The short answer is that you can self-publish for free and you can self-publish for £10,000, which must make you think why would I pay when I can do it for free? The problem with questions about price is that they are nearly always the wrong question. The question should be what is the best value?

If you go to Lulu (the online publisher, not the Scottish singer) you can get your book produced for free. There will be a print cost, but even then you can do print on demand so your costs will be low, but will it be the product you want? If you’re looking for a short run or to get your book out in the open and into the hands of your friends and family this could well be your best choice. Although you would also have to consider that the cover design would be basic and there would be no editing or proof-reading (when done for free). It is then your choice to decide if the quality is the standard you would like or if you think your book would sit happily on the stand in Waterstones.

That is an excellent benchmark for your book. Imagine your book in there with the greats. JK, Stephen King, James Patterson and good old Agatha Christie. How does your book look? Is the cover shiny? Does it look professionally designed? In fact, does it look out of place sitting there, because if it does it means you’ve skimped. Which also means you are asking a reader to give you £7.99 of their money to read your less than perfect book. Would you buy it?

Let’s move on a stage. What might the costs be? I’ve seen companies offering ‘book deals’ for a £2300 investment. For that, the publisher would retain the rights to your book and you would get five ‘free’ copies and you could buy further copies at a discounted rate. I’ve seen another company that advertises that they will produce a 60,000 word book for £4400; an 80,000 word book for £5500 and a 100,000 word book for £8000. They will also ghost-write your book for £15,000, so you don’t have to write a word. Apart from the cheque, of course. (Some people still use them.)

What a person is prepared to pay is entirely up to them, but let’s look at what you might expect. When we put our price packages together we wanted to give the author good value and be able to provide a professional service. We have two packages. This is for the publishing of the book. We also have marketing packages that are separate.

Package one includes 100 copies of your book, two ISBN numbers (one for the paperback and one for the ebook), we take care of all the metadata requirements (that’s providing your book details to Nielsen so your book can be ordered in a shop and we send your book to the British Library) and design your cover. We do all of this for £1800.

If you need a service that takes care of the layout, the editing and proof-reading that’s our package two which comes to £2995. This reflects the extra time and expertise it takes to perform these tasks.

We’re not the cheapest and we’re not the most expensive, but we do give good value for money and support to the author. After all, that’s the point of a publishing company existing, isn’t it? To bring new works for a wider readership. That covers the production of the book. The next question is what about the marketing?

I do feel that the biggest mistake that most creative people make is skimping on their marketing budget. They spend all their time creating and most feel they don’t want to get involved in the ‘selling’ side. If that’s you, then you’re going to be disappointed in your sales. It’s a must and whether you do it, or you pay others to do it (it is a service we provide) then you have to accept that it has to be done.

How much should you budget for marketing? There is one school of thought that you should spend at least as much as you did on creating the book. Of course, there are others with a more flexible approach. Either way you do need to think about what can be done. You start with your close friends and family, then sort your social media, get reviews for the book, find local book clubs and organically build a following. You might also write press releases for local radio and press and get publicity this way. All of this helps; you just have to bear in mind that the money you save is then costed in the time you spend. There is always a bargain to be struck.

In a nutshell the things to consider when thinking of cost are (a) the look and feel of the book ie cover design, paper stock and font. (b) the service you feel you need ie how much help and support do you need (c) the marketing element (d) are you a good fit with the publishing company and (e) your budget and what you feel is value for money.

As always if this has inspired more questions contact us at 3P Publishing on 01536 560410 or email andy@3ppublishing.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.

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