How Much Does it Really Cost To Self-Publish A Book? | Self-Publishing Relief

by | Marketing and Promotion, Self-Publishing | 4 comments

You’d like to self-publish your book, but you’re wondering: How much should an author expect to spend? A little bit of research will bring up answers that run the gamut, from writers who spent thousands (and thousands) of dollars to those who claim they spent only pennies to self-publish—or nothing at all! So what’s the real cost?

The answer to the self-publishing price tag question is: It depends. But our Self-Publishing Relief team is here to offer some estimates and ballpark price ranges so you can plan and budget accordingly.

There are several stages of production for self-publishing a book. If you have the know-how and are tech-savvy enough to perform all these steps yourself, congratulations! While you will spend a lot of time and energy on your book, you’ll be able to do it with little or no expenditure of money.

But for most of us, producing a quality book will require help from others—and if you have to hire professionals to handle specific steps in the job, be sure to account for that in your budget.

The Main Items To Budget For When Self-Publishing

Cover art. Many readers are initially attracted to books based on the cover design—and make their purchasing decisions within seconds—so don’t skimp when it comes to hiring a designer or purchasing a predesigned cover. Decide just how much help you need and then search for the company or designer who best fits your needs. Are you publishing just an e-book, which only requires a front cover? Or are you also creating a print book, which will required both a front and back cover (and possibly a spine too)? Will a predesigned cover work for your book, or do you have your heart set on a custom design? There are some very basic covers out there for under $100, but plan on spending more like $200 to $600. And a top-tier custom cover can cost over $1,000.

Freelance content editing. Hiring a freelance editor can be expensive, but having your book professionally edited can make the difference between positive reviews and bad word of mouth—and between good and lackluster sales. The price for editing a full-length book manuscript can vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, based on the experience level of the editor. Another point to consider: Some editors charge by the hour, while others charge by the page or word count. Make sure you are clear on the terms, and budget between $1,000 and $2,500 for this crucial service.

Proofreading. Spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors annoy readers and make self-published books look amateurish. Once your manuscript has been edited and you are completely done revising it, have it professionally proofread. As with content editing, the cost for proofreading varies pretty widely, depending on the level of service you need and the proofer’s experience. For a manuscript of 75,000 words (approximately 300 pages), expect to spend between $750 and $2,500.

Formatting. Proper formatting is essential, especially for a book you plan to self-publish. If your book’s formatting is sloppy, readers will be unimpressed—no matter how good your story is. And they won’t be shy about talking to other potential readers about their disappointment.

Formatting can be the most frustrating phase of the self-publishing process, but it’s important to execute elements like trim size, font size, mirror margins, section breaks, headers, and table of contents properly before you upload your book. The cost for outsourcing this step can start at under $100 for an ebook only, to a few hundred dollars for both ebook and print book formatting.

If this all seems too overwhelming to handle on your own, you can hire someone else to take care of the whole process for you. There are many self-publishing companies out there, and the prices you can expect to pay range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending largely on which marketing options you choose. But be careful before you buy—some companies promise more than they deliver. And of course there are no guarantees—even with traditional publishing—that your book will become a best seller, no matter how much money you invest in it.

At Self-Publishing Relief, we respect writers and don’t make empty promises. We do promise to help you navigate the process of creating an e-book and/or print book you can be proud to put your name on. You can choose the package that best suits your needs—and we never hard sell or push add-ons that you don’t need! Why not request a free consultation with our team today?

Question: Have you self-published a book? In what price range did you spend?



  1. Liz Samoska

    I self published my 100 page inspirational self-help book Missing Pieces with Balboa Press last July. I paid about $1,000 and I was very happy with their services. Every person I dealt with during each step of the process kept me informed and was very professional. I will use them when I publish my next book.


    Hey Liz, How many pages? Color or all B&W? Design too? Jim

  3. Liz Samoska

    My book is 100 pages. All b&w. I told Balboa my idea for the cover and they worked with me until I was happy with it.

  4. abby

    Thank you, very interesting. I’m thinking about self-publishing and it’s really hard to get started.


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