How much will it cost you to write your book?

penandpaperPretend this is one of those middle school word problems … Ready? Good. Here we go …

To write a book, you need only pen and paper — access to a word processor is nice, but it is not necessary. (Oh, snap. I forgot, momentarily, about The Diving Bell and the Butterfly — “written” not by hand but by mind and sheer determination. Let’s for the sake of this post and my middle school word problem, assume no one else will achieve such an impressive feat and agree that a pen and paper are needed to write a book for most. OK? OK. Moving on.)

Most people write about 10 words a line and a college ruled piece of paper has 33 lines. It is, therefore, safe to assume that one sheet has around 330 words on it … keep reading, I am going somewhere with this …

The average mainstream adult fiction novel is around 75,000 words, which means you need 227 pieces of paper assuming you are only writing on one side. The price of a package of paper is about $4 and it comes with 250 sheets so you are allowed 23 pages of mistakes.

The price for a container of 24 pre-sharpened pencils — I switched to pencil from pen so you can erase — is $1. Oh, and a pencil sharpener is $9 — yes, you are splurging for the electronic kind.

            So … how much did it cost to write your book? Anyone??

The good news is, it’s less than a takeout pizza, but now for the bad news. Unless you have a super high-limit credit card or a whole bunch of cash to toss towards your yet unsubstantiated dreams, you are going to have to pick and choose from a number of essential elements that can make or break your novel’s publishing success … and if you are lucky enough to choose them all, then you have a much larger budget for discretionary spending than most writers because bottom line, if you do the requisite marketing for your book, you will need a solid $5,000 (and that’s ultra conservative) to invest and if you don’t believe me, do the research yourself — I’m telling you, half of that will go to editing alone and you still need a jacket, social media, sample book copies, and more editing not to mention a Kirkus review … the list goes on.

Of course you could write that book, price it right, have success and you’re initial investment of … wait for it … drum roll … for those that didn’t complete the word problem … $14 will be well spent.

Just a little math fun and something to think about for all you writers out there trying to write your first book and trying to maneuver your way through the ins and outs of the indie publishing world — today’s post inspired by The Daily One-word Prompt: Price



  1. The cost of writing a book seems to have a lot of variables. Too bad there is not a society where writers and readers can go to read unpublished books, pay fair market say 20.00 per book. The writer could make a few $$ and the reader would get the enjoyment of the book at a fair price. Now there is the after market used book that one would then have.. Great post, you derived all this from the simple prompt.. Price?!?

  2. Ah, ha … comments are only enabled IF you read the entire post – so you have to folow the READ ON link – Shauna

  3. This is a test – to see if the comment shows as folks are telling me they have commented but their words aren't showing up – Shauna

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