for books. This is a unique and distinctive number system. Each ISBN identifies who the publisher of a particular written work is. Single ISBNs can be purchased for $125 or there are bundles of 10 for $240 available. Obviously, the best deal is to go with the package.

If you are publishing a book through a vanity press or a similar operation, be aware that you will be charged for any fees incurred in the production process. You can obtain a PCN (Pre-assigned Control Number) at no charge from the Library of Congress, but you will need to send them a postage paid copy of your finished book. This is a number that registers each publication in a comprehensive American directory. For you to be able to officially register your copyright the charge will be an additional $45.

publishing a book

Self Publish a Book: Book Production Costs

Authors who self-publish their works are becoming more common and they expect to pay for the cost of printing their book. This may be the route that you have chosen also, but remember that editing and layout are necessary parts of the production process. Some people have the time and variety of skills to do their own editing and presentation layouts, but if you don’t, the printer is going to be charging you for these tasks. Professional editing of your book is so necessary and integral to your final dream coming to life that you should not entrust this duty to just anyone. And it is usually not recommended for you to do it yourself, since you are too close to the work. This is also not the time to go with the cheapest person who volunteers for the job; doing so could doom your efforts to have a successful book published.

You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but that all important first appearance cover often is what can boost the sales of your book. It really is important to factor in the cost of cover design that is done properly. Using a graphic artist for a professionally designed cover will cost you somewhere between $200 and $1,000. If your book is an ebook, get our favorite graphic designer to create a stunning cover for less than $100. To create an ebook that others can download to their computers, you will also need ebook creation software to make the PDF file.

These are all factors that have costs built in to them, and you must count these in to the cost equation of the actual printing of your book.

Publishing a Book: Marketing and Promotion Costs

Grassroots advertising methods and word-of-mouth recommendations do have their limits. To sell your book, you need to include the cost of a marketing and advertising. Marketing can include any, or all, of the following means of promotion: book brochures and newspaper ads, posters and glossy flyers, business cards, and sending out press releases announcing the book’s publication and getting it into the news from time to time. You can defray many of these costs by building a web site to build your readership and promote your book. Doing so gives you access to readers around the world. It also allows media people to access your press kit online.

Self publishing is a business, and so you must consider costs. Knowing what they are up front and factoring them into your budget is important in building profit potential, so you can continue to write and publish more books. 

Of course if you do intend on publishing a book with traditional publishers, understand that while you will not be responsible for book production costs, you will be responsible for the costs associated with book marketing and in the final analysis, you will not enjoy the benefits of owning the rights to your book.

If you want to self publish a book, yet keep your rights, but not have to worry about purchasing and learning all the complex software that you will need to do the job right, then I recommend using Create Space to do the job. Here is a link to a tutorial to set up your account. Once you're all set up, you can easily upload your manuscript and the file for your book cover using your browser and they will convert it for you and produce a beautifully printed book at a reasonable per-unit price. Best of all, publishing through them allows you to list your book for sale on Amazon and get access to the millions of book buyers who visit their site every day.

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