The cost of self-publishing a new book is now very affordable.
The publishing industry has changed forever. Long gone are the days of writing a query letter and book proposal. And wishing and hoping to publish with traditional publishing houses.
After you write your book, there is no need at all 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 publish a book?
Unlike being contracted to a traditional publisher, self-publishing gives authors the freedom to publish at any time. But with this comes the responsibility of making sure that you write and produce a quality paperback or digital book.
We all know that it is possible to self-publish an ebook for free. Many authors who have never published books before, take this route.
Publishing a Kindle book on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is quick and very easy. All you need is a Word document file and a cover image and that’s it.
That is why there are millions of ebooks available on Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited. But so many of these quick and rushed 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 start writing and publish your book soon, quality should be your top priority.
How much does it cost? Let’s take a step by step look and try to answer your question.
How much should I realistically budget to publish my book?
Your budget will depend on a number of factors. You need to think about how much you can do yourself. Then 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 with.
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 very well and can self-edit your manuscript, it will save you a lot of money. Very few authors will be able to 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. Grammarly is the most popular solution for many writers. But it is more suited to article and blog writing.
Prowritingaid is a much better choice for authors because of the deep analysis it offers to improve a long manuscript. It is also very reasonably priced.
It has over twenty-five analytical reports. These can help you dig down deep into your writing to find more ways to improve your manuscript.
Are you familiar with using Photoshop?
Your book cover design must be both high-resolution and of a very high commercial standard. It is rare that an author 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 sells your book better than a fabulous cover, especially for fiction books.
Can you typographically 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? Do you add 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 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 (And audiobook)
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.
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 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 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 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 cover: Between $400.00 – $800.00.
Yes, you can produce an ebook cover for free.
There are many sites that offer free ebook covers.
But note that these can only produce a low-resolution cover. None of them can produce 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 mockups 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 formatting: Between $300.00 – $850.00.
Promotion and marketing.
It depends on your current author platform and social media footprint. You will need to decide on how much you want to invest in promotion.
There are hundreds of paid 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 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.
Blurb is another option you could consider for high-quality trade paperback books.
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 certain 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 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 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 you a 50/50 split on royalties and free production. This is not a bad deal for new authors.
Making your decisions and selecting your professional 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 learning how to write a book. Then how to self-publish and promote a book.
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 how to use Photoshop proficiently.
Other authors have honed their grammar, lexical 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 jeopardise 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.
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 marketing and promotion, don’t get carried away. An investment of two to three hundred dollars can go a long way.
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 today. But make sure you focus on producing a quality book at a fair list price that readers will appreciate.
So, how much will it cost you to publish your book?
The infographic below gives you a rough guide. Costs are what you might expect to pay to prepare and publish your first book.
Your Publishing Cheat Sheet
The cost for Amazon self-publishing is zero for Kindle ebooks. It is also free for print on demand paperbacks except for the shipping cost for your proof copies.
It is also free to publish with Smashwords, Draft2Digital and many other self-publishing services and platforms.
Your costs to consider are all related to producing your book. That is, all 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 barter to get some help, these will save you a lot of money.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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