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Avoiding sticker shock

Deciding to write your book is a big deal. Producing a quality book will require months of your time, significant commitment, and patience. And, it will require money. That’s the part that causes pulses to quicken and jaws to drop. The reality of a book writing journey is often quite different from the idealistic vision of a first-time author.

A book is an investment

Producing a quality book is an investment. For most authors, the return on investment is indirect. You will see the benefit in your business or career, or the satisfaction of crossing it off your bucket list, but most likely not in actual book sales.

“But I can create a book for cheap money,” you might argue, and you would be correct. But just like choosing an economy car over a luxury one, there are tradeoffs. Keep in mind that a book is forever. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. And just like spotting an economy car in a parking lot, you don’t have to be an expert to spot an economy book. I hope you noted my use of the term “quality book.”

Three investment points

A quality book requires investment at three stages of the journey: ghostwriting, publishing, and marketing/promotion. If you choose to write your own book, you will still need to invest in the other two stages. Ghostwriting is my area of expertise, so I’ve included approximate costs for the publishing and marketing stages.

  • Ghostwriting fees are based on the writer’s experience, the genre, and the complexity of your project. Experienced writers charge $1 to $3 per word or more, and charge on a per project basis. As a reference point, a typical memoir or business book is approximately 40k to 50k words. Ghostwriters charge a higher rate for books for which they receive no writing credit.

  • Production costs span a broad range from $3,000 to $100,000 or more, based on the services provided. The average fee to publish through independent or hybrid publishers starts at $20,000.

  • Marketing and promotion costs span the same broad range as production, also based on the services provided. Plan to invest a minimum of $5,000.

Two exceptions

  • An author can produce a book for less than stated above through DIY writing and self publishing.

  • An author can offset costs with an advance from a traditional publishing deal.

One final thought

Your book is important to more than just you. The world needs your voice and your wisdom. Consider what I’ve shared about this investment. Once you catch your breath, do your own research. Compare ghostwriters, publishers, and book marketing agencies. Make the best decision based on your budget and your goals.

Then just do it. Because you will only regret not writing your book.


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