Cost estimates to book launch — it takes longer than you think

In my last post, I commented that the workload and learning curve don’t slacken off once a book is launched. This post looks back at just what was involved in getting as far as the launch. Back in January this year when I decided to go ahead and self-publish, I happened to see a post on author Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog where she listed all the steps in self-publishing one of her books as an e-book and a POD paperback.  I love making lists, so I immediately started my own, but mine is for a traditionally printed book.

Here’s my list:

  1. Make a rough estimate of unit costs for digital printing using the online calculator of a local digital printing digital firm
  2. Request estimates from other printers
  3. Request estimates from book designers (for cover and interior design and layout)
  4. Crunch numbers
  5. Visit a printer to discuss requirements and request a quote
  6. Receive quote from printer and re do numbers
  7. Start working on blurb (harder to write than the entire book)
  8. Arrange editing (editor can’t start until following month)
  9. Begin work on marketing materials
  10. Send draft manuscript to editor
  11. Receive edited manuscript
  12. Work through changes one by one (very time consuming)
  13. Response to editor’s changes
  14. Receive final version from editor
  15. Check to make sure no errors in edits
  16. Meeting with printer
  17. Meeting to brief the designer
  18. Apply for an ISBN
  19. Meetings with designer to review design suggestions for cover and interior
  20. Interior to designer
  21. Start work on website
  22. Arrange head and shoulders photo for back cover, website etc
  23. Receive PDF printout from designer and proof read it
  24. Apply for Cataloguing in Publication record
  25. Two more rounds of proof-reading
  26. Negotiations about design cost overruns that I wasn’t informed of until the work was completed; re-do figures and feel slightly ill
  27. Check final proofs before printing
  28. Prepare fact sheet about the book
  29. List book with Nielsens (best thing I did!)
  30. Start arranging talks and preparing presentations in anticipation
  31. Contact a small number of magazines, websites and organisations offering review copies (and defer sending review copies to bigger publications until I’m generating some sales)
  32. Arrange interview on local community radio
  33. More work on website and blog
  34. Send out launch invitations
  35. Pick up boxes of printed books from the printer
  36. Send two copies to National Library for legal deposit
  37. Launch
  38. Receive and process first orders (invoicing, packaging, repeated trips to the Post Office)
  39. Record radio interview
  40. Arrange a distributor

This is just a summary; it doesn’t take into account how long it took to complete some of the tasks or the hours of figuring out how to do some of them. And it doesn’t even hint at the previous two years of research and writing. The best thing about this list, for me, is I can use it as a starting point if I ever embark on another self-publishing adventure, although I probably wouldn’t do it quite the same way again.

Even though I stopped my list at item #40, the work is never-ending. Sure, having a distributor lessens the workload, but I’m still busy marketing and hardly a day goes past without me doing something related to getting word out about the book. Yesterday it was a presentation and today it’s a blog post.

3 thoughts on “Cost estimates to book launch — it takes longer than you think

    1. janet Post author

      …and it’s not over yet! These days I try to do at least one thing every day to promote the book and keep the momentum going.


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