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How Much Does It Cost To Self-publish A Book?

Branch Off is the second novel that I self-publish and it’s time to do some math. The question is, how much does it cost to self-publish a book? And with self-publish I mean doing everything yourself, except those things that it makes sense to outsource. Well, duh.

First things first: you can do a lot on your own–almost everything–but there is just one thing that you must outsource: editing and proofreading. You can’t escape that, it’s a fact of life. The universe revolves around that notion (it’s true).

There’s another thing you should outsource. It’s not mandatory, but it’s a good thing to do: cover design. Because most of us just suck big time at graphics.

All there rest’s in your hands.

Transparency Report for Branch Off:

  • Writing the damn thing: nil (just a few hundred hours of my time)
  • Beta reading: nil (huge thanks to Stefano and Courtney for their help)
  • Copyediting + Proofreading: $472.56
  • Book cover: nil (just a few dozen hours of my time)
  • E-book and printed content formatting and layout: nil (just a few hours of my time, disciplined use of Microsoft Word’s styles, and Calibre)
  • Printed proof copies from CreateSpace: $55.13 (3 iterations with 3-day shipping, which is the thing you pay for as the actual book is 4 bucks and change)
  • 1-week ad on BookGoodies.com: $28 with coupon (I’m just trying out of curiosity, without expecting much; impressions and results will follow).

Grand Total: $555.69

So, is that it? less than 600 bucks? Yeah, sort of. It might seem counter-intuitive, but editing is relatively affordable. What gets really expensive is cover design, especially if you need a paperback version. For something not pre-made, we’re talking about $300 as a minimum, and that’s the main reason why I tend to do covers myself. Yes, they’re not works of art, but they are good enough. I mean, look at these. There’s obviously a difference. But I digress.

White Dwarf One has cost me a little less because it’s shorter, but the order of magnitude is the same. Also, EUR/USD exchange rates used to favor me a little, but not anymore (you know, the global economy and stuff).

So, is it expensive?

But that’s not the right question. We’re not in it for the money, are we? The glory, that’s what matters. Being famous and respected. Well…





One response to “How Much Does It Cost To Self-publish A Book?”

  1. Emma Avatar

    This is really interesting, I think a lot of writers don’t factor in editing, design, formatting etc into their idea of what’s necessary to publish. Just because I can write doesn’t mean I can edit – sometimes I can’t even spell! Luckily I have an editor and a designer to help out with this.
    It’s very helpful to have everything laid out like this and explained the way it has been here – this is a nicely done, neat and balanced article.
    Some of the costs mentioned seem pretty steep to me as we include editing, design, formatting, a pre-print run of 50-200 books and a bit of publicizing in our packages (£350-750) but i suppose English costs are lower and it’s cheaper for us as we do it all in-house.