People ask me all the time, “How much does it cost to self-publish?” The usual answer is, “As much, or as little, as you want it to cost.” However, in the end the sensible answer lies somewhere in between. Let me explain.

Companies will charge through the nose for editorial services, book covers, interior book designs and marketing campaigns so that in the end you have outlaid an enormous amount of money, possibly as much as $3000 with little hope of recouping that, any time soon, via book sales.


Published Data for Book Publishing Costs

I often see book marketing companies putting out numbers that relate to money spent by authors on each of the main services. But in the end they are perpetuating the myth that you need to spend thousands of dollars to publish a book. You don’t! How do I know? Because I have done it! I managed to publish a book for less than $300. Marketing that book was whole different ball-game with a different budgeting figure, but you do not need to spend ten times that amount to get a good, finished product that you would be proud of.

New authors will brag that their covers cost them $600 or $700 and my heart sinks for them. Before you even get to the editing and formatting stages, do you know how many books you would need to sell in order to make that money back? Why do that when you can get a perfectly good cover for $50 from a good designer? People do judge books by their covers, but seldom will they be able to tell which cover costs more if the covers are done right.

Cost of Self-Publishing and Marketing Costs

My experience is that authors get so carried away with money that they spend upfront, that they forget about the most important aspect, and that is having money in the kitty for marketing. How will people know about your book if you don’t market the book and help spread the word?

Case Study: I will reveal my own publishing costs. I wrote a book called, Who Killed Little Johnny Gill? under a pseudonym. I found a stock photo that I liked and asked the designer to create the title for me for an ebook, and the same for a paperback, including the spine and back blurb. Total cost for the cover? $60.

I then found a recommended editor and paid them $150 to edit my book.

I had my book formatted for KDP for $45. Total cost for a self-published book: $ 255.00

Cutting Corners and Compromising Quality

The flip-side of this is that I have seen the very opposite of those expensive white elephants that don’t sell. These are books that have been self-published on the cheap and they don’t sell either. These books just scream indie author as soon as you look at them. They have nasty homemade covers with no thought to eye-catching images, color schemes or fonts that sell books.

Please don’t do your own covers. I don’t care how good you are with Canva or the like. There is more to a good book cover than just the image and the title. A good designer will know that there are only a handful of fonts that are considered standard use for book covers. That certain colors are used, and others are not. That there are some colors that draw the eye, and others repel. Book designing is not a science, but it is an art, and I have seen some awful book designs that continue to hamper an author’s ability to sell more copies. And these include those from people who tell me they are graphic designers!

On the inside, things get worse. The book is spoiled with poor spelling and grammar errors and no proper formatting. The result? If, people get past the cover, and do read a book like this, it is likely to be slated by the critics and one and two star reviews will be the death-knell to your book before it has had time to get out the starting blocks. No one will touch your book after this, no matter how intriguing or unique the storyline.

Where to Find Cheap, but Good, Book Services?

So how do you find those good but reasonable editors, book designers and formatters? You do your homework! People are out there willing to charge reasonable rates for their services and still give you quality work. I am not going to tell you to look on even though I have found some good people on there. The problem with this site is that finding good people is almost impossible as for every 9 people advertising their services on this site only 1 will be any good. The odds are stacked against you.

Look for people on reputable websites and ask around in author groups. Eventually, you will find reputable people whose services you can rely on to provide you with quality at reasonable rates.

So, how much does it cost to self-publish? A lot less than most of you probably thought!

Written by Kathryn Bax

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