Publishing consists of many steps. To help you gauge the kind of budget you’ll need when using our quality Quickfox Pro custom publishing solution, we have included an estimate of costs for each step.

Book production is broken up into four main categories:

  • Editing and manuscript preparation – This covers manuscript evaluation; editing; translating; permissions; proofreading; manuscript preparation for production
  • Book design, typesetting and make-up – This includes book design; scanning; typesetting (text formatting and layout); creating DTP artwork; cover design & makeup; ISBN application; barcode generation; copyright insertion; supplying page proofs; creating a print-ready PDF file; converting to ebook
  • Printing and ebook creation – This covers large-run litho printing; low-run digital printing; printing as and when books are purchased (print-on-demand or POD); ebook creation.
  • International distribution setup – This covers setting up your print-on-demand and ebook titles for international distribution through the world’s major retailers.

Step 1: Completing your manuscript and getting a quote

It will be very difficult to obtain an accurate production and printing price on an incomplete manuscript, so the first step, before you approach us for final pricing, is to get your manuscript as near to completion as possible. This is because production prices are usually based on a combination of page rate (typesetting) and price per word (editing), so a fairly accurate word count is required. Text-based books that are US Trade in size (6 x 9 / 152 x 229 mm) usually contain 300-320 words per page.

We can, however, provide a rough estimate for planning purposes, even before you have started on your manuscript. Bear in mind that these costs might change substantially depending on the quality and length of your final manuscript.

When providing a quote we look at the following:

  • manuscript evaluation (optional but recommended if publishing seriously)
  • editing (complex or standard edit, depending on the quality of the writing)
  • book interior design and stylesheet set-up
  • text formatting and layout (typesetting)
  • cover design and makeup
  • ISBN application and barcode generation
  • insertion of copyright
  • proof-reading
  • litho or digital printing
  • ebook creation
  • online distribution of ebooks and print-on-demand versions of the book

If you are requiring bookstore distribution, or if your professional reputation is going to be linked to your book in any way, it is very important to invest in professional production with experienced service providers – people who are familiar with professional trade publishing requirements and standards.


Total production costs for Steps 3 to 8 on an average text-based self-help book or novel could range from R45 000 to R85 000 depending on the amount of editing required, the length of the book, and whether the interior of the book requires special formatting or not. The more complex the book and the higher the number of words (and therefore pages), the greater the investment that will need to be made.

The steps below show how the total publishing cost is made up.

Step 2: Preparing your manuscript for editing

Before you hand your manuscript over for editing, it is preferable to have everything ready, including the end-matter (glossary, references, bibliography, etc). The only thing that you won’t supply is the index if your book requires one. This is because the page flow after the book has been typeset will be different to the original manuscript. The index is usually the last thing to be completed. If you have any images or artwork in the book, these should be supplied as well. Image resolution for litho printing should be 300 dpi at the size the image is to appear in the book, while digital printing is a bit more forgiving and can tolerate images as low as 200 dpi without any compromise in quality. If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of your material, kindly contact our offices and our inhouse designer will check your files for you.

Any material sent to the editor after the editing has begun may incur additional costs.

Step 3: Editing

Your manuscript may require a complex, standard or light edit. The type of editing required depends on the condition of the manuscript, and will usually be specified in the quotation after the editor has had a chance to assess the manuscript.

A complex edit is where sentence structure, story flow, logic, consistency of writing style, grammar and fact checking is corrected. A standard edit usually includes the correcting of grammar, spelling, punctuation, consistency, and the checking of basic facts, etc. A light edit is similar to a standard edit except less work is involved and usually won’t involve fact checking. Many editing quotes will be subject to sight of the final copy, so if you would like an accurate quote upfront, you will be required to send your entire manuscript (or at least a few representative chapters) through for review.

Editing can take anything from three to four weeks, depending on how busy the editor is, how much work is required, and how quickly you respond to the editor’s queries if he or she has any. If it is a complex edit with many queries, this will delay the process. It is therefore better and more cost-effective to take the time to get the manuscript as correct as possible before handing it over for editing.

Once the editing is done, the editor will send the edited manuscript back to you for checking with Track Changes ON. You will have an opportunity to review the changes and accept or reject them. When you have approved the final edit, the manuscript will enter production.

Note: It is possible that your book will require additional edits, particularly if the first edit was an extensive one with many changes. Bear in mind that manuscripts processed by traditional royalty-based publishers normally undergo multiple edits. So do not expect your first editorial pass to be flawless – it won’t be.


Professional editing rates can vary from 24c per word to 40c per word. The editing cost forms part of the overall production bill quoted above. Proofreading costs range from 10–18c per word if the manuscript has already been professionally edited. Proofreading costs will likely be higher on manuscripts that have been edited by a non-professional. To keep your editing costs down, have a couple of other people read and correct your manuscript before you hand it over to a professional editor. Receiving general feedback about your book from others can also be helpful. And be ruthless. Get rid of waffle or anything that does not serve the narrative. Common mistakes that are unnecessarily costly (because you are paying per word) are redundancy and tautology.

If you would like an honest and unbiased opinion of your manuscript, why not have your manuscript professionally evaluated first? You then have an opportunity to obtain constructive feedback before the manuscript is edited. An evaluation can also help guide the editing process. Evaluations range from R3500 to R10000 depending on the evaluation service you use, the length of the manuscript, the subject matter, and the length of the report required.

Step 4: Book interior design and typesetting

Book design is where the interior look of the book is decided on and a style sheet set up to ensure that this look remains consistent throughout. It includes choosing a font style for text and headings, determining margin widths, setting word and letter spacing, choosing chapter heading and number styles, and so on.

Once the style sheets have been set up, typesetting begins. The typesetting stage (also called book makeup or formatting) involves flowing the edited text into the template and applying all the preset styles. The combination of book design and typesetting is what gives a book it’s professional look and feel. An industry professional (bookstore, book marketer, book reviewer, etc.) can usually tell the difference between a properly typeset book and one that has been put together using MS Word.

Book design and typesetting may take anything from two to three weeks to complete, depending on current production commitments.


Book interior design prices will range from R1200 for novels to R3400 for educational books. Complex books, full colour coffee table books and speciality books with a strong focus on intricate design will be more. Typesetting charges for novels and self-help books are usually between R20 and R45 per page, respectively, which includes one to two sets of author proofs, in PDF format. For educational books, typesetting prices can range from R50 to R120 per page depending on the book and the complexity of the setting. Coffee table and speciality books are quoted on after a full brief with the author.

Step 5: ISBN application and barcode generation

Every book needs an ISBN number (unless it’s a personal book for private distribution), which is a unique identification number. If the book is to be sold through retailers or a distributor, then a barcode will also be needed for your back cover.


Free if you order the ISBN directly from the National Library in Pretoria. Please read the ISBN and Places of Legal Deposit information on this website before you do so. Barcode prices vary – we charge R250 per barcode with discounted pricing when ordering more than one. We can also order your ISBNs and charge R250 for doing so.

Step 6: Cover design and makeup

Cover design is an art and a book cover is considered prime real estate. People do judge a book by its cover, so it is very important that the cover is carefully considered and put together. The title, byline, blurb and cover images should all work together to create a cover that has impact and conveys the essence of the book. The cover is also a dead giveaway of a book that has been professionally produced versus one that has not. As mentioned elsewhere on the site, book marketers and bookstores tend to steer clear of books that look self-published, so it is important to have a professional-looking cover.


Expect to pay anything from R5000 to R8500 for professional cover concept and design. The average is around R6600. It includes multiple initial designs to choose from, and refining your chosen design until you are happy. However, there are many good, much cheaper options in the form of pre-made book covers, especially in the fantasy, crime, thriller, and romance genres. Simply do an online search for pre-made book covers. Covers that are purchased are removed from the retail store, making your cover unique to your book. If you go this route, then we simply charge a cover makeup fee, which reduces the cost substantially.  

Step 7: Page proofs

First page proofs is one of the most exciting stages of production for any author as it is where all your work for the past few months, or years, materialises into something that looks like a properly formatted book.

This is your opportunity to make final changes before the book goes off for printing. It is advisable to let a few trusted friends or family members help you with the task of reading the proofs and highlighting anything that may have slipped through. It is also recommended that you have a professional proofread your first page proofs for you. You will be provided with a second set of proofs so that you can check that all corrections have been made. You may require an additional set of proofs to effect any further changes. Once you’re happy, you will be required to send written approval giving the go-ahead for printing or ebook creation.


The cost of page proofs is usually included in the typesetting fee. However, excessive changes or changes beyond the allowed number of proofs for your budget may incur additional charges, typically billed out at an hourly rate.

Step 8: Ebook conversion and international distribution

Your book file is prepared and then converted into the two main ebook formats: reflowable ePub and Kindle. Ebook creation and international distribution account setup and uploading may take 7–12 working days depending on currect production commitments.


Ebook conversion and international online distribution account setup and uploading may cost anything from R5000 to R10000, depending on the platforms you choose for your distribution and the type of book needing conversion. Use our free online ebook conversion calculator to work out an estimated cost for your ebook, and review our convenient global distribution packages.

Step 9: Printing

Your book is now ready to enter the last phase of the production process. Litho printing (usually recommended for 750 books or more) can take 2–3 weeks if done locally and about 8–10 weeks if done overseas, whereas digital printing (recommended for up to 500 books) usually takes 5–7 working days.


Expect to pay between R35 and R45 per book for 100+ books when printing digitally (±148 page paperback with a full colour cover). For longer print runs expect to pay anything from R20 to R30 per book for an order of between 2000 and 1000 books respectively.

Are you on a budget and looking for a simple, affordable solution?

Some authors approach us with all their editorial work complete, they have a front cover image that they like, and they are looking for a simple and cost-effective production and distribution service. If you are one of these authors, you may want to check out our Quickfox Go Publishing Package.


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