To put together meaningful self-publishing quotes for your nonfiction book, you have to take into consideration the cost of editing your manuscript, the cost of creating the book layout and cover design, and the cost to distribute the finished product.
Since your nonfiction book will establish your status as an expert and will project your reputation into the world, you need to ensure that both your writing and your book production are top quality.
So it’s imperative that you hire professionals to do the editing, layout and cover design of your book and not do this work yourself or farm it out to a friend or a relative.
The financial and reputational benefits of creating a top-notch product will be many and long lasting.
For example, your nonfiction book will become your calling card for new clients, it’ll open new doors for lucrative contracts, it’ll attract the attention of the media and it’ll give you access to paid public speaking.
Should You Write Your Book Yourself?
It depends. If you’re a strong writer and you have the time, I would advise that you write your own book. This exercise will help you get a new level of clarity for your business and it’ll help you sort out your ideas and discover new ones.
But it you don’t feel confident in your writing skills or don’t have the time to invest in your book project, then it definitely pays to hire a ghostwriter. If you’d like to find out more about this, read my companion article: How To Hire A Ghostwriter To Write Nonfiction That Tips The Scales.
In order to create a top-notch product, you’ll have to engage professionals in the following four editing stages.
This stage defines the optimal structure of your book to ensure your message is delivered to your audience in the most effective way.
As the author, you’re too close to your writing to be able to see what will work for your audience and what won’t work with 100% clarity – this is true for new authors as well as for seasoned ones.
Your developmental editor will help you gain perspective so that you can find a way to connect and engage with your target audience with a compelling message and a clear voice.
Experienced developmental editors charge between 8 and 12 cents per word depending on the complexity of the subject matter. Some may charge per page of text instead, ranging between $20-$30.
Content editors focus on writing style, how your ideas are presented, their logical flow, the relevance of secondary ideas and the strength of your manuscript.
For them, readability is key. They’ll rewrite paragraphs to improve clarity, shorten sentences when required and even suggest that some chapters or sections within chapters be rearranged.
Experienced content editors charge between $40 and $50 per 1,000 words for standard text and between $50 and $70 per 1,000 words for highly technical or scientific text.
Copy editors work at a lower level that’s much closer to your text. Once the book structure is set and the flow of ideas established, they’ll focus on grammar, spelling, punctuation errors, syntax, capitalization, and so on.
In addition, they’ll also check for overall accuracy of the text such as misattributed quotes and they’ll check for general inconsistencies that can reflect poorly on the writing, like mixing single and double quotes.
Copy editors will also flag potential legal issues such as libelous statements, copyright or trademark infringement. Their charges range between $30 and $40 per 1,000 words for standard text and between $40 and $60 per 1,000 words for highly technical or scientific text.
A proofreader will come in after your manuscript is “locked” and no more changes are planned. In essence, it’s the final quality check before going to print.
This is the line-by-line final pass that will look for formatting inconsistencies, typos that were missed, referencing errors and general fact-checking to make sure that your book is error free.
Experienced proofreaders charge between $25 and $35 per 1,000 words for standard text and between $35 and $45 per 1,000 words for highly technical or scientific text.
Once your manuscript is “print-ready” it’s time to engage the services of a professional book designer and a cover designer.
The book designer will take care of laying out your text so that your book meets the high standards of the nonfiction book trade. Your nonfiction book will establish your status as an expert, which demands that you produce a quality product.
The cost of a good book designer ranges between $350 and $500 depending of the complexity of your layout. For example, books that are more technical in nature will cost more to produce than text-based books.
Cover designers create the most visible aspect of your book, and therefore the most consequential to attract the attention of browsers.
They’ll create the balance between color and placement of text and graphical elements that results in high visual appeal to enhance the compelling message contained in your title and sub-title.
An experienced cover designer charges between $400 and $600.
Your book designer and cover designer will also produce the print-ready files that will be submitted to the distribution channels below.
Before you upload your files to be turned into print-on-demand books that will be distributed around the world, you first need to acquire your ISBN, or unique identifier for your book.
You’ll need a separate ISBN for each format of your book (e.g. one for your paperback edition and one for your hardcover edition). The cost for a single ISBN is $125 and for a block of ten the cost goes up to $295.
Once you have your ISBNs, it’s time to set up your book title with the following two channels of distribution:
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP):
KDP will make your book available for ordering through a number of Amazon bookselling properties around the world (U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia/New Zealand). KDP doesn’t charge for their setup or book submissions and simply charges a percentage of your book sales.
IngramSpark will make your book available through their parent company Ingram, the largest book distributor in the world. Although they’ll distribute to online stores, their forte is brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries.
Ingram charges $49 per format submission (e.g. separate charges for paperback and hardcover editions – note that Amazon’s KDP can only make your book available in paperback).
If you want to hire a service to set up your accounts on the above two distribution channels, there are a number of author services companies will do this work on your behalf, for between $100 and $200.
Now you have a good idea of the costs required for self-publishing a quality nonfiction book. When you begin your search for book professionals, make sure you get multiple quotes and that you check their references thoroughly.
Best of luck!
If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of self-publishing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.