What does it cost to write and publish a book? There’s no single answer to this question, because it depends on how much trouble you go through on the book.
First, it’s going to take an inordinate amount of your time—thousands of hours. Get over it. This will be spread between writing, revisions, revisions (and did I say revisions?), then more time reviewing developmental and copy editor’s comments—usually more than one iteration, and it may be many.
For The Boy Who Ran—after it was written— I began with developmental editing. Some people give opinions for free but if you want a professional look you need to engage a professional Next, you’ll take the input, or inputs you’ve received and probably do some revision to the plot. Every plot has holes and they need to be fixed if you’ve got any sense of pride in doing a good job. Once you think the book is in decent shape, you need to engage a professional copy editor—don’t be cheap here, you want someone who works in the industry and has a record of editing many books like yours.
Editing costs for The Boy Who Ran (total) were around $2500 —and that was really a single shot, since I’d done so many revisions that the copy going in was in exceptional shape, and the book only had about 37,500 words (The Balance actually peaked at 150,000 words)
Design and artwork costs: Count on paying a quality professional for the interior design, say another 500 to 1000 dollars. You’ll need artwork for the front. I was lucky in that a close friend volunteered to draw the cover art for free, but then the cover needed a design, too, which was another $750 (not including artwork)—these are competitive prices, but through a proven quality house.
Next, the e-versions of the book will need to be scrubbed—say another $300 to make sure they’re in good shape—e-pub in particular usually requires that your book pass a test to be included in many catalogs, and it’s not even in high school.
There are also setup fees from the printer, and then (if you want copies) printing and shipping costs.
Next comes Marketing—the most expensive part of all. I hired a publicist to help me set up my web site and to get me started. His fee was around 3000, including some advertising. Most books get a budget in the thousands / month for ads. In my case, I’ve spent around $300 to $500 per month for a while.
Totals for The Boy Who Ran: Editing 2500 Book Cover Art: Free (unusual) Design: 1500 Marketing: 9000 Book Setup and Printing for copies: 2500
Around 15,500 + Trip to IPPY Awards Dinner and driving around to various bookstores
All told, the project has run me close to $20K
What do I get when a book’s sold? Less than $2, whether it’s a paperback or an e-book, sometimes less. Fewer than 7% of books sell even 1000 copies. Do the math. This isn’t a reliable way to make money, so if you’re in it for the money—don’t be.