How Much Does Self-Publishing Cost?
I’m a proud self-published author and will probably continue to be for the rest of my life! I love the control it gives me over every element of my book—from final decisions about plot and characters to editing.
But with great power comes great responsibility! You’re taking everything on your shoulders with self-publishing—from the editing and proof-reading of your book to cover design, from the actual publishing project to marketing (e.g. selling your book).
One of the questions I get asked most often is, “How much does self-publishing cost?” Today I’m going to try to answer that question.
How much does self-publishing cost?
The simple answer is “Nada.”
You should never pay to publish your book (and that applies to self-publishing!). The only sites/so-called “publishing houses” that request you do that are either scams or “vanity presses.”
They’ll steal your money. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve heard moaning about how awful it is to go with a vanity press (or of course be taken in by a scam).
So, simply, if someone asks you to pay for the actual publishing process, say, “No!” Nopety nope nope nope.
All of these services are absolutely free. No start-up fees. They take a small commission of your book’s royalties in exchange for having it up on their platform, but that’s it.
So, self-publishing itself costs nothing at all.
However, I haven’t begun to tell you about expenses that go along with independently publishing your novel!
There are two things I’d recommend to every Indie published author, and I do believe they are a must.
The first is hiring a professional designer to do your cover.
If you find yourself unable to at least pay for this, I suggest saving up your money until you are able to. Do not publish with something you threw together on Paint! You will not sale books this way.
But Kell! you say. That’s over $300 at the least for a pro cover!
Au contraire, my skeptic!
None of my covers have been $300. I’ve paid an average of $40 for each of my covers. Though they’re not amazing (I’m redoing the covers for The Lady of the Vineyard for that reason), they’re good for what they are.
Do your own research on this, ask for recommendations, etc., but here are some of my favorites:
- She’s the designer for my Chronicles of Alice and Ivy books as well as Baby Mine (coming soon!). I just love her!
- Comes to about $30 ebook, $40 front/back, $50 full wrap.
- Made the old cover for Flowers.
- Her services come to $25(+) for ebook and $65 for paperback.
You can view more recommendations here.
- Many of them are on the cheaper side!
I’m currently working with Dragonpress Designs, which is super pro! The designer is amazing, but it’s a bit more spendy ($75 ebook, $100 for ebook/print). WORTH IT, though!
Make sure to run your cover by several professionals through Facebook groups or some such if you can. You always want a second opinion!
So the cost ends up at:
$40 at the least, $150 on the high end of things (recommended to go high end or, as I said before, you will not sell books).
The second thing I recommend is editing!
Editing is another more spendy matter. Most editors run in the $1,000 range (or more!) for a single manuscript.
Now, first of all, I say have as many alpha and beta-readers as you can and go through your novel multiple times. Make sure you’ve refined it as much as humanely possible. Try to get people to beta-read who are a bit above you as far as skill level goes, too.
And, when you’re ready, start looking into editors!
There are some more affordable options out there; you just have to look. (Make sure you check for references and credibility before hiring any designers, though.)
My editor is Abigayle Claire. She’s fantastic, and her prices run at about $2.00 for every 1,000 words. So for a 50K novel, that’s only $100! Much less than $1,000.
I do understand that some of you are young and jobless, and I didn’t have an editor for my first couple novels. I don’t think I would’ve done a ton better without one.
So I’d say #1 is a cover designer, #2 is an editor … if you can afford one.
However, if you are by any stretch of the imagination able to hire an editor, do so! And if you’re not, just do a lot of proofreading and be as meticulous as you can. (And lots of betas, mind you!)
- I have and always will do this for myself. I spent a lot of time reading different articles and whatnot whenever I ran into a wall, but it wasn’t extremely difficult for me.
- For the most part, you can easily format your novel on Word (or if you don’t have that, like me, OpenOffice is a great free download which does essentially the same thing).
- I offer interior formatting services relatively cheaply, as do several other people on my resources page if you really need to pass this mantle off, however.
- I have yet to do any real advertising, and it’s okay not to. However, once I have a huge budget, I’ll probably put out Amazon ads.
- Have free days and discounts and whatnot will cost you nary a thing.
- This can be as little as $1 a day. However, that ad
ds up (pun intended).
- I’d skip it unless you have a consistent income and are really ready to get out there.
Giveaways, blog tours, the works
- If you hire someone to host a blog tour for you, obviously that’s an expense you need to factor in. However, this isn’t necessary (and I’ve never done it).
- Giveaways are another consideration! They’re a great way to draw a buzz towards your book. And they cost whatever you’re giving away + shipping.
- Giveaways can be as cheap as you want, but remember, if the prize is bigger, so shall be the excitement! 😝
Websites, blogs, etc.
- You need a professional website at the very least!
- And I didn’t start out with one (I’ve skipped around with websites and only recently arrived at a WordPress.com paid personal plan for my official website). It’s when you can afford it!
- At the moment I’m paying $4 a month (billed yearly) for my WordPress.com personal plan website which includes a domain (custom URL) and slightly more a month for this blog (self-hosted WordPress).
- However, I will eventually be switching to self-hosted WordPress.org. This can be as little as $40 a year (plus startup fees)!
Additional Things I’ve Spent Money On
- I’m a bit of a spend-thrift, so I’ve bought myself business cards (500, about $20), bookmarks (spent about $20, ordered maybe 40), and even a t-shirt ($20) through Vistaprint.
- It’s fun to have business cards if you can afford them, but not necessary.
In summary …
- Self-publishing costs not a thing.
- But it does have some costs!
Well, that makes perfect sense …
Seriously, though, at the very least you’re looking at $40 for the cover. Beyond that, it’s up to you, but there are so many things you can look into to make your publishing journey easier!
Before I head out, let’s end on a positive note.
Things That Are Free
- Blog tours run by you.
- (+ the giveaway prize)
- Social media.
- Get yourself out there!
- Also, there are lots of great things you can do through various social media, like creating a group or event or having a live video.
- Alpha- and beta-readers.
- Unless you deliberately set out to hire people.
- ^^ don’t do that ^^
- To a certain extent, anyway …
- If you want to take up blogging, this is an option.
- WordPress.com, Weebly, Wix, and Blogspot.
- It’s not gonna be super pro, but it’ll work for now.
- I thought Reveries was great even before the move!
- The actual publishing itself (and therefore getting on Amazon and other major ebook vendors).
- TONS of how-to blogs.
- TONS of great Facebook/Goodreads groups that’ll help you get your feet wet in the Indie publishing world.
- Authors who get together to promote each other’s books.
- I don’t know why I included this.
With love (& feel free to ask all the questions you want!),
What are you going for, writer: Independent or Traditional Publishing? If you were to Indie publish, what would you probably pay for? Am I being a huge hypocrite because my first couple covers were pretty AND free? 🤣 Was this post at all helpful & what would you like to see me post about next?