How Much Will It Cost to Self-Publish Your Book?


To estimate your publishing budget, determine which services and items you will require for your specific book project and use the average fees associated with each element to calculate your costs. Vendors and service providers may charge a per project rate (or set fee), a per hour rate, a rate per manuscript page (defined as a letter-size, double-spaced typed page, approximately 250-words) or a per word fee.

Common Expenses:

Copyediting. Copy editing corrects errors and inconstancies in the manuscript, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, numerals, style, facts, inaccurate cross-references, and ambiguous or factually incorrect statements. Copyediting rates average $30 to $50 per hour. You can find a professional copyeditor through the Editorial Freelancer’s Association.

Interior Design. Book interior layouts are designed to facilitate the reading experience. You can license pre-designed templates from vendors or hire a professional interior designer to format the manuscript pages and design your book layout in preparation for production. A quality service provider is Book Design Templates, which offers both pre-designed templates ($59) and interior design services ($299 to $999).

eBook Formatting and Conversion. eBooks have different “interior design” considerations than print books. For eBooks, the focus is on proper document formatting and conversion to an e-reader file format. You can hire an eBook formatting and conversion service, such as BookBaby ($99 to $199), eBookLaunch ($29 to $69+) or eBookPartnership ($249). If using their distribution services, IngramSpark offers eBook formatting for $0.60 per page.

Book Cover Design. Pre-made covers cost around $100 for an eBook, and $200 for both the eBook and print book. For a custom cover, expect to invest $500 to $800 (for print and eBook versions) or more. The fee for a digital audiobook cover as an add-on service (to the purchase of an eBook or print book cover) is between $40 - $50. Quality service providers: Book Design Templates, eBook Launch, Bookfly Design and Book Cover World.

Indexing. If you plan to have your book acquired by libraries or if you are producing an academic or scholarly nonfiction book, you will need to hire a professional indexer to create an index. The index provides an alphabetical list of the topics covered in the book and the pages where the subjects are mentioned. For eBooks, the index is hyperlinked. The average fee for indexing is $5 to $12 per “indexable” page. An “indexable” page are the pages contained in the body of your manuscript and exclude the front matter sections (such as a Foreword or Preface) and the back matter sections (such as an Appendix or Addendum). You can find a professional indexer via the American Society for Indexing.

Proofreading. A proofreader ensures the final form of the book is consistent and free of errors. The average proofreading fee is $0.03 per word. The Editorial Freelancer’s Association provides a directory of professional proofreaders.

Copyright Registration. To protect your content, in the U.S. you can register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office for $35.

ISBN. Retailers, distributors and wholesalers track books solely by the assigned ISBN. If you plan to sell your book in bookstores, to libraries, through distributors or via online retailers you need an ISBN. In the U.S. you can purchase a single ISBN from Bowker for $125 or a bundle of 10 for $295. Each book format and edition require a separate ISBN, so if you plan to release your book in print format, eBook and audiobook the best option is to purchase a block of 10 ISBNs. If you are distributing your book through their service, IngramSpark offers discounted ISBNs for $85 each, Amazon KDP offers ISBNs for $95 each, and BookBaby offers ISBNs for $29 each.  

Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication (P-CIP) Data Block and Machine-Readable Catalog (MARC) Record. You can get a Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication data block, which make it easy for libraries and retailers to acquire your book, by paying a specialized vendor to create a publisher’s version of the Library of Congress’ Cataloging-in-Publication data block and a MARC record, which is uploaded to the major databases prior to the book’s publication. Five Rainbow’s Cataloging Services offers both services for $80.

Other Potential Expenses:

Audiobook Production. On average, a publisher will pay $150 to $500 per “finished hour” of audio utilizing a professional voice actor to narrate the book. A “standard” business, self-help or how-to book, which is between 50,000 to 60,000 words, will cost $1,000 to $3,000. Popular audiobook production companies include: ACX, FindawayVoices, ListenUp and e-AudioProductions

Publishing Company Imprint. Many authors choose to establish a publishing company imprint to retain full rights and higher profits from their work. An imprint is a trade name that a publishing company uses to publish a book. As an entrepreneur, you can easily establish your publishing company imprint by adding it to your existing business structure. In most U.S. states, once you select a name for your publishing company, you can simply file a DBA (doing business as) or an FBN (fictitious business name) to establish the subsidiary of the main entity. Additional requirements may apply. Consult with your business advisor, attorney, or your tax professional to assist you with the process. Your publishing company name (imprint) will appear on the back cover of your book, on the copyright page and the title page of the book, as well as sales listings of the book. Fees can range from as low as $50 to several hundred or more, depending on the type of business entity selected. LegalZoom offers business filing services for most states in the U.S.

Translation Services. Authors may choose to have a book professionally translated to be released in a foreign market or multiple foreign markets. Book translation services cost $0.09 to $0.15 per word. Professional providers include Mincor Book Translations and Click for Translation.

Research Services. If your book project will entail extensive research, you may choose to hire a professional researcher to assist you with the development. Researchers charge $40 to $75 per hour and can be acquired through the Editorial Freelancer’s Association.

Image Licensing and Artwork Creation. Many nonfiction books include photos, which require a licensing fee (to be paid to the copyright owner) and/or artwork such as charts, graphs, tables and maps created by a graphic designer or unique illustrations commissioned from an artist. Licensing fees vary. Design costs are based on the work required and the artist’s level of expertise. Designers may charge an hourly rate ($30 - $75 hour) or a per piece or per project fee ($250 to $1,500+). Designers can be hired via freelance sites such as Upwork, 99Designs and Fiverr.

Copywriting Services. Some authors choose to hire a professional copywriter, such as Story Perfect Editing, to craft the back-cover marketing copy for the book. Back cover copy fees range from $75 to $250.



Laura Cross is a writer/author, producer and founder of Rebel Seed Studio - an independent film production company, book publisher, and podcast network. Laura has worked as an author-strategist and professional ghostwriter of narrative nonfiction and how-to books. She is the author of the books EXPERT AUTHOR: Turn Your Expertise into a Profitable Business, Self-Help or How-To Book and BESTSELLER BOOK PROPOSAL: Develop a Winning Pitch, Acquire a Top Literary Agent and Land a Publishing Deal... Before You Write Your Nonfiction Book.

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