How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? A Detail of Full Expenses

You already know. There is a cost to successfully self-publishing a book for sustained sales.

Much like with any worthwhile endeavor, you may have to sacrifice some cash in order to make more down the road.

“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

It’s been an epic journey, from coming up with your idea to fleshing out the first draft of your book, and now, it’s time to launch your book out to the world for everyone to enjoy.

But this comes with…difficulties and expenses that can be a bit much if you’re not prepared for them, and that’s what we’re here to do: prepare you.

But before we get into the meat of this piece, remember that, much like our student Brianna Ruelas, you have to think of your book like an investment into your future.

She invested in Self-Publishing School and is now bringing home $4,000 per month in client work from her book, and that’s not to mention the royalties!

So while she did pay for book production costs (which we cover below), she made her money back, and then some, because she decided to publish her book the right way.

cost to publish a book

So, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still some involved.

Here’s what you’ll learn about the cost to publish a book:

  1. The rise of self-publishing
  2. How much it costs to publish a book
  3. Cover design cost
  4. Editor cost
  5. Formatting cost
  6. Book promotion cost
  7. Cost of publishing an audiobook
  8. Additional publishing tools

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords, first-time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000.

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 break down the costs of the self-publishing process.

We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.

The Rise of Self-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.

Before we dive into how much it costs to publish a book, check out how much you will make if you choose to self-publish your book by filling out the book profit calculator below.

STEP 1

Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales

STEP 2

Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?

CONGRATULATIONS!
Here's What You'd Earn:

Your profit per book:

In 3 months, you'll make:

In 6 months, you'll make:

In 1 year, you'll make:

Knowing how much you stand to make can help you understand that any investments into publishing your book (like the expenses we’ll detail below), can be earned back—and this shows you how many book sales until you will have earned it.

cost to publish

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books.

Are you ready to make yours fly?

Because 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 because 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.

When publishing 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.

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book?

The cost of publishing a book varies greatly but self-published authors can expect to spend anywhere from $100-$2500 to publish a book based on additional book production costs like editing, cover design, formatting, and more, which we cover.

To start, let’s look at a sample budget for publishing a book.

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.

As with really any service, you can choose to spend a lot more for more experience or you can opt for someone really great at what they do, with cheaper prices.

Just keep in mind that quality matters with your book!

It’s better to invest in yourself like you’re a business. Because as an author, you are one!

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.


However, these are some average prices you can expect when self-publishing your book.

What You NeedDetailsAverage Cost
Professional Cover DesignEach book NEEDS a professional cover. People judge books by covers and without investing in one, your book will fail.$100 - $600
Professional EditingEven if you're the best writer out there, your book will still need a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes on it.$300 - $1,500
FormattingA good book needs proper formatting for paperback, hardback (if you want this) and for Ebook. Luckily, this can be included with cover design at many design firms.$50 - $300
PromotionIf you want to run ads for your site or pay your launch team in any way, these are costs you will have to cover.$0 - $500
Author ToolsThis includes courses, building your site, automated email services, writing software, and more.$175 +

New call-to-action

How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?

Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway.

The book cover design can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat. 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 professional cover designer who is going to deliver a good book cover that sells your book.

Cover designers aren’t just talented creators. Many who do it as a living have inside market knowledge and tailor your book cover for your specific genre.

If you do decide to go through Fiverr, check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.

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 may hurt your sales in the long run.

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.

Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat.

cost to publish a book

Where to hire a book editor:

Make sure you shop around when hiring a book editor. Since book editors rates vary so greatly, you can often find an amazing editor as a fraction of the price of bigger editing companies, like NY Book Editors.

If you’re a Self-Publishing School student, we provide a rolodex of tried-and-trusted editors with reduced rates.

A 40,000 manuscript edited through NY Book Editors can run you up to $2,700 for a comprehensive edit.

cost of publishing editor
NY Book Editors Cost Calculator

Love your book by spending 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, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250 if you search a wide variety of editors and find one with reasonable pricing.

Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.

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 e-book and print book for around $60-$200.

Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices. I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters.

Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.

Take a look at these costs of publishing to get an idea for this:

cost of publishing a book

How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?

When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.

Budgets vary but I’ll spend $29 on the low end for Buck Books and Ebook Launch go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.

cost to publish a book

Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.

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

When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return.

Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

 Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.

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

Here are some places you can hire audio book narrators:

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 audiobook version yourself.

Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

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

#1 – 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.

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 branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.

#2 – An Author Website

Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in.

It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.

Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:

author platform
  • Hosting: You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is 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 Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 per year.
  • Email Subscription Services:
  • If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for 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: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
    • ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.

#3 – Publish Under Your Own Company

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but there are perks to publishing your print book under your own company, instead of publishing with a CreateSpace (which has now merged with KDP) ISBN or another print-on-demand service.

The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.

If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or Ingramspark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book.

Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.

Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.

This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.

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, crush those low 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. Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents 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 catalog 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.

4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

#1 – Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)

Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs.

If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener Webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt. Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of book design templates for both fiction and nonfiction.

These templates cost money 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.

#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 book launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

This drives 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.

#3 – Barter When You Can

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.

As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills.

See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book.

It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews. If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book.

See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.

#4 – 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 as 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.

Your Next Step

We are in a great era of self-publishing.

Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash, and a great book idea. We’ve broken down the cost to publish your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000.

It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.

While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world.

Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.


Scott Allan

Scott Allan is a student success coach and in-house content creator here at Self-Publishing School. He is a bestselling author of 12+ books that includes The Discipline of Masters, Drive Your Destiny and Relaunch Your Life. Scott has a passion for teaching strategic life skills and inspiring people to take charge of their lives. You can connect with Scott at: www.scottallanauthor.com He believes that successful living is a series of small, consistent actions taken every day to build a thriving lifestyle with intentional purpose. By taking the necessary steps and eliminating unwanted distractions that keep you stuck, you are free to focus on the essentials. Scott currently lives In Japan where he resides full time, and is at work on several new writing projects. You can connect with Scott at scottallanauthor.com

Comments From The Community


60 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? A Detail of Full Expenses”

    • Thanks Dwaun; there are lots of informative blogs and useful strategies for helping authors get their books published. Look around and drop any questions you have to the FB group.

  • Actually, a much better article; showing progress in Chandler’s Vision. I’m impressed, and I don’t state that frequently.
    Two thumbs up!

  • Unfortunately this applies for US only 🙁 We can;t do many of the things recommended here. And electronic books aren’t much sought either.

      • The e-book things don’t apply, because here e-books aren’t sought much. (And those few who read them, prefer to take the free ones from torrents). Here only printed books are of interest, and most marketing tips I have seen on the internet on English speaking sites (because others don’t have marketing tips) are meant for e-books only (or mostly). Also the agents part doesn’t apply, because our system doesn’t have literary agents. The publisher does what the literary agent does elsewhere.

        • Scott Allan says:

          Where are you located, Elena? Yes, marketing paperbacks differs a lot from ebooks. This may be a goo idea for a future blog post, thanks for your feedback.

  • Sarah Geringer says:

    So much valuable info here, Scott. I appreciate the many links you shared, and I’ve bookmarked this article for future reference.

  • Shelby Appel says:

    Bookmarking this – great information.

    One of the biggest barriers I face with self-publishing is the price tag that comes with it. I just don’t have the extra money to invest right now! Especially since I don’t know when (or if!) I’d recoup that investment. I was thinking somewhere closer to $1500-2000. Though according to this article, it could be half that. That’s great news! But I still have to save those pennies!

  • Wow! I always understood there was a lot that went in to publishing but this is incredibly thorough and enlightening! Thanks

  • Michael Taylor says:

    Those are some daunting price tags. However, I see the reasoning behind them here. Of course, now that I think about it, I’d find the money to hear Bronson Pinchot read my book out loud!

  • Bonnie Elizabeth says:

    I totally bookmarked and added this post to my reading list!! Great content and links. I had no idea that Fiverr also did formatting and audiobooks. Thanks for helping us press on with our dream of publishing.

  • This is a really great starting point for someone interested in self-publishing. This article will help me immensely as I move forward with my plans! Thanks again!

  • Horton Stull says:

    This is a valuable resource! You get a big picture of what’s involved in self-publishing with their associated costs.

  • Thank you so much! This really helps me explain to some of my clients why services cost so much and why they need to pay someone like me to help them out.

  • The budget for formatting is extremely out of line. Taking the document from Word to .pdf (for createspace for example), requires you to first have the document in final edit form; you need to choose your book size; create the margins, gutters, then you will need to be experienced with pagination, section breaks, odd/even page breaks; the slightest edit or change can effect your entire manuscript. Creating the .pdf from here can be tricky if you haven’t got the printing settings just right. I know this because i went through this learning curve this year. Helped an Author publish his book (Don’t Be a Cow! on Amazon) with chapter headings, image inserts, tables, all positioned “x’ inches from top/bottom, sides. You then have to have your cover art ready (in the case of createspace) as a separate doc. Even with straight content, “simple” chapter headings and the table of contents will cost you more than $20.

  • I’m in the process of writing poems about events I’ve been through in my life, and had a dream of publishing a book. But for someone with no computer(I’m using one in a college library), who’s disabled and homeless…..the costs involved in getting my writings in a book, let alone published – steep for a person who has to depend upon God every day for my daily bread as well as trying to save enough for my own place!! At least now I have a better idea about the facts.

  • It all sounds good but someone who is an amateur and just stating out doesn’t want to invest a lot of capital into a book that no one reads or likes and thus throwing money down the drain. Is there a way for someone to read your idea or an outline of your story and let you know whether its worth the investment or if u r simply wasting your time and money? If Im going to spend hundreds of dollars on something that makes zero back, I’d rather use that money for something else.

    Scott in Maryland

  • Thanks Scott, for your valuable info. I’m editing my first novel, a mystery-romance trilogy, (outsourced to an editor) and I am very much interested in audio/e book. My book’s word count in Microsoft word is about 85,000 words. How much do you think I should budget for this? Also, I paid for a package to self publish with Xlibris “Print on Demand” a while ago, but I now see they have a lot of scam/complaints online against them. So, I doubt I’ll move forward with them, but I’m worried about the manuscript I sent them to copy edit (they did a horrible job). I asked them to stop any printing/production, but from what I read online, am not sure if they went ahead with printing without my knowledge. Is there a way to check if one’s book is in circulation somewhere? I had it copyrighted before sending it to them. Thanks again.

  • Pingback: How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish a Book?
  • “A book should always be edited…by a real editor. Don’t try to cut corners here, this is a very important step in your book writing journey. 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.”

    If that’s insisted on…for $200-$400, there goes my motivation to finish this first work again, and I’m like 75% through it, having fixed things as I went along (my spelling and grammar is excellent). That isn’t exactly budget-friendly for me 🙁

  • Crooked letter I says:

    What are some companies one could use? I’m looking to print a magazine, so this means several prints in color. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Meghan Weyerbacher says:

    This is packed but organized. I saved this in my documents to refer to, thanks. I wish you had Pinterest on here so I could save these in my Writers board though!

  • Thanks for the information. I will definitely use it after I finish writing my semi-final draft. I think I read all the comments and no one mentioned asking an authors/friend who wrote a book that had no typos or other problems, who they used for an editor. That’s what I plan to do.

  • The Way I See It says:

    Sounds like it can get a little pricey, but at the same time you’d be able to maintain control over your own intellectual property which is what I want. I’d like to fund comic and animated adaptations of what I’m writing down the line and it’d be a shame to run into a wall with rights issues should I get it published through traditional means.

  • Rebecca Christopher says:

    I have a novel I’m currently getting edited for around $700 (which I think is a good deal since it is just under 110k words) and I looking into self publishing or finding an agent. this article had been very helpful, but I’m still not sure which is better for me. Any tips on where I can figure that out?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>