Self-Publishing Costs

The different costs involved in self-publishing: What you need to know

Summary: There are a number of costs involved when self-publishing: Editing costs, Formatting costs, Printing costs, Marketing costs, and Cover Design costs. In order to stick to a budget or save money, you need to understand what is on offer and choose the right professionals for your genre, turnaround time, individual needs, and pocket. Although you might be able to do some things yourself, like formatting and marketing, cover design and editing are best left up to professionals.

Self-publishing a book means going on a radically different journey than following the traditional publishing route. Many self-publishers quickly realise that they have to become adept at a bunch of new skills – from understanding advertising, marketing and promotion to cover design and eBook distribution. 

One of the main concerns for many a self-publisher is the potential costs involved. In the article below, we explain some of the different costs that you might be confronted with. Although we don’t talk specific numbers, we highlight the individual cost areas that you need to be aware of. Hopefully, awareness of these costs can assist in your planning and budgeting. Ultimately, it is important to remember that you want to deliver a product that looks beautiful and professional. 

Editing costs

The importance of a polished and well-edited manuscript cannot be overstated. This should be the one thing that you plan to spend some money on. There are a number of different types of professional editing. 

The first is the possibility of an editorial assessment – this is a first overview of the manuscript by a professional editor that includes feedback on elements such as style, plot, structure, consistency and characterisation. Developmental editing is another form of in-depth editing that looks at all the parts of the book. Copy-editing refers to examining the mechanics of writing and improving the readability and a book’s fitness for purpose. And proofreading usually happens at the final stage before publication and refers to correcting errors of text and typography. Many times, proofreading and copy-editing will be combined.

Editing costs will depend on the genre, how advanced the manuscript is, the level of experience and expertise of the editor, and the turnaround time.

Cover design

Having an aesthetically pleasing or appealing cover is another element that cannot be overstated. Think about how you buy and browse for books. People are drawn to beautiful and interesting covers. An amateurish or dull cover means people won’t even consider picking up the book or reading further. Therefore, getting some professional help might not be a bad idea.

The cost of cover design will depend on the style and complexity of the design, whether it’s for a print book or eBook (as the design must be tailored accordingly) as well as the level of experience of the designer.

Some book cover design companies have premade book covers that you can purchase for cheaper than a custom design. Their work will also usually be compatible with all the major self-publishing platforms. A tip to remember when it comes to cover design, is that it is not a given that you should go for the professional with the most experience. As the skill is about design, it might be worthwhile to give a young or new designer an opportunity. The same cannot necessarily be said for an editor – with editing, experience is important. However, you need to choose the best person according to your budget, specific purposes and turnaround time.

Formatting costs

Formatting refers to the interior design or layout of the book. It is also sometimes referred to as typesetting. It involves the way in which the text is presented on the page. The cost will, once again, depend on the level of experience of the formatter, the complexity of the layout, and the length of the manuscript. 

Formatting is something that you can attend to yourself if you are looking to save money. Have a look at our article on how to format your book as a self-publisher. The main guiding post is sticking to the genre formatting of your book. Traditional publishers have tried and tested formatting and layout styles in order to increase readability – sticking to the genre standard will ensure that people recognise your book as part of the genre and as such increases the book’s credibility. 

Marketing costs

Marketing can include hiring a professional marketer or paid social media advertising. However, marketing doesn’t necessarily have to cost you anything. Have a look at this helpful post on how to effectively market your book as a self-publisher for some guidance.

Whether you decide to spend on marketing costs will depend on your budget, the time you have to market the book yourself as well as the specific marketing strategy needed according to genre. Ultimately, you need to get the word out and raise awareness about your book. It is therefore a skill you should learn or one you should pay for as a well-executed marketing strategy will ensure a return on your investment.

Printing costs

Printing costs will also depend on a variety of factors – paperback or hardback, the size of the book (check out this ultimate guide on book sizing), the length of the book or the number of pages, and the quality of paper needed. Print-on-demand companies have at least made it possible for self-publishers to print only the copy that they sell. There are many services that you can use in this regard. If you have specific questions about printing, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts at Of course, if you go the eBook route, printing costs wont’ apply.

Although the idea of these costs might have you fretting about your budget, there are many avenues and many professionals to consider. Take your time in understanding what is on offer and compare costs and have a look at our post on how to save money as a self-publisher for some extra help. If you are able to plan properly ahead of time and allow enough time for weighing up options, you will most definitely end up either saving money or coming across talented professionals that can take your work to the next level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.