How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book? 4 Authors Share Their Numbers

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?
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You want to self-publish your book, but budgeting for the process is more challenging that it looks. The numbers you’re hearing from experts regarding the costs of self-publishing are all over the board.

Are authors really managing to release quality books without paying for professional editing, design, marketing and other services? Or are you going to have to dig into your savings and fork over thousands of dollars to make sure you release a great book? How much does it cost to publish a book?

To assuage these common concerns, we spoke with several top self-published authors about what they spent to release one of their books. They’ve shared real numbers, as well as why they chose to invest in certain services, to help you decide how best to allocate your investment during every stage of self-publishing.

Ready to learn what it really costs to self-publish?

The self-published authors we’ve interviewed

In addition to her freelance writing expertise and two traditionally-published mystery series, C. Hope Clark is the author of the self-published non-fiction book The Shy Writer Reborn.

Catherine Ryan Howard is author of two travel memoirs, Mousetrapped and Backpacked, and a guide to self-publishing, Self-Printed. She blogs about self-publishing and more at Catherine, Caffeinated.

Since she quit her corporate job and published her first book about the experience, Joanna Penn has been a self-publishing powerhouse. She’s built a career as an author-entrepreneur, sharing resources for other authors at The Creative Penn and self-publishing New York Times and USA Today best-selling thriller novels as author J.F. Penn.

And there’s me, Dana Sitar. I share resources, tips and tools for writers at WritersBucketList.com, and I have self-published two collections of essays, a variety of infoproducts and the Amazon Bestselling ebook A Writer’s Bucket List.

Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term. – Joanna Penn

How did we do it? Here’s the breakdown of costs for Hope’s nonfiction book The Shy Writer Reborn; Catherine’s second memoir Backpacked; Joanna’s first novel, Pentecost; and my ebook A Writer’s Bucket List. All dollar amounts are listed in USD.

howmuchselfpublish

How much does editing cost?

Editing — which includes developmental editing, content editing, copyediting and proofreading — can make the difference between a good book and great one. For a quality, impactful book, you need more than a proofread or spell-check of a first draft.

Beta readers and/or experienced developmental and content editors will help ensure your book shares your message or story coherently, and a strong copyeditor will help you make every sentence pop off the page.

To keep costs low, think outside the box and reach into your network. Make the most of your money, effort and time by working with a genre-specific editor who understands your voice and brand. Not all editors are created equal!

Hope:

I used beta readers from my critique group and authors I knew. I had one author dislike the book, suggesting I write it in the format used by Writer’s Digest books (she published with Writer’s Digest Books), and [I] just rescinded my request because I did not want [that look].

Catherine:

It was nonfiction so I felt developmental editing wasn’t worth it (the events really happened, so I thought I was safe enough relaying real events while leaving out the boring bits!) and then I hired a copyeditor. She went through it line by line and then she did a proofread afterwards. I also asked a couple of friends to proofread it.

Approximate cost: $600

Joanna:

Even avid readers of fiction don’t know how to structure a book, so for the first book,  [it’s a good idea to use a] structural editor. I also rewrote later on with feedback from more editors after publication. For Pentecost, I used five different editors [multiple structural editors, a line-editor and a copyeditor], so that cost the most of all the books.

[On the sixth in the ARKANE series now the process is:] Get to a good second draft myself, then send to my editor for structural and line edits, two passes by the editor, rewrites, then send to the proofreader before publication.

Cost: $1500 per book for one editor and one proofreader

“Editing is like dating. You won't find the perfect one for your first book,” says @thecreativepenn Click To Tweet

Dana:

I first shared the book with beta readers from the Writer’s Bucket List community for structural feedback.

For proofreading and copyediting, I hired new writers who would benefit from the editing experience and offered pay plus a mention at the blog and in the book.

Cost: $60

The costs of cover design

To develop an author brand, you want your cover to not only sell your book but to make readers immediately think of you. Book cover design is a unique craft – it takes more than InDesign skills and knowledge of fonts and colors to create a cover that achieves your goals.

As if that wasn’t enough, you also want your cover to stand out and be legible in crowded pages of tiny thumbnail images. It’s a tall order!

Look for quality designers who are just getting started in their careers and develop a relationship early on (the top recommended designers are usually booked quite far in advance!) The Book Designer’s Monthly Ebook Cover Design Awards are a great resource for cover design tips and finding designers who specialize in your genre.

Hope:

I hired a book cover designer (who happened to be my web designer) to design two covers: ebook and print.

Cost: $250

Catherine:

I used Andrew Brown of Design for Writers, who I had used before. I was one of Andrew’s first clients, so I always get a good deal from him. His prices now are, I think, around [$240] for ebook only and [$360] for the ebook “front” cover and a full CreateSpace paperback cover as well.

Joanna:

This is my other big expense [after editing]. I met Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer and paid him as a pro for book cover design for my first book, but he doesn’t do it anymore. I met Derek Murphy at CreativIndie when he was starting out and developed a relationship because of my platform [at TheCreativePenn.com].

Dana:

I DIYed! I had a big learning curve to overcome, and I went through three iterations of the PDF cover before landing on one I was comfortable with. Then I changed it again later when I published the Kindle edition (with great feedback from the Ebook Cover Design Awards).

I design all my covers in Photoshop, which I owned previously, so I don’t consider it a publishing cost.

Adding illustrations, photography and graphics

While it’s easy to disregard these additions to save money and time, custom images on your cover or throughout your book add a unique touch that gets readers talking. Forging a relationship with an artist is also a cool way to give your brand its own flair throughout your career.

We’ve recommended 99designs in the past for affordable, quality cover design, but Joanna points out that the site is also a great resource for custom illustrations!

Dana:

I hired a cartoonist friend to do illustrations for the book, and it’s one of the best decisions I made! The illustrations have always gotten great feedback from reviewers.

Cost: I paid her $50 down and share 10 percent of direct sales (about $1 per book).

Handling inner layout, formatting and ebook conversion

Second to cover design, a conventionally formatted book interior (print or ebook) is your key to avoiding a sloppy DIY look.

Many small details (that you might not think of) will red-flag your book as amateurish and sully the reader’s experience, so you want to do your research (or hire a pro who’s already done theirs) on the standards of book interior design.

To DIY typesetting for print, try one of the free templates from CreateSpace, or a paid option from Book Design Templates.

Hope:

I did the print layout myself after much research and study of formatting guides. I queried my Facebook fans when I reached one impasse, and they fixed me right up.

As for ebook [conversion], I turned that over to BookBaby. I bartered advertising for publication/preparation of my ebook.

Typical cost for ebook publishing package: $299

Catherine:

I did [inner layout] myself, using Microsoft Word and the templates you can download from CreateSpace. If you have a straightforward interior layout, I think this is a good place to save some money by doing the work yourself.

I did [conversion] myself for this book, but I’ve since started using eBookPartnership.com.

Cost for standard ebook conversion: From $299

Joanna:

I format ebooks on Scrivener. I hate [print] formatting, so I pay for that.

Cost: $150 for print formatter for full-length book; $40-45 one-time for Scrivener software (available for both Mac and Windows)

Dana:

I did these myself. It was another learning curve, as this was the first book I’d published with illustrations and the first I published in fixed (PDF) format.

I designed the PDF version in OpenOffice Writer and converted directly to PDF. I also did the layout for the Kindle edition through OpenOffice, which creates an MS Word .doc. To sell the ebook at Amazon, I just uploaded that doc through KDP.

Cost: Free

What does printing a book cost?

Even in a digital age, readers will still ask for a print copy of your book. Print-on-demand services make it possible for you to offer this without the expense or headache of managing and storing a print run. If you do speaking gigs or host author events, you’ll also want the option to keep print copies in stock for back-of-room sales.

Across the board, we all use, have used, or plan to use Amazon’s CreateSpace for print-on-demand books. Choosing this route saves you money because you only print books as readers buy them. You’ll pay manufacturing and shipping costs if you want to approve a proof before listing the book for sale, which is highly recommended.

If you do want to order a print run of your books — which isn’t recommended unless you have a proven distribution method — you’ll also pay manufacturing and shipping costs to receive them.

Publishing through CreateSpace is free, and they will keep between 20 and 60 percent of book sales, depending on the sales channel.

Joanna also recommends IngramSpark for non-Amazon print-on-demand sales.

Sales and distribution costs

Self-publishing an ebook comes with the benefit of not needing to seek bookstores to stock your book. Selling your ebook through online retailers is relatively simple.

Most popular ebook distributors (e.g. Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc.) charge no upfront costs to publish, but keep a percentage of book sales. Publishers Weekly put together a great breakdown of royalty rates, pros and cons for each platform.

Hope:

I used Kindle Direct Publishing to sell through Amazon. For other ebook outlets I used BookBaby. For print I used Amazon and Barnes & Noble. No costs.

Catherine:

KDP and Smashwords, so all free.

Joanna:

I upload directly to ebook stores [e.g. Amazon, iBooks, NOOK, Kobo] as well as using Smashwords for smaller markets. I was selling direct through selz.com until the EU VAT tax laws came in January 1, 2015.

Dana:

I used E-junkie for direct distribution of the PDF edition and payments via PayPal. I published the Kindle edition to sell on Amazon using KDP. Later, I made the PDF edition a freebie to email subscribers, so I used MailChimp to distribute it.

Cost: $5 per month for E-junkie

Launch and marketing costs

As a self-published author, your relationships are your greatest assets. In addition to tapping into your network for self-publishing services, you also rely on your community to buy and promote your books.

Building and nurturing these relationships shouldn’t come with direct costs, but this is where you need to budget a huge portion of your (non-writing) time as an author.

Hope:

I used Facebook, my newsletters with FundsforWriters.com, Twitter and a lot of guest blog posting. I feature [the book] at conferences and speaking engagements.

Also, I keep swag for all my books. Usually rack cards or postcards, business cards and stickers. I have a sticker for each of my books so that people can immediately see what’s in the envelope when it comes in the mail.

I use Vistaprint for postcards and rackcards, and I use Moo.com for business cards and the stickers. Moo is more expensive, but the quality is astounding.

Catherine:

I didn’t spend any money on [marketing]. I used my blog, Twitter account and Facebook page, and Goodreads for running giveaways [of print books].

Joanna:

I do all the marketing/launch [myself], and collaborate with other authors. I pay for BookBub and other email list advertising after launch once the book has good reviews. This is usually the most effective paid advertising for fiction authors in particular.

Cost: BookBub advertising varies by genre and list price.

Dana:

My strongest launch effort was my Launch Team. Beyond that, all promotion has cost is my time and effort: I guest blog, run social media promotions, do ebook giveaways, host online events, etc. to engage readers and get my name out there.

What about miscellaneous costs?

Indirect costs like travel, promotional swag, contest fees, audiobook recording and website hosting can help sell books as well as promote your entire business or brand, so consider these items part of your marketing budget.

Hope:

[When traveling to promote a book], I do not travel outside my state without being compensated for room, board, travel and an honorarium. I make appearances in conjunction with personal travel as well.

I did submit Shy to the EPIC awards for ebooks, and it made finalist in the nonfiction category in early 2014. But keep in mind that I use this book for back-of-the-room sales, to have a tool when I speak. It’s one of several tools I have, so it’s difficult to define individual expenses.

Catherine:

My domain name costs $18 a year (my blog is free on Wordpress.com). I do regularly have travel costs to events but this are offset by the speaking fees.

For my first book, Mousetrapped, I had a bookstore launch but I’d never do it again. I had to buy the stock, print flyers [and] invites, buy an outfit to wear, etc., and while it was fun I didn’t make any money that I wouldn’t have made without it.

I since avoid stock at all costs — if I’m holding a physical edition of my book, I’ve lost money.

The totals: How much does it cost to publish a book?

It’s tough to nail down a final cost because of the number of indirect and one-time expenditures. With that in mind, here are approximate costs for one book from each of our authors:

Hope:

$250 for cover design

Greatest cost: cover design

Saves by: building relationships for bartering, tapping her network

DIYs: print layout, marketing, sales and distribution

Catherine:

$1,250 (less bartering for cover design) for ebook conversion, cover design and editing

Greatest cost: ebook conversion

Saves by: promoting online, limiting print stock, building relationships for bartering

DIYs: formatting, marketing, sales and distribution

Joanna:

$1,650 for editing and print formatting, bartering for cover design, plus BookBub ad fees

Greatest cost: editing

Saves by: building relationships for bartering

DIYs: marketing, ebook formatting and conversion, sales and distribution

Dana:

$150 for editing and illustrations, plus $5 per month for distribution

Greatest cost: illustrations

Saves by: bartering for editing and illustrations

DIYs: cover design, formatting and conversion, marketing, sales and distribution

Key takeaways

  • Look into your network to see how you can trade or barter services, experience, influence or exposure to offset the costs of self-publishing services.
  • Editors and cover designers you hire should know your voice and understand your genre — these aren’t one-size-fits-all services!
  • All stages and costs of self-publishing differ significantly from nonfiction to fiction.
  • Expect the greatest portion of your budget to go toward editing and cover design.
  • Very little (or none) of your budget should go toward paid advertising, other promotional services or print runs of the book.
  • To save money without sacrificing quality, you can DIY formatting and conversion with a little research and practice, if you’re willing to put in the time. Here’s a guide to formatting and converting an ebook for Kindle from TWL Assistant Editor Heather van der Hoop.
  • You’ll make a number of one-time investments early on, like purchasing software for word processing and design or taking courses in self-publishing and marketing. Your first self-publishing project is likely to be the biggest hit to your wallet — and the greatest investment in your writing career.

Are you ready to self-publish your book?

Stop fretting about those costs, and start planning. Self-publishing is all about innovation and creativity. Now that you’ve created a product or work of art (or both!), flip the switch and use your creativity on the business side of things.

Self-publishing is all about innovation and creativity, says @danasitar Click To Tweet

Successful self-publishers are ambitious entrepreneurs who learn to wear several hats and display a variety of talents. To understand and cover the costs of self-publishing your book, dig into your network, do your research and plan ahead how you’ll allocate your time and money.

If you’ve self-published a book, how do these numbers compare to your experience? If you haven’t yet self-published, what do you think your greatest expense will be?

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Dana Sitar is a freelance blogger and a writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).... .

Website | @danasitar

Dana Sitar
Traveler and blogger Chris Guillebeau

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Comments

  1. Dana — I want to personally thank you for this post. This is a question a lot of people ask, and it’s difficult to nail down an answer because costs are across the board and depend on a variety of factors. Thanks for doing the research and including real case studies!

    ~Alexis, founder of The Write Life

    • Happy to, Lexi! Thanks for having me 🙂 I agree, and I’m happy to cover the topic for that reason. I was surprised to see the range in costs from these authors, and glad they were willing to share so new self-publishers can understand the process and costs a little more clearly.

      • Hi guys! I’m a 12 year old and I have been writing a book and I’m hoping to get it published. So I was wondering, how could I get my book edited with the 71 dollars I have?

        • I would seek out a teacher that is really good at editing. More than one if possible. They may help you for free and will be able to give you some feed back. Keep in mind however that teachers aren’t necessarily writers.

      • What do you think about Bookbaby?

    • Thank you so much for this data. I wish I did my research but as a novice in the writing business, I feel like I did my best. I spent close to $3,000.00 total, and that included ISBN, distribution, US Copywriting, book cover, editing, and a website setup. My novel is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and LuLu. I am still struggling to either do a second edition or just move on. I am currently writing my second book, and unlike a biography like my first, its a dark comedic look at beauty. Now I have a better spectrum and vision for this new one. Thanks guys! My novel is entitled Divided Canaan by Rachelle Michel, feel free to check it out.

  2. Thanks for sharing all those helpful insights! I can’t overemphasize, though, the need to pay for professional editing. Most authors don’t know how to properly edit and proofread their books to the appropriate style for their publishing audience (CMOS for US style, UK style rules, etc.). One of the worst things a writer can do is scrimp on paying for editing, which roughly averages about $2,500 US from content edit to proofread/final product. Writers who self-publish books full of copy errors risk adversely affecting their reputation as a professional writer. It is possible to get editing done on the cheap, but it may not be done well. Thoughts on that?

    • Looking forward to Dana’s thoughts, but think I’ll throw my ideas in the ring here, too.

      I agree editing is important, but many writers (especially those launching their first ebook) can’t afford a couple thousand dollars to hire a professional editor. That would even be a stretch for me to invest that much on top of cover design and formatting, and I make decent money off my ebooks!

      I’m lucky in that I work with a number of editors (after all, I’m an editor myself!) and am able to leverage my network to get high-quality edits at a lower cost, either by using my team of editors or by bargaining with the editor I’d like to work with. It also helps if your copy is relatively clean by the time you turn it over to your editor, as it’s likely to take less time, which means fewer hours to pay for.

      I do agree editing is important, but I think the cost of professional editing is one of the barriers to entry for a lot of writers who are new to the ebook scene.

      • If you wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, bus driver–any profession–you would not flinch at the cost for your education, books, and any other fees or materials. Anyone who wants to be a professional writer and have a good reputation and stellar career cannot afford not to hire a professional editor and have her books edited.

        I have to disagree fully with you. I edit and critique more than 200 books a year. I see a lot of projects land in my lap that are previously published (failed) novels, with the primary concern being “I had my book for sale, but a lot of people complained about all the mistakes in there.” Some of these books had been “edited” and still were horribly riddled with copy errors.

        I hear all the time from clients they can’t afford editing. They often publish very flawed books. They end up regretting this. It is never good advice to tell writers to forgo editing just because they can’t afford it. If they need to, they should take the time to earn or raise the money (even through crowd funding), or use a credit card or deferred PayPal payment. Sure, no one wants to go into debt, but do you know anyone who has ever gone into debt funding their education? Like med school, or college in general? Most people do. Why? Because in the long run, they know the monetary investment will pay off. Same with a writer coughing up the money for a good edit (and not being in a rush to publish). And I will be so bold as to say a critique first. Most of my best-selling authors have invested first in a critique for every book they write, knowing this will ensure they have a tight story before they deal with little bits of punctuation.

        This also applies to writers submitting to agents. I’ve heard agents say if they see any copy errors on the query letter or the first pages of a submission, out it goes.

        Some writers may argue that they see lots of mistakes in books by huge-selling authors. Yes, that’s true, and shameful. I couldn’t get through Twilight because I hated seeing mistakes on every page. You would think a publisher would invest in a great editing team and make sure, with that much money pouring in from sales, the editing was terrific. But that’s no excuse for any writer to not pay for good editing. If you are Stephenie Meyer, you can laugh all those mistakes away as you head to the bank. But even if I were as successful as she, I would not tolerate such lax of quality on my publisher’s part.

        No apologies for my rant here; I feel very passionate about helping writers put out their best work. A lousy reputation is difficult to recover from, emotionally and professionally. Do your fellow authors (and especially aspiring authors) a favor and urge them to pay whatever it will cost to get their book professionally edited and proofread.

        • Thanks for weighing in! This is a great discussion, and I love that we have some different opinions here.

          ~Alexis, founder of The Write Life

        • I wonder how Twain, Shelley, Poe, or even Homer got by without paying someone the era-equivalent of that much money for a professional edit?

          • How do you know they did?

          • Without knowing the facts for sure, I think it’s safe to say that all of those books were probably edited by a professional editor. I’ve edited books by really great writers and super meticulous people — and they were still full of mistakes. And I’m a pretty meticulous writer myself, but even after proofing my own work countless times, people always find mistakes in things I’ve written. It’s just the nature of writing. You need a second opinion — also known as an “outside eye” (oh, the name of my freelance editing business!).

        • I’ve been writing my first book, based on the info on my website. I’ve been researching how to do it right. I’ve been looking at books other published authors have listed on their sites. I recently read a free sample an author had on Amazon. The cover attracted my attention first. I started cringing on the first page of chapter one. It was easy to see she had probably done her own editing. I told her I read the sample and wished her good luck but didn’t tell her what I thought. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I realize after reading everything here I did her a disservice. I acted like I was a friend or family who often tells you it’s good when it isn’t. I recently sent a chapter of my writing to an author friend and he was very blunt about my mistakes. I was so glad he did. Now I can go back and rethink my phrasing. The info in this article is a great reference and will be a big help as I get further into writing.

        • I want to edit books for new/upcoming writers, but do not know how to get into this profession. I could provide new writers with exceptional editing without costing them a fortune. For me, it is not about the income so much as helping others produce quality work that is not professionally embarrassing to read. Where would I start?

        • Thank you CS for that rant. You made a heap of good sense. I don’t have much spare cash but I’m passionate about quality. If I can’t raise the money my non fiction book which is three quarters written will not be published. My blog will be up and running within a couple of weeks and then I will post two 1,000 words posts perweekfor comments from my followers (first line editors). I did edit a book many years ago and was surprised at how many established writers complained at my correcting their grammer or syntax. If you have any more rants like this one I’d like to read them please

    • Quality structure and editing is key to a quality book — but money isn’t the only thing of value we have to trade for it. When we see numbers in the thousands of dollars tossed out as imperative to self-publishing, a lot of authors will run scared from publishing at all. But when we see options like bartering or trading advertising or testimonials/reviews in lieu of cash, a lot of doors open, and authors with brilliant ideas who can’t shoulder high upfront costs are able to share their ideas with readers.

      Alexis says “lucky”, but really what her strong network means is that she’s put in the time and effort to build a community of quality people who are eager to support her projects, and she’s developed skills that are valuable to trade. When money is a barrier, rather than give up, writers should understand the importance of networking and the value of their own skills to get the support their projects need.

      • “But when we see options like bartering or trading advertising or testimonials/reviews in lieu of cash, a lot of doors open…”

        I surely hope you are not encouraging authors to agree to post favorable reviews in exchange for editing services. That would be highly unethical. I doubt there are many things an author can trade for editing. Really, writers need to be willing to pay money, just as they would for college classes or training for a trade or any other career investment. It’s an investment into producing a quality product. If you were going to make quilts or soap or jewelry to sell on Etsy, you would shell out the money for quality materials. Editing is no different.

        • Melissah says:

          I think you are being a little self-righteous here to be honest. Your first few replies about costs may have been valid but now you are disagreeing with any views that vary from your own. It I a shame that you don’t seem to understand some new writers do not have access to lots of cash but that should not mean they shouldn’t have a shot at this.

          • Melissah says:

            Please excuse my attempt at humour (I couldn’t help it) with the ‘It I a shame ….’
            I do appreciate the expertise of others but also that there are different avenues for everyone and in the end it is what they are able to manage within budget without sacrificing quality of product – whatever their field and product may be.

        • C.S. is dead on people. Melissah, why are you so bothered? She posted what she did as a reply to advice thus, providing counter advice. It wasn’t personal. Frankly, I think she’s absolutely correct as she is eliminating some sure-to-follow lofty expectations, which was a primary objective of the article. This is just what we need to hear.

          Seriously, why don’t you simply dismantle her points (like she did of the previous comments) if you disagree. Instead, you accuse her of being self-righteous. I just think you are being petty for writing what you did.

  3. Great post, Dana! My costs are about $1500 per book. That includes everything from start to launch.

    I know many authors who cut costs by doing some of the work themselves. My design/formatting skills are non-existent, so I prefer to pay someone and not screw it up. Lol!

    I’ve been fortunate to find people I work well with through online contacts.

  4. In terms of furthering the discussion of costs to self-publish, I have to agree with C.S. Lakin that the costs reported here seem light when it comes to editing services. Professional editors are just that, professional. Beta readers are not editors.

    Writers who self-publish are in business. Business demands investment to produce a professional product. Self-published writers simply cannot objectively self-edit.

    On another note, the amount of time that each of these writers has put into tackling and mastering the various disciplines needed to self-publish (cover design, marketing, etc.) should not be reduced to zero. Time has value and should be considered a real cost.

    • I’m so glad you mentioned time spent, Kathryn. That cost is so important to note, but it’s one of the hardest to measure! Self-publishing education is mutli-faceted, ongoing, and different for each individual author. The disciplines we’re each able to master vs. the ones we’re willing to pay for vary quite a bit, too, which is a major cause for such a variance in costs. For example, some authors can DIY formatting just fine and balk at the rates for that service, while others balk instead at the investment of time to learn and perform that task.

      • I was definitely in the latter category for my last book. I spent more than the authors in the post, but simply could not face the steep learning curve and huge time investment it would have taken me to learn even Photoshop! I paid a lot more for a professional editor, but I was amazed at what she contributed and recognized immediately that I would not have been up to that task. Her painstaking editing and attention to detail made the layout and e-book formatting stages much easier too.

  5. A ‘publisher’ asked me to send my manuscript and only a month later offered me a contract. I was so elated at having my book published that I became a victim of my own naivety by actually expecting editorial help from the publishing house.
    In the publisher’s defense, its people did ask me to review the block print and send a list of needed corrections; however, it should have been a clue to me that there were no editing marks or border comments from the publisher in the returned manuscript. In retrospect, I believe that my manuscript was never read by anyone at the publisher.
    Thus, I became a ‘self-published’ author and not a ‘published’ author with a two year contract that gave me little flexibility for further revisions in my first novel.
    The paperback and e-versions An Odyssey of Illusions appeared on Amazon.com and B&N.com with too many technical errors not corrected. None of the errors impacted the story but the process was a real lesson for me. If being accepted by a minor publisher without editorial suggestions for revisions or corrections before publication seems too good …
    Yep! Yep! And I thought the publisher’s offer to sell me books at a discount was good because I wanted to have gift books for family, friends and donations to a charity auction.

    • John, That’s a really insightful and eye-opening comment. There are so many small publishers out there and it’s really difficult to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad.

      I’m in the process of querying agents, but will also query independent publishers occasionally as well, and if I would get accepted by a smaller publisher I’ll keep your comments in mind.

  6. No one has counted the entire cost.
    I was a happy mom who knows how to write, until I decided to write about it.
    I’ve had to replace two computers and have spent untold thousands on Internet access, not to mention courses in marketing, all of which I would not have needed at all, being already happy.
    I am so glad to see a comment calling for us also to include our time, also of value.
    Let’s count the entire cost, okay?

    • There is no way to count the time costs at all, other than perhaps calculating what my last paid job was worth to me per hour and then transfer that hourly rate to the time spent writing, rewriting, editing (any glaring mistakes and punctuation only). From the time I decided to write, it has been a labour of love – another phrase for volunteer work, I think – along with financial sacrifice, criticism from well-meaning friends, and so forth. I’m sure most of you have experienced similar situations.
      Yet, I do it for the love of writing and learning all the additional aspects of publishing a book successfully – working double-figure hours, or more per day. If I did that at my old job, the boss would have had to pay a lot of overtime.
      Having said all that, I agree that at such a critical time – before publishing, I can’t go and do my story short by skimping on editing and proofreading costs. So, I’ve taken on contract cleaning to pay for my editor. A menial job – some would say – but to me it’s a means to a successful end. Thanks for your honest insight. 🙂

      • Even at minimum wage, who could afford it?

        Yet, every day, I hear more and more about how should demand being paid what we’re worth. That is a joke.

        Writers, like farmers, will never be paid what we are worth or even partially reimbursed for our grief.

        But it makes some much happier to be paid more than they once were, more than they feared they’d be, or more than others.

        I say, let them be happy; it helps.

        However, I referred to counting the cost. We are delusional if we do not count the entire cost. The dollars missing. That cost.

  7. I noticed none of you mentioned ISBNs. Is this a choice or necessity cost, or no cost for whatever reason?

    I’m planning to self publish my first book(s) this year if all goes according to plan. So far my cost is very low. My covers are purchased and I spent less that $100 for all four covers for the series (one was a contest prize from MFRW summer camp last year) that I was lucky enough to find premade and perfect for what I was looking for. I haven’t been as lucky with other covers I’ll need for the STs I want to publish later on. But cost on one of those is $30 so far (discounted a lot) and I got a custom cover free. I haven’t yet talked to my editor friends to see what that might cost me, but I expect it will be my greatest cost when I do.
    As for marketing, I have a great author/blogger network already in place with my two previously epub published books. I pay $18 a year for my domain with free WP.com for a blog that is known. Though not a huge traffic stop at this point, it does have it’s good days. Website/blog, FB, Pinterest, Twitter Tsu, Goodreads (less so), and guest blogging are my main marketing avenues. All free.
    WordPress provides an annual progress report of my blog and includes the five top commenters and the top blog post with the most comments of the year. I use this as a marketing tool. I started last year by sending those six people prizes for their support. I send an author branding item along with my book swag to each of them. When I announce the winners I also challenge all future and past commenters to comment as much as they can all coming year to make the WP generated list of winners at the end of the year. I’ll post reminders of the contest periodically throughout the year to renew interest and, hopefully, attract more or new visitors to comment.

    Thank you all for the great experience share!

    • Thanks for sharing your numbers, too, Calisa!

      Cost of ISBNs can vary depending on your goals and plans. You can usually grab a free ISBN when you publish through Kindle Direct, CreateSpace, or Smashwords; but those will list the respective services as the book’s publisher of record in Bowker. If you want to be listed as the publisher (which you are, either way), you can purchase ISBNs individually for around US$100 each or in bulk for a significantly reduced rate.

      Some self-publishers forgo the ISBN altogether. You CAN sell an ebook through the Kindle Store, or sell a print book yourself, without an ISBN – but most retailers will require you to have an ISBN, so I recommend it for anything you want to distribute beyond family/friends.

  8. I certainly understand what people are saying here about the cost of editing, but as a manuscript editor (developmental, structural, line) and proofreader, a more balanced approach to the information would have been helpful. Listing much lower prices than the average people would usually pay sets up an unrealistic expectation for people coming to professional editors for quotes. I see it all the time. Many writers are using freelance sites like Thumbtack (where I’m listed) to find editors and end up taking on someone without enough experience simply because of the price. They end up with lousy results and less money to put toward finding a really good person to get them on the right track.

    I charge per page rather than by word, because even at .02 cents per word, I’m cheaper, because I know it can be expensive and therefore a deterrent. I include development, line editing, and proofreading in the cost, as well as a critique because I want to help, but I want to be paid appropriately for all the time and effort I put into the work. Yet more times than I can count I see people posting quote requests for novels of 50,000-125,000 words with a budget of $200-500, which is so unrealistic and no professional editor would touch.

    Anything worth doing like publishing a book is worth doing well. People should save up funds (tax refund? Kickstarter?) to do it right. Putting out a bad or not very good book that needed the right editing isn’t going to win anyone good reviews or people coming back to buy their next book.

    Notes about how people bartered for a great editor or used a friend, etc. to stress that these are lucky exceptions and encourage people to seek out good editors from reliable sources, knowing there is a cost for this professional work, would be a good idea to add for balance.

  9. Dorit Sasson says:

    Just to chime in my two cents here: I am paying top-notch editorial $ for help with my memoir. Memoir writing is so different than a how-to/non-fiction book. There is a lot more “reading” into yourself as a character that it doesn’t just fall into the category of “content” editing but really helping you flesh out the manuscript in terms of story arc, characterization, plot, etc. My editor asks questions in so many different ways that it goes beyond just developmental editing. In the end, I will have shelled out a few thousand dollars, but I know that it is in the name of producing a stellar book. And this gives me pride and satisfaction.

    • Thanks for sharing this experience, Dorit. It sounds like you’re enlisting a bit of coaching from your editor in addition to developmental editing, which is smart for the type of book you’re writing. It’s also good to note this option for any writer working on her first book, who might need guidance in the writing/publishing process beyond basic editing.

    • I agree with Dorit. I have finished a memoir and also spent over $2000 AUD in total for 2 big edits and a number of revisions. I am committed to producing a piece of art, not just a book. For me creating something that endures is more important than saving money and probably cutting corners to produce something that could be so much more. I also enjoyed spending $500AUD on cover design with a New Zealand artist to further create a unique piece of work that will give me pride and enjoyment to have produced. If I help one person who read the book that will make me happy.

      • Sue Ann Painter says:

        Bravo! Right attitude. Cost cutters should engage an editor above all else. I am a publisher whose goal for each author is to create a book that is a work of art. We strive to be the best, not the cheapest.

        • I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist. Don’t be impressed because I’ve consistently made less money working in publicly funded programs than my illiterate cousins who have worked construction and auto mechanics, not that money was my motivator, obviously. Fortunately, my debut novel was a traditional small press publication and I’ve never spent any money on it. It’s received several rave reviews, including two Gold Medals, and was named one of the best of five novels read in 2015 by a prominent book critic. Something about the novel has been posted on about 130 blogs or magazines in twenty-three different countries. But, sales suck, which is particularly discouraging because I’ve donated half of author proceeds to a child abuse prevention program. The small press that published my novel doesn’t have a promotions budget. Apparently, I don’t know what I’m doing to reach consumers (duh!). I’m tempted to spend some money on promotions even though in retirement I’m even more broke than ever before. One thing that keeps holding me back from investing is that I remember when working with teens, many of them had been abused, some sexually, we focused on decision making and career planning. In a nutshell, I would work with them to pursue dreams, most of them wanted to be rock stars, a player in the NBA, famous rappers, etc., that built one step at a time upon realistic objectives, such as graduating from high school, trade school or college, etc., as a means to an end — their dream jobs. One of the concepts that is biting me in the butt now, haunting, is whether or not the most beautiful painting ever created is art, whether the most meaningful story ever written is literature…? I agree 100% with quality, and I also believe that quite a few self-published works were prematurely released without proper editing. Kudos to those who have the money to ensure quality by hiring third parties. In my situation, I’m torn. Yesterday, the novel received a new book review that intensified my dilemma. In relevant part it found: “…The best thing about _____ is the writing. It feels timeless, classic and mature in a way that would ensure its longevity if more people knew about it. I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise was brilliant and brought a distinctive approach to the adult-fairytale/modern-retelling sub-genre…” — http://tabbyafae.com (link shortened to avoid self-promotion).

          Maybe I’ll win the lottery since I’m too old to try out for the NBA (congrats Cleveland!).

  10. Thanks for all this wonderful information. While I recognize that CreateSpace is the front-runner for self-publishing, it does come with a problem. Malaprops, the independent bookstore here in Asheville, NC, will not carry anything published on CreateSpace. I don’t know if that is the case with other independent shops, but I chose another print-on-demand company in order to get my book into my local bookshop and in order to support independent bookstores.

    • Thanks for the note, Tena. Do you know why this is the case for your local bookstore? I’d love to learn more about working with independent bookstores as a self-publisher; most of my personal experience is selling books online.

      I know some bookstores will require your book be available through major wholesalers like Baker & Taylor and won’t order direct from CreateSpace. You can make the book available to these by selecting that option under Expanded Distribution when publishing through CreateSpace. You can also try IngramSpark for additional distribution options.

  11. Dana,

    Thanks for the post, very informative and helpful. I had started the week thinking about writing my own experiences (cost incurred), which I did today, but let me summarize my costs first. I published my book a few months ago, and am converting the costs to US Dollars (costs incurred were in Indian Rupees, and they are on the very high side).

    Editing: $650, Cover design: $160; Printing: $1,130 (400 copies); Other cots incl promotion: $240; author website $240.
    Total cost: $2,420

    Had I not printed the books (published ebook only)- cost would have been nearly $1,200.

    I have posted the details in my blog wp.me/p3uClT-be

    thanks

  12. Joe Prevost says:

    C.A. Lakin sounds like me when I was a life insurance salesman. I could come up with a thousand reasons why everyone needs life insurance. I’m trying to be funny, not sarcastic.

    • Well, good analogy. Investing in professional editing and proofreading (and especially getting a critique down) is a kind of insurance. Or ensurance. If you want to ensure you’ll have a great, marketable novel, and not curse the waste of years of your life trying to publish a flawed book, it makes sense to pay the premium. Really …

  13. Great topic, and the comments are as useful as the post. 🙂 I agree that understanding where a person’s numbers come from helps everyone else enormously. For instance, I have experience in accounting/finance, IT/Help Desk, and teaching. I can use all those skills to barter when I find someone who is also good at their job who needs my skills. I have a great developmental editor who is also a friend. She and I barter her editing for my technical help with anything computer-related including her blog, the online classes she runs, and I’m even going to format one of her books for her. My copy editor and proofer is a young friend who offered to do a book for free to see if I liked her skills. Then she offered to defer payment until the books were earning enough that I was paying her from revenue rather than from my household budget. So I’m getting about $3000 worth of editing for a 100,000-word book for zero cash out. Of course, some time that I might otherwise spend writing I’m instead spending on bartered services.

    TODAY, a novel runs me between $140 and $530 for just the book, not advertising, not a portion of the annual costs of running a business, like a web site, not the audiobook. My husband, a former graphic designer, created my last cover for about $15 for the images. I hired a cover designer to do my series so all the covers would have a similar look. (My husband isn’t trained in book design and wasn’t sure where to go with those.) Those run me $200 each to get the ebook, full print cover, and audiobook cover.

    I use Scrivener and Word, both already purchased, to format my ebooks, and I have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for $50/month that gives me access to InDesign, where I do my print formatting, and gives my husband access to Photoshop, Illustrator and any other Adobe products he wants to use.

    I bought a block of 100 ISBNs for $575 when I first started because if anything ever changes regarding the effect of ownership of the ISBN, I want to own mine. I started out using 4 ISBNs per book, $23 total, but now only use 2 per book, $11.50, one for the print version and one for all ebook versions. I also spend $25 on a bar code for the back of the print book. I get a Library of Congress number, which is free, but you have to mail them a print copy of your books, so that’s $9 including postage. Lastly, the copyright registration on the print book is $35.

    That makes up the $140 to $530 I spend now. But when I start paying my editors in cash instead of via bartering or deferment, the total cost per 100,000-word novel will be closer to $4000.

    Actual costs and opportunity costs are all important to consider (i.e., what am I giving up if I do some of the work myself versus paying others to do it). But enjoyment of your business as a whole is also important. I love to write, but I also love the tech side – learning new software, the euphoria of learning a new time-saving trick, playing with new technology. Yes, I could write more books if I paid more people to do work I now do myself. But I enjoy using both sides of my brain the way I do. Not everyone feels that way, and that is totally okay. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kitty, for counting the cost of the website!

    • Wonderful article! Kitty, I also bought my own block of ISBN’s for my publishing company Questor Books, which I only publish my own books. However, you noted that you use the same ISBN for all ebooks. As far as I understand Bowkers states that every edition in ebook or paperback must have its own ISBN. So Amazon and Smashwords you can get away with using only 2 (and Smashwords you can opt in to lots of distributors with the same ISBN) however if you upload individually to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nook, iTunes, Diesel, etc., etc., you must use a separate ISBN for each.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience and costs, Kitty! It’s great to hear the different strategies authors use to self-publish.

      And I agree — learning new programs and testing new technology is fun! Figuring out how to compile a Mobi file in Scrivener took me a while, but it was a great puzzle to solve.

      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

    • I bought a block of 10 ISBNs for $250, which made them reasonable but not the cheapest. I know Bowker says to use a different one for each ebook version, but most successful indie-pubbed authors I see are just using one, so I went with the group on that one.

      Bowker is a government-sanctioned monopoly and I think they abuse it sometimes. In Canada and the UK (plus a lot of other countries), ISBNs are FREE! Wish the US would do that. Also, Bowker will sell you a barcode for $25, but you don’t need to buy it! CreateSpace will automatically generate a barcode when you put the information in – no charge. There are also free barcode generators all over the web. Just one more way Bowker takes advantage of us. *grumble*

      • Hi, we do pay for ISBNs in the UK, but I think we get away with paying a bit less for individual ones here – about £20. a bundle of 10 is about the same, I think we pay £125 for 10

  14. I’ve published ten novels, four short stories, and three omnibuses and one anthology. Clip art has cost me less than $100. Fiverr got me a cool logo image. I had the software for all writing, editing, phot editing. Got friends to proof. Aside from time and electricity, and about 1 grand in advertising (if that), I’ve made about $10,000.00 on those books. My pulpish work may not fit some folks definition of “quality books” but those numbers are pretty good, I think.

  15. Dana,

    This was excellent information!

  16. I have about 14 books out in ebook and print. I also purchased my own lot of ISBN’s that are tied into my small press, Questor Books. $575 for 100. I had previously purchased 10 back in the early 1990’s when I was also doing self-publishing.

    My editor goes over every book I put out, whether it’s a short story or full manuscript. I started working with her when she first went back into editing after some life events. She goes over each book for grammar, edits, proofing for errors and story consistency. I try to get it as polished as I can before sending it to her. After writing the first or second draft, I let it sit for about a month, then go over it to check for story consistency, errors, etc. When I feel I’ve done the best I can, I send it to her. Generally, 60k book is about $600-700.00. I feel it’s very important to put out the best book I can.

    I have used various cover designers for each series. Ebook covers range in price from $70 to $160 per book. Cover wrap for create space cover goes from $40 to $70.00 each.

    I have one domain for my books with lunarpages. It’s about $20 a year for the domain name and the site hosting runs about $160 for 3 years. I use webstudio software for creating and updating the site. Initial cost in 2000 was $5. I upgrade every year and now it’s about $70. I did have a professional overhaul my site in 2013, cost $250.00. I maintain the site myself.

    This year I’m trying a new giveaway every month on Goodreads. I give 5 paperbacks each month and this will work well since I have enough books to cover the entire year. Paperbacks through createspace cost me about $4-5 each. I ship to US and Canada which is about $3 a book. I also do a bit of advertising on Goodreads at about $25.00 a month. It seems to boost my sales just a bit.

    I studied many blogs and information about how to create my own ebook files. I do my own for Amazon and Smashwords. I distribute with Smashwords to all venues except Amazon. In the beginning I uploaded to Barnes and Noble and Kobo myself, but then realized that was using an extra ISBN. I get better sales doing it through Smashwords for some reason.

    Paperbacks I also did the research and create my own formatting. For each of the formatting I do I created templates that I use each time for a new publication.

    I have tried a lot of the well known book advertising venues in the first year I had my books out in 2012. I also tried author blog tours. They provided a temporary bump but in the end I didn’t feel it was worthwhile for the expense involved. I’ve never tried Bookbub.

    • Grace, what did Internet and computers cost you for all those years?

      • Internet from the 1990’s? I don’t even recall. Back then it was dial up. Right now I have time Warner which is about $35 a month. Since I first got internet in the 90’s, it wasn’t only used for my writing. I also used it for my other businesses, so the cost would have to be split and percentage of time for each business. My first computer I bought had no internet. It was a DOS that I loaded Word Perfect for DOS. Computer probably cost about $300. I used WP for my transcription and also my writing. When I was published traditionally in 2001, I switched to Word. Word was probably about $50 or so, since then I’ve upgraded systems through the years. I currently only use laptops so I have portability. Again, the time is split between my businesses for the computer use. These days I usually get about 3-4 years out of a laptop before Microsoft and/or computer hard drive issues force me to change. I go middle of the line on laptop pricing.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience and costs, Grace! It’s great to hear more perspectives on what it costs to self-publish.

      How do you find the return on Goodreads giveaways? Do they help you reach new readers or boost the number of reviews of your books on Amazon and Smashwords?

      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

      • Hi Heather: I decided to devote more time this year to working with Goodreads to see the outcome on my sales. My first giveaway in January there were about 183 copies requested on the giveaway for my western contemporary romance Echoes from the Past. I posted it to my blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter and Goodreads. Generally if I give away 5 paperbacks I seem to get 1 or 2 reviews. I have a little note at the end of all my books thanking the buyer for purchasing my books, and mention if they liked it, please leave a review, as it helps other readers and the author.

        I also did the advertising on Goodreads just to get my books out there in a general way. My sales bumped up a little on Amazon (little being about 10 extra that month). Smashwords (and their channels I opted into) it’s hard to tell because they don’t update sales immediately, however I have to say my Smashwords sales are really picking up this year than in previous 2 years.

        I also joined several groups on Goodreads and posted that I would be happy to do an honest swap review with other authors. Some of my newer books had no reviews. So that has been helpful to gain some reviews. However, I look at the other author books asking for reviews and if it’s something that interests me I will review, otherwise I decline. I’m of the opinion having reviews definitely makes a difference for sales.

    • To follow up on ISBN’s: Here’s another reason to have an ISBN for each edition if you want to check out Smashwords Mark Coker’s 2/10/15 blog about it. Some authors use the same ISBN for their ebook across multiple venues or use the same number for ebook and paperback. If you do, your book may be stuck in limbo until you assign unique ISBN’s. https://www.smashwords.com/about/beta

  17. Stanton Swafford says:

    Literary agent, Ann Rittenberg, writes in her book “Your First Novel” the following: “Don’t hire a professional editor…I’ve never signed on a novelist who who has come to me after working with a professional editor. Why? Because you have to grow to learn what your novel needs, and learn to do the work of revising and editing yourself. Etc. etc” I found this advice puzzling to say the least. Any rate, my 85,000 word novel, an espionage thriller, is now in the hands of a competent developmental editor for under $800. I met the editor at a weekend writers conference workshop. Not sure I want to keep Ann Rittenberg on my short-list of agents.

  18. Robin Lee Holmes says:

    Thank you all for such informative input. I’m a children’s picture book writer and am currently working with a local artist who is the illustrator. I’m considering going with a self-publishing package because illustrations are involved. It seems cost effective to go this route.
    Any input on picture books and self-publishing packages?

  19. Interesting article with interesting perspectives. Some of the ‘advice’ seems like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me. I don’t see the problem with paying for editing services but like someone said somewhere in these godforsaken comments, everyone doesn’t have thousands of dollars to give away. Sigh. Such is life.

    I am surprised that it was so cheap for the writers to self publish and I do mean cheap. Nice article.

  20. Thank you for sharing this information! I do a lot of the prep work myself when releasing a book and trade as often as possible for editing services. I get questions about costs of self-publishing from other authors, and because I do so much of it on my own I don’t always have the best answers so this breakdown has been great! Thanks to all the authors 🙂

  21. Thanks for sharing this! It is so good to get actual number when it comes to self publishing a book. In fact, I would love to publish my own novel and see how well it does. I’ll be sure to save up around a few thousand dollars so that I can have everything ready at the time of printing.

  22. Wait, did Dana really pay multiple editors a total of $60 to edit her book, or is that a typo? I’m a professional freelance editor, and I’ve never even done a final proof of a book for less than $500. The last book I edited took me over 50 hours (two rounds of line edits, several rounds of back-and-forth clarifying fine points and language, proofing the manuscript in Word, and then proofing the printed book proof); I charged the writer almost $2500. While I’m probably on the more expensive end of the spectrum (and for good reason, I believe), I still find it really hard to imagine any editor in the U.S. would charge less than $60 to edit or proof an entire book.

  23. Thanks to all the contributors for sharing their thoughts on the cost of self publishing. I have published several academic papers, co-edit one neurology journal and am guest editor for another. I have recently finished my first novel. A journalist, who I met through my medical ‘day job’, and an academic who I’ve known for many years have done me the honour of independently editing the book. I am therefore as sure as I can be that there are few, if any, grammatical or spelling errors. Despite this, I feel the need to employ a professional editor before I attempt to get the book published and it’s been very useful to get an idea of cost from the various posts.

    The many comments about time costs are extremely valid. I find myself with a few weeks away from work recovering from an operation. If it wasn’t for that, I would have very little time to invest in the design and marketing of the book. I have looked at the possibility of using self publishing services like author house, but the costs seemed to be considerably more than those quoted in the above posts, and don’t appear to include any editing services. I would be most interested in people’s experiences of these ‘all in’ packages.

  24. Dana & Alexis Thank you for a great post and to the authors who shared their experiences and finally to the Editors that shed some light on it’s importance ,there was few healthy debates here and there which was fun to read.
    i will properly invest in my first baby when i publish my short novel this year, ill make sure to lay my 2 cents then.

    again thanks for an educational post.

    Regards

  25. Hi!

    Self-publishing doesn’t seem as scary after reading the above, especially the comments. It also doesn’t feel like “vanity” anymore.

    I went with a small traditional press located in Leeds for my first novel, Rarity from the Hollow. The novel received glowing reviews from book critics, but that didn’t translate into sales. As an old guy living in West Virginia who will never afford to travel, my novel published in England was very attractive. Plus, in 2012, I was a low paid children’s psychotherapist and felt that I couldn’t afford to spend any money to have my novel proofed, edited, covered, or marketed. It looks like prices are lower now — probably the competition between services providers. I’m retired now and have a lower, now fixed, income.

    One reader posted that Rarity from the Hollow should win some type of award, but that such was unlikely since it wasn’t backed by a big publishing house. I don’t know about all that, but I have learned: cross-genre is hard to self-market; while small presses assume all upfront costs, they also have small advertising budgets; and, it may be true that one gets what she/he pays for.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Robert! We often hear a lot about the major publishers, but it’s great to hear a bit about working with a small press.

      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

  26. I read every comment here and learned a lot. But I have a question I didn’t see covered. I’m only half done the initial writing of my book. There are so many things to do when self publishing. What things should an author start taking care of during the writing process. It could help spread out the cost and also time. What would you suggest for a new author. I have a website about the man that is the topic of the book. I published a few chapters to start drumming up interest for the book. I’ve had good feedback on this man’s life and quite a few return reader’s to the site in general. I recently started a separate blog just for the book and post just chapter excerpts. I’ve done the same thing on facebook. One for the blog and one for the book. I put everything out over twitter and G+. But all the other things I read here, should I start the editing process before is done? Should I attempt to correct mistakes and hopefully change things for the better for future chapters? I have also written piano music for this and would like to find a way to offer it with the book or perhaps offer as a freebie for preorders? I haven’t found any info on this angle yet. Is this a possibility?

  27. Gillian G. says:

    I find the cost estimates for illustrations here shockingly low. A cover illustration has to go through sketches, changes, final illustrations, be scanned and formatted correctly, an artist will want to read the manuscript or at least a good chunk of it; all of this requires a wealth of knowledge and experience and time worth far more than $250. This is much less than minimum wage labour at that rate. If you plan to use an illustrator, think in the high hundreds – or over a thousand. Commissioning custom art work should be worth more than a few hundred dollars.

    A CHEAPER OPTION: select an existing image from an illustrator or artist and license it from them – that’s a potentially cheaper (and much faster) way to get beautiful art on your book.

  28. Cody Newton says:

    This was a helpful site. I’ve been working in the first book to my eight book series and I’m on my final copy of the first book. It is called Saffaria: And The Witches Black Fog and its over 140,000 words! It has a lot of tense moments and here’s the summary to it:

    After Cody, Bryce, Jordyn, and Christin fall through the magical Hole that leads then to the world of Ellesmear and the land of Saffaria they meet six talking morian wolf pups’: Charger, Baylie, Feisty, Jack, River, and Phineus–sons and daughters of the might Duster and Chacha or Silhrim and Galithrial– that tell them of Avedon, who has started a war over Saffaria. She has a massive army and the power of black fog that bring searing pain and death. The the companions form the Fellowship of Vedumie and teavle through the lands of Saffaria. As they go Lady Galithrian send two elves–Thrandavane and Silvren– to help the Fellowship of Vedumie as the danger grows stronger, and the Battle of Fog grows nearer.

    The book is great and has a lot of magic and creatures. Every chapter ends with a cliff hanger and every page wants u to read more. The whole fourth page Battle of Fog leaves you tense and a few of your favorite characters die. My name is Cody Newton and I’m 13

  29. I have a fiction I want to publish and I have been reading everything I can lay my hands on about self publishing. This forum has really shed so much light.

  30. I am researching for indie writers that have posted testimonials about their earnings in the field of home publishing. Anyone please? I am gathering for a report to be published soon.

  31. The investment is huge…! what is the total… Wouldn’t have been easier if you had just written the total.. with a few details on each line?

  32. SOOSAIYA ANTHREAS says:

    Copyedit service required for Literary fiction:

    I have a 325 page LITERARY FICTION ready for copyediting. Can anyone offer service? Please indicate fee. I will give 2 or 3 pages for sample editing before making the final offer.

    Regards
    Soosaiya ANTHREAS.

  33. I’m not stating my age but I am too writing a book. Yes i’m in middle school so i’m young. So many said that I was a good writer. I’m writing a book called Twilight Moon. I wondered all together, how much it would cost to publish my own book. And also what place or anything like that is the best place to publish it for a low amount of money. I don’t need any editing or pictures, i just need it put into a book form and a front and back cover for it. I can print it on my own printer. I think i can at least. This will be my first book. It is about wolves. It’s a chapter book also. If anyone can help me that would be great. Thanks!

  34. dở òm

  35. Dana. I am a student (16 years old) so i do not have any income to put into publishing my book. Can you suggest a good way to publish my first book. Its been a long journey, but my friend have gone through the book and said it was really good

  36. This is really interesting, I think a lot of writers don’t factor in editing, design, formatting etc into their idea of what’s necessary to publish. Just because I can write doesn’t mean I can edit – sometimes I can’t even spell! Luckily I have an editor and a designer to help out with this.
    It’s very helpful to have everything laid out like this and explained the way it has been here – this is a nicely done, neat and balanced article.
    Some of the costs mentioned seem pretty steep to me as we include editing, design, formatting, a pre-print run of 50-200 books and a bit of publicizing in our packages (£350-750) but i suppose English costs are lower and it’s cheaper for us as we do it all in-house.

  37. Someone is talking about charging $7k! she’s like anyone can write a book, she just left her teaching career of 15 years I believe she said…and its trying to be a ghost write and/or writer and saying that its about $7K..is that even right..sounds steep

  38. I’m currently reading up on self publishing and came across this article. One cost that I haven’t noticed here though is the Copyright Registration.

    • You don’t really need to register for copyright protection – it’s automatic under international law, as long as your own work is published before any subsequent work (infringement you your work) then copyright is implied as being yours. you can write your own copyright notice for your book and it IS legally binding. (www.copyrightservice.co.uk)

  39. I am new at publishing but have been writing with a passion since I was 12 and I’m now 51. I feel it’s time to try to publish something. I don’t even know where to start. Please advise. How to you know/find legitimate editors?

  40. Marvellous says:

    i am a student and i want to publish my first book. please how can i get my book edited with little or no cost..

  41. Thanks Dana for your valuable article…
    I have learned about the cost to self-publish a book..But still confused as to select which particular resource..
    Can you help me in providing the right pathway for achieving success? As i am beginner in this field so do not have sufficient knowledge.
    Regards,
    Vickie

  42. Christain Alcauter says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I’m almost finished writing my book and have done some of my own research into self publishing. I was wondering what you thought of third party houses that help with self- publishing. I have talked to a few and I never really get a clear answer from them. I was wondering what your thoughts are on these type of companies.

  43. Janine Rabie says:

    Hi,
    Please…
    Assist me with the reply below from a publisher.
    If they pose a “statement” like this, what should I ask or what does it mean to me in layman’s terms…
    ————————————
    Should you agree this book will be distributed and marketed by all our marketing agents, subagents and book stores, as well as through our various other outlets.
    Please let us know if you want us to proceed with cost estimation for your contribution towards project.

    We also require the amount A5 pages if you have not provided a full manuscript. If you are going to make use of illustrations, please provide us with the amount, as well as if it is in black or white, or in colour.
    —————————
    Kind regards
    Janine

    • I’m not really sure what they mean. You might want to clarify with them. If your book is written in English and they are a company from an English as a first (or only) language I’d be wary if I was in your shoes.

      The bit about the A5 just means that if you aren’t sending them your MS ahead of time, they need a page count when it’s on A5 paper.

  44. Hello, there is a lot of dollars being mentioned about editing cost and so forth. But is it worth it? How much money did you make from the books after spending 2000$? Did any of you make large profits off your investments?

    Thanks

    • Hi Erik,
      An honest question deserves an honest answer. I spent close to $2000AUD editing and formatting and $450AUD on cover art for my 55,000 self help book and 4 weeks after being published I have made about $25USD in royalties. Clearly nowhere near redeeming my editing costs. This is not an issue for me. I wrote the book to be a work of art. Something I was proud to have out there. As a self help book people will come accross my book many, many years later. I want the book to stand the test of time, so the impeccable editing I desired will ensure the reader gets a seamless reading experience where the sharing of information and knowledge (and hopefully wisdom!) is not lost amongst poor grammar, spelling and tiring layout. Feel free to look at the book (Going The Distance by Guy Fitter) to see if you think its worth it!

Trackbacks

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