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Cost of self-publishing a book – how are self-published authors affected?

The COVID pandemic has started to ease. But now it’s war in the Ukraine and tensions in the Middle East and Asia. You might think that as a self-published author in Australia you’ll be unaffected. But that’s not the case. Our present world has impacted on the cost of self-publishing a book.

For example some of our authors that we quoted on book printing 18 months ago, have been surprised that we can’t meet those prices any longer.

Here’s a quick update on where things are at.

How is the Australian self-publishing industry faring?

Self-publishing companies have been hit hard financially. We’ve seen quite a few Australian suppliers leave the industry. A  host of international publishers have disappeared as well.

This might seem tragic, but it has weeded out international book publishing scams and local small operators. Many of these operators – often one-, two- or three-person operations, simply couldn’t provide a full service or quality anyway.

Unfortunately, we’ve been contacted by a few Australian authors who have had their suppliers disappear. This was after they had made some payments. One author had their book design completed but because the publisher had ‘shut up shop’ was left stranded with no print and distribution. Ouch! The lesson is: stick with companies that are here for the long term.

Paper and book printing costs – what does this mean for Australian self-publishing?

Costs of self-publishing a book have been impacted by:

  • Paper – It’s what books are made of. Unfortunately, the price of pulp (and paper) has increased by 20% per annum over the last two years. Whether it is using digital or offset printing  Australian printers have had issues getting Australian made paper.  Papermills in Asia, Europe and the US also reduced their production at the start of the pandemic. Most of Australia’s imported paper comes from Europe. Russia and Ukraine are big exporters of paper products, and the war has upset supplies.
  • Energy prices in Europe have gone up due to the higher cost renewable energy and the disruption of Russian gas supplies to European mills. They’ve started placing a energy surcharge on orders.

Book printing in Asia – does this affect self-publishers in Australia??

Green Hill has a great Asia based book printing solution. This gives authors opportunity to get quality books at a great price. But authors printing a book in Asia, while cheaper, have been impacted by the cost of getting the book to Australia. Freight has added to costs of self-publishing a book.

  • International freight costs increased 350% in the past 12 months. This meant a book order for one of our authors cost Green Hill $2,000 more than our quoted price! That author got a real bargain. In future, we will not be quoting fixed prices on freight, rather the market price at dispatch from the Asian port. As freight prices stabilise and normalise (even reduce) this should not be an issue for our authors who print off-shore.
  • Another factor has been on-time delivery from Asia. Generally this has fallen to just 35% on-time. We’ve worked very hard on this, and our on-time delivery is approximately 90%. We think this is a real win for our authors considering the international situation.
  • The good news is we’ve recently completed negotiations with new Australian and Asian printers and expect to be able to offer some outstanding book printing deals before Christmas. Stay tuned!

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