How Much Does It Really Cost to Self-Publish?
For those who decide to self-publish for the first time, the first question is usually about the cost. An understandable question, but one that’s hard to answer in a conclusive way. It is like asking how much it would cost to buy a home. The cost of your home will depend on size, build type, interior features, exterior features, location, and so on. For less than $100 you can pitch a tent somewhere and call it a home. If you’re looking for an impressive home on the beach, you’re going to spend a lot more.
When it comes to self-publishing, your costs will depend on what you are willing (or able) to pay for quality, prestige, and positioning in the market.
Trade publishers typically invest a minimum of $10,000 to several thousands of dollars on a single title. This investment doesn’t even include the advance paid to the author, which can reach close to a million dollars for a celebrity or well known author.
As a self-publishing author, it’s highly unlikely that you can invest the same amount as a trade publisher. If, however, you want to achieve something close to what a trade publisher would achieve for your book, a reasonable investment will be necessary. You will need the assistance of industry professionals who have the experience and know what it takes to produce a quality, commercially viable book. On average, the truly professional publication of a 200 page paperback book, black & white interior, printed on-demand, will cost:
$600 - $1000
$1500 - $2000
Cover Design (Without Custom Illustration or Photography)
$400 - $600
Interior Formatting (Without Images, Charts, Footnotes, Indexes, etc.)
$99 - $300
E-Book Formatting / Conversion
$125 - $225
ISBN (Single or a Block of 10)
$10 - $40
$500 - $700
Copies (100) of Your Book for Promotion and Direct Sales
$100 - $200
Various Registrations and Listings
Your costs will rise if you need additional edits, indexing, custom illustrations or photography, have a complex interior with images or charts, have a full color interior, have a substantially more than 200 pages, print offset instead of on-demand, etc.
All-in-all, a truly professional job of preparing your book and putting on the market will average a little over $3000 to almost $5000. Less than a trade publisher may invest, but still enough to give your book a solid chance in the marketplace.
You do have cheaper options.
You can edit your own work, design your own cover, format your own interiors (print and e-book), use an ISBN supplied by Createspace, and skip buying inventory for promotion and direct sales, etc. This would drastically cut your costs. You can also use freelance job boards and hire someone who offers publishing services for a lot less than average rates.
What you will have to decide is if you’re going to pitch a tent – or build something with a solid foundation, that has quality features, and places you where you really want to be.
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Post by Deana Riddle; Deana is a publisher and publishing consultant who provides authors and business professionals with the tools needed to become successful independent publishers. She also offers the Independent Publishing Program, found in the WOW! classroom.