Update 2/19/2014: After I posted this, a friend pointed me toward a post that delineated the costs of the various steps toward self-publishing.
Developmental editing costs $45-$65 per hour. The minimum cost for 280 typescript pages is $2,520. Maximum could be as much as $18,000 depending how much work the book needs. Copy-editing costs $25-$50 per hour, so the minimum would be $840 and, if the book needs extensive work, $7,000. Cover design will run $150 to $3,500. Print and digital formatting runs from $0 to $2,500. ISBN identification codes for print books cost $125. Distribution is free. Reviews cost $425 from Kirkus and $149 from Publishers Weekly. Marketing costs $40 to $60 per hour. Good book publicists can get you reviews, radio spots and press. $1,000 to $5,000 per month.
So, figure a middlish total — $4,000 editing; $2,000 copy-editing; $1,000 cover; $1,000 formatting, ISBN and basic reviews; $4,000 marketing — equals $12,000 to get the first copy out the door and into the hands of readers. You can skip or DIY any or all of these steps, but a publishing company wouldn’t.
There’s an axiom in publishing that says something like 90 percent of the work goes into selling the first copy. I asked a couple of editor friends for details and this is what they said. A quick (very incomplete) list for reference.
- Book design
- Cover art
- Type-setting for print
- Coding for ebook
- Jacket copy / blurbs
- Creating and booking ads
- Sending out review copies
- Setting up a book tour
- Setting up interviews / guest posts
- Co-op (getting good placement in bookstores)
- Bookstore sales (getting bookstores to carry the title)
- Accounting / Taxes
- Licensing (Foreign Rights, Audio, etc.)
- Infringement monitoring and take-down notices