How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book?

A friend of mine emailed and asked:

If you don’t mind me asking, how much did it cost you to publish your book (or your dad’s)? You seem to be doing all of the important things that subsidy presses do and probably at considerable savings.

I’m still refining my publishing process, and I don’t intend to publish many books by other authors (which is more expensive than publishing my own books, because you have to coordinate between two people, rather than just between the two sides of my own brain). But here’s what I’ve found out so far:

So I could get the actual cost down to about $150, if I needed to. That’s probably a tenth what many subsidized presses charge. And then I could get copies for a little over the actual printing cost. But this is all true only because I have such a wide range of experience in writing, layout, graphics, and business and because I did my homework before diving in. That makes me an expert, but that expertise did not come easily. And now that I’m set up, I’m hoping to outsource much more in the future, everything I don’t need to oversee personally, as my publishing empire grows.


P.S. If you do want to start your own self-publishing company, a must-read book is Aaron Shepard’s Aiming at Amazon. (But you might want to wait for the 2008/2009 edition.) His advice on setting up as a publisher is all pretty sound, even the part about getting on Amazon. What I would add to it is that you should never depend on one sales channel, even Amazon, unless that one sales channel is you yourself (or rather, your own company), and that you should probably be your biggest sales channel anyhow.