The Cost of Self-Publishing a Book

Concerned about the cost of self-publishing a book? Read the break-down below!

Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing requires an investment of your own money up front. But how much money, exactly? And does more money equal a better product? I asked myself these questions as I researched for These Are the MomentsAfter reading this post by Ksenia Anske, I decided it was a route I could afford.

When it comes to the cost of self-publishing a book, the good news is that you control your own spending. You have the power to shop around for the best, more cost-efficient editors and cover designers. You are the one steering this self-publishing ship, my friend.

Here's a breakdown of self-publishing costs:

DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING COSTS

There are several types of editing to explore for your self-published novel. Personally, I hired a developmental editor — more on that here — as well as a proofreader. My editor, Tanya Gold, offers a couple choices for developmental editing.

A full manuscript review involves notes in the margins and is generally more expensive. There are also evaluations, which involve an overall plot analysis, written up in ten pages or so. I chose to pay for a developmental review of the first five chapters, as well as an evaluation of the rest of the novel.

So what does this mean? What price are we looking at? Editing can cost you anywhere from $500 to $2500. It's typically based off a rate per page or per word. I was on the lower side at approximately $1100.

Is editing worth the price? Absolutely. Especially for your first novel. Yes, beta readers are available for directional purposes. Yes, you can get away without an editor. But if you want your book to be great, you need guidance.

PROOFREADING COSTS

Proofreading is on the lower spectrum of self-publishing costs and is often bundled with developmental editing. Tanya helped me find my proofreader, Miranda Martin, and I was happy with the pricing.

What price are we looking at? This type of editing also involves a per word/per page pricing. I paid around $700 for this service, and it cost anywhere up to $1,000. Again, this depends on the length of your novel.

COVER DESIGN COSTS

This is where you get to have some fun. I highly recommend using a service like Reedsy — which doesn't cost anything — in order to find the perfect designer for you. Read more on finding a freelance cover designer here. I loved my experience working with Kisscut Design. Natalie does amazing work and I couldn't have asked for better results.

What price are we looking at? The type of design affects the price. If you're looking for illustrations, that can cost more. As an illustrated cover, mine was on the lower end of the money spectrum at $1,000. Cover design costs anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars. Prices increase if you're looking to include interior illustrations.

FORMATTING

You might not have thought about this aspect of self-publishing. When it comes to making your book look like a book, you need interior formatting. This can cost around $250, but if you want to DIY, I recommend it.

What price are we looking at? I purchased a Book Design Template and organized my text in InDesign. I loved the process of assembling a book on my own, and it only cost me $75. If you don't feel comfortable with this method, hiring someone is always a good option.

PRINTING

I chose to print my book through Createspace — more details on how to do that here — so the cost was minimal. This is a print on demand service and pays around a 60% royalty fee. If you use a different service for print, please comment below with your costs!

What price are we looking at? I paid $5 for a print draft, and then I spent money to purchase copies for my book signing. This ran about $5 per copy as well.

Discussion Time: What are your thoughts on the cost of self-publishing a book? Tell us your costs below!