How Much Does Self-Publishing Cost?

03 Aug



How Much Does Publishing Cost?


Launching a book is like starting a company. Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but also setting up a marketing strategy, and get editing, book formatting and cover-design for your book. See how much professional services will cost you to produce a high-quality book of about 65.000 to 80.000 words.

This is mentioned as the first step as marketing of your book and establishing an author platform can and should start before your book is even finished. You certainly can do some of the marketing yourself, for example your social media presence. Professional help should include an author interview, articles about you and your book, help with marketing campaigns, advertisements and most important of all: first establishing a book marketing plan and the author’s platform / brand. 111Publishing is offering all this for $159 for 3 months. Media publicists can get you radio spots and press articles/interviews for anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per month.

Once you’ve written your book, editing is important. Every writer needs at least some type of editor. She/he will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions, make sure that everything flows and is consistent, and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. If you write non-fiction consider also a fact-checker, to make sure there are no errors or broken links. 3-5 manuscript pages/hour for a manuscript page that’s approximately 250 words, will cost you, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association:
$45-65/hour based on the experience of the editor. Spell-check, get beta-readers or use inexpensive editing software to prepare your manuscript before you hand it over to an editor, who charges by the hour, in order to save editing time. However there are many professional editors, who charge you less and charge you by the page, sometimes even starting from $2/hour.

Once your manuscript is in good shape, the next thing you need to do is hire another editor called copy editor or line editor to go through and catch spelling mistakes and adjust for grammar, punctuation and consistency. Costs are approximately $20-50/hour.

Readers and even book reviewers judge how a book looks on Amazon, B&N or Kobo online sales pages or on bookstore shelves. For phone users, a thumbnail of the cover is probably the first thing a reader sees. It’s important that your cover design is optimized for print (TIFF) and digital (jpeg) thumbnail sizes, and how it looks on an e-reader or mobile device. Get lots of tips for cover design on Joel Friedlander’s website. If you are a professional photographer you might use your own images, or you might need to buy a license to use certain images. If you are lucky, you might find free images. Some e-book cover designers even sell pre-made cover designs for as low as $50.

But if you want to hire someone to make a custom cover design, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $1,500. The higher end is for award-winning designers who have done very professional covers for big, traditional publishing houses.

There are many resources for authors to get professional reviews. Sites like Kirkus, Blue Ink, and Publishers Weekly all sell review packages for indie or self-published authors. There’s also a great list of bloggers that you can reach out to for reviews for your book. 2012 review costs by Kirkus are $425, BlueInk Reviews $396, Publishers Weekly PW Select $149. More reviewers can be found in our former blog posts. You certainly can ask top authors in your genre if they would review your book and then use their comments/reviews as a blurb on your books cover.

This is pre-publishing task that you should leave up to a professional, unless you are very tech-savvy, and learned html programming, as free programs, such as Sigil, Calibre or Pages don’t deliver always great conversions, especially if the text is not pre-formatted. If you’re looking to hire an expert, you can find print-on-demand conversions for as little as $150 or as much as $500 and over to convert your manuscript from Word or InDesign. Higher costs are if your book has a lot of pictures, is highly illustrated or if your original file is in PDF, which is more complex to convert.
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is necessary for a print book, upload it to Apple or you want to see it in libraries. A lot of third parties sell ISBNs, but if you don’t purchase your own ISBN you may not be listed as the publisher of your own work! Never buy it from someone else than the authorized seller in your country (Bowker for the USA).If you plan on selling your book in e-book format and don’t want to use Apple online retail, then you do have the option of skipping the ISBN, which will be $125 for one ISBN and $250 for ten ISBNs.
You can do this yourself by following the instructions to get your books distributed into the various retailers, which is easiest at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. There are service companies, among others:BookBaby, Autorems (for Apple only)  or eBookpartnershipThey all charge only a small yearly fee and your books’ revenue is 100% yours.

Never use a third party as they do take a percentage of each book sold – mostly between 10% and 15%, and if your book is successful you might loose quite a bit!

A proud moment for every author: to discover their book in a bookstore or library. However, be aware that bookstores take high commissions 40-50%, and even have the right to return unsold books – unless they are printed in demand (which bookstores take only for pre-ordered books).

Many large US book distributors won’t take you on before you have at least five to ten books in print, and they charge a fee for their distribution, usually 20-30%. As an author-publishers with at least 3 books you might be better off with Lightning Source / Ingram and CreateSpace combined – also due to the print on demand possibilities that both companies offer.

Lightning Source connects you with the world’s largest distribution channel of book wholesalers and retailers. In addition to distributing books through their parent company Ingram Books, they print to order, which means, your book is printed and ready for shipment in 12 hours or less. With over 30,000 wholesalers, retailers and booksellers in over 100 countries your titles will gain the maximum exposure. They work with over 28,000 publishers of all sizes around the world. They deliver digital, print, wholesale and distribution services through a single source, and makes it easy for you to reach more customers in more places.
For small amounts of print books an author is better off to have it POD, (printed on demand), done by CreateSpace or by Lightning Source, who are also the distributors. POD is produced only after receiving orders.The printing might be higher priced, but you can decide on discounts and there will not be any returns from book stores for unsold books, which can be costly. On the other hand, readers cannot find your book in stores, but have to order it there or order online. However, you save high upfront costs for printing.
You might also consider trading services with other authors, in order to get the help you need for your project and to save money. Or you could consider to raise funds through crowd funding, such as Kickstarter or Indogogo. As an author your can do some of pre-publishing, but spending money on quality editorial services will set your book apart from the majority of (self-) published books. It takes consistent, quality production over time. Don’t ever fall into the ‘overnight blockbuster’ mentality. Think of yourself as a writer who will never stop producing quality books.
Self-publishing costs money. If you want readers to buy your book, you will need to make an investment in order to produce a quality product, above and beyond your beautiful writing. And don’t fall into the trap of the so-called “Publishing companies” or “Self-Publishing” providers, who offer you a bundle of services. Stay independent and carefully check out each pre-publishing provider, get in touch with their author customers to learn about their experience and compare editing, design and printing prices.

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only $ 159 for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: Once you are on this website, click on Seminar to register.

Please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are 820 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter,, Facebook, Tumblr and to StumpleUpon.

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2 responses to “How Much Does Self-Publishing Cost?

  1. insaneowl

    August 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Rich in content.Thanks Doris.:)

  2. Kathy Steinemann

    September 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for the information, Doris.

    I know many authors pay for reviews, but I think the process is flawed. I’ve seen too many books with five-star ratings that I wouldn’t classify as one-star. In fact, although sites like Amazon are trying to clean up their reviews, I pay more attention to the “Look Inside” feature. In fact, I have avoided or bought several books because of one- to three-star reviews.


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