How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

Though you will find many self-publishing platforms that won’t charge you a dime to self-publish a book, that doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t spend money on making sure your book is the best quality. Even if you’re only publishing one book, you will be doing yourself a disservice by not ensuring you release a high-quality title. So, really, how much does it cost to self-publish a book? Before we get into the answers, I have a couple of questions for you . . .

Why do you want to publish a book?

Here are several ways you might answer that question:

  • I want to earn a living from my writing.
  • I want to help people through my experiences.
  • I want to leave a legacy.
  • I feel called or driven to write a book.
  • I want fame or attention.
  • I just want to see my words in print.

Some of these reasons might not warrant spending much money on publishing your book. For instance, if all you want to do is hold a copy of your book in your hands, then why does it matter if it’s good or not? In that scenario, your words don’t exactly serve much purpose other than being a record of your thoughts—or a reason to say that you published a book too. So, if that’s all you want your book to amount to, then spending absolutely no money and little time on the quality of your book doesn’t exactly make sense.

However, everything else in that list requires you to take this endeavor a little more seriously. That’s not to say that authors who spend no money publishing their books don’t take their work seriously. However, they understand the price of this decision and the consequences if they choose not to pay that price.

Are you willing to delay your dream to publish your book the right way?

One of the most valuable things to an author is time. When we get started, many of us don’t have a lot of time to spare to put our dream of becoming authors in motion. We have families to take care of, careers to build, and other relationships to nurture. Because of that, our attention has become a commodity to everything else out in the world that doesn’t matter but makes us feel as though it’s important. When dealing with lives like these, who can find the time to write?

But let’s say you’ve made some sacrifices and found the time to finish the first draft of your book. That’s quite an accomplishment in itself. Is our work done, though? No, not even close. We look at the cost of some of these author service providers, and our bank accounts laugh at us. We think, I don’t need to pay someone to do that. I can do that myself.

There’s good news and bad news in this scenario. Can you do it yourself? Of course! That’s the good news. But here’s the bad news: if you don’t already know how to do these things, if you’re going to do them well enough to make a splash with your book, it’s going to require a ton of time to learn how to do them.

And you have to decide what is more important—your valuable time or your hard-earned money.

Maybe you’re not sure yet, and that’s okay. Let’s run through the numbers.

Now, how much does it cost to self-publish a book?

Please note that the following figures are the current market rate for these services. While it is possible to find someone to provide these services for a fraction of the cost, that doesn’t always mean you’re getting top quality work. I recommend doing your research to decide if a provider has your best interests in mind.

Here are the possible costs you might incur (not an exhaustive list):

  • Book Coaching [Optional] — You might need this service if you’re a beginning author, and you need help navigating through some portion of the writing process. $850 for 10 one-hour sessions.
  • Developmental Editing [Highly Recommended] — This will help ensure your book is structurally sound. $2,000+, depending on length and how much work needs to be done.
  • Comprehensive Editing [Highly Recommended] — $1,000–$4,000, depending on length and how much work needs to be done.
  • Copy Editing [Highly Recommended] — $1,000–$2,500, depending on length and how much work needs to be done.
  • Proofreading [Highly Recommended] — $800–$2,000, depending on length.
  • Ghostwriting [Optional] — $4,000–$20,000+, depending on length, pre-writing, and research work involved.
  • Book Doctoring [Optional] — $2,000–$6,000+, depending on length and amount of work that needs to be done.
  • Marketing [Optional] — varies, depending on what type of marketing on how much help you need.
  • Project Management / Virtual Assistant [Optional] — varies, depending on how much help you need.
  • Book Covers — $100–$3,000.
  • Book Formatting — $100–$2,000+.

Yes, self-publishing can be extremely expensive.

As the author of your book, it’s your responsibility to either invest in these costs or do the work yourself to ensure you’re putting out your best work. And this attitude is an absolute must if you want to build a long-term career as a nonfiction author. That doesn’t have to mean you pressure yourself to earn a full-time living as a self-publisher; however, if you want your work to be read and enjoyed, it’s imperative that your book be top quality.


Because the number-one complaint I see from readers all over the world is that they would have loved the book more if it had been edited. Sometimes, these hurtful comments even come when you hire someone to edit your work. This is exactly why it’s not only important to hire someone to help you but also to hire the right person to help you. The consequences of that can be quite expensive—in loss of readership and in the amount you have to invest in fixing what wasn’t done right in the first place.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line:

The act of publishing a book is a business decision. Your book is your product, and it needs to be as polished as it can be to ensure your business lasts for many years to come.

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