How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?

“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.”

– Joanna Penn

If you’re thinking of publishing your first book, you might have some concerns about how much it really costs to get it published. So…how much does it cost to publish a book?

Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like kobo, ibooks, and smashwords, wanna-be authors and pro authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1000. On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget.

Let’s breakdown the costs of the self-publishing process, and we’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.

The Rise of Indie Publishing

If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money, and a little bit of sanity.

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible so that we can all fly with our books.

There are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book. What it really boils down to is this: How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?

The reason I ask these questions is—if you go cheap on everything—you could end up putting out a low quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.

On Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.

Crunching the Numbers: How Much Will it Cost to Self-Publish My Book?

To start, let’s look at a sample budget. Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want—this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget:

  • Cover: $5-$100.
  • Editing: $200-$400 [depending on word count, and whether it’s a line edit or a developmental edit. This pricing is for a 25,000- to 30,000-word manuscript.]
  • Formatting [ebook]: $20-$60
  • Formatting [Print]: $35-$60
  • Promo Sites [Book Launch]: $40-$500
  • Audio Book [optional]: $300-$900
  • Author Tools: Courses, blog, domain names

I’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget. Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.

How Much Does a Book Cover Design Cost?

Readers judge a book by its cover, so your cover will make or break your book right away. If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it. While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a good designer that’s going to deliver a cover that sells your book.

I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap on it may hurt your sales in the long run.

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

A book should always be edited…by a real editor. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional writer or editor yourself with thirty years of experience under your belt, you need to outsource it to someone else, and that means another professional editor.

Trust me: a book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat. Love your book. Spend the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork. (Or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.)

You can get a very short book (15,000 words) edited for about $150-$250. This is for line editing. Ghost writing, developmental, or structural editing will run you much more than that, upwards of $2,000 or more depending on the length of your book (up to 100,000+ words) and the depth of edits you require.

When it comes to your book production costs, there can be no end to the costs you can rack up if you have the cash to invest.

How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?

When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your ebook and print book for around $60-$200. Fiverr has some great formatters at reasonable prices.

How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?

When it comes to spending cash on promo sites, you could empty your bank easily. It doesn’t have to come to this. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best. I have recommendations below you can check out.

Budgets vary but I’ll spend $32 on the low end for Buckbooks and go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.

Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results. Choose your promo sites with caution and do your research.

For the best results on several paid launches I have used:

Bookzio [$19-29]

Robin Reads [$35]

Buckbooks [$32]

BKnights [$5-40]

ereader girl [$20]

Awesome Gang [$10]

Booksbutterfly [varied prices]

When it comes to paid promotions, you can spend as much as you want, but to get the best value for your dollar, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of paid [and free] promo sites.

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

Creating an audio book can run you anywhere from $300 to $6,000 additional cost depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it. Again, you’ll need to create a budget for this one to keep costs under control.

If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can cost towards the high end of the budget (especially if you’re using high-end talent.)

If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audio book version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

Author tools are a necessary part of your portfolio, and there are tools for every part of the publishing process. How many of these you decide to invest in is up to you.

Here are some of the basic tools of professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment and then that’s it. Other tools will bill you monthly.

Book Publishing Courses

If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind community for everything you need to get started.

Want my best Done-For-You Plans to finish your book faster?

I’m opening up my vault of step-by-step Action Plans and private community of authors to help you get unstuck, stay on track, and finish your book faster.
Click here to learn more now!

You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy. But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and then, after getting your first big win, look at branching out to learn other skills.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Web Site?

Building an author platform is a serious consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs, and promote your work.


You can sign up for hosting with servers such as bluehost or hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year; very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.

Domain Name

You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out The cost will run you around $10-$15 a year.

Email Subscription Services

If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up with an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:

Mailchimp: this is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.

AWeber: regarded by most as the premium site for email subscriptions. Cost per month: $19 up to 500 subscribers. a new kid on the block, Convertkit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers, but starts at $29 a month for your first 1000 subs.

How to Increase Book Sales

We all want to make CASH with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss.

Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales and get more eyeballs on your work.

  1. Run a contest through Goodreads.
  2. Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
  3. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to .99 again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
  4. Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means…more book sales!
  5. Write another book. Building a catalogue of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
  6. Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.

3 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. There is always something else to spend more money on and the more you spend, the less chance you have of making your money back. Here are a few hot tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

Hot Tip #1: Save Money on Book Formatting [if you dare!]

Write your eBook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the #1 author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money in formatting costs.

Joel Friedlander’s The Book also offers a bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction. These templates are at a cost but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books. It can be time consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.

Hot Tip #2: Build a List of Email Subscribers

Although this topic deserves its own blog or (book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.

When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release. Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

This shoots your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?

You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your eBook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.

Hot Tip #3: Write a Great Book!

This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.

You will also gain a solid reputation for someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows, and any future books you release will practically promote themselves. Well, almost.

We are in a great era of self-publishing. Anyone can turn their dream into a reality within just a few months, a bit of cash, and a great idea!

Are you ready to make a difference?

Sign up for our free video training for authors below!

Time for Writing

Time for Writing: 8 Steps to Become a Weekend Writing Warrior

Carving out the time to write a book requires planning, persistence, and at times, a lot of caffeine. Even with all the right elements in place, making time for writing is a major undertaking, especially when your days are filled with commitments to work, family, and social activities.

So, you have a dream to write that book, but you’re locked into a schedule that’s keeping you from pursuing your dream. I know the routine: Get up, work all day, come home and make dinner, and look after the kids (or unwind in front of the TV) and then you fall into bed, exhausted, before you have to do it all again the next day. When the weekend comes, you just want to kick back, take it easy, and put the week behind you. Then Monday comes around and the rat race starts all over again. Soon you can hear yourself making excuses for all the reasons why you didn’t write:

“I was so busy this week I just didn’t have time…”

“I’ll do it next week when I’m more organized…”

“I’ll start writing when I’m feeling more motivated…”

“I’ll get to it once I quit my day job and have more time…”

But as you know by now, there’s never a perfect time. We’re always busy with something. And if we don’t take action when we can, the excuses will keep coming until we run out of time forever. Don’t let your dream die. I’m going to help you get your book done.

Time for Writing: 8 Steps to Becoming a Weekend Writing Warrior

By becoming a weekend writing warrior, you can get it done. I know because I’ve done it. In this post I’ll share with you my 8 step strategy for writing a book on the weekends even if your week is crazy busy.

1. Start With Intentional Planning

When it comes to getting your writing done, strategy is everything. Without a plan, you drift; and when you drift, you end up back where you started, wasting more time while procrastinating. The key to writing a book on your weekends is to get plan out how you will use your writing time. If you know ahead of time what you’ll be focusing on, where you’ll be writing and for how long, when it comes time to start writing, you’ll show up ready for keyboard action.

Our intentional planning model should consist of:

  • Researching topics, articles, and interviews
  • Chapter mind mapping
  • Crafting an outline

A good craftsman always shows up to create with his best tools. As writers, we need to spend time preparing to write before showing up at the keyboard. You want to do any necessary research outside of your writing time, not during it. Stopping just to check that “one thing” breaks your writing flow (and often sends you off into the wilds of the internet, never to return).

During my writing sessions, if I get stuck and need to check on something, I’ll make a note in the paragraph like CBL [Come Back Later].

You can set up your chapters as well by doing brief mind maps for each. If you have crafted your book’s outline already, this should be easy. Take a few minutes each day during the week to do a quick outline for each chapter. You don’t have to write anything until the weekend, but at the very least, make some notes about what you’re going to write when the weekend comes so you’re prepared.

2. Setting Up Your Writing Space

Your writing environment has a huge influence on how your writing sessions flow. Will you write in a coffee shop? A quiet room? Under the stairs? Locked in a closet with just your laptop and a light bulb? Wherever you choose to write, it should be at least comfortable and a place you can stay focused for long periods of time.

My environment consists of my computer, motivational quotes, and mind maps for my books. Decorating your writing space adds to inspiration, but also serves as a reminder: This is where you write. Make it a place that you can enjoy creating in. But does it have to be just the one place? Of course not.

You can change writing locations and have two or three designated spots. I would recommend having a primary spot you write in consistently, but have another place set up that you can get to just in case you need to change locations. Try out several places and see what works best. Take note of how you feel working in your creative element.

Is it comfortable? Are you comfortable? Is it an energetic spot or, do you feel irritated and restless? Do you work better in a place that’s quiet [private room] or super noisy [Starbucks]?

On days when I spend all day writing, I’ll break it up into two different locales: one is my writing room, and the other is a coffee shop. If the noise is a problem, I’ll wear headphones and tune out everything with some mellow writing music.

3. Show Up With Your Mind Map and Book Outline

I have shown up many times to write only to realize I had no plan for what I was writing. This leads to procrastination and then I look for something else to occupy my time. Know what you are going to write by planning beforehand. Developing your mind map or a book outline is the surest way to start cutting into the pages.

Before you become a weekend writer, you’ll need your mind map and outline. If you start writing without having done these important steps first, you’ll eventually end up stuck. Make sure you have your book fully mind mapped and a general working book outline.

Use your outline as a checklist to get your words down on paper with purpose. Each of your writing block sessions should have a clear purpose as to what you are going to write.

4. Eliminate Internet Distractions

One of the biggest obstacles writers face is being pulled out of their “writing zone” by message indicators, vibrations, and pop-ups. This includes notifications that “you’ve got email” or, better yet, someone that you don’t even know has just liked one of your comments on Facebook and you feel that need to check it out right away. My advice: unplug yourself from all things connected to the Internet.

Here is what you do:

Option 1: Unplug yourself completely from the internet. Turn off Wi-Fi or physically unplug your network cable. This is the best option to separate yourself from the internet during your writing time. This is the “zero tolerance” method that I use as my number one choice for getting things done.

Option 2: Use productivity apps to eliminate or cut down on time spent checking certain sites. Use an app such as RescueTime to block the sites that distract you by choosing the amount of time you need to focus.

RescueTime send you updates via email to let you know how much time was spent on certain websites. This is good to know, because the next time you catch yourself saying “I didn’t have time to write” but you spent three unproductive hours on a certain site, you can channel this time into your weekend writing schedule.

Two more apps I recommend are: Cold Turkey and SelfControl [for Mac]. Both apps are designed to reduce or eliminate wasted time, and this means higher focus and more time targeted for writing words fast.

In a nutshell: Sit Down. Unplug. Focus. Write.

5. Establishing a Writing Schedule & Time Slots

When time is limited, it’s important to be strategic in how you use it. In the previous step, we took action by cutting off our interaction with the Internet during our writing time. The next thing we want to do is decide:

  • How long are your writing sessions going to be? 25 minutes? 40 minutes? One hour?
  • How many writing sessions are you doing today?

For example, I’ll do three one-hour sessions in a day. I’ll write for one hour, take a ten minute break, repeat. During the break, get up and move around, stretch or grab some coffee.

How to Set Up Your Writing Session

One option is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Self-published author Steve Scott, who has written close to 70 books, utilized the Pomodoro Technique to structure his writing time. Set your timer for 25 minutes and write. Take a five minute break, and repeat. This system works really well and is great for getting focused and writing in short bursts.

If you want to go longer, set your timer for sixty minutes. I use the timer on my iPhone. Set it for the time you are committed to writing and GO. You should focus only on your writing during this period. No research, editing, or breaking the writing flow, unless there’s a house fire. Just write.

Set a goal for yourself to crank out one thousand words in an hour. These are longer stretches and can be tough for some people so if you are struggling, start with the Pomodoro System and ease your way into doing longer sessions.

Free Course: Discover my blueprint to go
from blank page to bestseller in 90 days

If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.

Here’s what you’ll get:
The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
Case studies of bestselling authors who made $1,287, $5,500, even $12,424.03 from their first book

Get FREE behind-the-scenes access now

6. Set Your Word Count Target

Many people get overwhelmed when they think about writing a book. But if you write 3000 words a day on the weekends, you can be done with the first draft of your book in a month. If you plan ahead and set your writing goal at a pace of 800-1200 words per hour, you’ll be done in thirty hours of writing time. This might seem like a lot but think about it:

How much time do you spend watching TV in a week? How much time do you spend at the office? How much time do you spend checking email or on social media?

It can be done, and you can do this!

Set a daily word count target for yourself. Be strategic about this and take a rough guess how long your book is going to be. If I know I’m planning to write a 25,000-word novella, if I crank out 6000 words per weekend, I can complete a draft in a month. If your book is shorter or longer, you can adjust to fit your target deadline.

You can easily track your word count in Scrivener. You can also use a Google spreadsheet or a simple Excel spreadsheet. By tracking your progress, you have a clear indication of how close you’re getting to your goal. It’s also highly motivating to know you’re making progress.

7. Reward Yourself

There’s a famous proverb that says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I have no idea who Jack was, but I do know that if you spend your entire weekend writing, you’re going to need some R&R at the end of it.

This is a critical stage. If you spend week after week putting in time at work and then working more on the weekend, even if it is a passion project like writing your novel, you’ll get burned out and feel less inspired when the next weekend comes around.

You deserve a break. Do something for yourself. Go to a movie. Take your friends out to dinner. Get away from the manuscript. I usually end the weekend by engaging in some fun activities such as:

  • Watching a movie
  • Spending time with the kids
  • Taking a long walk or running
  • Taking a long drive and thinking about future goals and what I accomplished this weekend
  • Meditating or working out

8. Plan Your Next Writing Weekend

There’s one more stage after you have wrapped things up at the end of your writing weekend. This is an important step. Before you pack it up, take ten minutes to draft a quick action plan for the week. This consists of the book research, chapter outlining, and anything else you need to do outside of the writing process.

I do this step Sunday night before bed. Then, when the week starts I know exactly what work on to set myself up for success the following weekend.

The alternative to this is to spend five minutes each night writing down what you’ll do the next day. Do you need to outline your next chapter? Tighten up your overall book outline? Reach out to any online influencers about your next book release?

This step is part of the intentional planning phase that will keep you focused. So even while you are busy in the week with your other commitments, having a short list to refer to makes your mission clear.

The weekend is nearly here again. Are you ready? Don’t make excuses—get your book written. You can do this. If you follow the 8-step plan, three months from now you can be celebrating the publication of your next book.

The next time someone asks you the question: “How do you find the time to write?” You can now tell them: “Oh, it’s easy. I write books on the weekends.”

Ready to become a bestselling author? Sign up for our free video course below!

Writing a Book

Writing a Book? 9 Killer Research Tips

“Pencils down.” It’s a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of students. What if we didn’t write enough? What if all the answers are wrong? Too bad, you’re stuck with your final essay. It’s done and you can’t go back. There’s something about the finality of closing the door on any cerebral project that’s tough. We don’t want to miss anything—whether that’s a key piece of information or a witty quote. When it comes to writing books, we get it—ending your research and starting your draft is daunting.

It’s possible to go on researching forever, really. But then you’ll never publish your book! Virtually all non-fiction work and most fiction works will require at least some research to complete a final draft.

Writing a Book: How to Research

How do you research quickly and efficiently, yet thoroughly—so you have that sense of completeness so you can start writing your book? We’re going to give you nine killer research tips so you can publish your book and share your message with your readers.

1. When in Doubt, Stop! 

Listen to your inner voice. If you think you might be done researching, you probably are.

Research is innately time-consuming. You waste precious time clicking away, looking for that one “perfect” piece of research. You have finite time, energy, and motivation. If you find yourself drained (rather than inspired) by the amount of research you’ve done, you’re probably done.

Done is better than perfect. Time to write.

If that sounds blasé, then please keep reading. We don’t want you to do a bad job—but we do want you to finish writing your book. Here’s how to research effectively—and fast:

2. “Backload” Research

This a concept which may strike you as controversial: Write first, research second. “That’s odd,” you may be thinking.

Hear us out. Consider this scenario: You’re working on your draft, and you hit a spot where you feel stuck. You don’t know the answer to a question that arises in your manuscript, so you switch over to Google and start poking around for the answer. Soon you find yourself wandering around the internet as if you came into a room to find something, but you can’t for the life of you remember what it was.

And here is where you find yourself at the end of your writing time…watching cat videos, and you don’t even like cats.

The problem with researching while you’re writing is that you squash your momentum. Your draft will take longer to finish and it will be harder to write if you need to jump out of your writing mindset to switch over to research.

The solution: Don’t research at all until after your rough draft is finished.

Free Course: Discover my blueprint to go
from blank page to bestseller in 90 days

If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.

Here’s what you’ll get:
The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
Case studies of bestselling authors who made $1,287, $5,500, even $12,424.03 from their first book

Get FREE behind-the-scenes access now

3. “TK” is Your Friend 

Here’s an editorial trick: When you hit an impasse in your draft and you’re tempted to look something up, whether that’s a quote, a proper name, or details about a location, mark that TBD spot with the letters “TK.” TK annotates a spot in your draft to return to when it’s time to research. Then keep writing!

By setting aside your research for later, you can keep moving on your draft and fill in the small details later. This prevents you from taking up all your time with research and avoiding writing. 

4. Turn off the Internet 

Turn off the Internet while you’re writing. Madness, you say? Well, why do you need the Internet? You’re going to do your research when you’re done writing, so the Internet is just distracting you. Write now. Google later.

Some pro writers say they like to take their laptop to a locale with no Wi-Fi so there’s zero temptation. Try an Internet desert for a day or two and see if it improves your writing pace. 

5. Keep it Organized 

When you find a key piece of research, file it so you can track it down later. Whether you do this with a virtual folder on your laptop, an actual folder in your desk, or with a tool like Evernote or Scrivener, the idea is the same. You need to compile all your resources together in one place so you can find it later.

Organization now will make adding research to your manuscript later easier and quicker. When your draft is done, you can put your hands on your resources right away.

6. Red Text Marks the Spot 

If you’re humming along in your draft and hit the crossroads of a quote or stat, switch your text color to red to highlight that you need to come back. Red text marks the spot that needs later attention and you can keep drafting.

Of course if you used the “TK” tip above you don’t need this step, because then you can just use ‘Control F’ to find where you placed TK in your draft. However, the red text will give you a visual STOP so you know this is an area that needs more research just by looking at it. Call it extra insurance so you don’t miss anything.

7. Hired Guns

There’s no shame in outsourcing your research needs. For the most cost-effective resource, consider an intern. Or, if you need to hire a pro, look to Upwork to find a good researcher—be sure to check ratings and consider giving applicants a short test to make sure they’re up for the task.

8. Add it All In 

Batching your work is a trick of the productive. By segmenting what you need to get done, you maintain focus without the need to switch from unrelated task to unrelated task. When your first draft is finished, return to the designated areas that required research, which you marked with “TK” or red text. Fill in these gaps and add in all your research at once.

9. Finish Your Draft 

Remind yourself that your goal right now is not the most perfectly researched book, it’s a finished one. You’re not going to be selling your research on Amazon, you’re going to be selling your story.

Writing a book is a mind game. Don’t let the lure of research (or cat videos!) distract you from finishing your draft. With our tips, you now know how to manage your research and get to work on writing.

Book Editor

Book Editor: 7 Tips for Working With a Pro

If this is your first time writing and self-publishing a book, then working with a book editor may be novel ground. (Pun intended. Hardy-har-har.) Let’s get one thing out of the way: we encourage all self-published authors to hire a book editor. Nothing will tank a book faster than a whole bunch of reviews complaining about typos.

A good book editor can help turn your book from a ‘ho-hum’ draft into a polished manuscript. So give your book the best chance of success that you can, and get a pro to get your manuscript into tiptop shape before publication.

A lot of first-time authors make the mistake of editing their book to death, never progressing far enough to finish their book and getting to the publishing phase. Others think they can toss a messy draft at an editor and expect them to fix everything. There’s a happy medium between making your draft good enough for an editor—and trusting when it’s time for your editor to step in and take over.

With that in mind, in this article, we help you navigate the process of getting your book edited—both by you and your editor—so you can get published faster. Here are seven tips for getting your book through the editing phase:

1. Edit Quickly

If you make the mistake of editing extensively, especially while you’re still actively writing, you potentially set yourself up for a major headache, which can delay publishing your book.

Look at the example of Scott Allan. Before he joined Self-Publishing School, he spent two years working on a voluminous self-help tome. His first draft clocked in at an impressive 90,000 words. He spent months perfecting each word. In the blink of an eye, six more months had elapsed, and he had not only sucked himself into the drain of editing, he hadn’t written anything new since he became stuck in self-edit mode.

For one year, he wrote (and rewrote!) the book three times. Why, you might wonder? In his words, “I suppose I didn’t know any better, first of all. That was before I learned the expression ‘Done is better than perfect.’ I was under the impression that it wasn’t done until it was perfect.” 

Months later, he found an expensive editor to take on his book, but the author couldn’t stop tweaking the material. Tweaking lead to rewriting…and the book which had been so carefully drafted, then rewritten, then tweaked, never saw the light of day. The book was never actually published.

Allan says, “Painful lesson learned: Unpublished books don’t make money!”

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Eventually, the author went on to write Pathways to Mastery and publish it on Amazon. Using the lessons learned during his first failed self-publishing attempt, the author spent just eight months writing and only two months editing this time.

Since writing Pathways to Mastery, Allan has gone on to write and publish three more books, with a significant reduction in writing and editing time for each successive book. His latest book was in the editing phase for only three weeks.

Key Takeaway: An unpublished draft won’t earn any money or build your author name. Keep it simple: Draft first, then edit quickly.

2. Accept Imperfections

Letting go of perfectionism is one of the hardest things to do. It sounds doable in theory, but in practice? It’s a challenge.

Many writers strive for perfection—the perfect grammar, spelling, and choice of words. Especially when the story we’re putting out there is our first book, or about an intensely personal topic, it ups the ante significantly. We’ve been there, and we get it.

Here’s what you need to remember: Nothing in life is perfect. No person, book, nor writer. You can spend forever and your book still won’t be 100% “perfect.” The editing phase can be rough because of the personal investment and attachment we have to our books.

Key Takeaway: Instead of striving for the mythical unicorn of book perfection, strive for a reality-based “as good as this book can be.”

3. Do a Quick First Revision

Before you give your book to your editor, you want to do a read-through to catch any glaring errors. Say this with me: rip off the Band-Aid. Make your first revision fast.

Here’s the best way to make that change of phase from writing to editing: when you’re done with your first draft, circle back and do a quick-and-dirty first revision. This involves a rapid read of the book, just to get a feel of what you’ve written.

Brace yourself. This phase might just be the most painful part of the editorial process. This is because it’s the first time you’re looking at your book with a critical eye and reviewing the results of your first draft.

You need to make sure your book makes sense and that it doesn’t miss any words that would confuse a reader to the point that they don’t understand what you’re trying to say. This will reduce the back-and-forth hand-offs between you and your editor and will shorten to overall editing phase.

If you notice any major problems, like plot holes or missing information, make a note of them but save these bigger edits for the next round of revisions.

Your mental game needs to be strong here. You’re going to think, “I really suck. I hate writing, I hate my book, and I’d rather watch Netflix than ever look at this crap again.” The Buddha once said: “All things must pass.” Namaste, my friend. You’ll get through this phase and eventually love yourself (and your writing!) again.

Key Takeaway: Give your book the chance it deserves. Right now, it’s just you alone with your book. Make this first revision quick.

4. Read Your First Pass Out Loud

During your first pass, it’s necessary to read your book out loud to yourself. Your ear processes words in a way that your eyes may not so this gives you sense of pacing, chapter structure, and tone.

While you’re reading out loud, try to read through the eyes of a reader. Imagine what your ideal reader looks like and how they’d feel reading this. Visualize their experience with your book.

During this read-through, don’t stop to make large corrections. Just use a red pen or highlighter to take notes of the obvious mistakes. Simply mark or circle these errors to come back to later.

Put yourself on the clock when you do this. Time yourself for ten-twenty minutes per chapter and keep reading the whole draft through to completion.

Key Takeaway: Reading out loud during your first pass can help with tone and pacing. Do this quickly, with a timer. 

5. Delve Deeper With a Second Pass 

Your next step is to go back to the beginning of the book and do a second pass. Your second revision should delve deeper.

As you read, stay alert to passages that have “holes” or sections of the book which need to be filled out more. Think of the analogy of building a home: First the frame goes up, then you build the walls. Keep adding to your book until your story and message is clear.

Some of us have a tendency to change our voice from one paragraph to the next. Tone shift is something that a strong editor will pick up on, but to the extent you can make things consistent, you should.

As this point, your book should be more polished. Your book still isn’t perfect (remember we cautioned against perfect!) but at this stage, you should have a working manuscript which should be close to publishable.

Key Takeaway: Your second pass should fill in the gaps in your story or chapters, and keep tone consistent.

6. Hand Over the Reins to an Editor

One of the hardest parts of the editorial relationship is handing over your passion project to a complete stranger.

You may be thinking, “What? I’m giving it to a complete stranger who doesn’t know me—and doesn’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this—just so they can mark it up and tell me about all the things I did wrong?!” There’s a reason the editor-writer relationship can feel fraught. It’s because while your book is deeply personal to you, whereas for the editor, it’s just another day at the office.

Your editor’s job is to care about the flow of the book, the grammar, spelling, and in some cases, content. They will take your draft and elevate it to a readable manuscript. Try not to take it personally or push back at their criticism.

Your editor will shape your draft into a “good” book to publish. Notice the deliberate choice of words—we didn’t say perfect! A “good” book is enjoyable, useful, readable and publishable.

Key Takeaway: Don’t take your editor’s constructive criticism personally. You have the same end goal: a good book!

7. Impersonate a Certain Disney Princess 

Time to just Let it Go.

Send your draft off to your editor and celebrate. Put up your feet and queue up your Netflix binge. You’ve certainly earned it!

By the time you’re done with your own revisions and have added and subtracted material, your editorial return time shouldn’t take more than a week—or two, max. 

Key Takeaway: Just get your draft into the hands of your editor! Let them worry now. You’ve done the heavy lifting.

It’s easy to get bogged down in perfection, and it’s tempting to hold on tightly to your work. It can be a natural reaction to pouring your heart and soul into your dreams. But the quicker you can move your first draft through to the editing phase, the sooner you’ll achieve your dream of a published book.

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Book Writing

The 6 Stages of Book Writing: Highs, Lows, and Plateaus

The book writing process is like having a baby—exhilarating, draining, and life-changing…and exhausting and painful. But when a new author gazes upon their book cover with awe and wonder, we realize the marathon of “labor” that it took to write and publish a book was worth it.

And, then, defying all logic—many new moms AND authors—decide to have another baby or write another book! The joyful, miserable, uncertain process of creating your book will be arduous, but it will ultimately be worth it. The human race wouldn’t be thriving today if we couldn’t do things that seem impossible at the outset.

We’re here to tell you to power on, warrior. All authors have walked in your shoes. If you can fight through the peaks and valleys of writing your first book, you’ll emerge better, stronger…changed.

The 6 Stages of the Book Writing Process

Whether you’re at those first hopeful moments before the struggle gets real, whether you’re down there in the trenches of a book project, or if you’re standing high on “Mount Published Author” gazing down at the peons who are slipping in the mud beneath you on their way to the top, this post is for you.

If you’ve never written a book before or you’re deep into the slog of your first book, we’re going to walk you through the phases of what to expect so you’re better emotionally prepared for your book-writing journey—from the highs, lows, and plateaus. And if you’ve already written and published your book, well, then go ahead and chuckle along.

Read on for pro tips on how to emerge from the valleys and hit that summit. 

Stage 1: Inspiration and Motivation

So, you’ve decided to write a book. This is a momentous occasion, and you want the world to know! You shoot off a pithy email to everyone you can think of—your mom, your best friend, your landscaper, etc. You update your Facebook “WRITING. WOO HOO!” and your LinkedIn “Future Pulitzer prize winner.”

Your inner monologue is telling you:

“I’m so inspired, I can’t wait to write this book and show the world my genius!”

You hop onto Amazon and order twenty printer cartridges, a new lumbar support pillow for your desk chair, and trendy yoga pants (for the ladies) or gym shorts (for the guys): they can go from home office to the gym—score! You contemplate a jacket with patches on the elbows, a pipe and a fresh bottle of whiskey, but decide you have enough vices already.

You take a look at your writer’s nook and decide to Feng Shui the heck out of it to ensure you’re channeling all the chi you can. You could probably paint an accent wall in a weekend, right? You Google whether “Palm Beach Platinum” or “Firehouse Red” is the best paint color to inspire creativity, then you go shopping for house plants and blocks of wood with clever sayings painted on them.

Home again. It’s getting dark. TIME! TO! WRITE!

You flip open your laptop or you uncap your pen, and so it begins. You’re going to CRUSH it. You were BORN to write a book! You wonder why it has taken you so long to decide to become a best-selling author.

Stage 2: From Inspiration to Perspiration 

Your inspirational high has dipped into a low hum of fear. This is much harder than you anticipated. You had a million-and-one ideas before you started writing and now you can’t seem to come up with a single viable thought.

The first chapter seems impossible to finish. You know that your first sentence is vitally important. If your readers hate what you have to say, they won’t keep reading.

You’ve written thousands of sentences in your life. Thousands! In fact, you write sentences every day. Terrific sentences. Your 3rd grade teacher gave you a gold star based on your sentences. You rock at sentences. If “sentence creation” were an Olympic Event, you’d definitely medal.

Your inner monologue begins to taunt you:

“What have I done? I’m never going to finish this! Why is it so hard to come up with words that—when strung together to form a sentence—actually mean something?”

So why can’t you think of a single sentence now that it actually matters? You type some words. They look wrong and boring, and the grammar’s questionable—did you completely forget the English language overnight? You regret telling everyone about your upcoming book with such bravado.

You delete and type. Type and delete. Your brain is frozen but your fingers are starting to hurt from typing and deleting. You give up deleting and type frantically. This is a mess.

Here’s what to do now:

Start Small. One page a day, or just a paragraph—just get something down. Each day, every day, put some words on paper. The more words you add to your draft, the more momentum will keep you moving forward. Remind yourself that an entire book is just an aggregate of single words. You can do this, one word at a time.

Write as Fast as You Can. The quicker you write, the less time you spend questioning yourself and self-editing. At this point, your goal is high daily word counts.

Schedule Writing Time. Now that the initial rush of book writing has worn off, set up a schedule to hold yourself accountable. Calendar hard deadlines for yourself each week. Honor these deadlines. Have a set time to work on your book and stick to that. Set your writing time as a DO NOT RESCHEDULE appointment.

Set Yourself up for Success. If writing is your side gig rather than your full-time job, then it’s easier to push it low on your personal priority list. We all have competing demands pulling us in every direction. Let your family or roommates know that writing time is sacred: your door will be closed, and this is your time. No email, no calls, no interruptions—just writing.

A Space of Your Own. Set up a unique location to write. If you have your own office space, great! If not, carve out a nook at the kitchen table or pick out a soft chair at your favorite coffee house.

Stage 3: The Uphill Slog 

Following our tips, you’ve finished your first chapter and you’re trying to slog through the next couple chapters. It’s hard to make progress because you keep reading what you wrote and editing them to death.

This is at least fifty times harder than you thought it would be. Why didn’t anyone stop you when you gloated about how you were planning to write a book? Your mom, your cousin, your landscaper? Does no one in your life care about your sanity and well-being?

Your inner monologue tells you:

“This is terrible. I’m in pain. Someone please save me from myself.”

But you keep going. Because you have to. You push on, and soon you’re knee-deep in your third chapter. Here’s what to do now:

Keep going. Do not put your draft in a drawer and ignore it. You’ve built up momentum and it would derail you to stop now.

Reach Out. Choose someone to call who you know will give you positive feedback and some uplifting words. Call your mom, best friend, or cousin for support. (Please leave your landscaper alone.) Share your struggle and ask for encouragement. As with completing a long race, your cheering section can help you push through.

Mix it up. There’s nobody checking boxes to make sure you’re writing in succession! If you’re stuck on a scene or chapter, move to the end and write the final chapter. Or move to the middle—pick any section that’s more appealing than the one you’re stuck on.

Research. When you’re writing, you can use “TK” as a placeholder to come back to fill in research later. When you simply can’t write anymore, go back in your draft and fill in those spots.

Make a Friend. Now that you’ve made some real progress, now may be the time to join a mastermind community so you can get all the information and support you need to finish your book.  

Broadcast Your Success. You’ve written three chapters! That’s three more chapters than you’d written a few weeks ago—congrats! Broadcast this. Tweet or Facebook, “Three chapters down!” Your friends will cheer for you, and you’ll get fans excited to read your book.

Stage 4: You Hit the Wall (for real) 

Finally, you’ve at the halfway point of your draft. You’re wondering why your inner sadist decided to persuade you to write a book. You wonder if there’s some childhood issue you’ve repressed which makes you court pain and suffering, because nobody would do this voluntarily.

Your inner monologue whines:

“I will never complete writing this book. The finish line is too far away. I don’t have what it takes. I’ll never make it. I’m out of juice…I want to give up.”

Your brain hurts. Your fingers hurt. Your back hurts because Amazon never showed with the darn lumbar support pillow. You want to throw in the towel. The end goal seems impossible.

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Here’s what to do:

DON’T GIVE UP!  Read that ten more times. You’ve made it halfway through. You’re wrapped up half a book—which is far more than most people have written. If you’ve done the first half, you can certainly tackle the second half.

Write Badly. Give yourself permission to write badly. Your goal now is a finished draft. Get it done, write badly—just write, period—and keep moving forward.

Visualize the Finish Line. Elite athletes are taught to visualize the finish line to power through. If it works for them, it should work for you. Visualize what you want out of your book and how good it will feel to finish. Think back to your WHY.

Change Your Scenery. Now’s the time when a change in scenery can provide a much-needed mental shift. Road-trip, even if it’s just for a day. Go write in the city, the beach or, if funds are limited, the food court at the mall. Somewhere new can spark new ideas and give you a creative boost.

Follow Your Outline. If you’re really struggling, there’s a good chance your outline isn’t quite right. Take some time to relook at it and make sure it’s helping your process, rather than hindering. Check to make sure your book is evolving correctly and either stick to your outline, or change it.

Or Completely Abandon it. You may be surprised that as you write, your book ideas have completely deviated from your original outline. That’s fine—you’re not wedded to your outline. Go with the (new) flow and embrace your changed trajectory.

Reward Yourself. Psych 101 teaches that all animals respond to rewards. Guess what, humans are just evolved animals! We love our treats as much as Fido does. Treat yourself to a meal with a friend, a new pair of shoes, or that movie in 3-D. You’ve earned something special.

Start Promoting Your Book. Today. Today? But I’m not finished! If you haven’t already started the self-promo ball rolling, now is the time to reach out and schedule talks, appearances, podcasts, guest blogging, and interviews. You’ll have external pressure to finish.

Stage 5: Finished First Draft: “Hey, Not so Bad!” 

You’ve finished your first draft. Your rough draft is called a rough draft for a reason. It’s bumpy, craggy, and full of holes. It’s the dirty lump of coal you pull out of the mine, not quite the diamond-in-the-rough you were hoping for as you read through it for the first time.

Your inner monologue:

“This is garbage. No one’s gonna want to read this! Wait…this passage here is pretty cool. I like what I did with that. Hey, this chapter is working great! Hmm. Ok, maybe I can make something out of this. It’s not that bad.”

Here’s what to do now:

Celebrate. A finished draft is cause to pop the bubbly! Many people set out to write a book and NEVER complete a draft. You have, and you should be proud.

Take a break. A mental break. Get outside, reach out to friends, or plan a night out. You’re been working hard and a break can help you reset for the next phase.

Silence Your Inner Critic. It’s not garbage—it’s a draft! You’ll work to make it marketable. Silence the inner voices that tell you to hide this draft and never let it see the light of day.

Read Your Draft Aloud to Edit. Reading it to yourself can help you hear pacing, gaps, and words that sound off.

Find Another Critic. Be it an editor, beta readers, or your writing group. A second set of eyes can help give you a clearer perspective.

Start Editing ASAP. That’s right, once you’ve finished your draft, celebrated, and reset with a short break, immediately dive into the editing process. Letting it sit for too long can break your mindset and momentum.

Remind Yourself Again: “WHY?” What’s your original reason for writing this book? Was it a passion project? To make money? Remind yourself that the sooner you wrap up editing, the sooner you can accomplish your WHY.  An unfinished draft isn’t raising awareness for brain cancer, or adding dollars to your bank account. 

Stage 6: On Top of the World

You’ve reached your goal — a finished manuscript! The sun is shining, you hear angels singing, and all is right in your world.

You’re high on success. Your accomplishment feels amazing. You feel like a rock star in the concert of your life. You set a goal, you accomplished it, and you deserve accolades. Pat yourself on the back for setting this goal, and actually achieving it. You should revel in this moment and soak it in.

Your inner monologue: <cue Rocky theme song>

“I AM ON TOP THE WORLD! This is the MOST amazing feeling! I can’t imagine ever feeling this rush again. This is going to be a bestseller, and then they’ll turn it into a movie! I! Can! Accomplish! ANYTHING…DEAR GOD, NOW I HAVE TO MARKET THIS THING?”

Here’s what to do now:

Get Your Book Out There. Time to publish your book on Amazon. You need to get it front of your soon-to-be-loyal fans ASAP. Don’t drag your feet! Release your words out into the world.

Set Goals. What are your next steps? Appearances, speeches, a book release party? Time to make some concrete plans to promote your book.

Write Another Book. You’re a writer, aren’t you? So start your next book!

Now that you’re a pro author, you know the tricks. Hey, that wasn’t so bad, was it? There’s always more to learn, so check out our free video training for authors, below.