You’ll find many of the same questions posted in writing forums and Facebook groups.
“How much does it cost to publish a book?” is second only to the question of how to publish a book.
There are many things to consider when it comes to publishing a book.
Digital or print?
Self-edit or hire out?
Which company should you use to publish?
And the list goes on.
As with everything, the time you have available is a big factor. If you have time, you can research and learn all of the steps involved in publishing.
Some expenses are absolutely necessary for all self-published authors, but others are optional depending on your time, budget, and willingness to learn how to do things you may not have done before.
In this post, we will detail a variety of possible costs you can incur based on your own goals and budget.
How Much Does It Cost to Publish A Book?
Here are some of the expense categories you’ll need to consider:
A Self-Publishing Course
If you’d rather invest the money instead of time, you can purchase a course that will walk you through the process step-by-step.
Detailed, in-depth courses run anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. But, not all courses cost money; some are free.
However, as a buyer you need to be aware of what you’re getting – more often than not, you get what you pay for. Be sure to find a course that not only teaches you about self-publishing but about marketing your book as well.
Make sure the person teaching the course has multiple, best-selling books to his or her name. And that they continue to write bestsellers and not just talk about the glory days of old. Always learn from a pro (someone with a proven track record).
A course like that will give you the most bang for your buck. (Your actual cost will vary depending on the course you choose.)
Taking a course is just one of the tools you may or may not need as an author. Let’s take a moment to look at a few other tools you may need, and the strategies behind why you’ll need them.
A Website and Email List
A website and a way to capture contact information. Being able to direct people to your website and then have them sign up for your email list should be the goal of all your traffic driving strategies.
You can use that email list to send out updates, direct sell to your customers, and create a relationship with your readers. A website also comes in handy for blogging.
Tease your readers with excerpts, talk about the issues your book touches on, and bare your soul to make a connection with your visitors.
Many hosting companies will throw in a domain when you buy hosting. Moreover, many hosting companies have “website builders” or WordPress on their dashboard, making it easy for anyone to create a small website or landing page for a book.
You can usually find a good deal on your first year of hosting, but after that, it will probably cost about $100 for a year of hosting (often billed monthly or quarterly).
Capturing emails is usually done with an email marketing platform. One of the most popular, easy-to-use companies, Mailchimp, offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers.
AWeber, a popular email marketing platform, charges a monthly fee of $19 for up to 500 subscribers.
As your subscriber base grows, so will your monthly fee. Since you’re just starting out, we’ll count this as free and not add it to the total cost.
You can’t publish a book if you don’t write it first.
Read Related: How To Use The Rule Of 30,000 To Make A Profit On Amazon
You may want to invest in one of those programs regardless, as they’re excellent tools for writing books. Depending on your operating system, you’ll invest anywhere from $40 to $200.
For the purpose of consistency, we’ll use the lower amount for our investment numbers.
Experts to Help You Publish Your Book
It’s possible to do this yourself. However, if you’re not creatively inclined, it’s better to let a professional do it for you.
You want your book to sell. The cover is the first thing people see – it will draw them to your book and make them want to know more about it (after they read the title, of course).
Having a bland, poorly designed cover will only hurt your sales.
Read Related: The Secrets To Finding And Hiring A Cover Designer
You want to hire someone who can create an original cover design for your book.
Some excellent designers are available at various costs, but your best investment will be one who offers you a package deal (digital and paperback images, as well as 3D styles for marketing purposes).
The fees for cover designers can vary widely depending on the experience of the designer. We’ve given you a rough estimate that is a middle-of-the-road fee. However, you can find a designer on Fivver or Upwork who will charge less.
Just remember, you often get what you pay for, so be sure the designer you hire has experience creating covers (for Kindle and print) and understands the requirements of the printer you use.
They need to be able to design the front cover, the back cover, and the spine for a print version of your book.
Depending on your writing skills, you may need multiple editors.
A developmental editor will help you shape your book and refine your ideas.
Substantive and copy editors are going to smooth out all the rough spots in your manuscript.
A proofreader will polish up the final copy before you publish.
Even if you’re an excellent writer, you’ll want at least one fresh set of eyes to look over your writing.
Costs vary depending on the size of your manuscript and the quality and experience of your editor but consider this an investment in your final product.
No matter how skilled you are as a writer, you need a pro to polish your book and make sure it is free of spelling and grammatical errors.
A poorly edited book screams, “amateur.”
This is yet another area where you could do the research and do it yourself. However, do you want to spend all that time researching, or would you rather be writing your next book?
Some editors and cover designs also handle formatting. Combining these two into one package can cost anywhere from $600 to over $1,000, but this may save you time and expense in the long run.
Be sure you know what you’re purchasing. There are multiple formats for your finished manuscript; how you plan to publish your book will dictate the formatted files you’ll need.
The most common formats you need are Mobi (Kindle), epub (everything else), and pdf (print books). Since we’ve already discussed cover designs, we’ll focus on just a formatting costs here.
You can find book formatters on Upwork and Fivver, but again, make sure they have experience formatting for the type of book you are publishing (Kindle, print, etc.).
If you want to save some money on formatting and do it yourself, this bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction writers has some beautiful options for reasonable prices.
Most publishers allow you to upload your book for free. (IngramSpark is one publisher that charges a fee for uploading your work.)
When someone purchases your book, the publisher will take out their fee and pay you the rest (i.e., royalties). Different publishers charge different percentages, and you can upload to different sites if you wish.
That is unless you are publishing through KDP Select. With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select, you need to offer exclusive rights for 90 days.
If you choose to publish through Amazon KDP, make sure you know what you’re signing up for — KDP or KDP Select.
Here are a few of the most-used sites for self-publishing books:
How much does it cost to publish a book?
While it is possible to do the majority of work yourself or find inexpensive help, you will, no doubt, incur some cost when you self-publish your book. Let’s look at the costs we have averaged above.
Cover Designer: $450
TOTAL (estimate): $2,140
Like any business venture, book-writing and self-publishing do require some upfront expenses. A self-publishing course will provide you skills you’ll use for every book you publish.
Having your own website is an investment that will continue to support your book marketing efforts for years to come.
The costs that you’ll incur with every book (unless you handle them yourself) will be editing, formatting, and cover design. Those expenses total to around $1300 or less depending on the talent fees.
Does this still feel daunting? Before you throw in the proverbial towel and decide you can never afford to publish a book, think again. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need to take a course?
- Do you already have email software?
- Can you promote your book through social media, podcasts, and promotion instead of building a website?
- Can you get a recommendation from a writing colleague for a less-expensive cover designer or formatter on Fiverr or Upwork?
- Will one editor suffice?
- Will bundling design, formatting, and editing services save you money?
- Do you want to have both an ebook and a print version of your book?
- How many words is your book? (More words = more expensive)
Many authors who are just starting out will only spend around $300 to publish their book, but we do want to reinforce how important it is to your sales to have a quality book that is well-written and edited and stands out with a compelling cover.
You do the math and decide how you can create a winning book at a cost you can afford.
Your project will not look like anyone else’s project. Your costs will not be the same.
But, consider this: if you invest in your manuscript and make it the best it can be, your chances of selling more books go up.
Don’t think of it as “charges” or “fees” or even “cost” when it comes to publishing. Think of it as “investing,” and consider what your return on that investment will be when you start selling books.