If you’re toying with the idea of self-publishing a book, then I would encourage you to read Andrew Franklin’s blog post on the Society of Author’s website.
Andrew Franklin is the joint founder of Profile Books. Therefore, he understands the costs involved when it comes to publishing a book. In his blog post (which was also an article in the Society of Author’s Journal published back in the autumn) he candidly talks money. A lot of money. Particularly when you think that as a publisher he’s capable of exploiting economies of scale, something that self-published authors can’t necessarily access.
While he admits that the costs of publishing one book varies from book to book, he mentions some general figures:
“That 320-page hardback (let’s assume it is non-fiction) will cost around £1,000 to copyedit and another £700 to proofread. Then there is the page design at £750 and perhaps an index (£700). Sometimes authors pay for or prepare the index, sometimes the publisher. Often the cost is split. Finally, and of the greatest importance, there is the jacket or cover design. At Profile we budget £1,000 to £1,500 for that, and employ a full-time art director and designer (overheads) on top of that. Trade publishers are investing very heavily in how their books look now.”
So that’s nearly £4,000 for a 320-page hardback (with no index).
Of course, if you’re self-publishing, your book will probably be a paperback and not run to quite so many pages … but, it’s worth remembering that when you self-publish (and this also depends upon your subject matter/genre) your book could be competing with many traditionally published books. If the traditional publishers are investing this much in a book, then shouldn’t you be taking this into consideration?
I’m not saying you need to spend as much – far from it. But if you’ve invested all that time and effort into writing the book, you should also invest time and effort bringing it to your readership. Will your front cover you got off the Internet for $5 stand up to the same quality threshold as the one Profile Books get for £1500? Will the editing/proofreading you got your mate down the road to do for a free pint the next time you see him compare well with the £1,700 Profile Books are spending?
Again, I’m not saying that you need to be spending that much on bringing your book to market. But just think about the principles. Profile Books are hiring professionals to do this work, because each stage of book production is a profession in its own right: editing, proofreading, page layout design, cover design, indexing, etc, etc, etc. Those independent authors who are selling well, such as Joanna Penn, acknowledge this. They realise it is a business and they take a business-like approach to self-publishing, by buying in the professionals when they need them.
I don’t wish to put anyone off of self-publishing. Far from it. For many, self-publishing is the way forward, and a profitable one at that. But take note from those already in the business. Treat it professionally. Do that, and you’ll be respected for your efforts.