Before you start a major endeavor, it’s always smart to look at the forest before you focus on the trees. This way you have a general idea of what’s coming and aren’t thrown off guard in shock during the process.
But one of the questions that I have not addressed, until today, is how much does it cost to self publish a book.
If you do any research, you’ll see numbers all over the board running from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The truth is that you can spend as much or as little (to a degree) as you want to publish your book. It all depends on your goals, career status, and financial resources.
Let’s check out the real costs of self publishing and how to get the most bang for your buck when you don’t have an expensive budget.
Make sure to read until the end to get the final price to self publish.
Book Cover Design Cost
Readers judge the cover right off the bat, so your book cover is paramount to your book sales! If your design doesn’t make a positive first impression, it has no shot of doing well. That’s a fact.
On my first book The Golden Resume, I purchased three Fiverr jobs and then asked my audience to vote on the cover. After that, I paid for another revision with a request for specific changes. I spent no more than $50 total.
My second book cover cost me several hundred dollars for the professional photographer and book cover design. But you don’t need to do this.
Just don’t make the mistake of trying to do it on your own if you’re not a highly-skilled graphic designer. Some things on this list you can skimp on, but not your book cover.
Cover design= $10 to $300+
Book Editor Cost
Never allow your writing to go from rough draft, to final draft, to published book without hiring an editor. Editing is something you can’t go cheap on because it immediately affects the reader’s perception of your book–and you.
Poor spelling, grammar, transitions, and writing structure will turn off an audience before they get to the meat of your book. What does a negative reading experience turn into? Bad book reviews and terrible book sales numbers.
Avoid these problems and give the audience what they deserve by hiring an editor. Plan A is to hire someone you know who is a skilled at editing. Plan B is to hire a stranger off Upwork. My post How To Edit A Book will show you how to do exactly that.
The price depends on your book’s word count. But the market price is around $150 for them to edit a 20,000 word manuscript, or an average of $75 for every 10,000 words.
Editing= $150, depending on wordcount
Book Formatting Cost
The final step to get your ebook—and or possibly paperback—on Amazon is to format it. Formatting costs range anywhere from $50 to $150 depending on the complexity of your book (how many images, charts, graphs) and the page count.
To give you a price point, I paid $100 for someone to format both the ebook and paperback version of Freedom Money. And you can see what LiberWriter charges for formatting. However, if you’re trying to outsource for as cheap as possibly, you could probably find someone on Fiverr.com to do it for around $20.
Or if you’re savvy with computer programs, there is a free option. You can spend time but no money to format your book by yourself. If you do go this route, be sure to check out Amazon’s Simplified Formatting Guide. And if you get stuck, the Amazon Formatting forum could give you just the insight you need to move forward.
I personally feel my time is better spent writing or marketing compared to formatting, so I always pay for formatting. Plus, I don’t want to run the risk of messing up the formatting when there’s other people who are much better than me at it. But it’s an option to consider.
Formatting= $50 to $150, depending on page count and whether it’s for an ebook and or paperback
Hiring An Audiobook Narrator Cost
You can give your wallet a break by hiring an audiobook narrator for free. Amazon offers an option to split the audiobook sales 50/50 with the author and narrator, in exchange for the narrator to narrate the book for free. If you’re on a low budget, do this.
Another route is to pay a narrator a one-time fee of $300 to $1,000+ to record the book for you, but you get 100% of the audiobook sales.
Or you can decide to record the audiobook yourself, but you’re going to need to spend at least $300 in either studio time or equipment to do it at your house.
Bottom line, this can cost your $0 upfront and 50% of your future sales. Or it can cost you $300 or more to do it yourself or hire someone, but you keep 100% of the audiobook royalties.
Audiobook= Free, or $300 to $1,000+
Building A Website Cost (Optional)
The best marketing tool for authors is their email list from their blog.
These email subscribers are so important because by signing up for emails, they essentially say, “Hey, I like what you’re doing. I’m a fan of yours and want more.”
Then when this author writes a book, the subscribers think, “I appreciate all the free content you gave out. If your free content is this good, of course I’m going to pay and review your book. It’s the least I can do.” And that my friends is how authors become bestsellers, with huge email lists that buy all their books.
With your own website, consistent blogging, and email list, there’s no reason you can’t build a huge list of subscribers who will buy your new book.
Technically having a website is optional for authors, but realistically to do well it’s mandatory.
Website= $60 a year
Book Promotion Cost (Optional)
Ideally you have tons of connections who run blogs and podcasts that give you guest posts and interviews in front of their audience. And I strongly encourage you to do this! But, not a lot of beginning authors have these kinds of personal resources.
If you struggle in this area, there’s another option and it means using book promotion sites. Many of these sites have thousands of email subscribers, website visitors, and social media followers who could be interested in your book.
This monster post lays out 100 different free and paid book promotion sites.
The paid promotion sites cost anywhere from $10 to $200+ depending on your budget. If you have the money, it could be worth it but it’s not a necessity like it is to pay for editing.
However, growing your personal brand and getting book buyers is through your social media account is free. Please take advantage of social media because it’s the cheapest and most effective advertising out there if done right!
Book promotion= Free, or $10 to $200+
Final Tally: How Much Does It Cost To Self Publish A Book?
Most of the costs outlined in this post are for the scrappy, money-conscious self publisher. In other words, these are the minimum costs on the market.
However, like clothes, cars, and houses, you can always pay more for better quality. If you want, you can spend $25,000 to publish and promote your book. But I’d argue you could do better things with your money.
To recap, let’s view all the self-publishing costs again.
- Cover design= $10 to $300+
- Editing= $150, depending on word count
- Formatting= $50 to $150, depending on page count and whether it’s for an ebook and or paperback
- Audiobook= Free, or $300 to $1,000+
Minimum self publishing cost= $210
- Website= $60 a year
- Book promotion= Free or $10 to $200+
Depending on your expectations, self publishing is more or less expensive than you imagined. For those scared of the cost, don’t look at this as strictly as a cost but more as an investment into your future.
Being an author is an asset that will bring you credibility, book royalty money, and greater opportunities.
And these greater opportunities can be highly profitable after publishing your book.
I’m convinced the effort you put in and the upfront costs are small in comparison to what you’ll receive after writing a book.
For example, look at all the other revenue streams that open when you become an author.
- Book sales: Once your ebook is published, it doesn’t have a shelf life. Customers can and will buy your book decades later if you continue to build your audience. What’s better is if you decide to write another book, repeat customers will buy book after book.
- Speaking gigs: You know that book you just wrote? You’re now considered an expert in the subject, which you can use to get speaking gigs. Universities, businesses, and non-profits pay thousands of dollars for speakers. Don’t stop there, sell your books at the speaking event, too.
- Coaching/consulting business: Again, you’re very qualified on social media marketing, for example, if you just wrote a book on it. Individuals and organizations will notice and pay for your expertise to solve problems and needs in their specific business. Authors can quickly become highly-paid coaches.
- Online course: Maybe your book served as a guide for beginners, but you create an online course directed for those who want to become experts in the topic. Where most books have a price ceiling of around $15, online courses can go for three- or four-figures.
- Affiliate marketing: It’s easy to recommend products or services in your book with an affiliate link for your readers to purchase. Depending on who you’re an affiliate for, this income can quickly add up.
The point is don’t let the few hundred dollars it costs to self publish stop you from becoming an author and opening other doors.
Sure it takes some money to self publish, but becoming an author is absolutely worth it!
Did you expect it to cost more or less to self publish a book? What service are you willing to spend more money on compared to the others? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond.