The cost to publish a children’s book can be as little as $300. More realistically, you can expect to pay at least $1,500, but fees can climb north of $5,000.
The prices vary because some authors do many of the steps needed for publication themselves, while other writers act like publishers and pay others to do the grunt work.
Breaking Down the Cost to Publish a Children’s Book
Unless you’re contracted to a publishing company, all of these costs are on you.
Writing and Editing Costs
Writers can range anywhere from $15 to more than $150 per hour. Hiring an editor may cost between $300 and $600. Are they worth the cost? Professional writers and editors in the children’s book genre understand how to keep a child’s attention — which is exactly what you need.
You can spend as little as $50 to $300 for a Fiverr, Upwork or Guru freelancer to create your images. Established freelancers will charge more. Famous illustrators, such as Laura Watson, Nate Fakes and YoungJu Kim, will not only cost multiple thousands but may have waiting lists as well.
Book Layout and Design Costs
Children’s books must have a solid layout that keeps kids’ attention. Freelance layout designers charge as little as $20 and as much as $100.
Professional layout artists can be more expensive, charging $400 on the low end to more than $1,000 for involved projects. Make sure the designer uses the proper software, such as Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator.
Printing and Production Costs
How much does it cost to print a children’s book? Some methods don’t carry upfront costs. For example, publishing through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is free, but Amazon.com Inc. will deduct the printing cost from your profits when customers order a physical copy.
If you want to hire a printer, a 24-page full-color picture book will likely cost between $5 and $12 per copy. Additional pages, custom page sizes and other options can increase the price. The average price of children’s books is between $8 and $10, so the cheaper the production, the higher the profit.
Printers usually offer substantial discounts for ordering large numbers of books. Offset printing requires a minimum order of 500 but offers the most savings. Bulk purchasing also saves on shipping, though you’ll still have to get the books to customers.
If you choose print-on-demand, expect to pay around $5 to ship to customers.
Marketing and Promotion Costs
To promote your book, build a strong online presence and heavily interact with potential readers on social media. You can also purchase social media-targeted ads that cost as little as a few dollars each.
Promoting through BookBub will cost you between $122 and $898, but it is a proven effective avenue. Amazon ads can also net more sales, but they take time to get results. It’s easy to spend $100 or more before you see an effect on your sales.
Finally, you can turn to book bloggers. Paying for promotion can cost as little as $40 or up to around $350 for a review, interview or similar service. Kirkus Reviews fees start at $350, and BookLife charges $399 for a professional review.
If you plan to do in-person appearances and book events, factor in the cost of fuel and travel, along with promotional materials such as signs and standups, which can cost $50 to $100.
Amazon KDP offers a 60% royalty for standard distribution and 40% for expanded distribution. It’s a good idea to get your book into libraries, too. Contact acquisitions librarians and ask about their policies.
Wholesalers can get your books into retail shops, but you’ll have to offer a large percentage of the profits, perhaps 50% or more, to get them to do business. Because the average price of children’s books is between $8 and $10, you’ll have to carefully consider whether working with a wholesaler is worth it.
You’ll need international standard book numbers (ISBNs) for your books to sell them. One ISBN is $125 through Bowker, while a set of 10 is $295. Because you’ll need an individual ISBN for each type of book, whether hardback, softback, audio or e-book, it pays to buy in bulk.
You’ll also need $65 for a copyright registration application. Make sure you have enough money to cover unforeseen costs, too, such as shipping for returned copies, warehousing your books or audiobook narration.
Traditional Publishing Costs vs. Self-Publishing Children’s Book Costs
How much does it cost to publish a children’s book through a traditional publishing company? The costs are zero for authors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a price. Royalties and creative freedom are lower when an author has to satisfy a publisher’s demands.
The self-published children’s book cost can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to many thousands, but self-published authors enjoy more autonomy.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Publish a Children’s Book?
You can self-publish through Amazon KDP for free, but the royalty structure is similar to that of established publishing houses.
The most cost-effective way to guarantee you’ll get a high-quality book is by hiring an experienced printer like Print Bind Ship. We have extensive experience in helping authors bring their books to life. Our print-on-demand services can get freshly printed books to customers around the world quickly, and we can link to an author’s e-commerce site to make sales and returns fast and easy.
See Your Children’s Book Become Reality with Print Bind Ship
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Illustrators can be found for as little as $50 to $300 through freelance sites such as Fiverr or cost multiple thousands for established artists.
Depending on the quality and the amount of work you do yourself, the self-published children’s book cost can be anywhere from $300 to $5,000.
The cost is free, but Amazon charges royalties on every book sold.