Monday, February 17, 2014

Self-Publishing: What does it cost?

Self-Publishing: What does it cost? 
Great question – but not an easy one to answer. 

Firstly, it totally depends on what you are self-publishing and where you are self-publishing. If you are publishing a short story or a book of poetry where you can do your own professional editing (not recommended) and design your own professional book cover (again, not recommended), and you create your own website and do your own online marketing, then it wont cost you anything at all. Na-da, ziltch, zip... until you realise that the quality of work you put out determines the number of sales you make.

That is right – quality does equal profit. Sales equal reviews equals sales... it is a merry-go-round of marketing that you have to become an expert in if you want to make it big in the arena of self-publishing. But it can be done. 

Getting your book created and published is just half of the journey. The other half – and honestly the other half of the cost – is the post publishing marketing and promotions.

So what are the costs for each step of self-publishing your book?
Please keep in mind that I am not a publishing/literary professional and these prices are ball park figures that you can research for yourselves. It is as easy as checking out all the professional services found on my links page for quotes and advice.
Writing your manuscript = Free if you do it yourself.
Editing your script = anywhere between $20 and $35 an hour or about $150/10,000 words.
Beta Readers = Free to $50 an hour (You really should have Beta Readers as part of your editing package).
Cover art = Between $80 (for stock pre-made cover) and $300 per cover.
Illustrations = Between $25 - $120 an illustration or $500 - $3000 per picture book.
Publishing services (where omeone else publishes your book for you but they are not traditional publishers) = $1500 - $5000 but this totally depends on what you would like to include in the package and is for those who do not want to manage their own formatting/artwork/editing/publishing etc. You need to be very careful who you use as there are many sharks out there who will charge you the earth for something you can easily manage yourself.
Digital Formatting Services (turn your script into an ebook) = Between $70 - $500 for novel length or between $65 - $250 for fixed format picture books. (Findlay Books offer this service for great prices!)
Publishing online as an ebook = between free and $240, depending who you publish through.
Publishing Print-on-Demand = between free and $120 for just the SET UP FEE. Printing-on-demand depends upon number of pages in your book and if you print in black & white or full colour (more infomation about PoD here).
Printing locally =  depends on number of pages and if printing in colour.
Printing in China =  again, depends on number of pages but also you need to consider GST tax and customs fees.
ISBN numbers = Free for NZ ISBN, Free on CreateSpace, Draft2Digital or Smashwords, or you can pay for 'universal' ISBN for $120.
Barcode = Between free and $30 depending where you get it generated off your ISBN.
Social Networking sites = free
Websites packages/eCommerce sites = between free to $200 minimum
Website design = between free to $10,000 plus.
Website domain names = between $12 to $25 per year depending on where the domain is registered.
Business cards = between $10 for 250 to $300 for 1000.
Tax services = between $90 and $500 a year.

If you want to get into self-publishing your book you really do have to consider ALL the costs involved. I have not included the costs of ghost writing, enhanced ebook formatting, book videos, personal distribution, book app creation, marketing PAs, book fairs or writers conferences.

What you put into your book will not always amount to what profit you expect to make off the sales of your book. It can be a long and disappointing road so please get educated about the upfront and ongoing costs of publishing before you start.

But for those of you who think you have a fantastic product in the more popular genres ie: romance, mystery/thriller/suspense and science fiction/fantasy – writing a series of books frequently is a great way to go about making some real money online. Some of the top self-published authors on Amazon are publishing a book a month, pricing it at $3.99, selling thousands and making millions... it can be done!

If you need directions on where to find editors, illustrators, cover artists, please visit my links page on this blog. It has a selection of websites that you can peruse.

Happy self-publishing!

~ Joy Findlay
Author of a million kids ebook, or close to it...


  1. Very handy tips - thanks Joy! I'm about to browse your links page and bookmark some sites for when I finally finish this manuscript...! :)

    1. Sounds great Amanda and please let us know if you need any help at all! :D

  2. $3000 is probably a bit low for total illustrations for a picture book

  3. Hi Kiwiskan, I've been quoted $2000 for 24 images and a cover by an artist based in Nelson, $3840 from an illustrator/cartoonist in Te Awamutu, and the average quote on was $500 for 32 Images with an average 4 week turn around. Every artist/illustrator is different and I don't know who of these are profressional children's book artist. I know people who ask friends and family to illustrate and they have an amazing product. While $3000 is low for a professional children's book artist in the traditional scene, is really is too much for the average self-publisher when you consider that they probably wont make that money back without a major marketing package to go with. Hope that helps.