The Cost of Self-Publishing

I get asked many times, ‘How much does it cost to self-publish? What is a ballpark figure to budget for?’ Here are the costs involved…

  1. Marketing: $50-100 daily. The biggest cost will be your financial resource. Many authors struggle here as this is the most difficult task to get right and requires the most money. Book giveaways, ads on Google, Facebook, Amazon, book promotion sites, etc. – so many opportunities but plenty of trial and error. Expect to spend a huge amount of money without initial positive return. It certainly is very challenging, but worth testing if you have a high budget. My middle ground is around $50 to $100 daily. Calculate at least a month with no return on your investment and just trial and error.
  2. Editing: $80-200 per 10,000 words. This is the second biggest cost and is often neglected by many authors. Professional editing costs money and is not cheap. Every book needs an editor, period. At least hire a proofreader if you cannot afford copy editing or line editing. Calculate anywhere from $80 to $200 per 10k words for a pro.
  3. Cover: $150-500. Again, many take a short cut here and use free templates to have this done quickly, or find cheap options from Fiverr. That’s the wrong approach. Cost for a stunning cover will range from $150 to $500. 
  4. Layout/eBook files: $150-500. Instead of using MS Word and automated software (where nobody checks on accuracy; this includes all aggregators/distributors), you can get professional typesetting/layout and all files needed to publish with Amazon, Apple, Google, kobo, BN, POD for around $150 to $500. A no brainer if you wish to publish everywhere (which you should).
  5. ISBN: $125. The least expensive and I am not sure why many authors skip this. It is always advisable to have the same ISBN across all retailers and not use the free assigned ISBNs from retailers. You can get your own imprint for $125 for a single ISBN and much discounted if you buy more than one ISBN. 

Excluding marketing, expect the cost to be $1,000-$1,500 for a 70,000 word book. For this amount you can have a professional book published you can be proud of.

I see lots of feedback from authors and would-be authors arguing that they choose the cheap route and skip all guidelines above but will take care of it once sales come in. How should that ever happen? Once a bad name and bad reviews due to a book full of errors, you are stuck with it. Many also say that they would never get the money back they would spend. Then why even bother to spend so much time writing if one cannot see this through?