How much does it cost to self-publish a book? This is one question every indie publisher asks and one for which the answer varies. First of all, there are two types of costs associated with self-publishing a book: intangible (your time and effort) and tangible (that's the money part). For now let's focus on the tangible: how much money it takes to publish your book independently.
Book editing is one of the most important aspects of your book because no one wants to read a poorly edited book. You've undoubtedly seen the negative reviews on Amazon.com discouraging readers from purchasing a book because of writing mistakes and typos. Professionals who fix these kinds of errors are called copyeditors. The other kind of editor you may need, before you even get to the copy edit, is a developmental editor. This professional editor makes sure your plot makes sense, characters are fleshed out properly, and your conclusion does what it needs to do. Expect the cost of a developmental edit to be a little higher than copyediting, but know that it's well worth it if you hire the right editor.
Interior and Cover Design
Design costs will also vary depending on the professional designer you hire. We recommend that you publish an ebook in addition to print version(s), so as not to limit your readership, and you'll save money if you have the same book cover designed for both formats at once rather than starting over if you decide to add an ebook version later. The cost can run anywhere from $500 up to $2,000 for book cover design, but again, this is a cost that is an investment in your book. Your book cover is your book's calling card and its first impression. It needs to be good and it needs to convey the quality of the story readers can expect to find inside.
Don't forget interior book design! Interior book design will be fairly standard, while your book cover design needs to conform somewhat to what's currently selling and what's natural for your genre. Your interior book designer has the opportunity to add flourishes to things like your table of contents and chapter breaks, but mostly they're focusing on readability with proper spacing, fonts, and beyond.
Before you sign a contract with a designer ask to see their previous work, consider having them provide a few different covers for you to choose from, and get everything in writing. Your cover or interior should never be the reason a potential buyer decides not to purchase your book.
It is free to create an IngramSpark account. Your only expenses for actual publication are the cost of uploading your book and purchasing your ISBN. The cost to set up (or upload) your ebook with IngramSpark is $25, and $49 if you're also planning to publish a print version. IngramSpark refunds the setup fee if you purchase 50 copies of your book within 60 days of publication.
In the U.S., ISBNs can be purchased individually from Bowker.com for $125 each or directly through your IngramSpark account for $85 each. You can also buy a block of ten ISBNs from Bowker for $295. Each format of each book you publish must have its own unique ISBN so you'll need several of them if you plan to publish one book in multiple formats or more than one book, in which case, the block of ten is your best buy, even if you only use three or four of them. Keep in mind that ISBNs are sold by country: authors in the U.K. can buy them from Nielsen Book, while Canadian publishers get ISBNs at no charge through the government. Find out how your country offers ISBNs, and purchase your own. Some self-publishing platforms offer "free" ISBNs, but we have an article on why you may not want to do that.
Marketing your book is another leg on your indie publishing journey and can be one of the expenses associated with it as well. You can employ grassroots book marketing efforts over a period of time, at your discretion and preference, and can involve more intangible costs than actual dollars if you choose. However, you may consider boosting posts on Facebook, other types of advertising, or you could get book marketing assistance from experts in the field. You have to let potential readers know your book is out there and for that you need a book marketing strategy, whether paid or not. The important thing is to set a budget, and spend your money and your time wisely.
An Investment That Pays Off
All the costs associated with publishing a book should be considered an investment, not an expense you'd prefer to avoid. You've spent months (or even years) writing and rewriting your book until it's perfect. The investment you make in book editing, book design, publication, and book marketing are what make it professional; give your writing its best opportunity to be read by investing in a professional product.