How many thousands of authors have gone on a self-publishing website to find out what it will cost to publish their book and ended up hitting the keyboard in frustration? "Just tell me how much, please!" they yell at the screen. We would love to. Both authors and publishers want to be efficient - the problem is just that they are each sitting with very different information, which needs to be combined in order to proceed.
The publisher may know what services cost, but it is like sitting with half an equation; they need the variable to be able to calculate a price. Only the author knows how many pages/words the book is, how many copies they want, or how they would like to distribute the book. Of course, some of these things the publisher can and should advise on (they know a lot about distribution, for example, and can give the author crucial insights that will allow them to make a decision) but it is also important that the author brings their own contribution.
Beware of publishing packages that give you a set price. These usually give you the bare minimum - template designs, no editing, a tiny number of print books, etc. - and will try to squeeze your book into a "one size fits all". Those offering an upfront prize are usually looking to entice the author with a figure and expend as little effort as possible on the book. This is not to say that a publishing package deal isn't positive. Sometimes the overall price is reduced because the author is purchasing multiple services at once and being a good customer.
So how much does self-publishing usually cost? For a detailed look at why is can be expensive, read our previous blog post here. Again, there really is no set answer to this. It can be cheap, especially if you only want an online presence. But it can also be very expensive the more extensive the project is. "Spend money to make money" is a cliché but it applies to the publishing industry. The better the service, the higher the cost. There is, for example, a huge difference in price between a set template design and an illustration on which the designer has spent many hours of work, feedback sessions and alterations. But likewise, a book which has been expensively designed is more likely to sell. Ultimately, the author has to weigh up these factors and make an informed decision.
How to get a quote?
It really is very simple. The fastest, most reliable way is to tell the publisher about your book, the technicalities (word count, which services you want etc.) and your plans for it. An open dialogue with the publisher is the best way forward. When this is in place, the price can easily be calculated and you can begin your publishing journey!