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Filter: All types Articles Slideshows Videos Sort: Most relevant Most popular Most recent No articles available No slideshows available No videos available How Much Does It Cost to Start a Record Label? You want to self-publish your book, but budgeting for the process is more challenging that it looks.
Are authors really managing to release quality books without paying for professional editing, design, marketing and other services? To assuage these common concerns, we spoke with several top self-published authors about what they spent to release one of their books.
In addition to her freelance writing expertise and two traditionally-published mystery series, C.
Catherine Ryan Howard is author of two travel memoirs, Mousetrapped and Backpacked, and a guide to self-publishing, Self-Printed. Since she quit her corporate job and published her first book about the experience, Joanna Penn has been a self-publishing powerhouse.
It was nonfiction so I felt developmental editing wasn’t worth it (the events really happened, so I thought I was safe enough relaying real events while leaving out the boring bits!) and then I hired a copyeditor. Even avid readers of fiction don’t know how to structure a book, so for the first book,  [it’s a good idea to use a] structural editor. I first shared the book with beta readers from the Writer’s Bucket List community for structural feedback. For proofreading and copyediting, I hired new writers who would benefit from the editing experience and offered pay plus a mention at the blog and in the book. To develop an author brand, you want your cover to not only sell your book but to make readers immediately think of you. As if that wasn’t enough, you also want your cover to stand out and be legible in crowded pages of tiny thumbnail images. Look for quality designers who are just getting started in their careers and develop a relationship early on (the top recommended designers are usually booked quite far in advance!) The Book Designer’s Monthly Ebook Cover Design Awards are a great resource for cover design tips and finding designers who specialize in your genre.
I hired a book cover designer (who happened to be my web designer) to design two covers: ebook and print. I design all my covers in Photoshop, which I owned previously, so I don’t consider it a publishing cost.
While it’s easy to disregard these additions to save money and time, custom images on your cover or throughout your book add a unique touch that gets readers talking.
We’ve recommended 99designs in the past for affordable, quality cover design, but Joanna points out that the site is also a great resource for custom illustrations! I hired a cartoonist friend to do illustrations for the book, and it’s one of the best decisions I made! Second to cover design, a conventionally formatted book interior (print or ebook) is your key to avoiding a sloppy DIY look.
Many small details (that you might not think of) will red-flag your book as amateurish and sully the reader’s experience, so you want to do your research (or hire a pro who’s already done theirs) on the standards of book interior design. To DIY typesetting for print, try one of the free templates from CreateSpace, or a paid option from Book Design Templates. I did [inner layout] myself, using Microsoft Word and the templates you can download from CreateSpace. Across the board, we all use, have used, or plan to use Amazon’s CreateSpace for print-on-demand books. Publishing through CreateSpace is free, and they will keep between 20 and 60 percent of book sales, depending on the sales channel.
Self-publishing an ebook comes with the benefit of not needing to seek bookstores to stock your book. Building and nurturing these relationships shouldn’t come with direct costs, but this is where you need to budget a huge portion of your (non-writing) time as an author. Indirect costs like travel, promotional swag, contest fees, audiobook recording and website hosting can help sell books as well as promote your entire business or brand, so consider these items part of your marketing budget.
I did submit Shy to the EPIC awards for ebooks, and it made finalist in the nonfiction category in early 2014. It’s tough to nail down a final cost because of the number of indirect and one-time expenditures.
Look into your network to see how you can trade or barter services, experience, influence or exposure to offset the costs of self-publishing services. Editors and cover designers you hire should know your voice and understand your genre — these aren’t one-size-fits-all services!
Very little (or none) of your budget should go toward paid advertising, other promotional services or print runs of the book. To save money without sacrificing quality, you can DIY formatting and conversion with a little research and practice, if you’re willing to put in the time. You’ll make a number of one-time investments early on, like purchasing software for word processing and design or taking courses in self-publishing and marketing.
Successful self-publishers are ambitious entrepreneurs who learn to wear several hats and display a variety of talents.
About the Author: Dana SitarDana Sitar is a freelance blogger and a writer at The Penny Hoarder. I agree editing is important, but many writers (especially those launching their first ebook) can’t afford a couple thousand dollars to hire a professional editor. I do agree editing is important, but I think the cost of professional editing is one of the barriers to entry for a lot of writers who are new to the ebook scene. No apologies for my rant here; I feel very passionate about helping writers put out their best work.

I wonder how Twain, Shelley, Poe, or even Homer got by without paying someone the era-equivalent of that much money for a professional edit? Without knowing the facts for sure, I think it’s safe to say that all of those books were probably edited by a professional editor. I surely hope you are not encouraging authors to agree to post favorable reviews in exchange for editing services.
I do appreciate the expertise of others but also that there are different avenues for everyone and in the end it is what they are able to manage within budget without sacrificing quality of product – whatever their field and product may be. Seriously, why don’t you simply dismantle her points (like she did of the previous comments) if you disagree. On another note, the amount of time that each of these writers has put into tackling and mastering the various disciplines needed to self-publish (cover design, marketing, etc.) should not be reduced to zero.
In the publisher’s defense, its people did ask me to review the block print and send a list of needed corrections; however, it should have been a clue to me that there were no editing marks or border comments from the publisher in the returned manuscript. Thus, I became a ‘self-published’ author and not a ‘published’ author with a two year contract that gave me little flexibility for further revisions in my first novel. The numbers you’re hearing from experts regarding the costs of self-publishing are all over the board.
Or are you going to have to dig into your savings and fork over thousands of dollars to make sure you release a great book? They’ve shared real numbers, as well as why they chose to invest in certain services, to help you decide how best to allocate your investment during every stage of self-publishing.
She’s built a career as an author-entrepreneur, sharing resources for other authors at The Creative Penn and self-publishing New York Times and USA Today best-selling thriller novels as author J.F.
For a quality, impactful book, you need more than a proofread or spell-check of a first draft. Make the most of your money, effort and time by working with a genre-specific editor who understands your voice and brand.
Book cover design is a unique craft – it takes more than InDesign skills and knowledge of fonts and colors to create a cover that achieves your goals.
I met Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer and paid him as a pro for book cover design for my first book, but he doesn’t do it anymore. I had a big learning curve to overcome, and I went through three iterations of the PDF cover before landing on one I was comfortable with. Forging a relationship with an artist is also a cool way to give your brand its own flair throughout your career. If you have a straightforward interior layout, I think this is a good place to save some money by doing the work yourself. It was another learning curve, as this was the first book I’d published with illustrations and the first I published in fixed (PDF) format. I also did the layout for the Kindle edition through OpenOffice, which creates an MS Word .doc.
Print-on-demand services make it possible for you to offer this without the expense or headache of managing and storing a print run.
In addition to tapping into your network for self-publishing services, you also rely on your community to buy and promote your books. I used my blog, Twitter account and Facebook page, and Goodreads for running giveaways [of print books]. I pay for BookBub and other email list advertising after launch once the book has good reviews. Beyond that, all promotion has cost is my time and effort: I guest blog, run social media promotions, do ebook giveaways, host online events, etc. But keep in mind that I use this book for back-of-the-room sales, to have a tool when I speak. Here’s a guide to formatting and converting an ebook for Kindle from TWL Assistant Editor Heather van der Hoop. Your first self-publishing project is likely to be the biggest hit to your wallet — and the greatest investment in your writing career. To understand and cover the costs of self-publishing your book, dig into your network, do your research and plan ahead how you’ll allocate your time and money. This is a question a lot of people ask, and it’s difficult to nail down an answer because costs are across the board and depend on a variety of factors. I wish I did my research but as a novice in the writing business, I feel like I did my best. That would even be a stretch for me to invest that much on top of cover design and formatting, and I make decent money off my ebooks! It also helps if your copy is relatively clean by the time you turn it over to your editor, as it’s likely to take less time, which means fewer hours to pay for. Anyone who wants to be a professional writer and have a good reputation and stellar career cannot afford not to hire a professional editor and have her books edited.
I’ve heard agents say if they see any copy errors on the query letter or the first pages of a submission, out it goes.
I’ve edited books by really great writers and super meticulous people — and they were still full of mistakes.
When we see numbers in the thousands of dollars tossed out as imperative to self-publishing, a lot of authors will run scared from publishing at all.
When money is a barrier, rather than give up, writers should understand the importance of networking and the value of their own skills to get the support their projects need.
I spent more than the authors in the post, but simply could not face the steep learning curve and huge time investment it would have taken me to learn even Photoshop! I was so elated at having my book published that I became a victim of my own naivety by actually expecting editorial help from the publishing house.

For Pentecost, I used five different editors [multiple structural editors, a line-editor and a copyeditor], so that cost the most of all the books. Then I changed it again later when I published the Kindle edition (with great feedback from the Ebook Cover Design Awards). If you do speaking gigs or host author events, you’ll also want the option to keep print copies in stock for back-of-room sales. You’ll pay manufacturing and shipping costs if you want to approve a proof before listing the book for sale, which is highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly put together a great breakdown of royalty rates, pros and cons for each platform. Later, I made the PDF edition a freebie to email subscribers, so I used MailChimp to distribute it. I have a sticker for each of my books so that people can immediately see what’s in the envelope when it comes in the mail. Now that you’ve created a product or work of art (or both!), flip the switch and use your creativity on the business side of things.
I was surprised to see the range in costs from these authors, and glad they were willing to share so new self-publishers can understand the process and costs a little more clearly. I spent close to $3,000.00 total, and that included ISBN, distribution, US Copywriting, book cover, editing, and a website setup.
Do your fellow authors (and especially aspiring authors) a favor and urge them to pay whatever it will cost to get their book professionally edited and proofread. For me, it is not about the income so much as helping others produce quality work that is not professionally embarrassing to read. Self-publishing education is mutli-faceted, ongoing, and different for each individual author. I paid a lot more for a professional editor, but I was amazed at what she contributed and recognized immediately that I would not have been up to that task.
And I thought the publisher’s offer to sell me books at a discount was good because I wanted to have gift books for family, friends and donations to a charity auction.
It is never good advice to tell writers to forgo editing just because they can’t afford it. You would think a publisher would invest in a great editing team and make sure, with that much money pouring in from sales, the editing was terrific. If I can’t raise the money my non fiction book which is three quarters written will not be published. Really, writers need to be willing to pay money, just as they would for college classes or training for a trade or any other career investment. Her painstaking editing and attention to detail made the layout and e-book formatting stages much easier too. Writers who self-publish books full of copy errors risk adversely affecting their reputation as a professional writer.
If they need to, they should take the time to earn or raise the money (even through crowd funding), or use a credit card or deferred PayPal payment.
My blog will be up and running within a couple of weeks and then I will post two 1,000 words posts perweekfor comments from my followers (first line editors).
I am currently writing my second book, and unlike a biography like my first, its a dark comedic look at beauty. Sure, no one wants to go into debt, but do you know anyone who has ever gone into debt funding their education? I did edit a book many years ago and was surprised at how many established writers complained at my correcting their grammer or syntax. If you were going to make quilts or soap or jewelry to sell on Etsy, you would shell out the money for quality materials. For example, some authors can DIY formatting just fine and balk at the rates for that service, while others balk instead at the investment of time to learn and perform that task. But even if I were as successful as she, I would not tolerate such lax of quality on my publisher’s part.
I told her I read the sample and wished her good luck but didn’t tell her what I thought. Thanks to digital technology, many artists record in their own homes using software programs like ProTools. Home recording typically requires an investment in recording software, hardware (microphones, for example) and speakers. Many artists also depend, however, on commercial studios, which charge hourly or flat-fee rates. Same with a writer coughing up the money for a good edit (and not being in a rush to publish).
Most of my best-selling authors have invested first in a critique for every book they write, knowing this will ensure they have a tight story before they deal with little bits of punctuation.
A 10 to 12-track album typically requires between 90 and 150 hours of recording and mixing. A mastering engineer sets the sonic balance for the entire album, ensuring no one song is louder than the other. Mastering is typically charged by a flat fee, which can start in the £325 range for a decent engineer.
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