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.
The cost to self-publish a book varies widely, depending on your budget, the type of book you'd like to print, and ultimately, your publishing goals.
Earlier this year, NetGalley and IBPA joined together for a study: How Authors Budget for Their Books. They found that "the majority of authors spent between $1,000 – $6,000 on their books, with the $1,000 – $3,000 bracket accounting for 28% of the overall responses."
So what about the most common costs—the ones that almost all self-published authors seemed to incur, with a little bit less fluctuation?
Let's dive in.
How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?
There are a few main categories of costs associated with self-publishing a book. We'll hit on each one individually:
- Interior Design
- Cover Design
Editing Your Book
Book editing is one of the most important aspects of publishing a professional book. You've undoubtedly seen negative reviews on Amazon, discouraging readers from purchasing a book because of writing mistakes and typos.
There are various different types of editing, each of them serving a unique purpose in the publishing process. Based on the condition of your manuscript, your work may require any of the following edits:
- Developmental Edit
- Content Edit
- Line Edit
The first few types of edits are more substantive: focusing on the big picture and the overall structure of your book. Copyediting focuses in on the spelling, grammar, and syntax, while a proofread is the final edit on a piece after it's been typeset.
The cost of editing depends on both the type of edit and the editor's experience level. Some editors charge per word, some charge per page, and some charge per hour. When you're ready to hire an editor, do some research and request a few different quotes.
"Get a few bids and consider paying a couple different editors for two hours of their work and compare. It’s important to judge the work rather than the fee." - Brooke Warner
Decide what works within your budget, and remember to view editing a necessary investment in order to product a professionally published book.
Interior book design, or typesetting, is a fairly standard design process. Your interior book designer has the opportunity to add flourishes to things like your table of contents and chapter breaks, but mostly he or she is focusing on readability with proper spacing, fonts, and beyond.
The cost will depend on the type of book and length of your manuscript, with an average range of $500 - $2,000 for these services.
Book cover design costs will 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!
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's free to create an IngramSpark account. This includes:
- Global book distribution for more sales opportunities
- Online sales reporting
- Free publishing tools and resources (weekly blog, podcast, online courses, downloadable guides, and more)
- Discounts with outside experts on publisher services
- 24/7 customer support
- Affordable advertising opportunities
Uploading a Book with IngramSpark
The cost to upload a print and ebook with IngramSpark is $49—this is the best value!
If you don't want to upload both formats, a print book costs $49, and an ebook is $25.
Purchasing an ISBN
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 1) one book in multiple formats, or 2) 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. While some self-publishing platforms offer free ISBNs, we have an article on the benefits of owning your own ISBN.
Marketing Your Book
Marketing your book is another leg on your indie publishing journey and can be one of the expenses associated with it as well. A successful book marketing campaign begins before the book is even published.
According to the NetGalley study, "as authors' budgets increased, so did their corresponding spend on marketing and advertising."
What's important to note from the study is that even authors with budgets under $1000 allocated a portion of it to marketing.
Start with a book marketing strategy, including things like ARCs, tip sheets, an author website, and more. In the digital age, many authors are turning to social media channels to build a platform and connect with potential readers directly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. While it's free to set up these social platforms, it costs time to build an engaged audience, and increasingly, it costs money to reach them through paid advertising.
The important thing is to set a budget, and spend your money and your time wisely.
Self-Publishing a Book: 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.
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