Initial costs
Calculating your budget

Whether you are working alone on your project, or doing it as a group, you will have costs. Volunteerism won't cover everything. Estimating and keeping track of these costs is an important part of determining what your selling price will be.

There are two ways of going about this: getting some estimates for printing and other costs before you start then set a budget. Build in an inflation factor for unforeseen costs, and forecast a "break even" price.

You could wait until you are near the end of your project, add up all the costs, and determine a selling price. This is hazardous, because you have no real target figure in mind. All kinds of costs can creep in: go for Victoria Hallcolour, why not? Sure, let's use glossy paper. An aerial shot? Let's send Gwen up in a plane. How about sending Pete down to Ottawa to spend a week rooting around in the archives? While all of these may be legitimate ideas and will enhance the value of the book, they should be considered as serious cost items in your budget.

The first option, setting a budget in advance is the better way to go. Once you determine your break even point, you can think about a selling price. Are you going to deliver the book "at cost" to your market, or do you want to make a few bucks for yourself or your organization? Is this a fund-raising project? Have you obtained grant money or private donations to offset the cost?

What is the price point of consumer resistance? Will your target audience spend $50 for your book? $60? $70? Would you be better off selling 2,000 books at $50 or 1,500 at $65 (do the math)?

Whatever you do, don't set your price too early and unrealistically low. This can lead to financial embarrassment. Your costs may keep rising well beyond what the project could reasonably hope to recover through book sales. This is why your project needs a good treasurer, or a spouse who keeps a close eye on the books.

More information on getting a printer's estimate HERE

Photo: Victoria Hall, Amherst Island, Ontario. Orland French photo