The POP Newsletter

The Many Ways Artwork Alters the Cost of Your Book

  • By Katherine Pickett
  • 28 Nov, 2017

Both publishing houses and self-publishers have a vested interest in controlling the costs of book production. Although artwork -- and by that I mean photos, illustrations, line drawings, charts, and graphs -- adds to the value of a book, it also can add significant time and cost. Why is that? Here are the biggest drivers:

  • A major contributor to the cost of books with many pieces of artwork is the time it takes to ensure an attractive layout. Art-heavy books require a lot of manipulation during page layout so that the photographs and illustrations land near enough to the text that they belong with. Sometimes the text may need to be rewritten or captions revised in order to accommodate all of the artwork. By comparison, most fiction and other all-text books require much less manipulation, as there are fewer special elements to disrupt the flow of regular text.
  • Photos and illustrations also require licensing. The cost of these licenses can vary from around $40 to upwards of $300 per piece. If you’re planning a different photo for each of the 20 chapters in your book, for example, that’s a serious cost consideration.
  • If stock art is not appropriate for your book, you may have to research museum and library archives or hire a photographer or illustrator. In the case of hiring an artist, in addition to licensing you also have to pay an hourly rate or a flat fee for the artist’s time. Researching archives may not add monetary costs, but it does add time, which is an indirect cost.
  • When artwork is introduced, another professional may also be introduced -- the image specialist. This is the person who scans any prints and verifies that the images are of high enough quality. If there is no dedicated image specialist, this job falls to another player in the book production process, and the time for that person to do the work is added to the cost of the book. Publishing houses may have the production editor or layout artist perform these tasks. A self-publisher may have to do it themselves.

What This Means to You

Okay, so having photos and illustrations adds money to your project. What does that mean for you as the author? Well, a couple of things.

For self-publishers it means having to factor the extra money into their budget. They will use their budget to find the balance between how much to charge for each book and how many books they will need to sell to recoup the investment. The added time must also be factored into the publication date. Copyediting, layout, and proofreading all take longer when a book has a large art program.

Those seeking a traditional publisher need to be able to say why this artwork is needed and why the cost is justified. Some types of books simply require photos if they are going to be successful.

For example, a cookbook with photos sells much better than one that without them. Depending on the target audience, children’s books usually require artwork also. The publisher, however, may want the author to provide and/or pay for said artwork. (Providing means either creating it yourself or hiring and paying a professional.)

But never fear, you have options for saving money.

How to Save Money on Artwork

When planning the art program for your book, the first question you should ask yourself is, does your book require artwork? If the answer is yes, the follow-up question is how much artwork does it require? Not surprisingly, having a handful of photos will take less time and cost less money than a book with many pieces of art or many kinds of artwork. If you can achieve the same effect with less, then use less.

Another question to ask is, do the photos and illustrations need to be in color, or will black-and-white accomplish the same goals? Color photos require premium paper in order for them to reproduce properly. Is the value that color photos add to your book equal to or greater than the expense of including them?

Finally, ask yourself, do the photos need to be placed throughout the book, or could they be gathered together and placed in the middle of the book? This alternative to a full art program, called a photo insert, is becoming more and more popular.

A happy compromise on cost and readers’ expectations for photographs, a photo insert is the 8 or 16 pages of photographs you see dropped in the middle of a book. This feature is cheaper than having photos placed throughout the book because (1) you only have to pay for a few sheets of specialty paper and (2) layout does not have to accommodate the images, yet you still get to have your photos. Perhaps an insert is right for your book.

Traditional inserts aren't available through many print-on-demand companies. That means you might not be able to get the special glossy paper. You would, however, be able to arrange the photos on a few pages and avoid the layout challenges of having the photos placed throughout the book.

Whichever choices you make for your art program, the most important thing is to be sure you are making educated decisions. Determine what you need, calculate what your budget can handle, and find the solution that works best for you.


Like this blog? ´╗┐Find more insights and advice in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available from POP Editorial Services LLC, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and other fine retailers.
Katherine Pickett
Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, LLC, and the author of the award-winning book Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro.

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The POP Newsletter

By Katherine Pickett 04 Dec, 2017
Six years of blogs -- NOT LOST!

You can now read archived posts from The POP Newsletter at www.popediting.wordpress.com !  There you will find classic posts like "The Ban on Adverbs," "Copyright Tips and Tidbits: How and When to Register, How to Format Your Notice, and What Not to Do," "Beta Readers Aren't Editors; Editors Aren't Beta Readers," and much more!

I'm thrilled to have access to these posts again. New material will appear on this blog. For the oldies, you can click "Blog Archive" in the top navigation of this website and read to your heart's content.

Hallelujah!
By Katherine Pickett 28 Nov, 2017

Both publishing houses and self-publishers have a vested interest in controlling the costs of book production. Although artwork -- and by that I mean photos, illustrations, line drawings, charts, and graphs -- adds to the value of a book, it also can add significant time and cost. Why is that? Here are the biggest drivers:

  • A major contributor to the cost of books with many pieces of artwork is the time it takes to ensure an attractive layout. Art-heavy books require a lot of manipulation during page layout so that the photographs and illustrations land near enough to the text that they belong with. Sometimes the text may need to be rewritten or captions revised in order to accommodate all of the artwork. By comparison, most fiction and other all-text books require much less manipulation, as there are fewer special elements to disrupt the flow of regular text.
  • Photos and illustrations also require licensing. The cost of these licenses can vary from around $40 to upwards of $300 per piece. If you’re planning a different photo for each of the 20 chapters in your book, for example, that’s a serious cost consideration.
  • If stock art is not appropriate for your book, you may have to research museum and library archives or hire a photographer or illustrator. In the case of hiring an artist, in addition to licensing you also have to pay an hourly rate or a flat fee for the artist’s time. Researching archives may not add monetary costs, but it does add time, which is an indirect cost.
  • When artwork is introduced, another professional may also be introduced -- the image specialist. This is the person who scans any prints and verifies that the images are of high enough quality. If there is no dedicated image specialist, this job falls to another player in the book production process, and the time for that person to do the work is added to the cost of the book. Publishing houses may have the production editor or layout artist perform these tasks. A self-publisher may have to do it themselves.
By Katherine Pickett 10 Nov, 2017

What good timing you have! For my book, I went through Lightning Source because the quality is said to be better, you can set your discount rates (good if you want to be in bookstores), and I am not a fan of Amazon as a company.

 Things did not go as smoothly at LS as I had expected. It took three proofs before we were satisfied that the print quality was going to be all right. We have some shaded boxes, and the shading was uneven. Apparently our proof was the last book off the press before they changed the ink (seriously). I was not impressed. The cover and paper were very good though.

 Over Christmas we learned that Amazon was taking longer and longer to get our books to customers. Cathy Davis reported having to wait 3 weeks! Then they started saying our book was out of stock. We finally decided it was in our best interest to work with CreateSpace and LS at the same time. I wasn't thrilled with that because, if LS has print quality issues, what is CS going to do? Most people order from Amazon and therefore the books would be coming from CS. And I don't want my readers getting crummy-looking books. But, I was over a barrel, so I signed up for CS.

 Turns out the print quality at CS was better than at LS and we had nothing to worry about there. It is clear to someone who is really looking closely that the binding is not as good, and the color match on the cover isn't exact, but only we would notice that. The paper is a little creamier than I would have wanted, but I prefer it to the stark white that is the other option from CS. LS's paper is a very pleasant light cream; CS's is a little darker but still OK. Also, CS charges less per book, by about 50 cents. When you're ordering 150 books for various events, that makes a difference.

 Right now we plan to keep both accounts -- one with LS and the other with CS -- but I do wish I hadn't waited so long to sign up with CS. I hate that Amazon controls everything, but with the quality of printing I saw and the cheaper per unit price, I came to terms with it.

 Given the type of book you are creating, I would definitely consider using CreateSpace. You can sign up for free and get a proof for about $4 (plus shipping). If you hate it, you can move on to Ingram. Or you can sign up with both. If you do go with CS, consider getting a matte finish on your book. I find the glossy from CS to be too shiny. The matte we received looks really good. Since you have a self-help/spiritual book, I think the matte would suit your genre.

 So, there's a long answer to a short question. I hope it helps!

By Katherine Pickett 15 Oct, 2017
Dear Reader,

I have been writing The POP Newsletter for more than six years and have accumulated some 85 posts. Unfortunately, much of that history has been lost. I will continue to add new posts and re-create the old ones, but it will take time. Please bear with me.

Sincerely,
Katherine Pickett

PS. I have purposefully left this beautiful stock photo here for your enjoyment. Don't you feel calmer already?

KP
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