Indie Publishing a Print Book

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 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 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.

11 Replies to “Indie Publishing a Print Book”

  1. Do you know about I put all of my jobs out to tender there. My covers come from a designer in Bangladesh and layout from a Romanian all sourced from there. Cover and layout together come to around the same price as yours – about $125.

  2. Kormak’s available in print? Fantastic! I’ll have a copy of that.

    As much as I love the convenience of ebooks, there is something wonderful about a shelf full of good books, it’s not quite the same scrolling through your kindle as it is ona shelf when looking for an old favourite to settle in for a good evenings reading.

    1. The first Kormak is now available in print, Jimmy. I’ll be rolling out the rest of them as and when I find the time.

      These days I tend to divide books into two kinds– the vast majority which I am happy to have in ebook format and the much rarer variety where I want a print book for my shelves. Obviously I am delighted to have the Kormak books in this format :). POD also gives me copies to send out to reviewers and it makes the books available to those die-hards who don’t like ereaders. This is a bit of an experiment since I have no idea how the books will sell compared to the ebooks but the cost was low enough to make the test worthwhile.

  3. I remember Quark XPress! That program was the devil! The inscrutable menus. The frequent, frequent file corruption. The ghastly hardware authentication keys. Or the way the server with the authentication key would unfailingly go down if four users happened to connect to it simultaneously.

    I did tech support for a college around the turn of the century so I may be biased. 🙂

    1. I don’t think you are biased, Jonathan :). As I recall from my experience way back in the 90s, Quark had a pretty steep learning curve. Radka and I still own a very old copy of InDesign but I could not be bothered re-learning how to use it. It’s not like a novel has a complex layout with pics which is mostly what I used DTP software for. And Clarissa did the only really hard bit of layout with the cover. It was the fear of having to do this that put me off doing print books for so long.

      1. I got a copy of InDesign. I got as far as opening a new document and being asked how many ‘picas’ wide I wanted it. Having no clue what a ‘pica’ was, I promptly gave up and decided that I would be better off throwing a few bucks to someone somewhere who could do it all for me instead!

        1. I can totally understand that, mate! Print production seems to delight in using utterly arcane measuring systems. I know I once knew what all of them meant but my aging brain has forgotten them all now.

  4. I’m pretty similar I must admit. Most of the physical books I buy these days are either out-of-print, aren’t available in ebook format, or just books I either really enjoyed or want in hardback.

    On one hand this means I have less physical books, but they are getting heavier so it isn’t going to make the next house move any easier. 😉

    1. I am sure I have mentioned this before but the last time we moved from Scotland to the Czech Republic, I shipped a ton and a half of books. I had acquired all of them in the two years we had been living in Scotland. I had left far more in storage in the Czech Republic when we moved to Scotland. If it were not for ebooks we would have to keep moving into larger and larger flats just to store my collection!

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