So, how much does it cost to independently produce the print version of a book these days?
Well, Stealer of Flesh (currently available from Amazon, the Book Depository and any bookstore where you care to place an order ISBN: 978-1483969541) cost me somewhere under $125. To those of you who, like me, grew up in the world of Quark Xpress, offset printing and warehouse distribution, that number is probably jaw-dropping. Welcome to the new world of Print On Demand (POD) publishing.
Let’s take a look out how the figures break down. I used CreateSpace, Amazon’s print on demand subsidiary for the actual production. Signing up for an account was just as easy as signing up for a KDP account. It was a case of inputing some personal details and how I wanted to be paid and I was good to go.
The hardest part of book production for me has always been the cover. Each one is an individual exercise in layout based on the thickness of the spine which, in turn, is based on the number of pages and the type of paper. This turned out to be handled very easily by CreateSpace. I inputed my trim size (the actual measurement of the book, in this case a 5.5 inch by 8.25 inch trade paperback), the number of pages and the colour of paper I wanted (a choice between white and cream) and CreateSpace gave me a template with the exact size of the cover I required.
I cheated on the next step. I sent the details on this template to Clarissa Yeo at Bookcoversale.com who does my ebook covers and she set up the cover for me. Clarissa does a very nice package deal where the cost of the print cover adds only $25 to the cost of the ebook cover. Her full print cover deal is $85, her ebook cover only costs $60. I am going to subtract the cost of the ebook cover from that of the print book cover since the ebook had already been released at this stage. Anyway, as far as I was concerned, that was the hardest part of the production out of the way.
Next up I bought a multi-book license for the Crimson page layout template from Joel Friedlander at bookdesigntemplates.com. This cost $97. Joel is a professional in this field and his templates, which use open source fonts, look great.
I could have laid the book out myself but using the template made things very easy. It also stopped me from making very basic rookie mistakes like having page numbers on blank pages. Now I know you’re thinking you said producing the book cost less than $125, Bill, and there’s almost one hundred bucks right there. You’re right too but I have already got 3 books in the Kormak series and I can use the template for all three of them so I am going to divide the cost by three, rounding it up to $33 because I am lazy. The fact is that I will be able to use the template for future print books in the series giving it a nice consistent overall look, that will drop the price even more.
It took me a couple of hours to cut and paste the manuscript into the template but the process was simple and doubtless will become more so as I become more familiar with it.
Once that was done, I saved the Word file as a PDF and uploaded it and the cover to CreateSpace. I waited a few minutes, did a basic check of the online proofs just to make sure everything was OK and then ordered a print proof. At the end of the initial creation process I decided to pay $25 for extended distribution which means the book can be ordered by ISBN from any bookstore.
I confess I cannot remember how much I paid for the proof copy but I am pretty sure it was under $20 since I chose the slowest shipping option. There were some errors (made by me) in the layout but otherwise the book looked really excellent. I corrected the errors in Word, uploaded a new PDF, got another proof sent and this time everything looked fine. I approved the book and a couple of days later it was available on Amazon and ready to be shipped.
Total cost to me: $123 or so, including a couple of proofs shipped internationally.
What about other costs such as editing, artwork etc, I hear you ask. Well, I had already paid for those for the ebook so I am writing them off. I think this is fair since most indie publishers will probably be releasing ebook versions of their work and quite likely before the print version.
In the end, producing is a print book is more work than an ebook, that is for sure but it is worth it. At the end of the day there is something really nice about having an actual book sitting on your shelves.