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How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting your work out into the world. You’ve worked hard to create something unique, beautiful, and valuable. That’s why you’re so excited to finally share your creation with everyone. After you write it, you’d need to publish your book to get it into the hands of your audience. Likely, an important question that will surely pop into your head is “How much does it cost to self-publish a book?”

Since it’s your money that’s at stake, we’ll help you ‌answer the questions about self-publishing costs and get a clear understanding of the different services and the prices associated with them, so you can know exactly what you’ll have to pay for. 

The process comes with problems and costs that can be too much if you’re not prepared for them. And that’s the goal of this article: to help you prepare. 

Self-Publishing Cost: An Overview

Writing a book is a great experience, but getting it published is the ultimate goal.

This can be challenging if you’re into self-publishing. You’ll have to invest in some high-quality services to sell your book and give it an edge over competitors. Because no matter how much effort you put into creating a great book, it’s only going to be as good as the service it receives once it’s released. 

You have the power to choose which services to take and pay for. Again, it’s your money to spend. However, keep in mind that there are certain aspects of publishing that are vital to book sales that you don’t want to look over. 

Just like in any business, investment is necessary. As an author, you are your own business and therefore need to treat yourself like one. After all, your goal is to sell your book and make a profit out of it. 

Don’t overlook the importance of quality!

Factors Affecting Publishing Cost

When you’re planning your publishing budget, consider these factors early on.

Book Length 

The length of your book can affect many individual costs as a result of self-publishing your book. For example, it can dictate your per-word costs for editing and proofreading. It is common for editors to break editing costs down to a per-word basis. For physical copies, the length of your work is likely to play a role in determining the total cost of printing. The longer it is, the higher the cost.

Condition of Your Draft Manuscript

Your hired editor will probably charge you more if you handed him your draft manuscript that did not undergo self-editing because it will take more time for him to do intensive editing and revisions. 

Book Genre

This aspect and the complexity of your book may affect the cost that you’ll incur.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Books

These book genres are usually twice as long as a typical novel. Thus, prepare more for initial publishing costs.

Nonfiction Books

You might assume that the cost of publishing a nonfiction book is roughly the same as publishing a novel. But when you include the costs of indexing and fact-checking, you’ll find that publishing nonfiction books can cost more than novels.

Historical Fiction Books

This is a genre where some details should also be fact-checked, so consider an increase in cost for editing/proofreading services too.

Children’s/Comic Books 

With this genre, the amount of editorial work needed to produce the book is greatly reduced. This saves money. However, the illustration process is complex and requires the services of artists and graphic designers. 

Working With Professionals 

Publishing a top-notch book requires hiring professionals that can help and guide you. You’ll pay more for people who are highly skilled and have extensive training in the book publishing industry.

Different ‌Medium 

Aside from creating a print book, you also have to consider all the costs that you will incur if you want to publish your book in a different medium, such as an ebook or audiobook. 

The Quality Of Your Book

This is another tip that’s not so easy to put into practice: pay attention to your book quality. Not only does it help your work to be well-received, but it can also establish you as a reliable writer. If you have a high-quality book, your readers will spread the word about your book, your email list will increase, and any future books you release will practically self-promote. Thus, you will save money on marketing expenditures.

After bearing in mind these considerations, the following sections will have an overview of the price ranges of each service you need for self-publishing. These details are meant to help you create a polished and successful book.

Editing Costs

how much does it cost to self-publish a book infographic

These are the three types of editing services that your manuscript should  undergo:

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing will cost you the most because it requires a thorough look at your entire story, from the plot, settings, to your characters. An editor will develop your book, including changes to help it look more polished, organized, and readable. It typically costs $0.07 to $0.012 per word. 

Copyediting 

Copyediting checks for grammar, spelling, word usage, formatting, and overall flow and structure of your text. This is also essential to check the mechanics of your writing and for factual accuracy. On average, it costs $0.02 to $0.04 per word. 

Proofreading 

Proofreading makes sure that the edits that are made during copyediting are accurate. This is the final stage of the editing process. This service can cost $0.01 to $0.02 per word. Try to find an editor who combines copyediting and proofreading services at a discount rate.

Yes, professional editing is costly, but it is an integral part of publishing. Your goal should not be to save money by cutting corners. Work with a professional editor to produce a book that is readable and attractive. Every error can create the risk of a drop in sales and bad reviews.

Tips to Save On Editing Costs

  • Learn To Self-Edit. To save money, make sure you’ve edited and rewritten your manuscript as much as possible before sending it out. If you haven’t, you’ll end up spending more money to get a developmental edit. Copyediting and proofreading can be expensive, so you should make sure you use clear, concise language. The less the editor has to change, the cheaper it will be.
  • Hire a Less-Experienced Editor. Look for professional editors who are just starting in the industry but are great in their service. There are so many of them in the industry. You’ll give them an excellent opportunity to show their abilities and competency and they’ll be able to charge less than experienced editors.
  • Ask For Free Feedback. Before handing your manuscript to a developmental editor, ask for the help of volunteer beta readers. After they’ve looked it over, talk to them about their feedback and suggestions for changes.
  • Hire an Editor Who Worked Previously Similar to Your Genre. While it may not seem like a big deal, making sure that editors you hire have worked on a project similar to yours is a smart thing to do to save time and money. The reason for this is that while the job title might imply one thing, the skills and expertise you’re looking for will be very different depending on whether you’re editing a memoir or a novel. No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t know how to deal with their material. That’s a waste of money on your end.

Indexing Cost

an old book

Indexes help readers find information within a book and are typically found at the end of the book. They are also used for navigating your book by topic. 

Indexes are entirely optional, depending on the type of content your book has. If you want libraries and bookstores to buy your title, you should invest in this indexing service. 

Depending on the length of the book, an indexer will charge an average of $500. You will pay more if your book is exceedingly technical, and it requires intensive research and extra attention.

Cover Design Cost 

Of course, you have the option to design and create your book cover, but it is highly recommended to outsource to a professional graphic designer unless you are one of them.

They are not just artists. Many of them have marketing knowledge and customize their work specifically to your genre. 

For a superb book cover design, you will normally pay under $1,000. But this price can change depending on the relative experience and expertise of the designer. The more skilled they are, the higher their fees. A designer with over 10 years of experience can cost up to $1,500. 

The following factors can also dictate the cover design cost:

  • Intricacy Of Design. A complex, specific, and detailed design is more expensive than a simple photo-based one. They will also charge you additional fees if you want a custom-made design.
  • You Need Both Print and Ebook Cover. Of course, a high-quality thumbnail design for your ebook would add to your expenses. 
  • If You Request for Additional Edits or ”Rounds.” Additional edits or maybe asking for a new design will surely cost you more. Yes, sometimes satisfaction doesn’t come cheap. 

The reality is, we “judge a book by its cover.” Based on looks alone, we give an instant judgment about whether a book is enjoyable to read or not. That’s why having a cover design is one of the most crucial parts of the self-publishing process that can make or break your book instantly. 

Whether your book was displayed at bookstores and libraries or published on Amazon and different ebook platforms, your book cover is one of the primary marketing tools you use to get the attention of your potential readers. If it’s mediocre, sloppy, and unprofessional, it can affect readers’ view of your book as a whole. For sure you won’t want a failed book launch. 

Formatting Costs 

Formatting, also called interior design or typesetting, is a process of setting text, headers, margins, page numbers, and spacing onto a book page. 

The following are two options you might consider for this service:

Avail and Use Formatting Software 

You can do self-formatting using software like Vellum and Atticus and expect to spend between $100 to $249.99. This is great if you want to save money and have a lot of time to learn to use the software you chose.

Hire a Professional Book Formatter

This will be your best option if you don’t have a ton of spare time. Hiring a professional book formatter can be much more expensive, but in the end, you can expect a book that is professionally formatted in a shorter period.

The service can cost between $500 to $1,000. Just like the previous services, the level of expertise and length of the manuscript can affect the price. Aside from this, visual-rich projects such as cookbooks can incur more costs because of their complexity and unusual text formats. The formatter will usually spend more time and extra attention on this. 

Sure, formatting is not as crucial as cover design, but if this typesetting job doesn’t look professional, it will cause you bad reviews and dismissal from your readers. 

Marketing Costs

After you’ve self-published a book, what’s next? It’s time to spread the word. If you’re a first-time author, you can bootstrap between $50 to $300 to get initial sales. However, you need to increase your ad budget if you want to be in front of more people. However, if you prefer to outsource to a marketing professional, expect to spend $1,000 on average (at first). This will make your life easier and focus on your writing job.

Marketing costs can be very flexible, depending on the results you want. But to reduce risks, set a budget for initial marketing campaigns. As you get more data on what works, spend more. Cut off losses on campaigns that do not convert.

To save money, the following are book marketing suggestions ‌you can use: 

Low-Cost Marketing Strategies

  • Facebook Ads is a great way to advertise your book or even yourself as an author. For a reasonable price of at least $5 per day, you can target specific audiences. If you decide to take the plunge, make sure to keep track of how much it costs because these ads can really add up.
  • One of the low-cost but effective ways to market your book is through third-party promotions, such as book review blogs and other promotional services. There are instances when submissions are free, but you will spend money on promotional listings.
  • You can also promote your book through a mailing list. Here are some choices you can subscribe to: 

ConvertKit.com: For your first 1,000 subscribers, the cost starts at $29 per month. 

MailChimp: You’ll have free usage if your subscribers will not exceed 2,000. However, if you want to upgrade it, you’ll have to spend at least $10 per month.

AWeber: The pricing for Aweber’s most basic plan is around $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

Free Marketing Strategies 

  • Promote your book on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other accounts you have. Make the best use of it, especially if you have a large following. Post images that will introduce your book and yourself as the author. Use relevant hashtags that other authors use. Ask the help of other “bookfluencers” to market your work. You can also ask the help of your family and friends to promote your book on their social media accounts. 

Establishing a social media presence early on is also a key to success in marketing your book. Your goal should be to build up your social media following months before you even publish your book. Having a social media following allows you to build a community that will then act as your free marketing team. 

Of course, creating a following takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. It’s easiest to build a following after you already have a reputation. You can use the same tactics you use in other parts of your life to establish a professional presence online. Be active on social media and interact with your followers. Little by little, you’ll establish an image that defines your work as an author. 

  • Go through Amazon KDP to attract target audiences. Then ask the help of beta readers to make a review of your book. 
  • Mention your book to everyone you encounter at social gatherings you have attended.
  • Ask the help of local TV outlets and newspapers to promote your book through their press releases. Humbly ask them if they can set up an interview with you so you can reach a broader audience.
  • Inquire at your local bookstore if they allow free book launching and signing at their space.

Other Costs 

  • For those who are looking to get their books published and promote themselves online, creating an author website is one of the best ways to promote your book and boost your reach. 

Here are a few things you’ll need to consider when building a website:

Domain Name: This is vital for you to get more people to visit your website and secure your brand. You can register a domain name for $10 to $15 per year.

Host Providers: If you’re looking for web hosting, consider signing up with servers like Hostgator or Bluehost. You’ll spend around $150 per year. They’re both great options for hosting because you’ll get a discount on your first year. However, you need to sign up for a full year before you can avail this.

  • If you go into publishing an ebook, you need to market it using a distribution platform known as an ebook aggregator. This is very helpful, especially if you publish your work to multiple platforms such as Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo. 

Examples of aggregators are Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and BookBaby. You will pay $20 to $300 for their services. 

  • You need to pay $29.50 to $125 for ISBN registration. ISBN is a unique identifying number for every book sold by you. You need to apply for one if you want to sell your books through distributors, bookstores, libraries, wholesalers, and online retailers.
  • Print-on-demand services offer many benefits to authors, allowing them to publish their work without worrying about excess inventory or unnecessary printing. If you’re into this, you will spend around $4 to $14 per book through platforms such as Amazon KDP or IngramSpark.
  • If you want to convert your book to an audiobook, you’ll likely spend an additional cost of $3,000 to $8,000 for producing and publishing. 
  • Additional expenses are between $65 to $750 for your author headshots. This is your portrait photo that will be used for your author bio and promotion and marketing purposes. The cost may vary depending on the package, provider, and location of the photographer. 

Bottom Line

The self-publishing industry is undergoing a massive change. Now anyone can become an author if they are willing to put in enough time, effort, and money into their projects.

So how much does it cost to self-publish a book? To summarize, the typical cost of self-publishing a quality book is anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000 on average. 

It all boils down to how you will prioritize your money. You could spend less depending on how much you put into certain services like editing and formatting or invest more in marketing aspects. Likewise, you can reduce the costs of production without decreasing the quality of the book. You just need to spend more time looking for great service providers at lower costs.

Bootstrapping can be risky since quality often comes with a cost, but if you’re willing to do the work of searching high and low and sifting through millions of talents to help you successfully launch your book, it can be worth it. However, if time is very important for you (and time is also money), the best way to succeed in the world of self-publishing is to get credible professionals to work with you. Leaders Press is a best-selling press that can help you handle all your publishing needs and even help you become a best-selling author.

While giving your most attention to getting the most out of your money and making profits, don’t forget all the core reasons why you’ll self-publish your book—to contribute something that can influence and inspire others, share your message with the world, and establish your name as an author. 

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