Publishing 101

  1. Traditional and Self-Publishing
  2. Publishing vs. Printing
  3. Text and Formatting
  4. Fonts and Styling
  5. Editing and Proofreading
  6. Photos and Illustrations
  7. Color vs. B&W/Grayscale
  8. Paper Options
  9. Trim Sizes
  10. Covers and Bindings
  11. ISBN
  12. LCCN
  13. Copyright
  14. Publishing Costs
  15. Pricing Your Book
  16. Sales and Marketing
  17. Legal and Tax Requirements

Publishing Costs

If your book is accepted by a traditional publisher, all or most of the costs incurred to produce the final product will likely be covered by the publisher. Self-publishing is a different story, however. There are many such companies and they all have different pricing plans and policies. You must choose the company that can provide the products, services, and prices that best suit your needs. We cannot cover every possible pricing model here, but we can cover a few points you should consider.

The overall cost of your publishing project will be dependent on many factors, including:

  • Level of formatting and other file preparation required
  • Amount of editing needed
  • Level of cover design and preparation needed
  • Book size (trim size and number of pages)
  • Cover and paper stocks used
  • Use of color vs. B&W/grayscale, especially on the interior
  • Number of copies being produced
  • Additional services provided (e.g., ISBN, barcode, copyright registration, marketing, distribution, storage, sales, fulfillment

Generally, publishers and printers charge less per copy as the total number of copies being produced in a single run increases. However, this may not be the case for very small runs and on-demand runs; the cost per copy may remain the same or decrease very little as the number of copies increases. These factors make it tempting to print a large quantity of books in order to minimize the price per copy, but remember the overall project cost will be higher and you will have a large number of books to store and sell.

An important issue to be aware of is how the self-publisher provides you with books to sell. Some charge based on the actual cost of producing your book. This scenario usually involves fees for pre-printing services such as editing and formatting, as well as printing fees based on factors such as book size, paper quality, and number of copies. In our opinion, this scenario is preferred because it best reflects the actual cost to produce your book.

Another, and in our opinion less desirable, pricing scenario involves the publisher allowing you to buy copies of your book at a discount off the retail price of the book. This may be a decent alternative if you are allowed to set your book's price. However, these policies are often employed by companies that also decide the price for your book, which allows the company to inflate the retail price in order to charge you more when you wish to purchase copies. Even in print-on-demand situations, you should look for per-book pricing that is relative to the size and quality of your book rather than to its retail price.