What is the Cost of Self Publishing a Book?

What is the Cost of Self Publishing a Book?

It’s our most common question. In fact, it's pretty much the 1st question we're asked.

If you're reading this, then I'm going to go ahead and make a pretty solid guest that you're on some sort of computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Now depending on which platform you're using, this part might change but for the most part in the upper right hand corner of the screen is our "request a quote" button.

By clicking on this button and then filling in the blanks before submitting your quote to us, you're pretty much asking "how much is this going to cost me?" And that's totally fair. We are right there with you. Cost is a major factor.

For self publishing a book on your own or with a company, the answer to this question is... well it depends.

I'm not here to talk about other self publishing companies or to do a side by side comparison of our self publishing services. I have done my research and looked into how they go about running their business model in comparison to how James and Brookfield Publishers runs theirs.

All too often I see this nice shiny package price with some very tiny, tiny small print on what that package actually includes. Where they seem to focus more on quantity, we're more focused on quality.

The "big" companies run circles around us. Yes, we've been in business for over 20+ years but now we can't fill a major bookstore full of our published books. Instead we've tried to keep things smaller and more focused so that our time and energy devoted directly to our clients.

Another avenue to become self published is by using an eBook conversion service and uploading a manuscript directly to Amazon or B&N then selling your eBook. This will cost you $0... ZERO DOLLARS, but can also mean you get what you pay for.

For the past 20+ years we've seen a good number of rough draft manuscripts come our way and they were very "rough" to read. By no means is this a shot at the wonderful authors we've had the pleasure of working with over the years... it's just a fact that even the best of authors need some sort editing/proofreading before their manuscript is ready.

It's best to have as many sets of eyes looking over a rough draft, 2nd draft, 3rd, 4th... 8th draft before it's ready to go off to the printer or a site like Amazon. Sure asking your spouse, parent, neighbor, or delivery person to read over your drafts is a good idea but make sure that you're at least working with one professional editor. If you're lucky, you have someone in your network who will do it for free. For most people though this becomes a cost.

Cover Design and Layout

You can create accounts with all of the online retailers, edit your book, create your own cover, format your book, publish your book, get an ISBN, and promote your book for free.

Or, you can choose to spend money to have someone help you with some or all of these steps.

Just like with having your book professionally edited, another step is creating an eye catching book cover design and laying the book out so that it's in the traditional layout.

Again, it depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Do you have a friend who is a fantastic editor and will edit your book in exchange for cleaning out their garage or moving their grandmother's stuff into storage?

Whether it's a physical book or an eBook, sold in person or online... your book cover plays a major factor in its success. More times than not, a book truly is judged by it's cover, at least initially.

The "bigger" companies may offer this part of the package in a plug in play format much like designing a family reunion t-shirt.

Other companies take the time to talk to their authors to get an idea of what look the author is trying to achieve. They'll set you up with one of their professional graphic designers. As mentioned earlier, here comes that "depends" again when talking about price.

Some companies offer a "till we get it right" pricing while others give their clients a certain number of edits before pricing goes up. Another factor in this pricing will be in regards to any pictures that are used.

Some authors may need to buy an image(s) that will be used on the cover and within the book. Using your own pictures withing your book may increase the price especially if you're using color pictures on special paper.

For formatting and layout, it can be done on your own but so can a lot of things such as changing the oil in your car. Sometimes it's just easier and even cheaper to bite the bullet and pay someone else to do the work for you especially for non traditional book formats. A reputable self publishing company will have someone on staff to assist you.


For some authors this cost can be almost as much as publishing the book is.

There are a lot of ways to market your book and there are a lot of people out there willing to take your money to advise you how to sell your book. Or sell it for you. A big advantage to self publishing is that authors retain 100% of all rights to their books... or at least they should be retaining that regardless of who they work with to self publish their book.

Over the years, we've worked with a good number of professional speakers and consultants. For them becoming an author helped them expand their services and reach. The big part, for them, was getting booked because from their they were in front of different audiences who were eager to learn and continue learning so buying books at the back of the room or going to that speaker's website was usually a fairly easy transaction.

For most authors, they have a very small network (friends, family, coworkers) but with social media and the internet their reach is able to go farther and farther.

A cost that could be factored into a self publishing package is website development. It doesn't have to be big and flashy but setting a website to either showcase an individual book or as part of a larger portfolio for an author, is usually a good idea.

There are countless web developers/designers out there as well as options for self publishing companies who offer website services and maintenance as well.

For authors with a decent promotion budget Amazon ads, Facebook ads, Bookbub, Google Ads - all are tried and tested and give authors plenty of opportunity to put your book in the hands of readers.

Finally another cost to factor is storage. For most self published authors they go the route of printing a large run of their books. This causes a higher upfront cost but also creates a lower cost per book scenario.

The amount of books printed in the 1st run will be the main cost of your self publishing adventure. We advice our authors to calculate how many books they will be able to move fairly quickly once the book is printed. Higher the number of books printed in the initial run, the lower the cost per book will be. If they can, we advise our authors to keep the cost per book under $5. This way when they sell it for $20+ they will make back their money and earn a solid profit.

Once the books are printed they can either be freight shipped to a location of your choosing or they can be stored in a facility and a fulfillment service can be set up.

Shipping to your location is a cost that should be factored as well as if you chose to store them. Fulfillment services vary between companies and will be a factor in the revenue of books sold. Depending on the agreement, the fulfillment service will keep a certain portion of the purchase.

Wrapping Things Up

When you self publish, you should think about what your personal goal is. If that goal is to simply get your book out there and fulfill a dream of being a published author, and will mostly be selling books to those close to you, then you seriously don’t have to spend any money at all doing it. The advise here though is to still seek professional help in regards to editing, layout and cover design so that your finish product still looks and reads like it was professionally done.

If you're hoping to make some money with your writing, you should consider investing money into your product. If your budget is very limited then think about those pieces you are least willing, able, or comfortable doing yourself - the cover? Editing? Formatting? Marketing? And put your money there.

We would love to be the self publishing company that you choose. If you have questions about any part of the self-publishing process, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help make self-publishing less complicated.

If you're ready to ask us the #1 self publishing question, "what is the cost to self publish a book?" please feel free to request a quote so that we may provide you with that answer.


-Jimmy Smart

Take the hassle out of self publishing with our  Self Publishing Help


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *