The Bottom Line: What Does an Entire Book Cost?

While it's all well and good for me to say that I charge a straight hourly rate, that doesn't much help a potential author estimate their cost. This page will give you an idea of different kinds of illustrations and what each might cost.

As far as text goes, I don't charge by page count; with the tools that are available today, most formatting and layout can be easily done by creating and editing a master template. This means that I don't have to address each and every page individually—nor penalize you for having 500 pages rather than 200. Designing a template and a "look" for your book is a pretty quick and easy thing, and, after discussion with you, I can return several designs for you to consider. Rather than the whole book, I'll provide you three versions of a section of three pages, from which you can choose what works best for you. This work can take as little as an hour or upwards of three.

Covers are potentially (but not necessarily) the most expensive part of any design. Every book needs one and it is important. For folks browsing the shelves of a store or clicking through screens of thumbnails online, "don't judge a book by its cover" simply does not hold true; people will make a snap judgment about your work based on appearance. These examples are all from my own books. Unless you are producing something that requires color on the inside (such as a book of photographs), chances are your pages will be black and white, and the covers will be your only option for color. This is pretty much standard for self-publishing providers. The actual design time for each was between one and two hours; what sometimes took me as much time was finding the "right" image! If you do the searching, it saves you money—but make sure we have a discussion about image size and resolution before you begin. That picture that looked "perfect" on screen may not scale up to a book cover very well.


While finding the right photo can be time-consuming, adjusting the image so it will print well and placing it on the page takes mere minutes. Let's say ten minutes to be generous. Bear in mind that heavy retouching or reconstruction of damaged areas can add significantly to this.

An even less time-consuming photo: one that I myself took to illustrate an experiment I conducted for Sea Miner. In your case, this could be a photo you provided; all I had to do was play with the brightness and contrast and size it for the page. However, if I need to set up shot based on your description, this can take much longer than if your image is print-ready.
An intricate-looking but actually simple diagram comprised of a series of period images, which took ten to fifteen minutes to assemble, size, and place. I had previously drawn the three center figures, and these each took about a quarter hour apiece. If these are factored in, the entire illustration took an hour.
A simple location map which took an hour to draw, with another fifteen minutes to plot the various points.
This map had to be researched from the ground up, requiring sourcing period maps of the river (the course of which has shifted since the time of the story) and topography. Once that was done and the base map created, the positions of the participants could be plotted. From start to finish, including the research time, this one ate up a half dozen hours for $210
Similar to the map above in that this required a lot of research in period documents after creation of the base map. The raids on existing towns were easy to plot, but the various camps could only be situated by finding references to them in relation to the towns and villages. Still, the base map was simpler than the previous map and this took about five hours for $175. Had I already had data for the camps' locations, this would have been about one to two hours of work for $35-70.
A straightforward line-drawn diagram made easier by being based on period artwork. We're looking at an hour's worth of work maximum, for $35.
Although based on a period line drawing, this 3d virtual model took quite some time to build (upwards of seven or eight hours for $245-280). Although the dimensional image makes it easier to understand the device, this is pricey for one picture. The advantage of making such an investment is that  the camera could be moved around to "see" the model from different angles, thereby allowing multiple pictures from various points of view. This alone brought the price per image down to $125-140 each. Also, as it was necessary to build the inside when building the outside, shots of the interior could be rendered by removing the top deck and tipping the camera downward. Per image price then drops below $100. This was a fairly simple model to build; more intricate ones take more time and therefore run more money—but if you can use the one model for more than one picture, the price plummets.
Another 3d model based on a period schematic. This is much more precise than the previous model, with machined parts that had to fit perfectly inside or around other pieces. Still, the number of parts was limited (even including the ones you cannot see), and, overall, this took about four hours for $140. As above, I got more than one picture from that work, as I created the outer housing whole (rather than only as a cutaway), so, after hiding the blown out parts, got several other images from this one model.

Following are thumbnails of the entire Sea Miner book. It is 216 pages in length, comprised of 18 pages of front matter (all text—title, copyright, and dedication pages, table of contents, illustrations, and introduction), 28 pages of back matter (all text—bibliography, index, picture credits, "about the author," and ads for other books), and 121 pages of text with 40 illustrations that make up the body of the book (the balance being blank pages). For a tabulation of what these cost, see the chart below the page images.


23 existing photos
3 maps
3 line drawings
3 line drawings
5 pictures of 3d model of box
Additional interior detail
2 pictures of 3d model of torpedo

Total 40 illustrations
Without 3d work

 Layout & editing costs

Cover design

Without 3d work

Time in Hours

19.5 hours @ $35 = $682.50
5.5 hours @ $35 = $



27.5 hours @ $35 = $962.50
13.5 hours @ $35 = $472.5