Printed books are simply composed of two parts — the cover and the interior. The cover is actually prepared as the front, back and spine for the printer. This is to fit the printer’s specifications or template provided. The interior is also prepared according to the printer’s specs but there are page count considerations or multiples of pages grouped into signatures (page counts of 4, 8, 16, or 32) in traditional printing.

Generally with traditional printing, the longer the run the lower the per book cost. You may need to print a thousand or more to lower the per book cost to compete with Print On Demand per book costs. That means a cost of several thousand dollars before you sell any of the books. I have advised my clients to take the print on demand (POD) approach to greatly reduce these up-front costs. The prepress work in preparing the book is generally the same cost-wise but there are no concerns about page count for signature groupings when using POD services. As page count increases the cost per book also increases, however. We have worked with LightningSource and CreateSpace.

My base charge for the cover is $250. The minimum charge for a typical work of fiction for the interior is $250 or $3/page whichever is greater. The process is simple. We choose a book size (like 6” x 9” for example) and style (a typographical look) for the interior. Samples are created until agreed upon. This usually takes a couple of previews. The cover includes the front, back and spine and sometimes inside flaps if it is a wrap-around for a hard cover book. The designer needs the back cover content and any images supplied. Sometimes a publisher’s logo must be created. The spine thickness is a function of the number of pages and type of paper used. So the final design for print may wait for a final page count to get the spine thickness correct. So the cover design itself usually has more proofs before it is ready for print. Therefore cover costs can exceed $500. The things that make the interior of the book cost more are: many type style changes within the content, images, and charts. It sometimes occurs that editing continues into this part of the process when final copy should have been provided and that will increase cost. Once I know all the details, the quote will be very accurate.

The author or publisher should keep in mind that fancy or complex typography that will look nice in the printed book may not hold up well when going to digital only. Much of those fancy dressing up of the text like shaded backgrounds and boxes will be lost when converting to digital sales set-ups like iTunes, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. Their readers like iPads, Nooks and Kindles require different formatting. Once all is known an exact price will be quoted for that work. Some projects do however change and grow, known in the industry as project creep. When that happens revised quotes will be made and agreed upon before proceeding.

If your printed book were to then go to an on-line all-digital system like iTunes, I would quote that after the book was finished. When working with an on-line service like iTunes or Amazon, some of the account set up is done by the author or publisher and other parts by like uploading the book content and cover art is part of our service. Some authors or publishers only use one source while others use several so the price depends upon the plan.

The more you can save up front, the more you can be put into marketing. Most of my publisher clients have had web sites created to assist them with marketing. Another reason to work with experienced book designers and an experienced website team.