Chris A. Baird | June 14, 2023
How much does it cost to self publish a book in 2023

Don’t have any idea how much you are going to spend self-publishing your book? Here’s how much it cost to self publish a book in 2023.

Now, look here. If you're considering going the self-publishing route, there are a lot of costs that can be involved, and the choices you make are going to directly impact those costs. So, you're going to want to stick around because I'm going to go through and break down every one of the costs associated with self-publishing.

In today's topic, we're going to look at how much it costs to self-publish a book in 2023. So, how much does it cost? Well, the thing is, there are several costs you'll have to take into account.

1. Editing costs

The first of those is going to be your editing costs. Now, this one, in particular, can be a bit tricky because there are so many options. You can go to different locations like full-fledged services that provide editing, or you can find freelancers who offer editing services.

The second thing to consider is the type of editing you're doing. Are we talking about developmental editing or substantive editing? Are they just looking for grammar mistakes and such, or are we looking for a much deeper level of editing for your book? The type of editing will drastically impact how much it's going to cost you.

It can range from just a couple hundred dollars up to thousands and thousands of dollars to have your book professionally edited. Therefore, you'll want to explore different sites and options. I like using either Upwork or Fiverr for editing. Just make sure you're going with someone who has a lot of experience in these types of jobs and has a top rating. 

2. Cover design costs

The second cost to consider is cover design. This can also vary greatly, ranging from around twenty-five dollars for someone on Fiverr to a higher price for a professional designer. For the cover design, the designer I use can be found below in the description (my preferred choice).

This is an affiliate link for the Fiverr designer I use for all of my covers. If you're willing to spend hundreds of dollars, you can explore other sites like Upwork, which I've used for a couple of covers, or 99designs.

However, I highly recommend checking out the $25 cover and seeing what my cover designer can do for you. She has done a lot of covers for me, approximately 200 covers in total, and I've been really satisfied with almost all of them.

Another thing to keep in mind is the back-and-forth communication you'll want to have with the designer regarding the covers. Unlimited revisions make it very easy. Also, remember that the cost of cover design includes the designer's experience and the images they use. Do they own the rights to those images, or will they have to pay for them separately?

Themselves to do it, and that can have an impact. And if they're just doing it from complete scratch, which some of mine have been, where they're doing the graphics themselves without using any other site or resources, well, then you're not going to spend less than about a hundred dollars per cover.

Check out this related article: How To Self-Publish With No Money?

So, it's important to keep track if you're aiming to minimize your costs. Think carefully about the types of covers you want to create. I highly recommend going with covers that resemble the bestsellers in your specific genre. Your readers are already showing you what they like.

Take those covers as a basis and then send them to a high-quality Fiverr designer for 25 dollars, along with your title, subtitle, and author's name, and you should be pretty much set. 

3. Book formatting costs

Number three is book formatting costs. This one can vary, and you may think you're saving a lot of money by hiring someone on Fiverr or Upwork to do the formatting. However, the problem I discovered is that while you may save costs upfront, you'll likely need to make changes later on.

As you learn more about building email lists, you'll want to include lead magnets in your book. You might realize you forgot to ask for a review of the book, so you'll need to make additional revisions. You might even find typos in your book.

Which is so common when you're putting your book out on the market. You suddenly discover, "Oh, I made a mistake with the book, so I'm going to need to make some additional changes that I hadn't foreseen when I first released the book or come out with additional books."

And if you want links back to your previous books, that also plays a role in needing to make continued changes. Now, you're going to check with different formatters, and you'll find that the price also varies based on the formats you need the book in, whether it's hardback, paperback, ebook, or different formats like PDF.

Check out this related article: How To Write, Publish, And Sell An Ebook

This will impact how much you'll pay for the formatter. I recommend learning to format yourself because there are so many changes that may need to be made. Some formatters may not know how to do it properly, and they may provide files with errors. When you upload them, it could create problems with Amazon.

Worse yet, Amazon may accept these books, and then your readers will complain about the unsatisfactory experience of reading the ebook version. That's one of the reasons why I offer a Formatting Course. In the course, I guide you through the steps using the tool Judo, for which you can find my affiliate link in the description.

If you take the formatting course, you'll need to purchase the formatting tool or hire a freelancer, as I did, and learn the hard way how it can work out for you. Either way is fine. A lot of this self-publishing journey involves learning and trying to save money, only to discover that it can cost more than expected.

4. Marketing costs

The next cost is marketing, which is number four. Marketing costs can vary depending on the types of marketing you're looking for. If you just want someone to promote your book on various sites, they can probably do that for around five dollars.

However, if you're seeking assistance with reviews, following Amazon's guidelines, and engaging in advertising and author events, it will cost you a significant amount more. I believe that you can learn advertising, which I teach to my one-on-one and group coaching clients.

We delve into setting up advertisements and I have a course on content marketing that provides a comprehensive guide on using content to drive traffic to your book. Alternatively, you can hire people on Upwork or Fiverr to handle the marketing, but it's crucial to ensure that they have a lot of reviews and a proven track record of delivering results.

This way, over time, you'll see actual sales that justify the investment, rather than spending a substantial amount without seeing the desired returns. Marketing costs can range from as low as five dollars to thousands of dollars. Some hybrid publishing options may try to charge you two thousand dollars or a thousand dollar marketing package.

Before considering such options, I highly recommend finding someone who has achieved success with them to avoid potential pitfalls. That's one of the reasons why my courses are priced at a hundred dollars. In these courses, you'll learn step-by-step how to execute marketing strategies and get your books out into the market.

We also provide ongoing support to ensure your understanding of the course content. Instead of spending a thousand dollars for someone else to handle it and potentially losing that money, why not learn how to do it yourself?

At a hundred dollars, the courses are reasonably priced and make it easy for you to dive in and explore the content. During our interactive sessions, we guide you through the process of implementing these strategies yourself. However, the decision ultimately rests with you as you need to figure out what works best for your circumstances. 

5. Printing Costs

Now, let's move on to number five: Printing Costs. Printing costs can vary, but it's important to keep in mind that if you're publishing your book on platforms like Amazon, IngramSpark, or Lulu, there are no printing costs for you as the author.

The additional cost is passed on to the person purchasing the book. This is one of the reasons why having pricing strategies is crucial, as it allows you to factor in the raised price based on printing costs and the type of format, such as paperback or hardcover. Different formats of books may also have additional pricing considerations.

I recommend implementing a three-point pricing strategy, which includes ebook pricing, paperback pricing, and hardcover pricing. This gives your readers the flexibility to choose the price point that suits them best and enables them to make an informed decision.

Ultimately, our goal is to sell the paperback version of the book. Therefore, it's essential to consider the printing costs. The easiest way to do this is to never sell a book that would result in royalties of less than five dollars, regardless of printing costs.

Additionally, if your book includes numerous colors and other elements, it will raise the price further. Let's also discuss the idea of print-on-demand versus ordering a large number of books to store in your garage. Based on my experience with many authors, it can be challenging to sell books that are stockpiled in garages.

For this reason, it's in your best interest to set your royalty rates high enough and opt for a print-on-demand model. With print-on-demand, books are printed and shipped as orders are received, minimizing upfront costs and the need for storage space.

Until you see that there is a demand, if there's no demand, it still costs you nothing because they only print the books when people order them. 

6. Shipping costs

Number six, your shipping costs, and that also come into the whole thing because some books, if they're shipped locally, cost about $3. But if they're shipped internationally, it could be thirty dollars. That's one of the reasons I like Amazon—they have a large distribution network in terms of printing areas that can be done in different parts of the world.

This way, when they print out the book, they don't have to ship it too far, keeping the cost low. And that comes back to making sure that your book's pricing compensates for those shipping costs unless we're talking about shipping it yourself, which I do not recommend.

Trying to get into that, filling your garage, and then trying to ship and keep track of all these figures is a terrible idea. You'll be stuck with tons of books that you won't be able to sell. 

4 things that can affect the cost of self-publishing your book

So, here are the four things that can affect the cost of your self-published book. 

1. The subject matter

The first one is your subject matter. Some subject matter is going to require a lot of research for you unless you're already an expert. I highly recommend this, especially for non-fiction authors. You know who you are. Make sure you're using that if you can, assuming you're already an expert in the area.

Then put books out, assuming they're in the profitable niches that we discussed in other videos on how to figure that out. Look at those keywords dealing with low ratio keywords where the power ratio is low, ideally under 100. For my books, I like those under 30.

Then we see exactly what it's going to take to get these books to sell. And when you put it out there, the fact is, if you're a subject matter expert, it's going to cost you a lot less to do the research. 

2. The length of your manuscript

Okay, number two: the length of your manuscript. If it's a longer manuscript, it's going to cost you a lot more money. So, what exactly are you going to do with that? Well, the answer is, you're going to make sure the manuscript is not any longer or shorter than it needs to be.

How do we know how long it should be? Look at your competition—the books that are targeting the same readers. How long are they? Do not go for books that are ten times that length or one-tenth of that length.

Make sure it's somewhere in the ballpark of the average length of similar books because your readers are telling you, based on their buying habits, what the length of the book should be. So stick to that length, regardless of the cost.

And again, you should be making, on those paperbacks and hardbacks, a minimum of five dollars in royalties, regardless of how long the books are or the pictures you have in the books or other factors like that that can drastically impact the cost of the book.

3. Whether you choose to sell print books, ebooks, or audiobooks

Number three: ebooks and audiobooks. Whether you choose to sell print books, ebooks, or audiobooks. Now, we've talked about this before—each of these types of books comes with additional costs.

But I'm telling you if you're using Jutoh as I tell you all to do all the time for formatting, your ebook, paperback, and hardback are all included. This tool is a one-time purchase, and then from that point onward, you're able to use Juto to produce all of the formats. 

Check out this related article: See How Easily You Can Self-Publish Your Book

So why not do that? Because then you're not having to pay a bunch of extra money for each of these different formats. Now, the audiobooks can be done for free. You simply take the ebook and ask ACX Audible to turn it into an audiobook. People will compete to narrate the book and split the revenue.

The royalty is with them unless you want to hire a narrator yourself, which I recommend once you've got the other stuff under control. But the cheapest way is just to do it for free, so I recommend you go with that. 

4. Your timeline

The next point, number four, is your timetable or timeline. So, if you're using a lot of time over months, well, obviously the cost of the total book is going to be a lot higher. Now, you may be thinking your time is free, but it isn't.

Your time does cost money. You could be doing something else useful that would earn you more money than working on this self-published book. And that's one of the reasons why we need to consider how much time we're using. This is a reason I like to outsource a lot of things.

Not the formatting—I hire my team and bring them in-house to do the formatting and also the content marketing for me. But for many other tasks, we have other people do them so we can shorten the timeline, get this book on the market, and start making money from it.

How to Reduce Your Publishing Costs

So, how to reduce your publishing costs?

1. Compare self-publishing platforms carefully

The next item is to compare self-publishing platforms carefully. You'll notice that on some of them, especially those with print-on-demand services—which is the case for many—you can have pretty low costs. I like Amazon and IngramSpark because of the size of their network. These two alone can get you most of the way there.

Now, keep in mind that Lulu is also good for hardcover books, but they charge a lot for these things. Additionally, the complexity and difficulty of following the instructions for the platform of your choice also need to be considered in this process. 

2. Choose ebooks or print-on-demand

Number two: choose ebooks or print-on-demand. And the reason why this is great is because it doesn't have these additional costs for the ebooks. They're simply put out there, and you're done. It's a digital file that the platform itself will provide to those people. For print-on-demand, there's no need to order thousands of books that will sit in your garage.

Instead, when somebody places an order, it is printed, sent to the printers, and shipped directly to that person. So, you don't have to think about those additional costs. You simply figure out what the royalty should be, like I said, five dollars minimum unless you're making a lot of sales.

Then we can change it based on some secret strategies. But otherwise, you're going to get those five dollars per sale, and we're going to send it on. With print-on-demand, you don't even have to think about the costs. 

3. Barter with other writers for help

Number three: barter with other writers for help. Now, this one is a fantastic way to save money because if you're bartering, you're leveraging what you're good at. For example, I'm good at formatting and content marketing, but I'm not so good at editing.

So, you're able to go back and forth with those other authors so that it doesn't cost you anything. You can say, 'I'll format your book, and you edit mine.' This way, you're able to maximize what other writers are good at to save money. But this can take a lot of time, so it also has some costs associated with it that must be considered. 


So, in conclusion, you can see that there are a lot of choices you can make that will impact the costs associated with self-publishing. Depending on the path you choose—whether it's working with freelancers or doing it yourself—you're essentially exchanging money for time.

However, it's important to consider different quality levels among platforms. Some platforms may offer lower quality and end up costing you more. That's why it's beneficial to experiment, go back and forth, and test various approaches.

I believe it would be beneficial for you to learn how to format the book yourself and handle basic content marketing. As you start earning more money from these platforms, you can then consider adjusting your prices and hiring additional people to handle these tasks by outsourcing them.

While I don't recommend outsourcing everything, you can try to create covers yourself. However, they may not look as good, so it's much better to invest in a cheap cover with a skilled individual on platforms like Fiverr for around $25 and get your cover done professionally.

Unless you're a graphic designer, it's unlikely that you'll be able to achieve the desired colors, fonts, shapes, and overall aesthetics that should be tailored specifically for your book.

Now, my question for you is: What have you done to reduce costs on your self-published books? Let me know in the comments below, and make sure to check out the answers to your self-publishing questions in my other blogs and videos.

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