The Bottom Line: What Does an Entire Book Cost?
While it's all well
and good for me to say that I charge a straight hourly rate, that
doesn't much help a potential author estimate their cost. This page
will give you an idea of different kinds of illustrations and what
each might cost.
As far as text goes, I
don't charge by page count; with the tools that are available today,
most formatting and layout can be easily done by creating and
editing a master template. This means that I don't have to address
each and every page individually—
nor penalize you for having 500 pages rather than 200. Designing a
template and a "look" for your book is a pretty quick and
easy thing, and, after discussion with you, I can return several
designs for you to consider. Rather than the whole book, I'll
provide you three versions of a section of three pages, from which you can choose what
works best for you. This work can take as little as an hour or
upwards of three.
are potentially (but not necessarily) the most expensive part of any
design. Every book needs one and it is important. For folks browsing
the shelves of a store or clicking through screens of thumbnails
online, "don't judge a book by its cover" simply does not
hold true; people will make a snap judgment about your work
based on appearance. These examples are all from my own books.
Unless you are producing something that requires color on the inside
(such as a book of photographs), chances are your pages will be
black and white, and the covers will be your only option for color.
This is pretty much standard for self-publishing providers. The
actual design time for each was between one and two hours;
what sometimes took me as much time was finding the
"right" image! If you do the searching, it saves you money
—but make sure we have a discussion about image size and
resolution before you begin. That picture that looked
"perfect" on screen may not scale up to a book cover very
finding the right photo can be time-consuming, adjusting the
image so it will print well and placing it on the page takes
mere minutes. Let's say ten minutes to be generous. Bear in mind that heavy retouching or
reconstruction of damaged areas can add significantly to this.
even less time-consuming photo: one that I myself took to
illustrate an experiment I conducted for Sea Miner. In
your case, this could be a photo you provided; all I had to do
was play with the brightness and contrast and size it for the
page. However, if I need to set up shot based on your description, this can
take much longer than if your image is print-ready.
intricate-looking but actually simple diagram comprised of a
series of period images, which took ten to fifteen minutes to
assemble, size, and place. I had previously
drawn the three center figures, and these each took about a
quarter hour apiece. If these are factored in, the entire illustration
took an hour.
simple location map which took an hour to draw, with another
fifteen minutes to plot the various points.
map had to be researched from the ground up, requiring
sourcing period maps of the river (the course of which has
shifted since the time of the story) and topography. Once that
was done and the base map created, the positions of the
participants could be plotted. From start to finish, including
the research time, this one ate up a half dozen hours for
to the map above in that this required a lot of research in
period documents after creation of the base map. The raids on
existing towns were easy to plot, but the various camps could
only be situated by finding references to them in relation to
the towns and villages. Still, the base map was simpler than
the previous map and this took about five hours for $175.
Had I already had data for the camps' locations, this would
have been about one to two hours of work for $35-70.
straightforward line-drawn diagram made easier by being based
on period artwork. We're looking at an hour's worth of work
maximum, for $35.
based on a period line drawing, this 3d virtual model took
quite some time to build (upwards of seven or eight hours for $245-280).
Although the dimensional image makes it easier to understand
the device, this is pricey for one picture. The advantage of
making such an investment is that the camera could be
moved around to "see" the model from different
angles, thereby allowing multiple pictures from various points
of view. This alone brought the price per image down to $125-140
each. Also, as it was necessary to build the inside when
building the outside, shots of the interior could be rendered
by removing the top deck and tipping the camera downward. Per
image price then drops below $100. This was a fairly
simple model to build; more intricate ones take more time and
therefore run more money—but if you can use the one model
for more than one picture, the price plummets.
3d model based on a period schematic. This is much more
precise than the previous model, with machined parts that had
to fit perfectly inside or around other pieces. Still, the
number of parts was limited (even including the ones you
cannot see), and, overall, this took about four hours for $140.
As above, I got more than one picture from that work, as I
created the outer housing whole (rather than only as a
cutaway), so, after hiding the blown out parts, got several other
images from this one model.
Following are thumbnails of the entire Sea Miner book. It is
216 pages in length, comprised of 18 pages of front matter (all
text—title, copyright, and dedication pages, table of contents,
illustrations, and introduction), 28 pages of back matter (all
text—bibliography, index, picture credits, "about the
author," and ads for other books), and 121 pages of text with
40 illustrations that make up the body of the book (the balance
being blank pages). For a tabulation of what these cost, see the
chart below the page images.
23 existing photos
3 line drawings
3 line drawings
5 pictures of 3d model of box
Additional interior detail
2 pictures of 3d model of torpedo
Without 3d work
& editing costs
Without 3d work
Time in Hours
19.5 hours @ $35
5.5 hours @ $35 = $192.50
27.5 hours @ $35
13.5 hours @ $35 = $472.5