Table of contents
- How much does book formatting cost?
- How to Hire Someone, Step-by-Step
- Why You SHOULDN’T Hire a Formatter
You’ve finished writing your masterpiece and polished it to a high shine. You’re almost ready to publish!
You should feel proud of accomplishing such a significant milestone in your publishing journey. But before you can publish your book, you need to get it formatted. A formatter will design the interior of your book and typeset the text so it’s ready for printing and uploading to ebook marketplaces.
You can format it yourself, or if you want to skip the headache, you can hire a designer to do it for you.
In this post, I’m going to take you through the process of hiring a book formatter from beginning to end. You’ll learn what questions to ask and what to look for in potential designers so you can feel confident about hiring someone.
- How much it costs to hire a formatter
- Where to find them
- What to look for in a designer
- Best practices for hiring someone
How much does book formatting cost?
Let’s talk about one of the most critical questions you have right now—pricing. How much do book formatters charge? What’s a fair price? How do you know if you’re getting charged too much?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as we’d like. That’s because there isn’t an established pricing system that all designers use. Each person’s pricing will depend on their experience level, the quality of their work, and how much work they have. The length and complexity of your book also play a factor in the price.
Use the table below to get a general idea of how much money you can expect to spend on hiring a book formatter. Keep in mind that these prices are just for formatting. Cover design, illustrations, editing, and marketing are separate costs.
|Type of Book||Cost (ebook and print)|
|Basic books - mostly text, no pictures||$30-300|
|Mostly text, some pictures||$50-500|
|Image-heavy books (textbooks, children’s books, and cookbooks)||$100-500|
Ebooks are usually quicker to format than print books, so they’ll land on the lower end of these categories. Print books require more work, and you’ll see that reflected in the price.
If possible, try to get both your ebook and print book formatted at the same time. Most formatters offer bundle deals, and you can save time and money by taking advantage of that.
Now that you have a better idea about how much it will cost to hire a book formatter, it’s time to start finding some.
Where to Find Book Formatters
There are many places to find and hire book formatters. A simple Google search will give you dozens of options, but here are some of the most popular sites to hire a book formatter:
Fiverr is a marketplace where you can hire a wide variety of freelancers, including book formatters. Search the site for “book formatting,” and you’ll find hundreds of designers. From there, you can use filters to narrow down your search to people with a specific star rating or who are in your price range.
One of the benefits of using Fiverr is that they’ve simplified the process of hiring a designer so that you can focus on more critical tasks, like getting ready for your book launch.
|Easy to use||Customer service isn’t great|
|Inexpensive||You could hire an inexperienced designer and be unhappy with their work|
|Quick turnaround time (usually)|
|Customizable search filters|
|Large selection of designers|
|Easy to gauge a freelancer’s skill and reliability|
|Easy to cancel an order if needed|
Like Fiverr, Upwork is a site where you can hire book formatters and other freelance designers. Once you create an account on the site, you can post your job and invite designers to apply. Then, you can go through the applicants and select one that fits your needs and budget.
|Fairly easy to use||No vetting of designers, so you could hire someone with little to no experience.|
|Inexpensive||No customizable search filters|
|Quick turnaround time (usually)|
|Large talent pool to choose from|
|Option to hire a talent scout to find a designer for you|
|Easy to gauge a freelancer’s skill and reliability|
|Upwork takes care of all tax forms. You don’t have to do anything.|
Reedsy is an excellent place to hire experienced freelancers for your book, including formatters. All the freelancers on Reedsy get fully vetted before joining the site, so you know you’re hiring someone with qualified experience. If you feel overwhelmed by the options on Fiverr and Upwork, Reedsy is a great alternative.
|Easy to use||More expensive|
|Quick turnaround time||A smaller pool of talent (although more specialized)|
|All designers get fully vetted and approved.|
|Can get quotes from multiple designers|
|Collaborate in real-time|
|Live help available|
Word-2-kindle offers several book-related services. It’s not a marketplace, so you don’t have to sift through a pool of candidates to find the right designer. You simply send them your file, pay the required fee, and they’ll format your book within 48 hours.
|Easy to use||Don’t get to pick your designer.|
|Quick turnaround time||Due to the quick turnaround time and lower cost, you could end up with a less professional-looking book.|
|Great for beginners or anyone inexperienced with technology.|
Ebook Launch is similar to Word-2-kindle. It’s a site that offers several book-related services, including formatting. They specialize in formatting books for IngramSpark and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, so if you’re using either of those platforms to publish your book, this could be a fantastic option.
|Easy to use||Don’t get to pick your designer.|
|Inexpensive for text-heavy and short books like novels.||They only format for Amazon and IngramSpark.|
|Great for beginners and busy authors.||Depending on the length of your book, it can be more expensive than other options.|
|Excellent customer service.||Longer turnaround time.|
Damonza is another site that offers services to authors. They have an extensive portfolio that you can browse to get a good idea of what to expect. With thousands of happy customers, this site comes highly recommended—especially if you want to order a book cover design and formatting all in one place.
|Professional quality||Longer turnaround time.|
|Unlimited revisions||More expensive than other services.|
|Ebook + print book design packages available.|
|Perfect for small presses and established authors.|
There are pros and cons to each of these sites. But we hope that this has been helpful.
How to Hire Someone, Step-by-Step
Now that you have a good idea of how much it costs to hire a book formatter and where to find one, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of actually hiring someone.
This section will discuss what to look for in potential candidates, how to contact them, questions to ask, and creating contracts.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: What to Look for in Potential Candidates
If you’re using a marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork to hire a book formatter, it can feel overwhelming to sift through the pool of candidates and find a good one. Here’s what to look for in potential candidates:
1. A Strong Portfolio
I mentioned this first because it’s the best way to tell if you’re hiring a qualified designer. Look through their previous work, and if you like what you see, there’s a good chance that you’ll be happy working with them. (The portfolio in the image is from Damonza.com)
2. A Good Star Rating
If the site offers star ratings, pay attention to those. How many ratings are there? Are most of them positive? If you can, choose someone with an extensive list of customers and a high star rating.
Look at the reviews and testimonials their previous customers have left. You’ll get a feel for the designer’s work ethic, how they deal with issues, and what it’s like to work with them.
It’s also a good way to see how the designer interacts with their customers. If they respond to the reviews they receive, it’s a good indication that they treat their customers well.
Step 2: Contacting Potential Designers
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to start contacting potential designers. If you decide to go with a service like Ebook Launch or Domanza, you can simply fill out the form on their respective websites and send them your file.
For Fiverr and Upwork, there’s a little more work involved. Once you have a list of formatters with solid portfolios and a good track record, you need to reach out to each of them.
I always recommend contacting a designer before hiring them. You can tell them about your project, ask questions, and go over any customizations you want.
When you reach out for the first time, you should tell them a bit about your project and what type of design you like. Here are some things to mention:
- What service you’re interested in (formatting for an ebook, print book, or both).
- The length of your book.
- The marketplace you plan to publish on (KDP, IngramSpark, etc.)
- Genre and age category (adult romance, children’s novel, science-fiction, etc.)
- The complexity of your book (mention the number of images, graphs, etc.)
- Initial questions you have.
Step 3: Questions to Ask
If this is your first time hiring a designer to format your book, you should find out more about them and their process. If you don’t know what questions to ask, you’re in the right place.
Here are some questions you should ask a designer before you hire them. Sometimes you’ll find answers on their website or profile, but make sure to ask them any of these questions that you can’t find answers for by perusing their website.
- What file formats do they accept?
- If you wrote your book in Word, you need to make sure that your designer can work with it. The same goes for Scrivener or any other writing software you used.
- What formatting software do they use?
- Professional book formatters will use a program like Adobe InDesign, Vellum, or Atticus to format your book. A few might use another software, but make sure they’re using a professional program created for book formatting like the ones in How to Format a Book: Chapter 4: Decide Which Formatting Program to Use.
- Have they formatted books like yours before?
- Make sure they have experience formatting books like yours. If you wrote a children’s book, thriller, cookbook, memoir, or any other genre, ask them if they’ve formatted similar books.
- What file format do they provide?
- For print books, you want to get a PDF. For ebooks, you want an EPUB.
- Can they provide you with the source file?
- You want to get the Adobe InDesign file (or whatever program they used) in addition to the PDF or EPUB. Even if you don’t know how to use the software, it’s a good idea to have the source file in case you need to hire someone else later to make updates.
- What is their turnaround time?
- Most designers will have this listed on their website or profile. If you can’t find it, make sure to ask them.
- What does the price include?
- Do they offer a clickable table of contents, page numbers, headers, footers, and drop caps? Do they check for widows and orphans? To find out what a well-formatted book should look like, visit this post: How to Format a Book.
- Do they use commercially licensed fonts?
- You want to make sure that your designer has licensed the commercial rights to any fonts they use in your book. Some fonts are for “personal use” and can’t be used for commercial projects like books.
- Do they offer any bundle deals?
- Some designers offer a discount if you order both the print and ebook formatting at the same time. Others provide a package that includes a book cover with the interior design.
- Do they offer refunds or money-back guarantees?
- How many revisions do they offer?
- If you want to change something in the formatting (like the font size), will they do it without charging extra?
Step 4: Make a Contract
Both you and the designer need to sign it. This step is super important, but many people don’t do it—and regret it later. A contract protects both you and the designer you’re hiring. It sets down ground rules, expectations, and the terms of your agreement, preventing conflicts down the road.
Some professional graphic designers will provide a contract, but don’t assume that they will. It’s always a good idea to have one on hand.
A good contract will include:
- Description of the work to be completed (e.g., if formatting the title page is included)
- Number of revisions or alterations
- The time frame (deadlines)
- Copyright and credit information – Include a statement that says you own all the worldwide copyrights. Because this falls under “work for hire,” you own the copyright to the formatting, as well as your text. However, designers appreciate receiving credit on the copyright page that says something like this:
- “Interior designed by John Smith.”
- Cost of services
- Termination – If you have to get out of the contract for any reason, you need to have an established set of ground rules. Will you pay a cancelation fee?
Creating a signed agreement is vital for you and the freelancer because it protects you both from misunderstandings. To read more about how to create a good contract, visit this blog post from Format.com. While it’s written for designers, it’s good information for you as well.
Contracts can stay pretty simple, and you can find several online to download and use for free. Here are some excellent contracts for working with freelance designers:
Step 5: Set Clear Expectations and Deadlines
Put a deadline in your contract. Setting clear expectations and deadlines is an essential step in ensuring your book will be finished on time. The last thing you want is to have your formatter take so long that it forces you to postpone your book launch, especially if you’ve set up pre-orders and promotions. You’ll lose credibility with marketplaces, promotional sites, and your readers.
It’s always a good idea to allow more time for formatting than you think is necessary. If you need to request alterations to the design, having an extra day or two in your schedule will be a life-saver.
Why You SHOULDN’T Hire a Formatter
Hiring a formatter is a fantastic idea if you’ve only written one book and don’t plan to write another. However, if you’re writing a series or plan to write more books, you shouldn’t hire a formatter. Here’s why:
- Cost: Formatting a book is pretty expensive, and you have to pay it with each book you publish. Luckily, some fantastic alternatives will save you a lot of money. For the price of hiring a designer to format one book, you can buy software like Atticus.io and do it yourself. Since it’s a one-time cost of $147, the software pays for itself with the first book you publish. Every book after that is free to format.
- Time: If your designer is busy and has a long turnaround time, it could be quicker to format it yourself, especially if you have to ask for revisions. And with software like Atticus.io, formatting is easy and intuitive. You’ll have a finished book in no time.
- Creative control: If you have a specific vision for your book and worry about handing over control to a designer, you should format it yourself. You’ll remain in control of all the creative decisions and have the final say in what your book looks like.
If you want to save money, time, and your sanity, consider investing in a book formatting software like Atticus.io. It works on any desktop or tablet device and comes with beautifully designed templates ready to use. You can format your ebook and print book in a matter of minutes.
Are you interested in learning more about Atticus.io? Visit the website!