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How much to write a book?

Updated: Apr 13

By Stephen Ng

IT is difficult for writers to suggest the cost involved in writing a book without knowing the extent of work involved.

It is like asking an architect how much does it cost to design and build a bungalow, without giving him an idea of what he one expects of the bungalow.

Usually for such questions, my answer would be anything from RM2,000 to RM50,000. This has been the agreed prices that I have been paid for different books that I have written.

It all depends on:

  • the number of pages of the book expected. To be more precise, it is the number of A4 pages printed on one side of the page with single spacing. This, of course, has to take into consideration the photographs that can go into the pages of the book.

  • the amount of work involved. This is related to the amount of time involved in accummulating information for the book. Do you, for example, have record in some written form about your life? If not, can you at least provide the table of contents for your book? A general guide for biography or autobiography is:

    • Childhood & Schooling Years (how many chapters?)

    • Adulthood (how many sections to focus on? How many chapters for each section?)

    • For each chapter of the book, how many pages of text are you expecting?

    • Are you looking for physical meetings or just meeting on Zoom? This will affect the cost involved.

  • time frame to complete the project. Is it an urgent job? Can you set aside time to complete the project within six months?

  • payment term. Are you willing to pay progressively where the first payment is 50 percent, second and third payments are 20 percent each and based on the number of pages in its draft manuscript that have been written.

  • editor and proofreaders. Are you willing to pay an editor and a proofreader to check through the script of the book before printing?

Without all this information, it is almost impossible to provide an invoice. Even though an invoice has been produced, it may need to be reviewed depending on the progress of the job.

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