In this post, we ask and answer the question: How much does it cost to write a book?
This is another post in a series of How Much questions. Previously we looked at how much blood you need in a crime novel, how much sex you need in a sex scene, how much detail you need in a novel, and how much profanity you need in a novel. In today’s post, we look at how much it costs to write a book.
Theoretically, it costs nothing. You need an idea, some pen and paper, and some time. That is it, right?
When we start writing our books, we simply put the words down and hope for the best. As we become more experienced, we realise that there may be more to this writing thing. We also realise that we may need a little help.
How much help depends on your background or experience. If you work in a field where you write a lot, you may find the transition easier. You may, for example, have studied journalism. That will have taught you to write. Switching to fiction will be easier for you than for someone who hasn’t written stories before. Or someone who hasn’t written since high school.
How Much Does It Cost To Write A Book?
Reading as much in your chosen genre is still the best way to learn. The challenge is that there is a lot to read (hehe, not really a problem, right?) and there is so much variety. Unless we have learnt to read like a writer, it is hard to know what to pay attention to and what to apply to our own writing. Still, this is the place from where you should start and from which you should never stop learning.
The cost: whatever a book costs.
The internet is also a great resource, but there is so much out there. It can be overwhelming in the beginning before you know what your strengths are and what kind of writer you are. The advice can sometimes be contradictory. Choose one, maybe two, resources that resonate with you and learn and apply as much as you can before moving on to the next one.
The cost: mostly free.
Books about the craft of writing are invaluable. Every writer should have a few on the shelf. I read on my kindle a lot, but these books I buy in hardcopy. Find writing teachers you like and invest in their books.
The cost: around $10.
Most of my writing theory I learned by taking courses. I love a good course, but not all courses are created equal. It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all process. A good course will cost money. Remember all that information from the internet? A good course will select and offer the right information to you without overwhelming and confusing you. I also prefer courses that are focused on the application of the theory rather than just the consumption of the course material.
The cost: varies greatly and depends on what is included. Videos or PDFs will cost less than a course that includes coaching.
Coaching is an option if you would like more personalised feedback. Some courses combine coaching and feedback, and this will definitely increase the costs. The coaching can be done in a group or one-to-one. Both have pros and cons. If you find the right group, they will be your writing friends for life. Do take your time and check out the atmosphere and attitude before committing to a group or a coach. Snarky comments are not conducive to learning. This would be different to your writing group. Although peer-to-peer feedback is part of a group coaching experience, the coaching should be led and done by an individual who is experienced and qualified to teach. The same goes for one-to-one coaching. This is even more specialised and tailored to your writing and needs.
The cost: group coaching is usually cheaper than individual coaching. For example, group coaching in a monthly membership can be around $20-$30 per month and individual coaching can cost $80-$100 per session.
Once you have put all your theory into practice you will want to receive feedback about your application of the theory. This is a person who specialises in developmental reads. This is not editing and proofreading, that comes later when the story is done. An appraisal will look at the plot and characters, etc.
The cost: this is usually charged per word. A detailed appraisal of an 80 000-word manuscript can cost $1000.
Editing And Proofreading
Once the story is done you will start looking for an editor. This person will pay close attention to the language in your story and after the language is perfect you can start looking at a proofread. This should be the last step for a near-perfect manuscript.
The cost: this depends on the skill level of the editor. Visit PEG for quotes.
The Last Word
These steps aren’t compulsory. The only compulsory thing is writing. You have to do that. The rest is up to you. The costs increase as you progress down the list because the service becomes more individualised and specialised.
The biggest cost for any writer is time. Spending money on certain services will speed up your learning process, but time is also good for writers. Paying for a service can reduce time spent toiling over something a coach can help you identify and fix quickly. It can also help you to reduce the number of rewrites.
At different stages of your journey, you will be paying for different things. Sometimes you pay for the knowledge. Sometimes you pay for the personalised and specialised knowledge applied specifically to your work. And sometimes you pay for accountability. Save some money so that you can invest in your writing, but spend it wisely.
by Mia Botha
If you enjoyed this post, you will love:
- You Didn’t Quit NaNo | The Rewrite
- Don’t Quit Nano | Catch Up
- Don’t Quit NaNo | Finish Week 4
- Don’t Quit NaNo | Tips For Week 3
- Don’t Quit NaNo | Week 2 Is Coming
- A Quick Start Guide To NaNoWriMo
- A Quick Start Guide To Writing YA Fiction
- A Quick Start Guide To Writing For Children
- The Importance Of Paper When You Plan Your Story
- 6 Important Things About Flash Fiction