How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book Using Self-Publishing?

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How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book

The cost of self-publishing a new book is now very affordable

Long gone are the days of wishing and hoping to publish a book with a traditional publisher.

There is no need at all to beg literary agents and publishers today.

You can also forget about paying thousands of dollars to a vanity publishing house.

Self-publishing gives authors the freedom to publish at any time. But with this comes the responsibility of publishing a quality book.

Yes, we all know that it is possible to self-publish for free, and many authors who have never published books before take this route.

Publishing books on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is very easy. All it needs is a Word document file and a cover image and that’s it.

That’s why there are millions of ebooks available on Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited. But so many of these quick and dirty ebooks are of very poor quality. All but a few find a steady stream of loyal book buyers.

Producing any quality product and bringing it to market costs money. So if you are planning to publish your book soon, quality should be your top priority.

How much does it cost to publish a book? Let’s take a step by step look and try to answer the question.


What to consider

How much should I realistically budget to publish my book?

Your budget will depend on a number of factors. But in a nutshell, it will depend on how much you can do yourself and how much professional help you are going to need to pay for.

Start by making a short 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.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking.


How accurate is your English grammar?

Every author needs an editor or at least a competent proofreader. If you write very well and can self-edit your manuscript, it will save you a lot of money. You will still need some professional editing, but it will cost you a lot less.

At the very least you should use a premium grammar and spell checker. Grammarly is the most popular solution for many writers.


Are you familiar with using Photoshop?

Your book cover design must be both high-resolution and of a very high commercial standard. It is very rare that an author has these skills, so a book cover is almost always the first item in the expense column.

Many authors can write a great book, but very, very few can design a great book cover.

Remember that nothing sells your book better than a fabulous cover, especially for a fiction book.


Can you typographically design a book interior and format an ebook?

Designing and formatting books and ebooks can be done in Microsoft Word, but it is not ideal. If you want your book to shine, you might want to consider a book designer or an ebook formatter to help you.


Do you have an established author platform?

You will have to promote your book aggressively. Do you have a popular blog? Do you publish new blog posts regularly?

Do you have large established social media accounts? Do you have a Facebook Page with a lot of Likes?

Do you have a big email mailing list?

Even if you have some of these, you should budget for some book marketing and promotion. It will help boost your pre-launch and post-launch book 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, the more it will save money.


Your budget

Preparing your budget for a print book and ebook (And audiobook)

The price estimates below are a guide only. You will certainly find professional publishing services that are cheaper or more expensive. 

Manuscript preparation.

The cost of editing depends on the word count of your book. 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.


Book cover design.

There are two choices for your book cover.


You can buy pre-made covers.

These are already designed and prepared by a book designer and are offered online. After you make your choice, the designer will add your title and author name.

Pre-made covers are normally only suitable for ebooks. But some designers will modify a cover for print on demand for a fee.


The second choice is a custom designed book cover.

You can discuss your precise needs with a designer and they will design your cover to your exact requirements.

Estimate range for a pre-made book cover: Between $35.00 -$ 70.00. Expect to pay an additional $60 – $80 for a print on demand version.

Estimate range for a custom designed book cover: Between $400.00 – $800.00.


Interior typography and ebook formatting.

These services vary greatly in both types of services offered and standard of the finished product.

Estimate range for ebook formatting: Between $40.00 – $75.00

Estimate range for print book interior design and formatting: Between $300.00 – $850.00.


Book promotion and marketing.

Depending on your current author platform and social media footprint, you will need to decide on how much you want to invest in book promotion.

There are hundreds of paid book promotion services so choose wisely. Look for affordable and long-term book promotion such as the one-year of book promotion offered by Whizbuzz Books.

Estimate range for book promotion. Prices and rates vary from as little as $10.00 to well over $500.00.


Publishing your book.

With Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and Draft2digital, there is no charge to publish an ebook. For a print on demand (POD) paperback, publishing with KDP it is also free.

However, you will need to pay for proof copies of print books, plus shipping costs.

Estimate range for ebook publishing: $0.00

Estimate range for paperback publishing: $15.00 – $30.00. Note: International shipping charges can be more expensive.


Assisted self-publishing.

If you are not confident in your computer and online skills, assisted self-publishing is well worth considering.

But be careful. There are some sharks in this field. Discuss your needs and be certain to ask a lot of questions.

You will need someone who can set up your self-publishing 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 publishing 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 a 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 to publish in audio is to use Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). Or you can find a publisher who is willing to publish your audiobook.

Some publishers offer a 50/50 split on royalties and free production. This is not a bad deal for new authors.


Make decisions

Making your decisions and selecting your professional publishing services.

How much does it cost to publish 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 how to write and publish a book.

They understand that an investment in skills can save them a lot of money. I know some who have spent a lot of time learning how to design book covers and how to use Photoshop proficiently.

Other authors have honed their grammar, lexical skills and language knowledge to help them 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 publishing 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 jeopardise this by publishing 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 the majority of authors, an investment in a professional editor and a cover designer will be the first two priorities.

This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. The options of copy editing only and a pre-made book cover can be quite economical.

As for book promotion, don’t get carried away. An investment of two to three hundred dollars can go a long way.


Doing the sums

So how much will it cost you to publish your first book?

There is no short answer to how much will a book cost to publish. It will depend on so many factors such as the word count, your skills and what versions you want to publish.

Take your time in deciding what you will need to pay for and what you can do yourself. Also, think about friends who can help you. When it comes time to contact service providers, be very selective and ask lots of question before making a final decision.

Prices and charges can vary greatly, so make sure you know exactly 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, but make sure you focus on publishing a quality book that readers will appreciate.

So, how much does it cost to publish a book?

The infographic below gives a rule of thumb indication of what you would expect to pay to publish your first book.

Your Cheat Sheet

How much does it cost to publish a book


More reading: How To Find Amazon KDP Keywords For Kindle Ebooks And Books


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

2 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book Using Self-Publishing?

  • The information in the order and priority is very helpful.The prices for editing seem to be a little low based on the proposals I have gotten for book manuscript in the 40,000 word range.But the article offers a good guideline for new authors for sure.

  • I looked into vanity publishing awhile back and decided against it for these reasons:

    (1) Self-publishing is called vanity publishing for a reason. Think about it.
    (2) They only do token marketing. They really are a book printing business, not a publishing and marketing business. Interrogate them on what they do to market your book and you will see what I mean. (Get specifics in writing.)
    (3) Do you really want to be hocking your book out of your trunk for years?
    (4) If you want to update your book or catch a few typos, it will cost you bigtime. Print-on-demand makes a lot more sense today.
    (5 ) Cost. Publish your book first as an ebook and see if there is any demand for it.
    (6) Some of the vanity presses will haunt you forever to publish or republish something with them. They are hard to get rid of.
    (7) Bottomline: It’s just old school.

    TO THE PUBLISHER: it would be helpful to have the posts dated.


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