Dear reader, how would you feel if by the end of the month someone took your wages and expected you to be okay with it? It takes a lot of sold books to even make a little money. To see people blatantly steal your work and sharing, well I’m furious on their behalf. If you can’t afford to buy ebooks, then there’s plenty of libraries where you can borrow books online.
It is not cheap to publish a book and promote it. I’ve asked authors to share their expenses so you can see how much hard work and money they pour into publishing.
▪︎Time spent writing: 2-5 hours a day, approx 30 days for a 50k word book
▪︎Editing – most editors charge around .05¢/word – plus another 5-10 hours once we get it back to make changes
▪︎Proofreading – personally, I don’t pay for this, but add another 10 hours of time from 3 people
▪︎Cover – premade around $30, customs can be hundreds
▪︎Formatting – I do myself, about an hour of time
▪︎Promotion – paid promotions are anywhere from $10-$500, Amazon fluctuates but anywhere from .10¢-$2 per click, plus the 4-6 hours a day spent on social media marketing myself and my books or keeping up with book-related stuff, promo graphics are $7-$10 each
▪︎PA – I don’t use one, but I think $20/hour is average.
▪︎Time spent writing- varies anywhere from 2-3 months
▪︎Editing – 2-3 weeks (plus I edit as I go) cost from $200- 800 depending on the word count
▪︎Proofreading – included above
▪︎Formatting not sure
▪︎Promotion gah… last year I spent over 2k
▪︎PA @200 per month
Time spent writing/editing: call it 500 hours
Editing costs: $2500
Proofreading: I do it myself, backwards, call it 30 hours
Promotion: Who knows, $50 – $3000 (depends what you do)
PA: don’t have one.
I’ve never tracked the time I spend writing; the fastest I ever wrote a novel was 30 days, but not full-time.
Editing: $500–800 US
Formatting: do it myself; 10–15 hours?
Time on the book itself- anywhere up to 500 hours.
For reference, if writing were average paid work at minimum wage- 8.20 per hour, that’s 4100.
0.07 per word developmental,
Proofreading- 0.02 per word.
0.14 per word all in.
This is not the average.
Cover. 100-300 depending on designer, pre-made or custom, genre.
Hand painted- more like 500+
Formatting- 50 basic
Promotion- release week 250 for paid promos. 250 ads. Ads continue.
Then there’s setting up promo, that takes hours. Cost it at 200 in billable hours.
So let’s say a 75000 word book without getting paid a penny for the writing time and hours spent on promotion, with a custom cover at 300, you’re looking at 1600 just to create the thing.
Add paid, billable hours for the writing/promotion you’re looking at about 5000 and
I’m not taking into account running costs of websites, mailing lists, other essential subscriptions.
All in, you’re looking at 7400 for a book that is likely to be mostly read in KU.
But if youre lucky and have a huge wide audience and want to make that back from sales alone, you’re talking over 2400 units at 3.99
Writing the book, about 100 hours, editing $1200 plus 4-5 days of work, cover $900, and then marketing. That’s for a cosy mystery. Fantasy takes me way, way longer and is more expensive to edit.
Time spent writing: 200-500 hours
Editing costs: roughly $1500
Editing time: 2-5 weeks
Cover: $150-$350 per cover
Promo time: .25-1.5 hours a day for the two weeks leading up and around the month after
Amount of heart, soul, and tears put into each work: *insert infinity* ♾
Editing includes the proof- edit is around $800 and proof is $500. If I do a copy it varies.
Months and hours of writing.
Editing cost depending on the length can be anywhere from 75 to 600 dollars. This is combined if you are paying for types of editing. Covers can be anywhere from 80 to 300 but average seems to be about 150. Time editing both before and after it goes to an editor weeks. Time and money spent on promotions again it’s a large range and depending on budgets. I spend two or three hours a week on posting my books, more on release week and month. Then there is the cost of turning it in for copyright, cost for software, sites such as Bookfunnel, calibre, while you can do free sites as time goes on you eventually have to pay for them. Then, you have your website and marketing that type stuff. You rarely make your money back within a year or two depending on what all you are doing other than writing and how popular your books are.
It’s variable for sure, but I’d say…
$1K covers a cover & editing,
I spend $1,000-3000/month on ads,
$10-100 other promo & giveaways,
and TIME. That’s the biggest, most valuable asset they’re stealing IMO. Time away from family, friends, and other things, time spent marketing and writing NLs, interacting in groups, posting in our groups, and then the time to outline, write and edit, so even if I paid myself minimum wage of $10/hr, I’d be out a LOT of money.
Cover Art just for the ebook only- $220
Editing by a professional- $350-400 (the longer the book, the more expensive… also you get what you pay for)
Promotions including giveaways of paperbacks and ebooks, gift cards, etc. – $100-$150
2 passes of editing by myself 40 hours (let’s just say this is worth $30 an hour which is cheap for my hourly rate as a teacher lol) That’s $1200
Time spent writing a 71,000 word book, roughly 150 hours, probably more though. How much is my time worth? Let’s just go with the $30 an hour. Zip recruiter says freelancer writers make between $11-50 an hour. $4500
This does not include all the time spent on social media, promoting, buying program to format, other tools, etc.
Low estimate total cost of writing a book: $6500-$7000
Promotion – as much as you like but also time in takeovers, links on socials etc plus newsletter ($15/month to bookfunnel)
Time writing not working – um, most of the month, each month.
*in my short experience*
-Time spent writing each day: 12-14 hours 6 days a week, the last day a week usually 6 hours (total 78-104)
-editing: average for copy/line/proofing $450-650 depending on length, for developmental editing add on another few hundred (don’t do for all series)
-formatting: free because I do it myself but I have subscriptions for stock photos for chapter graphics, charges to purchase fonts, and if I do custom paperback it averages me 3 business days of solid work because it’s so intensive
-promotion: average $250-500 a month between street team, giveaways for releases, and shipping
-PA: part time $175, looking to have a second one for street team management which will probably be another $100
Another thing to note- KU page reads are 0.004 per page read. So to make 100 dollars there has to be at least 25,000 pages read in a month (in the US, doesn’t include conversions from other countries). We also don’t get paid for 2 months if it’s from Amazon (well be getting paid Decembers royalties on the 29th of this month)
None of this includes times spend designing, doing social media scheduling/self promoting, or doing takeovers, lack of insurance and dealing with taxes, the mental and physical capacity it takes to constantly be open to judgement of readers, other authors, and the community as a whole especially on turn around time for releases and dealing with reviews on something you’ve worked so hard on, or physical injuries that can stem from working as an author (carpal tunnel, bad eating habits, lack of physical exercise, migraines from staring at a screen all day) all of which takes it’s toll that can’t quantifiably be measured.
▪︎Time spent writing – between three weeks and three months – maybe 80-100 hours
▪︎Editing – $300
▪︎Proofreading – time – so 20 hours
▪︎Cover – do it myself so under $20
▪︎Formatting – do it myself so time – 4 hours
▪︎Promotion – time – 100 hours
▪︎PA – oh, that’s me too! Give it another 100 hours
So, per book I lose about 330 hours with my kids almost two weeks. And I’m out about $320 dollars. If I go money per hour, it costs me around 10k to put out a book.
▪︎Time spent writing: No idea, since I can’t write full time and have yet to find a groove that works with my work and personal life. But it takes me about a year to put out one book. Snail-like, I know.
▪︎Editing: Developmental, copyedit, and proofread all ads up to around 3000-4000€
▪︎Formatting: I do it myself, so nothing
▪︎Promotion: 100€ per month (haven’t been too serious with it yet.)
▪︎PA: 50€ month
Depending on how much you want to spend.
But for me it’s is roughly this.
Buying a cover costs around 300 dollar, depending on the quality that you want.
Editor depending on word count and how many times they go over it. For me was that roughly 800 dollars.
Proofread, was around 350 dollars.
Then I have a book funnel account, 100 dollars a year.
Writing programs like scrivener and dabble, roughly 150 dollars.
Don’t forget a laptop or computer to write on.
Then formatting, done by someone else it was 55 dollars. And buying the software was around 250 dollars.
Then of course the promotion. Paying for advertising, depends on what the author wants. But can go up to 150 dollars easily.
Putting in time to do promotions. That can take up an 8 hour work day.
Paying someone to have promotion material made. Or spending the time to do it yourself.
Writing, a full day of writing is 8 hours for me. If I’m going fast I hit 10k. If it’s a slow day I write over 5k. If the book is 100k long it takes me roughly between the 80 and 160 hours. That’s only writing the first draft. Editing, rewriting takes half that time (for me). Then it’s send to the beta’s, who go over it. This takes up a week, easily.
Getting it back, I go over it. Which depends on how much needs to be done, could take between 2 and 5 days. Then it goes to the editor. That is between one and two weeks. Then I get it back, and read over the editors notes, adjust things. This takes between a day and 5 depending on how much needs to be done. After that it goes either to the proof reader for one last check. Which is another 3 days. After that it goes to the arc readers. And then it’s off to being published.
And this all is when everything goes alright. That no other things come in between and I have a full days of work.
Still it’s a lot of work, a whole process to make the world’s come to life.
Having people pirate your books means that all your hard work, time and money is thrown out of the window.
For an 80,000 novel
Time spent writing: 4-6 months. It’s not just butt-in-chair time, it takes a long time for me to build up the characters and map out the story.
▪︎Formatting: I do this myself, but the program I bought to do it was… I think $125
▪︎Promotion: For the release month, probably $800-$1000
▪︎PA: I don’t currently have a PA.
Writing a 100 – 120k book = 2 to 3 months part time
Editing – $0.02 per word (dev/line+copy/proof
Cover – $300 + $50 for paperback cover
Formatting – $100 (ebook and pb combo)
Promo – Depends on budget but typically ~ $200 – $400 per book release
PA – undisclosed but worth the cost due she allows me to write more since she is dealing with the behind the scenes stuff.
Writing: anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months full time
Editing: depends on length of book but between 300 to 500
Cover: I’ve spent anywhere form 200 to 2k on a cover
Formatting: I format my own
Promo: 1k to 4k
PA: about 300 a month for about 20 to 30 hours.