Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Can You Control the Costs of Publication?

This is the fifth question of seven that Bill Petrocelli of Book Passage in Corte Madera, California asked at a writers publishing workshop last month. During the last few weeks I've expanded on Bill's lecture. Here are the past four weeks:

Let's assume for this question that you decide to set off into the wilderness on your own, no agent, no traditional publisher, no distributor. Like intrepid explorers before you, here are a few things you are going to pay for yourself:

1. Story Editor – see question #1
2. Copy Editor - see question #1
3. Line Editor - see question #1
4. Book Designer - see question #2
5. Cover Artist - see question #2
6. Printer – Hardcover and softcover
7. Ebook Designer
8. Shipping – from printer to you to distributor, etc.
9. Distribution – Foreign and domestic
10. Promotion, Promotion, and Promotion
11. Marketing, Marketing, and Marketing
(And a bunch of others that I'm sure will hit your pocket when you least expect it)

I good guess would be somewhere between $2,500 to $10,000 to publish a book. The spread is a reflection of whether you even decide to go paper or stay with just an ebook. This can substantially reduce the costs in items 4, 6, 8, 9.

Don’t scrimp on editing. This is by far the most critical stage of the book's production. Reread question one and think about your team and how to create the best manuscript possible. At every stage there are ranges of costs, sometimes you get what you pay for, check credentials, and experience. Most writers protect their editors but realize they too have to eat, so they recommend them prudently. Saving here can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands.

The same for printing and shipping savings. There are now a number of print-on-demand (POD) houses, many locally, again get recommendations or call them and ask for samples. Never prepay a printer – never. And stay away from publishing packages, they will steal your money and do almost nothing for it. But I will tell you they have some of the best copywriters and dream weavers in the business – be extremely careful. And this is not a place to save money anyway. And a local POD means you can to your own pickup.

In addition there is CreateSpace, Ingram-Spark, and others that can help you produce a finished paperbook.

Co-Publishing – an old idea brought new
Some agents, writers, and even non-traditional publishers have formed what might loosely be called a publishing collective or association. Each talent brings to the table part of the many steps above. The author pays for the editing and promotion while the publisher pays for the cover, design, and publication. The agent may help with distribution and promotion giving direction and advice. The permutations are as varied as the talent of the individuals, some authors can do cover design (with guidance) and even ebook production. The arrangements are all laid out in their respective contracts and agreements. And it is critical to have a mutually agreed to contract before beginning. Just think what would happen if you pulled it off and the book made the bestseller list, huge sums of money pouring in – how do you split it equitably with each person having taken some risk (BTW – get a good lawyer as well, this is one of those unanticipated costs that pop-up).
Do not be discouraged. The opportunities are significant and well worth the effort. The days of just handing in a messy manuscript to an agent with a book popping out the other end are over. Self-publishing, co-publishing, associations, and even traditional publishing all go through the same steps, it is you the author and writer who now holds control.

More Later . . . . . . . . . .

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