Independent Publishing Part 2: eBook Publishing Budget

Independent Publishing Part 2: eBook Publishing Budget

Before you read: If you’re against investing in your book or you can’t or won’t spend any amount of money creating your book product, you’re probably not yet ready to publish. If so, this article isn’t for you. If you’re not prepared to invest, you can’t expect others to purchase.

Following the first book publishing budget article Independent Publishing: Print Book Publishing Budget, we’ll cover eBook publishing and more specifically eBook production.

The purpose of the budget series of articles is to allow you to plan your list of requirements in anticipation of starting eBook production. You don’t want to be caught out.

Firstly, the same amount of thought, preparation and quality should be taken when publishing an eBook just like any print book. Don’t be misguided by the thought that a digital book doesn’t require the same consideration as a print book, it’s simply not the case.

But the main difference with eBook production is the speed to market, where the independent author or publisher can upload their final EPUB or MOBI files directly to the retailer without going through a 3rd party distributor.

Factors such as only requiring a front cover, help speed up the production process, but as you’ll discover below eBook publishing still requires many of the same considerations and preparation necessary as print book publishing. Have the mindset that eBooks are simply just a different format of content.

Generally speaking, eBook production budgets can be lower than a typical print budget, but you’ll need to plan for a budget upfront as you would with print or any other product for that matter.

Remember, your book has to be worth people paying good money for. Make it a book worth talking about.

Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster – David Ogilvy click to tweet

EBook publishing budget breakdown

So let’s break down what a typical eBook publishing budget entails, for the serious author looking to create an income from selling books.

Note: this does not include marketing or platform building. This is just for the production of an 50,000 word eBook, with the quality that will sit confidently beside any trade published book and be able to gain traction in the marketplace.

Publishing imprint setup: $30 – $200

This isn’t any different to publishing a print book. Your own imprint allows you to publish as the publisher of record. It’s quite straightforward with most authors registering just as a sole proprietorship with ISBN’s registered using their publishing imprint name. The cost of registering your publishing business name depends on which country you reside in.

ISBN’s: $80 – $250

EBook publishing still requires that an ISBN is assigned to your eBook product intended for retail. You’ll likely be publishing more than one book, so investing in a block of 10 ISBN’s is going to save you significant time and money.

US authors can go to MyIdentifiers and get a block of 10 ISBN’s for $250.

Australian authors purchase from, where a block of 10 ISBN’s are $80.

Manuscript assessment: $150 – $350, based on page or word count

This happens earlier on in the process after the author has a second or third draft. The manuscript assessment is performed by a professional appraiser, who will identify any weaknesses and strengths in your manuscript. Aspects such as plot, character, message and inconsistencies will be reviewed. The author will receive a written report with additional comments the author can address to refine the manuscript ready for the next stage: editing.

EBook cover design (Front cover only): $200 – $450

This is your first and most important marketing tool. It’s not an arty piece for the gallery your neighbour creates for you. Your book cover design is a marketing tool that needs to make an impact on your potential buyers, this is their first impression. Everyone judges a book by the cover and this is amplified with eBooks because the online store is the first and sometimes last place some buyers will see it!

If your eBook is part of a series, be sure to consider series branding. Appoint a book cover designer that’s within this price bracket and receive a professional perspective. Remember that as an author you may be too close to your work to have an unbiased view, which is where a professional will help set you on the right path.

Copy-editing: $650 – $1600

Even if you have a limited budget, editing is an absolute must. Typos, bad grammar and awkward sentence structure is the biggest complaint and cause of negative reviews on Amazon.

Copy-editing is where your book becomes polished and better than it ever has been. A professional editor will work with you to polish your manuscript so it’s ready for publication. There’s other complexities such as language conversion from UK to US English or vice versa, fact and reference checks. A good, respectful editor will appreciate any questions you have and encourages clear and reassuring communication.

EBook formatting: $150 – $500

Designing the interior of an eBook is without a doubt one of the most neglected and misunderstood aspects to eBook publishing. The difference between a professional eBook format where care has been taken and an attempt at uploading a Word.doc to an automated grinder are world’s apart. Some authors unfortunately learn this the hard way.

EBook formatting shares similarities to print typesetting with regards to the design of chapter headers, title page, images, tables and lists. Unlike print typesetting, much of the eBook formatting takes place in code using HTML and CSS. A digital file is created, most commonly as an EPUB used for B&N Nook and Apple iPad, and a MOBI file for Amazon Kindle.

For inclusion into Apple’s iBookstore, the EPUB file MUST pass ‘EPUB CHECK validation’.

Do without the stress, headaches and uncertainty of eBook formatting and just get a professional to do it. It’s not expensive, it’s just a one off task and you’ll get a better quality product at the end.

Basic proofreading: $150 – $500

The proofreading pass is sometimes bypassed, but I highly recommend you get a basic proofread of your final formatted file. There’s often the odd typo, missing reference and sometimes links that don’t work which all need to be addressed. Nothing replaces having a fresh pair of eyes look over your book before release.

This part of the process is done once the eBook is formatted into an EPUB or MOBI where the proofreader can use viewing software on PC or MAC, or simply side-load and view on a device.

Start off on the right foot

Any successful independent author will tell you that a key part of a successful book that makes sales, is having a quality book to start with.

You can find any number of professionals to help you publish your eBook, online or recommendations from colleagues. You don’t need a huge budget or to learn the hard way by being ripped off by subsidy vendors. Some preparation up front goes a long way.

Amazon reviews from readers are evidence that readers appreciate a well designed book. The presentation enhances the reading experience, thus their overall opinion of the book. A good recipe for word of mouth.

From my experience, how people respond to your book, is largely based on the care, time and investment you’ve put into your book. If you haven’t invested or taken time with your book, don’t expect readers to.

Like I’ve stated previously, you’ve got to be hungry for publication. Selling books and building your platform has to be a ‘must’ for you, if you want to stand out and build loyal fans.

Time to get published and get noticed!

Be the captain of your own ship.

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