skip to Main Content

Costs of Self Publishing by Miral Sattar of BiblioCrunch

You've written your book. Now what? 

It’s easy to get a book onto a reader’s device but confusing to put the whole thing together. It’s the paradox of digital publishing. Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but getting it edited, then formatted, then designing a cover, and having a marketing strategy around it.

We often get the question “how much will it really cost to self publish my book if I wanted to hit all the major steps and have a quality, publisher-level product?”

We break it down for you below. To see a full list you can also check out the BiblioCrunch pricing guidelines page.

Editing Pieces: 

1. Developmental Editing
Once you've written your book a developmental editor is important. They will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions and shape it into a smooth workable piece. They'll look at the big picture and make sure everything flows and is consistent.

Costs:
1-5 manuscript pages/hour
$45-65/hr based on the experience of the editor.
A manuscript page is 250 words.

A novel can be anywhere from 50,000-130,000 words.

So if you have a manuscript that is 70,000 then on the high end it will cost you

70,000/250= 280 pages
280pages/5pages per hour = 56 hours 

Low end is 56x$45 = $2520
High end is = $18,2000 

Developmental Editing Subtotal: $2520-$18,000 for a 70,000 word novel 

2. Copy Editing 
Once your manuscript is in good shape, the next thing you need to do is hire another editor called a copy editor go through and catch spelling mistakes, adjust for grammer, puncutation, and consistency.

Low end: $840
High end: $7000 (if it needs a lot of work)

Calculations based on: http://bibliocrunch.com/pricing-guidelines/

3. Cover Design

People do judge a book by a cover. So it's important that your cover design be optimized for print, digital, thumbnail sizes and how it looks on an eReader. You might have your own images. You can get a premade cover design for about $50.

But if you want to hire someone to make a custom cover design you can expect to pay anywhere from $150-$1000. The higher end is for award-winning designers who have done Random House type covers.

Low end: $150 
High end: $1000 

4. Formatting and Conversion
If you are tech savvy you can setup your book on your own for free using a program called Sigil or Pages. But if you want to pay someone you can hire someone for as little at $199 or a much as $1000 to convert from word or indesign. The costs will usually be $199 if it's a simple conversion. The higher costs are if you have a PDF. PDFs are much more complex to convert.

Low end: $199 
High end: $1000 or more based on interactivity and pages 

5. Distribution: FREE

You can do this yourself by following our instructions to get your books distributed into the various retailers. However, if you use a third party like Smashwords  or Lulu they do take a percentage of each book sold.

Amazon: http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/hello-world/

Barnes and Noble: http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/how-to-submit-your-ebook-to-barnes-noble/ 

Apple iBooks: http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/how-to-submit-your-ebook-to-barnes-noble/

6. MarketingThis is probably the toughest piece after you've written the book. You can pay someone to help you market and setup blog tours for $10-$40/hr. For $10 you can get a college student, for $40 an hour you can get a professional marketer. We recommend you pay someone at least 10 hours to market and on the high end 40 hours. If you have the time you can do a lot of the marketing yourself. 

Low end: $100 
High end: $1600

It's a lot of information, but spending money on quality editorial services will already set your book apart from the rest.

To see a full list of pricing guidelines you can check out the BiblioCrunch editorial pricing guidelines page.

*********************************************************************************

Miral Sattar is founder and CEO of BiblioCrunch, an award-winning literary services marketplace that matches authors and publishers with quality, award-winning professionals to get new books and apps to market. 

The platform brokers the interaction between a community of rated and reviewed publishers, authors, designers, editors, proofreaders, conversion specialists, marketers and enhanced eBook experts to help create exceptional digital books. 

She has worked in the media industry for 11 years, most recently at TIME where she launched several digital initiatives including an iPad and mobile site, mobile apps, a video and podcast channel, blogs, and SEO. Her writing has been featured in TIME, CNN, NY Daily News, among other media publications. She has a MS in Publishing (Digital + Print Media) from NYU and a BS from Columbia University in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. You can follow Miral on Twitter @miralsattar.

Enter to win $119 yearly membership toward personalized author concierge services package from BiblioCrunch: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Post Has 51 Comments
  1. I would like to introduce myself, I am kamal, professional eBook converter from India and I have 5 years of work experience.

    I Provide a one stop shop for all Publishing needs is a service provider to Authors, Publishers, consultants and distributors s. I do have expertise in developing children eBooks, Cookbooks and Magazines in Fixed Layout format for iBook store.

    E-book Services:

    * All eBook format standards: EPUB (Fixed layout, Read aloud eBooks, Children and Comic Books)
    * Apple iBooks – Fixed Layout, Read aloud eBooks, IBook Author
    * Kindle Fire eBooks/Fixed Layout eBooks based on KF8 formatting
    guidelines.
    * Nook Kids Fixed Layout eBooks
    * Mobi
    * Cover and Layout Design
    * Proof Reading
    * Copy editing

    Contact Me:
    [email protected]
    http://www.kamala-kannan.com

  2. P2econversions a one stop shop for all Publishing needs is a service provider to Authors, Publishers, consultants and distributors from Europe, USA, Spain and across locations. We do have expertise in developing children eBooks, Cookbooks and Magazines in Fixed Layout format for iBook store.

    Our Services:

    * All eBook format standards: EPUB (Fixed layout, Read aloud eBooks,
    Enhanced ePub, Children and Comic Books)
    * Apple iBooks – Fixed Layout, Read aloud eBooks, IBook Author
    * Mobi, KF8

    P2econversions.,
    [email protected]
    Alternate Email ID: [email protected]
    http://www.p2econversions.in

  3. Karen,
    The math is correct. Just an extra 0.

    Basically, high end assumes 1 manuscript page per hour (not 5). If you have 280 pages and the rate is $65 per hour the total cost is 65×280=18,200

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Miral

  4. You might want to double-check your math! You said:

    Low end is 56x$45 = $2520
    High end is = $18,2000

    (I assume “$18,2000” should be “$18,200”)

    But earlier you estimated that high end was $65/hr, and that it would take 56 hours to read 280 pages at 5 pages/hr. So that should be 56 hrs * $65/hr = $3640.

    $3640 isn’t even close to $18,200 for a high end estimate.

    Even if your book is 100,000 words, which is unlikely for many genres, that only works out to be 100,000 words * 1 page/250 words = 400 pages * 1 hr/5 pages = 80 hours * $65/hr = $5200 for the total cost of a high-end editor for a 100,000-word novel. Still a better price tag. 😉

    Karen

  5. Babington,if you already have the InDesign file setup you can export into a print-ready PDF. (no cost to you). There are quite a few companies that can do this for you for $299-$399.

    If you’re using Create Space for print on demand it can be anywhere from $69-$100.

  6. Hi. Thanks for all this. One question – maybe I just missed it, but where did you include the cost of designing and formatting the book in InDesign for print too? Or is this list just for eBook costs?

    1. A blog tour is what it sounds like…a tour for you and your book through multiple blogs over a course of anywhere from one to four weeks. These are usually scheduled by people who plan them and have great connections with other bloggers and reviewers.
      For examples of these types of people:
      booksandbroomsticks.com (who is planning one for me right now)
      xpressoreads.com (who has participated on my tours in the past)
      atomr.com (has also scheduled tours for me)

      hope this was helpful! 🙂

  7. Thanks, for the feedback everyone!

    Also, one thing to keep in mind is bartering (something I learned from SR Johannes). If you’re good at cover design and need your book edited, then you can barter your services. That works really well.

  8. Good grief that’s expensive! It shows the value of critique groups and trading with other writers, esp. since it improves your editing skills in the process.

  9. Though Ill be honest – I paid for 2 edits and I still get a comment saying they found a typo so no matter what you do in self pubbing – unless you can pay for several different rounds of edits from several different people – there will always be typos that slip through. Traditional pubbing is good that way -they have several eyes looking multiple times so they get caught.

  10. I still think someone should set up a “go to” website where lots of editors, copyeditors, cover designers and formatters can advertise their services for indies. Maybe such a thing already exists? I just have to find it…

  11. Thank you so much for this information. This article has answered a lot of questions that I have had. The cost of an editor is a bit intimidating but its very useful to know.

  12. Definitely agree with all the feedback. You can also get editing done for under $1000 or under $500 but like Shelli mentioned, you do get what you pay for. But if you want someone who has worked on a traditionally published book like Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Harlequin style that those are the types of rates you’d get.

  13. I love that you gave it to us straight, Miral, thank you! Sometimes it’s so hard to just FIND THE ANSWERS. I love the BiblioCrunch is so generous with them. 🙂

  14. Thanks, Miral, very interesting…

    On the subject of Marketing, what exactly is involved in that process? How do you market yourself on Amazon (CreateSpace) if you’re a DIY kind of person?

    1. Jane,
      1) Make sure you have an author page on Amazon. Check out Ali Cross’
      http://www.amazon.com/ali-cross/e/B006U47A9Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1361301038&sr=8-2-ent

      A lot of authors have seen success with doing promotions for a book where it’s free for a certain amount of days. There are list of sites we compiled here
      2) Take advantage of free days if you’re in KDP Select or doing a free promotion
      http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/sites-to-spread-the-word-about-your-free-ebook/

      3) Making sure you have good meta data to promote your free books
      Jane,
      1) Make sure you have an author page on Amazon. Check out Ali Cross’
      http://www.amazon.com/ali-cross/e/B006U47A9Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1361301038&sr=8-2-ent

      A lot of authors have seen success with doing promotions for a book where it’s free for a certain amount of days. There are list of sites we compiled here
      2) Take advantage of free days if you’re in KDP Select or doing a free promotion
      http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/sites-to-spread-the-word-about-your-free-ebook/

      3) Making sure you have good meta data

      4) Gift bags are one way
      http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/marketing-ideas-gift-bags/

      4) Gift bags are one way
      http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/marketing-ideas-gift-bags/

      5) Having an ISBN
      http://blog.bibliocrunch.com/should-you-buy-isbns/

  15. I spent about 700 (content editing iwth NY editor)
    500 on copyediting
    500 on cover
    100 on formatting

    I think whoever you use you have to be sure you get someone good and experienced. But i do believe you get what you pay for.

    1. Shelli, did you self-edit your work before the copyedit? I’m wondering if it’s possible to do that at all or if it is just too difficult. I don’t have any income right now though so paying top dollar for an editor is just out of the question..:(

  16. I think the editing prices really scare people off. And it’s true that a good editor is expensive – and worth it! but it’s an investment in your career as an author and I think that’s what folks need to keep in mind.

    1. Another recommendation for the-efa.org. (This is the site for The Editorial Freelancers Association.) I used that site to find a reasonably priced freelance editor with over ten years experience in my genre.

      Also, if you’re worried about the quality of the edit you’ll receive, ask the editor for a sample edit of a few pages first. It’s important to find someone you can work well with.

  17. Miral, Thank you for breaking down all the costs of publishing. It is very helpful to do cost comparisons.

    I would put the low end of Formatting and Conversion at $49, i.e. the cost of Scrivener as it will produce professionally formatted epubs, mobis, and pdfs and the cost would actually go down if you publish more than one book!

    1. The prices quoted seem abnormally high. I work with a top notch editor who worked for two publishing houses and she doesn’t charge nearly what you are quoting for low-end developmental editing. I also run the World Literary Cafe, where we have many editors as members who are qualified and have references to back up their work, and I have to say, I fear your quotes will scare off indies from pursuing editing at all.

      Many formatters convert ebooks and paperback for under $100.

      Many cover artists design for under $200

      As in many industries, the costs can vary greatly. I would urge writers to research editors and their previous work prior to hiring and paying extraordinary prices. Formatting is something that authors can do themselves, too. It might take them an hour to figure out Calibre or Scrivener, but it’s worth it if they’re hoping to be career writers.

    2. I agree Melissa. I’m quite happy with The Editorial Department’s work and I considered them the most expensive until I read this. Cover design is a judgement call, but formatting is more science and the high end for that (fits all ereaders, includes drop-caps, special placement of backmatter, etc) runs $200. Editing is in the middle but way less than that for top-notch people.

      Peace, Seeley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top
×Close search
Search
Loading...