If you’re a writer who doesn’t feel like dealing with all the hassle that comes with the traditional publishing route, you likely have a lot of questions about how much it costs to self-publish your book.
The cost of self-publishing depends on a lot of things — mostly, how much you’re able to DIY. But on average, it costs between $500 and $5,000 to self-publish a book. This includes costs for editing, cover design, formatting, and marketing.
If you want to get the best of the best of everything, you can — but it will likely cost upwards of $15,000.
On the other hand, you can try to do most things yourself or find deals, and pay $500 – $1,000. Be advised, however, that choosing the cheap route gives you a much higher chance of a cheap book.
That being said, there are tons of ways to save money. And in this article, I’ll show you all the costs involved — and how to save.
Detailed Breakdown of the Costs of Self-Publishing a Book:
Let’s jump into the big buckets that you need to be ready for
Unless you’re some kind of literary prodigy, you can’t rely solely on your own editing skills.
Because, honestly, most self-published books are horribly self-edited. If you ever want people to take your book seriously, you have to ensure there aren’t terrible writing mistakes.
You want your book to be the best it can be before releasing it into the world. So, to that end, you need someone else to read your work and point out any errors or inconsistencies.
There are two options when it comes to editing: DIY or hiring a professional.
Well, you can start by reading your manuscript to catch any glaring errors. Read it several times, scouring for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes.
Then use tools like Grammarly, Quillbot, ProWritingAid, Originality.ai, or Hemingway Editor to help you search and destroy any grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes. These tools can cost you anywhere from free to $30 a month.
Want my recommendation?
Hire a professional editor.
This is an area you really don’t want to get wrong — so be prepared to splurge a bit. The cost of hiring an editor depends on the level of service you want, the length of your manuscript, and the editor’s experience.
But in general, you should expect to pay $0.05 to $0.1 per word. So, for a 50,000-word manuscript, editing costs could be anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000.
Yes, it’s pricey, but think of it as an investment in your book’s success.
2. Cover Design
The old adage is, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Do you know why it has to be a reminder for people?
Because everyone judges books by their cover.
Your book’s cover is the first thing readers will see, and it’s important to make a good first impression.
DIY Cover Design
These tools are user-friendly and have pre-made templates you can customize. Canva has a free version, while Adobe Spark and Book Brush have monthly subscription plans that start at $10.
However, there’s something you need to know…
If you’re not a designer, don’t try and make your cover without at least asking a designer what they think.
The fact is, your goal is for the cover to NOT look self-published. It should be the same quality as a traditionally published cover.
Unfortunately, most DIY book covers are clearly self-published, and it’s because someone designed it who isn’t a designer.
Keep in mind that designing a cover isn’t just about picking a pretty picture and slapping some text on it. You need to consider font choice, color schemes, and overall design aesthetics.
DFY Cover Design
If you’re not confident in your design skills, then hiring a professional book cover designer is the way to go.
The cost can vary greatly depending on their experience. But you can expect the typical range for cover design to cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500.
Formatting is the process of preparing your manuscript for publication. This includes making sure your book has the right structure, layout, and fonts.
This is one of the easiest places to save money.
Obviously, you can just hire someone to do it for you. But you can also just look online to figure out how the traditional publishers format their books.
DIY Book Formatting
If you’re tech-savvy, then formatting your book should be a breeze. There are plenty of software options available, such as Vellum and Atticus, that can help you format your book to look professional.
You can also format your manuscript with Microsoft Word if you know how to do it — or online tools like Pressbooks. These tools are easy to use and come with templates.
DFY Book Formatting
If you’re not comfortable with formatting, you can obviously hire a professional formatter. The cost varies, but a general range is $500 to $2,000.
Writing your book is only half the battle—you also have to get it in front of potential readers and convince them to buy it.
And most authors completely overlook the importance of marketing.
You don’t necessarily have to shell out thousands to hire professionals, but you need SOME amount of marketing budget. Otherwise, you’ll spend tons of time and money writing a book that few people even know exists.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to promote your book that won’t cost you a dime. The bad news is that you’ll have to put in the time and effort to make them work.
The first and most obvious way to promote your book is through social media. If you already have a following on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you can use these platforms to build buzz around your book. Make sure to make graphics that stand out and share snippets of your book to get people interested in reading more.
Another free marketing tactic is to reach out to book bloggers and “bookstagrammers” to ask if they’d be interested in reviewing your book. Keep in mind that these reviewers are usually inundated with requests, so it’s important to personalize your pitch and make it clear why your book is a good fit for their platform.
At Best Seller Publishing, we love setting up strategic partnerships where you work with a brand to sell your book to their audience. Because the truth is, your readers already follow someone. And that means all you have to do to reach them is figure out who they follow and explore a joint venture with them.
This is an oversimplification, obviously, but I teach more about these kinds of tactics in my book Publish. Promote. Profit.
Finally, there’s Amazon SEO–where you work to get your book to show up well in certain categories so you can get passive book sales.
That’s an entire beast in and of itself, but you can learn a ton from industry expert, Dave Chesson, on his site Kindlepreneur.com.
The cost of hiring a marketing agency for your book ranges anywhere from $500 to $10,000 or more, depending on the level of service you want and the quality of the agency.
If you’re considering this path, make sure to do your research and get all the details on how effective their promotions have been in the past. Look for success stories on their website.
Another popular option — if you’ve got the cash and marketing experience — is to run ads on Facebook, Instagram, or BookBub. These platforms allow you to target specific audiences and track your results, making it easy to see which ads are performing best.
Finally, you can also hire an individual book publicist to help promote your book. A good publicist will have connections with media outlets and book bloggers, making it easier to get your book reviewed or featured in articles. Again — only work with people who have seen results before, and recently.
Publicists can be pricey, so make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck by getting references.
I actually started Best Seller Publishing because of the issues I saw during my own journey to becoming a best selling author with marketing agencies and book publicists. Few were able to promise meaningful results and their prices were astronomical.
But through promoting my own book (which became a Wall Street Journal best seller), I was able to find a repeatable process for writing a great book, getting it covered on major media outlets, and generating book sales that we have now used with countless authors over the years.
Factors That Influence Publishing Costs
Keep in mind, these factors are different for every author — so think about what’s true of your own situation as you read this list.
The genre of your book can have a big impact on your publishing costs. For example:
- If you’re writing a graphic novel, you’ll need to hire an artist to create the illustrations.
- If you’re writing a memoir, you may not need to spend as much on design, because memoirs can be quite simple and minimalistic.
- If you’re writing a children’s book, you may need to hire an illustrator in addition to a cover designer.
- If you’re writing a cookbook, you should include high-quality photographs, which can increase the cost of editing and formatting.
Think through other costs you might need to account for as you’re putting your book together.
Obviously the longer your book, the more editing, and formatting you’ll need. This will drive up costs. Also, a side note — be careful to research your audience to see how long books are in your genre because if you write a book too long, it might hurt sales.
Longer books also mean a higher printing cost, which can eat into your profits.
3. Quality of Contractors
When it comes to contractors, the adage “you get what you pay for” is typically right.
The quality of the contractors you hire can have a big impact on your overall costs. While it may be tempting to hire the cheapest editor or designer you can find, keep in mind that they’re probably not going to give you a great product.
A poorly edited or designed book can hurt your sales and damage your reputation as an author, so it’s important to invest in high-quality contractors who can make your book shine. Essentially — if you’re going to do it, do it right. Hiring a good editor or cover designer may cost more upfront, but it can pay off in the long run by attracting more readers and boosting sales.
A Better Solution: Hybrid Publishing
So…does it all sound too complex to do yourself? You’re not alone. All the tasks that need to be done, balancing contractors, and making sure the book looks professional can be incredibly overwhelming.
But at the same time, you don’t want to give away all the control and profits to a traditional publisher.
That’s why hybrid publishing exists.
Hybrid publishing allows you to enjoy the benefits of self-publishing (retaining creative control), while also receiving the guidance and expertise of traditional publishing. A great hybrid publisher will help you find the right contractors, coach you on what you need, and even help publish and market the book for you.
At Best Seller Publishing, we’re able to help you with any step of the publishing process–or even the entire thing (including writing your book using our Enhanced Ghostwriting process).
Many authors (a lot of whom are now Wall Street Journal best sellers) who’ve come to us were considering self publishing and were shocked to discover we could publish and market their book for roughly what it would cost them to hire out contractors and manage everything themselves.
Interested in seeing how we can help you do the same?
Click here to book a call with one of our consultants to learn more about how we can help you become a best selling author.
Remember, self-publishing is all about taking control of your work and putting it out into the world. With a little bit of effort and a lot of determination, you can make it happen. You’ve got this!