How much will it cost to self-publish a book today? Publishing a new book is now very affordable for new authors.
The publishing industry has changed forever. Gone are the days of writing a query letter and book proposal to a literary agent and then wishing, waiting, and hoping to get published by traditional publishing houses.
After you write your book, there is no need to beg literary agents and publishing companies today.
You can also forget about paying thousands of dollars to a vanity publisher.
How much does it cost to self-publish a book?
Unlike being contracted to a traditional publisher, self-publishing allows authors and independent publishers the freedom to publish at any time.
But with this comes the responsibility of ensuring that you write and produce a quality paperback or digital book.
How much will it cost you to publish your book on Amazon?
We all know it is possible to self-publish an ebook for free on Amazon with KDP and KDP Select.
Because Amazon self-publishing costs nothing, many authors who have never published books take this route.
For a new fiction writer, publishing a Kindle book on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is free, quick, and easy.
All you need is a Word document file and a cover image, and that’s it.
That is why millions of ebooks are available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
But so many of these quick and rushed ebooks are of inferior quality. Very few find a steady stream of loyal book buyers, even though there are many free tools to help new authors.
Producing any quality product and bringing it to market costs money.
If you plan to start writing and publishing your book soon, quality should be your top priority.
How much will it cost you to self-publish your book? Let’s take a step-by-step look and try to answer your questions.
How much should I budget to publish my book?
Your budget will depend on several factors. You need to think about how much work you can do yourself. Then how much professional help will you need to pay for?
Start by making a brief list of what you are confident you can do.
On the other side of your list, add items you know you will need someone else to help you with. The more you have will increase your cost to self-publish a book.
Here are some ideas to help get you thinking.
How accurate is your English grammar?
Every author needs an editor or at least a competent proofreader.
If you write well and can self-edit your manuscript, it will save you a lot of money.
Very few authors can afford a developmental editor.
You might need a copy editor or some form of professional editing help.
But this will cost you a lot less if you can self-edit reasonably well.
At the very least, you should use a premium grammar and spell checker.
Are you familiar with Photoshop?
Your book cover design must be both high-resolution and of a very high commercial standard. An author rarely has these skills. So a cover is almost always the first item in the expense column.
Many authors can write well, but very, very few can design a great book cover.
Remember that nothing will sell your book better than a fabulous cover, especially for fiction books.
Can you design a book interior and format an ebook?
Designing and formatting a book can be done in Microsoft Word, but it is not ideal.
If you want your book to shine, you might think about a book designer or an ebook formatter to help you.
You will have to promote your book aggressively. Do you have a popular blog and add new blog posts regularly?
Do you have large, established social media accounts? Does your Facebook Page have a lot of Likes?
Do you have a big email mailing list?
Even if you have some of these, you should budget for some marketing and promotion. It will help boost your pre-launch and post-launch sales.
Are you tech-savvy?
Do you understand basic file management? Do you have the necessary skills to copy and convert files, upload, and download files?
Can you add URL links and create pdf files for sample chapters?
Do you know about metadata, keywords, and search terms?
Are you confident with setting up and using online accounts?
The more you can do on the techie side of things will save you money. But you might have friends and family that can help you.
Preparing your budget for a print book and ebook.
The price estimates below are a guide only. You will certainly find professional services that are cheaper or more expensive.
The cost of editing depends on the word count of your manuscript. There are also different types of editing services.
Do you want development editing, which will assess your story? Or do you want copy editing? This will concentrate on accuracy and clarity in your manuscript.
Estimate range for editing: For a manuscript of 40,000 words, between $400 – $700 for copy editing. For developmental editing, expect between $750 – $1,000.
Estimate range for proofreading: For a manuscript of 40,000 words, between $200 – $400.
If you want to save money here, you can do some of the editing and proofreading work yourself.
There are three choices for your book cover.
1. You can buy pre-made covers.
Pre-made covers are already designed and prepared by a book cover designer and are for sale online. After you make your choice, the designer will add your title and author name.
Pre-made covers usually are only suitable for ebooks. But some designers will modify a cover for print-on-demand books for a fee.
Estimate range for a pre-made cover: Between $35.00 -$ 70.00. Expect to pay an additional $60 – $80 for a print-on-demand version.
2. The second choice is a custom-designed cover.
You can discuss your precise needs with a designer, and they will design your cover to your exact requirements.
Estimate range for a custom-designed cover: Between $400.00 – $800.00.
3. Yes, you can produce an ebook cover for free.
Many sites allow you to design free ebook covers.
But note that these can only produce a low-resolution cover. These sites cannot create a cover that is suitable for a print book.
However, it is possible to use them for a quick ebook cover.
These book cover creation services use free stock images. So the drawback is that you will never be able to produce a unique design.
The best use for free book cover design sites is to work on ideas or mock-ups for your book cover.
Interior typography and ebook formatting.
Services can vary a lot. Look at the types of services that are on offer and the standard of the finished product.
Estimate range for ebook formatting: Between $40.00 – $75.00
Estimate range for a print book interior design and format: Between $300.00 – $850.00.
Promotion and marketing.
It depends on your current author platform and social media footprint. You will need to decide how much you want to invest in promotion.
There are hundreds of paid promotion services. But choose wisely because this factor can add up quickly to the cost to self-publish a book.
Estimate range for promotion. Prices and rates vary from as little as $10.00 to well over $500.00.
You can also improve your chances of success by selecting profitable categories and search keywords when you publish your book.
With Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and Draft2digital, there is no charge to publish an ebook. For a print-on-demand (POD) paperback, KDP is also free.
However, you will need to pay for proof copies of print books, plus shipping costs.
Estimate range for ebook: $0.00
Estimate range for paperback: $15.00 – $30.00. Note: International shipping charges can be more expensive.
If you are not confident in your computer and online skills, assisted self-publishing might be worth considering.
But be careful because there are some sharks in this field. Discuss your needs, and be sure to ask a lot of questions.
You will need someone who can set up your accounts and use your manuscript and cover to publish your book.
Once your accounts are set up, and your book is published, you should change the password on your accounts.
Estimate range for assisted self-publishing. Between $150.00 – $250.00.
Do you want to produce an audiobook version?
There is an expensive way and very economical way to produce an audiobook.
If you choose to hire a narrator and then a producer, the costs can be daunting.
The best way is to use Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). Or you can find a publisher who is willing to publish your audiobook.
Most publishers offer a 50/50 split on royalties with the narrator and free production. It is not a bad deal for new authors.
Decisions about professional services.
How much should you spend on publishing a book? Every book is different, but it can range from next to nothing up to a few thousand dollars.
Today’s indie-published authors are getting smarter and smarter.
They have been through the long learning curve of writing books. Then how to self-publish and promote them.
They understand that a modest investment in improving their skills can save them a lot of money. I know some who have spent a lot of time learning how to design covers and use Photoshop proficiently.
Other authors have honed their grammar, writing skills, and language knowledge. It can help you produce much cleaner manuscripts.
For a new indie author, rushing to publish can be very costly. Taking the time to learn new skills can save a lot in the long run.
It’s always worth remembering that a book is for the long term. Your book will be on sale for years and years to come.
It will have the potential to earn you an income for years and years too. Don’t jeopardize this by doing everything on the cheap or cutting corners.
Make good decisions about what you can do, can learn to do, and what you really must pay for.
Every copy of your book will be judged and assessed by readers, so make sure it’s a winner.
For most authors, paying for a professional editor and a cover designer will be the first two priorities.
It doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. The options of copy editing only and a pre-made book cover can be quite economical.
As for book marketing and promotion, don’t get carried away. An investment of two to three hundred dollars can go a long way.
What is the estimated cost to self-publish a book?
There is no short answer to how much a book will cost.
It will depend on so many factors, such as the word count, your skills, and what versions you want to publish.
Take your time to decide what you will need to pay for and what you can do yourself.
Also, you should think about friends who can help you. When it comes time to contact service providers, be very selective, and ask lots of questions before making a final decision.
Prices and charges can vary greatly, so make sure you know what you want and compare the offers you receive.
It is not only a matter of cheap or expensive. It’s about getting good value for your money.
Publishing a book is easy today. But make sure you focus on producing a quality book at a fair list price that readers will appreciate.
An estimate for publishing your book.
The infographic below gives you a rough guide to the costs involved in self-publishing a book.
Your Publishing Cheat Sheet
How much will it cost to self-publish your book on Amazon and other publishing companies?
The cost on Amazon is zero for Kindle ebooks. It is also free for print-on-demand paperbacks except for the printing costs and shipping for your proof copies.
It is also free to publish with Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and many other self-publishing services and platforms.
The costs you need to consider are all related to producing your book.
That means all the elements you need to do before you begin publishing. You should budget carefully. Only spend on areas that will help you improve the quality of your book.
The two most important areas are the quality of your manuscript and your book cover.
There are no cheap shortcuts with these two critical elements. Both must be perfect. Be sure you are up to the high standard expected by readers and book buyers.
But where you can use your skills or get some help from friends, these will save you a lot of money.
Related reading: Minimum And Maximum KDP Word Count, File Sizes, And Pages