how much does self-publishing costWith more and more people curious about writing a book, services have popped up to fill the need. While you can do it all yourself for free with a little research and some technical know-how, many people need to seek out professional services to make it a reality. The amount of money you spend may be determined by your knowledge (or lack of knowledge) of a particular area and by the goals for your book. The higher your expectations for the outcome of your book, the more it makes sense to use professional services to create a professional product. I recently heard of someone being charged $30,000 to publish a book. If that’s what you are offered, run! Here are some expenses related to self-publishing a book.

Editing – Of all of the costs associated with self-publishing a book, the most important money you’ll spend is on an editor. A good editor will not only correct grammar and punctuation, but review the book for consistency, organization and readability. It is not a place to skimp. An editor will charge approximately between $.02 and $.04 per word depending on the level of editing required. Budget tip: Use beta readers and critique groups to get your book more editor-ready.

Cover Design – Your cover has the power sell your book. It is the best marketing tool you have aside from a well-written story or powerful content. Look at the covers of your favorite books. The font choice, picture or graphic and the size of each are artfully proportioned to make the book eye-catching and compelling. Although cover designer prices can vary by a lot, you might expect to pay $300-$750 for a graphic designer. You may pay more for custom illustration or as little as $5 for a stock cover design.

Formatting – If you don’t want to battle with Word on things like headers and footers, table of contents and gutter margin, you may want to hire someone to format your manuscript to meet the specifications of the publishing company you are using. A virtual assistant or self-publishing company can set up your book for about $200 and up depending on the number of words, the number of pictures or graphics and whether you are looking for standard formatting or something custom. Budget tip: YouTube videos or books can ease the learning curve for DIYers.

Marketing and Public Relations – If social media and media relations are not your thing, you might hire a marketing or PR firm to manage those efforts so you can get on with the work of writing your next book. You can hire a firm to consult, create a plan or do full-scale implementation. Prices range in different geographic areas and level of services. Many will offer free consultations to give you pricing and service options. Budget tip: College interns can lighten the social media load.

Self-Publishing Coaches and Consultants – Suppose you are just confused by the whole process of writing and publishing a book. That’s where a self-publishing coach or consultant can help. They are hired to give you support, accountability, technical assistance or to be a project manager to facilitate the process from first word through publication. Like marketing firms, charges from self-publishing professionals vary depending on the level of services needed and the time frame needed to complete the project. It is most important to find someone you trust. Budget tip: An accountability partner or fellow writer may help keep you on track.

ISBN – An ISBN is the International Standard Book Number. It is the unique identifier of a particular version of a book. Some companies, like CreateSpace, offer a free ISBN option while other companies, like IngramSpark, require the purchase of an ISBN. ISBNs can be purchased from Bowker for $125 each or a block of ten for $295.

The Books – If you publish through a print on demand company like CreateSpace or IngramSpark, the variables in cost per book are paperback vs. hardcover, number of pages and black and white vs. color interior. These companies don’t require you to purchase any set number of books upon publishing while other companies may require you to purchase one thousand or more books (not recommended). If you choose to purchase books to sell in person, you purchase them at wholesale cost. For instance, a 6×9″ paperback book with 150 black and white pages is $2.65 per book when publishing through CreateSpace. The same book with a color interior wholesales for $11.35. For the same color interior, IngramSpark’s wholesale cost is only $4.65. Budget tip: The two companies mentioned allow you to purchase just as many as you need. Don’t go crazy with your first order! You can always order more later.

Like any business, publishing a book requires an investment of time or time and money. Think about the return on investment rather than the investment itself. You want a product that is worth buying and need to have readers that know about it.

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