The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book

Beverly Bambury/ May 25, 2013/ cover art, editing, Publicity, self-publishing/ 3 comments

If you missed PBS Mediashift’s piece on the costs of professional quality self-publishing, it’s a real eye-opener. Read it here: Go on. I’ll wait.

So what did you think? I am sure the high end prices were a little frightening, but notice that there are lower end prices, too. If you think you can’t afford an editor, don’t go without. Consider paying a student a lower rate. It allows him or her to get experience, and at the same time you get affordable editing assistance. You have to understand in this case that you are not getting a highly experienced editor, though, so keep expectations appropriate for what you’re paying for.

The same goes for cover art and marketing services. Don’t go without these things, either, especially the cover art. A bad cover will lose sales, hands down. Pay lot of money for years of experience, or smaller amounts for those new in the field. (Or a hybrid, such as my basic versus premium services).

The main takeaway for me is that while self-publishing may be easy to do, it’s not necessarily easy to do right. Tell me about your book. Did you hire an editor and an artist? Any regrets?

Share this Post


  1. Those prices are insane.

    Beta readers: Free. Most of us have writing groups where we exchange critiques, but I know a number of writers who have moved on to asking for volunteers from their readers and gets critiques that way, too.

    Copyediting: I usually pay ~$400. I'll pay more if I can't get a beta reader and need someone to do a major first pass.

    Proofread: Free. I just ask for volunteers to read the book early and they give me an errata back. Occasionally, have hired someone. $50-125.

    Cover: I generally pay $200 because I want really nice covers. (This is an example of one of those covers: If I'm doing a short story, however, I don't pay more than $90 and generally closer to $30. Here is a $30 cover for you:

    ISBN: No. You don't really need one for an ebook unless you're hoping to get on the USA Today Bestsellers list. Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and iTunes all let you publish without one (I do all of the time).

    Print version: $200 for formatting + $100 to upgrade your ebook cover to a print cover. I think it's $75 if you want to publish through Lightening Source.

    And, really, why do you want a print version? Get the idea of "for in stores" out of your head. Most stores won't carry POD anyway.

    Way, way overpriced. Then again, it's the article author's business to connect people with these overpriced professionals, so you know…

  2. I should note that artwork covers, like a lot of epic fantasy ones, can cost $1000. But, you're paying for ARTWORK. As in a painting. As in custom, commissioned artwork.

  3. Yeah, it definitely depends on your situation and what you're looking for out of it.

Leave a Comment

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


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.