In publishing, whether self or using a publisher, it costs to produce a book. No matter what anyone tells you it costs – money! Now, of course it costs in time to produce a book, eBook or otherwise. However, when dealing with any form of writing that time equals money.
How much money? That depends on quite a few items needed for a book. We deal almost exclusively in eBooks, so our pricing tends to lend itself to that area. However, we do format for those who wish to produce a hard back copy. Which of course lends itself to some sort of cost.
Costs are simply a basic part of publishing whether you are doing it for profit or not. So, let’s explore what it costs to produce an eBook for publication across all platforms. By platforms I mean Amazon, Goodreads, iBook, Google books, and the other places you can publish an eBook. This of course does not figure into you selling the eBook on your own website or e-Store.
The first cost is the program you use to produce the work. Unfortunately, most of the converters to transform a document into a downloadable eBook, prefer Word. Now this doesn’t mean that word is the only format that the converters use. It’s far from it. It is just the best results I have obtained have been to format a MS Word document for conversion. It simply works best for us.
There are several eBook writing programs out there. Some are affordable and others are truly expensive. We here at The Pyrateheart Press look forward to when we can afford the truly expensive programs that do all the work for you, however, we haven’t reached that point yet.
So let’s get back to the costs. MS Word now costs you by yearly payments. You can’t get it by itself. You have to pay for it either in a yearly installment or monthly. Now there is a program that you can still buy outright. The Corel document producing software is exceptional. It allows you to write in their format and save it as an MS Word document that easily transforms in the converters to eBooks.
Corel’s program even has an eBook generator. I haven’t figured out how to use it yet, but it does cost a bit of good money. Worth it if you intend to write books for a living but if you can’t afford it, there is always MS Word. There are other free word processing programs and they do convert but their formatting for eBook conversion takes far more than using Word, so I use Word. At their yearly price of $99 a year.
You probably have Word on your PC or laptop. Unless you are using apple products then you must jump through a couple of more hoops to produce a document ready for the eBook converters. That is the key. You need to format your document for conversion before you even get started.
Let’s assume you already have Word and you have written a manuscript already. My first question is always the same. How many eBooks do you plan to sell? Why am I asking this question at this time? Simple, most people use the fonts already installed on their computer. These fonts are owned or leased by Microsoft, and they do not allow you to use them for commercial work. In effect, if you use Times New Roman, you need to pay the person who owns the license.
Why are fonts important since eReaders automatically convert whatever your work is to their own fonts. Those fonts on your eReader have been leased. Whichever eReader you use the fonts have been paid for by whoever sold you the eReader. Therefore, they don’t care what font you used to craft your work but if it gets a lot of sales then the person whose font you used will want a piece of your profits. A healthy piece.
There are many fonts you can use free for commercial work such as writing eBooks but many don’t convert well to the downloadable formats for eBooks such as Mobi, AWZ3, ePub, etc. We have found one that works great for us and easily converts to great downloadable forms. Do your research if you plan to sell large quantities yourself. If you are using a publisher, they will change your document into one of the fonts they have leased for themselves. Yes, publishing houses pay for the fonts they use. It is a cost of publishing.
Let’s assume you have all that covered. The next cost is editing. Editing comes in many forms and an author must decide whether to pay for it or not. Most don’t, which hurts them in the long run. Even if you don’t want your manuscript edited and polished, you should at least get someone else to do the grammar check.
Getting your manuscript proofread will run at the least 3 cents per word. That’s the lowest you will find. The better ones charge 7-10 cents per word. Now understand, all a proofreader does is read the work and write up what needs to be changed. They don’t change anything. They fill up your manuscript with red ink and send it back. Done.
Now think about this. Say you find a proofreader who will do your ninety-thousand-word book for 5 cents a word. 5 cents times 90,000 equals $4,500 dollars. Not chump change. And that is simply for a single proofread.
Now let me ask you this, how much are you going to pay for your cover? Images are like your book. They are intellectual property and have people who want to be paid to use them. Now you can find several sites on the web that allow you access to commercially usable pictures for free. However, you need to read the licensing because some that seem free aren’t. It is best to use a program which pays the licensing fee. For example, a large amount of the free commercial use sites using the images are free unless you sell more than ten thousand copies. After ten thousand, you owe the image owner a percentage of your sales.
Read the fine print when you purchase or lease an image. It will save you a ton of money if you understand where the lines are between free and paid.
Now let’s talk about copyrighting. Getting a copyright is a simple affair and I recommend all authors copyright their own work before sending it off to a publisher. Whoever owns the copyrights owns the ability to make money off their work. A copyright is the only legal means to claim a work. Let me repeat that. Without your ownership of the copyright to your book, the publisher will own the copyright and they dictate terms and usage and decide who gets what.
The last thing I want to talk about is an ISBN number. ISBN (International Standard Book Number) does not confer any legal claims to your book. I know several eBook sellers give their authors free ISBNs. They do this to list themselves as publishers and use that to claim legal rights to the book. This is simply a legal maneuver that an author can find themselves embroiled in if they do not purchase their own ISBN.
I am not in favor of ISBNs. They are simply a means for book sellers to look up and identify your book. That’s it. You do not need one to self-publish your book. However, if you choose to use such places as Amazon, Goodreads, or wish to have your book sold inside bookstores someday, then you will need an ISBN and even a barcode. They are pricey and they are also a monopoly inside this country. You can only get a real one from Bowker and they set their prices as they see fit.
One thing to remember is that if you are publishing in eBook format as well as printed books you will need separate ISBNs. One for each book version. I consider ISBNs to be a racket in the United States. In Canada they only cost you a single Canadian dollar. In the US, they start at $125.00.
It costs to produce a book. For us here at The Pyrateheart Press the cost of an eBook to edit, polish, provide both front and back covers and do the research to ensure everything inside the work is legal runs a minimum of five thousand dollars and goes up from there. It has hit twenty-five grand once for us.
That’s our cost to produce a book. What’s yours and are you willing to pay?
I’m Ross, the Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.
P.S. The total to produce a book ready for conversion is totally in your hands. The cost to copyright is $65. This is the only cost you can’t negotiate. It is also the only one you should never let anyone else pay for you.