Writing an ebook for content marketing: Cost all components

Posted on May 21, 2018 by admin tagged with , , , under Strategy

There’s an old saying among project management circles that a project should be delivered on time, on budget and on scope. In reality you should pick two. Nevertheless, it’s good to gather an idea of what a project is likely to cost before you begin.

As I outlined in my Introduction to Content Marketing report, one of the attractions of content production as a form of marketing is the barrier to entry is acceptably low. Even if the cost of content is in line with other forms of marketing, you don’t need to commit a large amount of cost and resources to get quality results. The same can be said of ebooks. While they do require more time and resources compared with something simple like a blog post, the cost to produce one is not unreasonable for a mature marketing organisation.

As always, the final amount spent will vary depending on the extravagance of the desired outcome, but generally speaking the costs for this type of ebook project can be broken down as follows.

DeliverableIndicative cost
Written copy including research and interview time
  • Writers will typically charge a per word rate whereas editors and media companies will charge an agreed fee for this type of marketing-driven content project.
  • An experienced editor will also be able to negotiate a fixed rate for an agreed deliverable. For example, 12000 words is 300 words per page over 40 pages. Add 10 non-copy pages and you have a 50-page ebook.
Use of third-party logos/branding
  • A media company might charge a nominal fee for co-branding (or include it in a higher price) to cover off any perceived risk of being associated with another brand’s content.
Professional sub-editing and QA
  • For a project like this it is prudent strategy to set aside some loose change for a professional sub editor to perform a thorough proof-read of the copy and report back any errors and improvements.
  • The sub editor is ideally someone who is distant from the copy creation and can look it over with fresh eyes.
  • Engage with a third-party design firm just for the design and formatting (advantageous for larger projects).
Supporting data like research
  • Regarding any market research you can probably get away with using scraps of free research made public by analyst firms, but tread carefully here as they make a living licensing research for external marketing content!
  • Getting new and unique research will increase the cost and scope of the project, but it is an option.
Design work
  • A design firm will charge an agreed fee for a job like this, including cover art and illustrations.
  • You can probably reduce this cost by bundling it in with the content production or doing it in-house with existing skills. A freelance designer might also agree to an hourly rate.
  • If you want to do a print run of the book for use as a gift or handout, there are a few options:

    1. Plain paper with binding
    2. Glossy paper with binding
    3. Thicker cover stock, glossy
    4. Hard cover, glossy

  • Each of the above carries a relative cost.
Online and mobile distribution
  • The central premise of producing content like this is for lead generation, but you can also publicise it using other distribution channels:

    1. ebook stores like Amazon
    2. Create a mobile app for App stores
    3. Landing page on your Web site (lead gen)
    4. If applicable, publishing platforms like Maz

When dealing with a number of suppliers for an ebook project it is also a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of time in-house staff spend working it, including dealing with third-parties. This is difficult to quantify for many organisations, however, good suppliers won’t simply work to an hourly rate (or agreed fee), but work with you in a business capacity to ensure the best outcome is achieved. Make sure all stakeholders have skin in the game!