How Much Does It Cost To Self Publish A Book?

You want to self-publish your book but are wondering how much does it cost to self-publish a book?

In this blog post, I will answer everything regarding the self-publishing cost of a book.

Though self-publishing is easy and prevents you from some unnecessary troubles, it also requires you to sacrifice some cash in order to make more in the long run.

It is a great time to become an author as so many self-publishing companies are helping new authors on their journey without charging a hefty amount.

However, if you are self-publishing for the first time you may be having questions like:

  1. How much does it cost to self publish a book?
  2. What are the areas where I have to spend?
  3. Do I have to hire a professional Editor?
  4. Do I have to hire a Designer for my book cover?
  5. What will be the cost of the book cover?
  6. How much does book formatting cost?
  7. Etc, etc……..

These are the questions I have faced when I self-published my first ebook. Since then, I have also published a number of paperbacks as well.

So I’ll try to answer each and every question that you will need to self-publish your book and the alternatives you can use to save money.

When I started I didn’t have huge money to invest in self-publishing.

So I started finding out the alternatives in order to save money.

I will mention these things too to make you aware of the industry.

But before that let’s understand the market cost standard of self-publishing book.

Traditional Publishing Cost vs Self Publishing Cost

After finishing your manuscript you need to choose either the self-publishing option or traditional publishing option.

In traditional Publishing this will happen:

  1. You will complete your manuscript
  2. You will find a publisher (Agent)
  3. You will send the manuscript to the publisher
  4. They can either accept or reject the manuscript – this could take 3-6 months for a response.
  5. You repeat the process until any publisher accepts
  6. The publishing house will edit, design, and produce the book
  7. You sign the contract for royalty fixed by the publisher
  8. They print and market the book on your behalf

Everything will be dependent on the publisher in how they print, design, market, and reach the required audience.

You may even have to give some collateral if the required copies are not sold.

In return, you will get a small amount of money as royalty.

So making any decent money from your book is difficult if you go with traditional publishing. You have to sell a lot of copies!

This is because of the following reasons:

  1. They take a huge commission – you may only get between 20c-40c per book
  2. They usually do not invest in marketing for new authors as much as they do for established ones. They like a sure thing.

Now let’s discuss how much it costs to self-publish a book through a publisher.

How Much Does It Cost To Self Publish A Book Through a Publisher

The cost of self-publishing a book through a publisher is another option – a publisher does the work like in traditional publishing, but you are paying for their service. You don’t need to worry about being rejected but the cost varies between $1000 to $5000 which will cover everything from book designing, editing, proofreading, cover design, and marketing, depending upon the packages the publishing companies have to offer.

You can even find some publishing companies that charge less but the thing is that they will remove some of the add-ons like editing, cover design, proofreading, etc.

So check and compare each and every company’s package before you go for self-publishing through a publisher.

I personally don’t recommend that you self-publish a book through a publisher as it is very expensive.

Because if you submit your manuscript to some renowned publishers and if they like the story you can expect to get it published almost for free.

My view is your book is good enough and will be eventually accepted by traditional publishers if you want a done for you solution.

Else go for self-publishing if you want to take control yourself.

Why You Should Self-Publish Book

Self-publishing is easy and you can make a lot of money self-publishing your book.

If you write a lot of non-fiction book it can make you build authority on that niche as well.

The reason I and many other industry experts recommend self-publishing is because:

  1. It is easier than traditional publishing
  2. No rejection and waiting time
  3. You don’t have to be dependent on a publisher
  4. You keep the majority of the profit
  5. Less competition than traditional publishing

And with publishing companies like Amazon Self Publishing (KDP), KOBO and IngramSpark, it is easy to self-publish your book very easily.

With self-publishing, you have full control on how you want to sell your book and how to reach your target market.

Though it will require you to learn marketing, the profit you can expect is much higher.

For an eBook, you can make up to 70% royalty through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

You can fulfil your dream of becoming an author and make money also without much of a hassle.

So if the above reasons resonate with you, you should opt for self-publishing only.

How Much Does it Cost To Self Publish a Book?

The cost of self-publishing varies from $0-$1000 depending upon the need for editing, designing, proofreading, illustrations and marketing, though marketing is the one aspect which will require most of the cost when self-publishing a book.

According to the industry, most self-published authors spend more than $1000 to less than $20,000 for self-publishing their book. If it is a picture book or a book that requires illustrations, depending on the cost of those illustrations, the cost could be higher.

This may seem like a huge amount of money to spend on book publishing as for the same you can get your book published through traditional publishing companies.

But the return you will get is higher with self-publishing than in traditional publishing.

I had spent less than $100 to publish my first novel and made more than $1000 with the same.

The rate of return you can see is much higher.

And I have published my first eBook on Amazon for free.

Though it is not making that much money, still anything I get is the profit, which is passive and for a lifetime (or as long as Amazon exists).

In self-publishing, you can decide on what things you need to spend money on and where you can cut the cost.

If you are an expert in editing and proofreading you can do it by yourself and save the cost on editing and proofreading.

You can instead hire a professional cover designer to design a book cover for you.

Like that you have full control over the expense.

For me, I did the editing, formatting, and cover design myself.

The money I spent is on marketing (Facebook ads and for getting reviews).

Now let’s give you the breakdown of self-publishing costs.

Self-Publishing Book Cost Breakdown

These are the things which will require you to pay when you are self-publishing your book.

Writing Software And Apps

There is writing software that you can use to write your book.

These apps and software are free but can range up to $1000 as well.

Free Writing Software

You can use free writing software like:

  1. Google Doc (Free)
  2. Evernote (Free Version)
  3. Notion (Free Version)
  4. LibreOffice
  5. FocusWriter
  6. Freemind

There are lots of other free writing apps for a writer that you can use but these are my favorites.

My personal favorite is Evernote and Notion as I used this to create most of my mini eBooks.

So if you are on a budget you can use these writing apps and cut down the cost here.

Paid Writing software

If you are willing to spend as little as $49 I recommend you to download Scrivener.

Scrivener is made exclusive for writers and authors for creating books and eBooks the way they want.

As after you complete your book you need to hire professionals to edit and format your book, then convert it into digital format.

You have to pay for these services.

Scrivener does it for you. Its advanced feature will let you convert your book manuscript into digital format.

Other Paid Writing Tools You Can Use are:

  1. Microsoft Office – Costs $129.99.
  2. iA Writer – It costs $29.99 for Mac and $19.99 for Windows.
  3. Final Draft – Costs for a full license is $249.
  4. Day One – $2.92/mo.

These are the one time cost only.

So if you get it when you are just starting you don’t need to buy again and again.

For Editing And Proofreading

You could hire a professional editor and proofreader if your budget permits.

The market average rate is $3 per page for Proofreading, $4 per page for copy editing and $7-8 for content editing.

Read this article to know more about editing and proofreading rates.

Now if you are on a tight budget and can’t hire editors and proofreaders then you can use some freemium tools for editing and proofreading your book.

I personally use Grammarly for doing basic editing and proofreading.

Install the chrome extension if you are writing on online apps like Google Doc, or just upload your file on Grammarly and check for errors.

The free version offers limited features but worth a try to give basic proofreading.

Other Freemium tools you can use for editing and proofreading your self-published book are:

  1. ProWriting Aid – It costs $70/year
  2. Hemingway App – $19.99
  3. Ginger Software – $11.98/month
  4. Whitesmoke – $6.59 per month

How Much Does It Cost To Design A Book Cover?

According to market standard, the cost of designing a book cover varies between $50-$500 depending upon the designer you hire and the requirements you give.

The price to get book cover also varies for an eBook cover and for paperback cover as the paperback cover has both front and back sections.

So it solely depends upon what version of the book you are going to publish.

I recommend getting the paperback version so you can use the same for the eBook as well.

If you have a friend or relative who knows Photoshop, you can surely get your book cover done at a much cheaper rate.

But make sure to invest some time and money in creating your book cover as it can make or break your sales.

A book cover is the first thing people will notice. And people do judge a book by its cover. Check out other successful covers in your niche so you know what sells and what your audience is expecting.

You may need some 3D covers also for promotion purpose.

But you can get it for free if you have your book cover designed.

Just with basic Photoshop skill, you can make some awesome 3D posters for your book promotion.

Use Mockup Shots to get an amazing mockup for your book.

Cost Of Cover Design On Budget

Even if you don’t want to spend $100’s of dollar on the book cover you can get some for as cheap as $1 to almost free.

Though if you want premium custom photos for your book cover you can get that from Shutterstock.

Use online services such as Canva and Crello from where you can get your book cover as free to $1.

No designing skills are required to create a book cover from the above-mentioned service.

If you are publishing your eBook on Amazon KDP, it also has free cover creator tool for creating eBook covers.

As I mentioned these services are useful only if you are creating covers for your eBook only as it only has the option to design the front section and not the back as well as a spine.

ISBN (Optional) Cost

Since you can’t publish your self-published work without ISBN, getting a one is rather important.

ISBN number, or International Standard Book Number, is a regulated 10- or 13-digit identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.

This step is not required if you are publishing through platform like Amazon KDP as they provide the one for you. However, you want to publish on other platforms as well as KDP, you need to buy an ISBN.

If you don’t need one and you can skip this step if you are going with Amazon KDP.

But if you are self-publishing offline, you need to buy one for your book.

ISBNs cost about $125 for one number.

But you can get at a much cheaper price if you buy in bulk.

I recommend that you self-publish your book through Amazon KDP so you will not have to worry about getting an ISBN and you can cut down your costs as well.

Book Launch And Marketing Cost

This is where you need to spend your maximum.

First of all the book marketplace is really crowded and to make money from your self-published books you need to spend extra bucks.

The maximum and minimum spending will totally depend on your budget and goal.

There is no limit to the maximum spending as long as you are getting profit.

If you have published your book through Amazon KDP you can do paid as well as free promotion of your book right from the KDP dashboard.

KDP free promotion includes free 5 days promotion and the readers can download your book for free.

Though this will not make you any money but it will make your eBook climb higher in ranking and you can get some reviews as well.

This “free promotion” works with eBooks only published on Amazon KDP.

The next option you can use Amazon KDP paid promotion.

It has the option to promote on Kindle home screen and related options and the price starts from $100 (minimum).

You can increase the budget depending upon the sales.

To know more about self-publishing marketing techniques you can read my article on Marketing techniques and strategy for self-published Authors.

Some other free and paid promotion options are:

1. Free promotion

You can promote your books on Facebook groups, on Twitter, and Instagram.

There are some sites which promote eBooks for free. You just have to list your eBooks on their sites.

Apart from that if you already have an email list you can use it to promote your books with your existing readers.

It can work but it is not enough to generate a lot of sales.

In self-publishing, you have to take help of paid promotion.

2. Paid Promotion

You can use Google Ads as well as Facebook ads to promote your book.

As a personal experience, it will require a minimum budget of $200 to promote it just using these two platforms.

Later you can increase the budget if you are getting the required conversion.

There are some active book reader communities on Facebook as well. These Facebook groups are a great place to promote your book as they have active readers.

But you cannot post on these Facebook groups.

Some admins charge to do the paid promotion and they can charge you $50-$100 depending upon the number of members.

You can always negotiate the price.

There are some websites which do the paid promotion starting from $5-$100. You can even post your books to get many eyeballs.

Cost Of Creating Audiobook

This is an optional step.

The cost of producing the audiobook can vary from $300 to $3,000 depending upon the length of your book and the narrator you hire.

If you are a good narrator you can purchase the basic recording equipment and narrate your book as well.

This will ultimately reduce the cost. And you can do it for as cheap as $100.

Other Cost

These are optional as well but you will require sooner or later if you want to take your self-publishing seriously.

Author Website

As a self-published author, you should get one website/blog for yourself.

This is important because on your website you can showcase your published book, your expertise, and even sell your own books at full profit.

You can create your own website with as less as $3.95 per month.

The sites I recommend to get a domain and hosting are Siteground and Bluehost.

Email Subscription Service

You surely need to build an email list so that you can promote your next book to your existing readers.

And you can’t send emails one-by-one. So you need to get an email subscription service as well.

The one I recommend is Convertkit or Mailerlite.

Total Cost Summary

So you now have learnt what the cost of self-publishing is and where you have to spend and where you can cut costs.

Let’s summarize the cost of book self-publishing.

Things RequiredCost (Approx)
Writing Software and AppsFree- $50
Editing and ProofreadingFree- $400
Cover Design$1-$200
ISBN (Optional) $125
Promotion$100 (Minimum)
Audiobook Creation $100-$3000
Others (Optional) $100

These are the costs of self-publishing a book.

It’s not just limited to the minimum and maximum price mentioned above and it can vary from almost free to a maximum of $5000, depending upon your requirement.

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