What’s it cost? We don’t mean to be either misleading or infuriating when we say, “That depends.” Prices have ranged from $500 for a simple edit and format to get your ebook on line, to $6000+ for “the works” — a full ebook plus paperback or hardcover edition, ready to order from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.
A typical 50,000-word novel, finished, with a free-image or supplied-art cover in both ebook and paperback, that arrives in workable manuscript form usually runs in the $2000-$2500 range.
Covers range from simple to complex. Images run from free to, well, expensive; and ultimate designs can be yours or ours.
Editing can be simple and straightforward, or it can be complicated.
If your work is well-composed, but you’re just an awful speller (as long as we don’t have to guess what word you want!), or you just can’t get that apostrophe to appear in the right places, or you don’t know whether to write “mom” or “Mom,” or you can’t get around to starting a new paragraph… that’s simple and straightforward.
If you require copy editing – making sense of disjointed phrases, ideas, or quotes – you can expect to pay more.
If your story is on the borderline, we may suggest that we do a formal reading and critique, which you may want us to present before you begin your rewrite. (Your .doc or .docx manuscript will be returned with tracked changes and comments throughout, and we may include a separate essay, as well. Such a 50,000-word MS critique is priced at $500.)
Finally, if your story, in our opinion, cannot be worked into a publication-worthy piece, we will send you a polite note suggesting you give your book another look.
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So far, that tells you pretty much nothing about what you can expect to pay, so here are some rough guidelines, assuming the editing is complete:
Working from the last steps to the first:
Print typesetting: Once your text is in order for printing as a paperback or hard cover book and your front and back matter complete, once your last SGP error has been corrected or purged, and once your page size, type style and size, and general style are determined, we typeset your book. Literally every line of every page is sized to fit and to make the page easy on the reader’s eyes and consistent with the author’s (your) vision of style.
In the typesetting phase, we finalize every type style, then plan and lay out every page, one at a time. Did you ever wonder how well-done books don’t have hyphens (except in hyphenated words), how a page never begins with the last single line from a preceding paragraph, how every chapter begins on a new page, or even on a recto (right-side) page? Did you notice the author’s name and the book’s title, or the chapter’s name on every page? Isn’t it nice to not have to split the book open, just to read the ends or beginnings of words that are buried deep in the spine? Isn’t it subconsciously comfortable when the page numbers are in easy-to-find places, yet unobtrusive? That’s the result of typesetting. If it’s great, you don’t see it!
Depending on the size of your page and your chosen type, you may find a hundred words on a page, or two hundred-fifty. So we charge by the word, not the page. Yes, smaller pages are more difficult: there are more page numbers, more chapter and author’s names, more fitting lines to smaller places, but over the course of a three-hundred-page book, the routine of hand-layout becomes… almost routine.
Typesetting includes special formatting for your title page and other front and back matter, all of which don’t figure into the word count. All this considered, a 50,000-word novel takes three full days to typeset.
Typesetting is the most important visual part of your book other than the cover, and your cost is around $500 (on the low side if you have clean copy and a clear idea of what you’d like; a bit higher if our typesetter has to make SGP changes here and there). What you pay is guaranteed at the lower rate if we do the rest of the editing. (If you do it, and it’s perfect, you’ll still get the lower rate.)
Here’s the cool part: if you are using us for both print and e-book at the same time, your e-book typesetting is going to cost you just 10% over the cost of your print typesetting charge. In other words, $50!
E-book typesetting: in reality, there’s no such thing. With e-books, we format your work so that virtually all popular e-book formats can easily and effortlessly read your book.
We do the extras, too: in formats where an e-reader functions this way, your Table of Contents is “linked.” That is, when you click on a Chapter’s title, you skip directly to that chapter. If you like, we can also “back-link.” If, in the body of your book, the reader clicks on the chapter’s title, he or she be transported back to the Table of Contents.
When we format your original, clean Word .doc or .docx file for e-readers, your buyers will be able to use the features of their own brands and systems.
For e-book formatting only from your clean 50,000-word .doc or .docx file (again, it’s guaranteed clean if we do it), figure $200. As mentioned above, if you’re also going for a print edition at the same time, there’s a great deal to do.
Typesetting charges above also include the printers’ setup fees, if you use our preferred printer.
ISBN (International Standard Book Number) assignment:
If you look this up, you’ll see there are many ways to obtain an ISBN for your book. If you furnish your ISBN (separately for each edition – the ISBN for your e-book will not be the same as the ISBN for your paperback or hard cover edition) or use our preferred printer(s), we charge you no fee. Because of this, it’s smart to use our printer(s) or obtain your own ISBN for each edition. More info: isbn-international.org
Cover: Your book, whether e-book or print, needs a cover. This can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be, and our artists can work with your idea, image, or whatever you give us (within reason). We can’t, don’t, and won’t check copyrights on cover art that you provide, and we don’t bear any responsibility for whatever copyright infringements you may stumble into. Therefore, we recommend that you use a professional artist or cover designer, available in multiple sites on the Internet. (We will provide file specifications and a final template for print editions, once we know the particulars – book size, ISBN, total page count, paper type, so your artist can avoid your having to pay us any more money.)
E-book covers are much easier. You don’t need to make them to an exact size, or provide back-cover art, or ensure the spine is just right.
If you are engaging an artist for your print-edition cover, the artist will usually include an e-book cover image for free.
If you do want us to provide your cover art, we work on a cost-plus basis, with your artist or with one of our preferred providers. And yes, you’ll see all the concepts before you’re charged a dime. Such contracted talent is provided on a cost-plus basis, and covers can range from $50 to …how much do you want to spend?
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation (SGP) edit (proofreading):
It’s great that today’s available tools (e.g., spell-check, Grammarly, ProWritingAid) flag so many of our routine errors, but there is no substitute for a human’s look, once the automated systems have given the “all-clear.”
In order of cost and effectiveness, you need to use the automated tools; read your book yourself, again; have a literate friend read your work; pay your literate friend to do the SGP read-through; or have us do it.
It takes a reader who is paying attention to details and fixing errors on the way several hours to read and correct a 50,000-word novel. You can expect to pay us about $300 to do this. While we love to do it, many authors find it attractive to have us skip this step, and to cover it themselves.
Line (style) editing:
We’ll work to be sure your book matches your audience, is consistent in its tone and point of view (POV), has dialogue that stays consistent with each character and an overall vocabulary that fits the period and region in which your work is set; and that all the content fits a consistent style.
Even (or especially) if you do everything else yourself, please have someone else do your copy editing. Your copy editor will check or correct your POV for consistency from both a reader’s comprehension and within your work, major character by character. This can include everything from routine SGP corrections in the regular course of the edit (not to the level of proofreading, but to facilitate the editor’s ease of working with your manuscript), to fact-checking, location and historical verification. After a good copy editor has finished with your manuscript, you will know what further steps you will need to take.
Face it: sometimes, we’re so close to our work that we fail to see major errors in it. These can include timeline breaches, name-switching, superfluous or incomprehensible characters, or “things that just can’t happen.” You can fix most of these, sometimes easily. But you can’t fix anything if you don’t know you have a problem, or at least a question.
Once you see these big problems, either because you returned to your work after a hiatus and viewed it with new eyes, or someone pointed them out, you can decide how to fix them, modify the story, or do a major rewrite. Or start a new story altogether, rather than make so many modifications that your original will lack the spark that inspired it in the first place.
After an assessment (or “initial review”), you will make the biggest decision about this work: whether you want to continue, and how. Though abandoning your project may be gut-wrenching, it may be the best course of action, saving you unimaginable angst or work. An assessment can also be a great motivator, and it may help you turn your good manuscript into a smash.
Both Assessments and Copy editing are billed at the rate of $60/hour.
If you need to jump the line, that’s sometimes possible, depending on our workload. If we can, we’ll honor your request, and we’ll tell you the truth, ahead of time. Depending on our workload, rush work will carry a 10% to 30% premium.