The REAL Costs of Self-Publishing

This article was originally published on Amazon’s Author Insights Blog.
You can read it here.

I’m constantly asked:

How much should I expect to pay for
all of my self-publishing expenses?

One of the more overwhelming aspects of self-publishing can be the investment in the services needed to publish a quality product. If you don’t know what you don’t know, you likely will pay the ultimate price: publishing a book people might have otherwise bought and read if it had been done well. You might also pay way too much to a person or company to publish your book unnecessarily. Lately, I’ve seen costs upwards of $50,000-$200,000 from “done for you services.”Trust me when I say that is entirely too much!

While there are several important (and unavoidable) costs involved in bringing a quality book to market, you can self-publish a very professional, good-looking, enjoyable read without breaking the bank. And let’s face it: once you have taken the time and effort to write a book, you owe it to yourself and your book to make sure it looks great and reads well so that people will buy and read it!

Some of the most important components of self-publishing are editing and proofreading, cover design, interior design, and copywriting. There are a range of investments you can expect to make with these services and some ideas if you are working on a tight budget.

Cover design

A cover that represents your book well and fits into your genre is important. Spend some time studying the covers of the best-selling books in your genre to get an idea of what you need to fit in and stand out. You want your book cover to look just as good, if not better, than the other covers. Your book cover will be one of the larger investments you make in your book. If you’re going to spend money on cover design, you have a few options for sourcing a great cover:

Editing and proofreading

There are three basic types of editing: developmental, copyediting, and proofreading.

  1. A developmental or content edit helps you take your good book and make it great by ensuring you have all the necessary elements in the right order.

  2. A copyedit takes your great book and delivers the information in a smooth and precise way.

  3. The proofread turns a smooth and great book into one that is also error-free—or as near to that as humanly possible.

You can get a professional assessment to determine which types of editing to invest in. Keep in mind that quality editors are in high demand, and you should seek to engage the editor of your choice about three months before you think you’ll be ready. You can expect to invest from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in your book, depending on the types of editing your book needs and its length. Be sure to have at least one editor and a separate proofreader for your book (the more eyes, the better).

Interior design

Have you ever tried to read a book that was hard to read simply because the formatting wasn’t clean? I have, and after a while, I just gave up. A book with neat formatting has a better chance of being read (and recommended). You can use programs like Scrivener to output a basic file, or you can hire a custom formatter to give your book an extra special something.


Copywriting, also known as sales copy or a book’s description, is how you describe your book on the back cover and your Amazon sales page. Great copywriting sells books and could make the difference between whether someone buys your book or continues to search for his or her next read. Expect to spend between $250 and $500 for a great book description. Alternatively, you can read How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis, by Bryan Cohen, for an expert’s tips on how to do it yourself.

A note on the above: If you are not a trained editor, graphic designer, formatter, or copywriter, I strongly advise you to hire a professional to do the work. Your book will be all the better for it.

Please don’t let a pile of potential expenses scare you away or prevent you from finishing your book! Start with what you can comfortably afford at the beginning of your author journey, and once your book is profitable, you can choose to invest more funds to take it to the next level. I have replaced covers and had several books reedited (and more are in process). Most important is writing your book and taking it to market while doing the best you can do.


~ Fit in writing no matter how busy you are!

~The Prosperous Writer’s Guide to FINDING READERS with Brian D. Meeks give more than 110 online and offline ways to find readers for your book. Grab a copy here!

~Amazon offers “Amazon Marketing Services” a.k.a. ads you can place to sell your book. My good friend and U.S. Navy Vet Dave Chesson has a free course you can take to learn more about how to use them!

~Start growing your prospective clients/readers list now (and how to do it).

Not receiving these posts in your inbox quite yet? Get everything you need to finally get your book written. Just go here.

, ,