Thursday, March 19, 2009

Do you know how much it costs to publish a book?

Whatever the image of publishing success looks like to you, it probably doesn't include shelling out thousands of dollars in expenses to get there. Yet, publishing is a business and involves costs. Many authors are unprepared to meet the expenses and become discouraged and even sidetracked when they learn what they need. Or worse, they spend far more than necessary learning the lessons the hard way. Unpleasant surprises can be avoided by having upfront knowledge about the "behind the scenes" services that contribute to publishing success.

The indie author assumes the entire cost, yet even when a publishing house is paying for book production and distribution, an author has to invest in promotion. Many also choose to get  editorial help before submitting their work.

So, what are some of the "costs of doing business" that an author should put in the budget? 

Here's a laundry list of items, some are typical, some are less well known. Not everything will be applicable to your project, but at least you'll be better prepared to make informed decisions. (The  rock-bottom starting price of the cost range is in parens after each item.)

Editorial: Can include help with content editing, manuscript development, copy editing and proofreading. ($300+)

Design: Nothing gives a self-published book away faster than bad cover and interior design. Not all professional books are design winners, either. So it is helpful to know about the elements of conventional layout, including proper organization of content on the title page, copyright page, table of contents, headers and footers, chapter openers. captions, pagination and more. Get familiar with the basics of book design and hire professional help if you're going it alone. ($500+)

Marketing Materials: Good elements of design and copywriting apply to everything related to the book: postcards, bookmarks, business cards. Digital printing make these materials a small, but effective investment. ($100+)

Internet Presence: A blog and/or website is no longer an "option." The earlier an author can establish a following, the better. Once again, good editorial and design help authors present and deliver their messages effectively. In addition, services such as search engine optimization are investments that can pay for themselves and more. ($250+) 

Newsletter: A newsletter is an effective tool for communicating with your audience. Companies that provide list management and design templates for your messages is another small, but necessary investment. ($15+/month)

Shopping Cart: Will you be selling your book on your website? Services such as consulting or seminars? Shopping carts are another expense worth the money. Some systems integrate the cart with list management, newsletter broadcasting, autoresponders as well as digital product delivery. ($30+/month)

Teleconference and Webinar services: These service providers give you the ability to conduct "live" seminars via the phone or computer. Talk to hundreds of people at time from the comfort of your home, any day or time you want. ($0 for limited services; $30+/month for advanced services)

Virtual Assistants: You're probably looking at this list and thinking, "I don't have time for all that." Virtual assistants have the time and training to handle many administrative tasks that free you to do what you do best. ($200+/month)

Promotion: Depending on your time, training and inclination, some of this can be done on your own and with a virtual assistant.  Hiring a publicist is another option. (Costs vary widely, depending on service and whether it's a one-time or ongoing service.)

This is far from a complete list, but it should give you a better idea of what goes into producing a successful book. It takes more than writing a good book; that's simply the first step. The more you know, the better your chances will be for success--that's true in any business. 

What the actual cost of your project will be depends on many factors. The starting range prices given here are very low, and your costs may be quite a bit higher. 

Better to enter this business with your eyes wide open and know how to get quality results than bumble your way through, wasting time, money and possibly sabotaging your own efforts. 

Remember: Writing is a passion. Publishing is a business. Successful (VIP) authors know the difference. Continue your publishing education via books; subscriptions to writers' newsletters and magazines; and attend classes, workshops and seminars.

Want to be part of membership group for authors who are learning how to navigate today's ever-changing publishing industry? For about $10/month or the cost of two grande lattes, you can learn how save thousands of dollars typically spent by uneducated authors. Find out more about VIP Authors Inner Circle>>>

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