The Cost of Self-Publishing

Greetings fellow writers! I’m here to talk to you about the amount of money it takes to self-publish your masterpiece. I also want to throw this out there before I start: There is no one number I can say that will be the correct answer. This isn’t a yes or no question, or multiple choice quiz. Well, I guess multiple choice would be the closest thing, but it would be choice A all the way to Z. So, bear with me, cause some of the things I talk about will vary depending on you.

  • Writing your book. This is a gimme, cause writing your book should cost you absolutely nothing! And if it does cost money… you’re doin’ somethin’ wrong. $0
  • Cover art. There are a billion ways to go about getting cover art. You can do it yourself, but I advise against this (unless you professionally make cover art). Which, that wouldn’t cost you anything, technically. Another way is visiting a freelancing website–like I so foolishly did. A popular site for low-cost cover art is Fiverr. I suggest this with high caution, though. I’ve already explained my frustrations in a previous blog you can find here. And lastly, you can use a professional website that are real experts that know the business well and what is trending and popular at the time. I have a site in mind for my next book, but I’ll keep it a secret for now. I will also disclose the amount I paid for my specific cover so you can get a better idea of what you’re in for. My cover for Fliers was about $110. BUT, if you want to do something more advanced than mine, you can look forward to paying $250-$1000. Aren’t vague answers fun?
  • Editing. I am talking about this with your already clear understanding that there is a huge variety of editors out there. This figure varies even more than the cover art, because a lot of editors are freelancers (at least in my experience). I honestly got extremely lucky with my editor. She was a beta reader of mine and she is also a writer, but then she told me she’s also an editor. So I casually asked what she charges for her work. I got a quote for about $550. She did way more than most editors do at that price. Not only did she proofread the whole thing, she went over sentence structure, flow and helped me revise scenes that needed more clarity. Like I said, I got real lucky with her. So, most editing jobs (GOOD editors) will cost you anywhere between $500-$1,000. This price also depends on how long your book is, and some people even get more than one editor to double-check everything.
  • Advertising/Marketing your book. Again with the variety, there are many ways to go with this. (I feel like a broken record, here) Note: you don’t have to advertise or market your book at all! Yippie! You paid $0. But also, you’ll probably make $0. So, lets assume you do want to advertise. For reference, I advertise mostly on Facebook, cause that’s just the site I’m on the most (and I finally mastered it). But, you can advertise literally anywhere. Amazon, Twitter, Instagram, pay for ads on sites you think will get you recognition, ect. Depending on how much you want to get the word out that your book is coming, is 100% up to you. I started putting ads out a couple of months before my book launch. As I said, I use mostly Facebook, because I feel it’s the site with the most popularity, and I was able to advertise what I wanted. I don’t remember the exact amount I’ve paid over weeks for this, but I’ll guestimate and say a couple hundred bucks (and still going). But I know writers who spend… a lot of money in this department. (like in the $1,000’s.) So with that in mind, you can spend $1-an infinite amount. Because only advertising before and right after your book will not be the only times you market it. Although, that’s when you should do it the most, to up the hype.

Grand Total: $0 – $5,000+

I wish I could give you an exact amount. But truth is, every book is different, every writer is different and everyone’s experience and process is different. Writing a book can be very expensive–especially if you want it to succeed. This is honestly something I wish I knew before getting involved. Not that it would have deterred me, but I would’ve been able to get my dollar priorities in check. So, just some advice, save up! Don’t skimp on your baby. Treat it like a damn princess and give her diamonds and chocolate and ponies. She deserves it. 🙂 ##

Cover Art Advice

I am probably the least experienced person to be covering this topic, but, I don’t care. Let’s just say, I did not have the best time getting my cover art worked out. Granted, I am satisfied with the finished product, but it’s not fantastic. (Not as great as I had pictured) But trust me, this is NOT the worst thing to come out of all of this. Let me try to help you to get the best cover art you possibly can.

  • Cost really matters. I did my cover art on, recommended to me by a member in a writing group. I never heard of this site before and I was curious. If you’re unfamiliar, Fiverr is a freelancing website full of artists that do “budgeted” work. In other words, they don’t work for some massive corporation, which honestly I really loved. I thought it would be cool to save some money AND help out independent artists. Win, win, right? Mmmm, not so much. While this site is cost effective, you really get what you pay for. And not in the good way. The first person I hired from Fiverr was only about $40 and her art work and other cfacepalmover arts were really nice. I thought that $40 was a bargain for what I may get! I was so very wrong. I won’t go into detail, but I asked for a fairy on the cover, and she wasn’t sure what a fairy was. [insert Patrick Stewart face palm here]
  • Be clear what you want. This was a huge mistake I made… but not really. After I got rid of the last person, I then hired another person on the same site, but with slightly higher prices (and better quality). Her requirements were to pick 3 pictures from of images you want to have in your cover. I had some idea of what I wanted it to look like, so I picked 3 images like she said and she made 3 mock-ups. None of them were very good. It took a long time to really get a product that I wanted. Here’s a good way to tell your artist what you’re looking for:
    • Provide Samples.  And LOTS of them! Best way I did this was too Google book covers in the genre I was writing in and saved 6 pictures. I recommend 6 at the very least when doing this. Also, add a couple that you really hate or dislike. This will help them better understand what to stay away from, too.
    • Explain Why. With each picture you provide be as detailed as possible. Highlight what you like and what you don’t like and explain your reasons why. With the ones you don’t like, put what you don’t like about it specifically. The type, the colors, the background, ect. I seem to be strict about the type I like and don’t like.
    • Type. This might just be me, but type is probably more important than anything else on your cover. The picture can be great all on it’s own, but if you have a really hard to read type face, or too many different kinds of fonts (3 should be the maximum) it can turn people away. Be clear what fonts you really like, and even what you like about them, and what fonts you want to stay clear of. Comic sans, I’m lookin’ at you.
  • Why I didn’t want a big company to do my cover. As I explained a bit earlier, it came down to money. I had no idea the cost of self-publishing (still less than traditional, though). I put more money away for my editing than I did for the cover art. I think that was well worth the price too. But, I didn’t want to go to a big company because I cherish my book soooo much, I was afraid they would TELL me what should be on it. I wouldn’t have much of a say and little to no control of how it turned out. I’m now learning the hard way that they may have been the best choice for my first go around. They know the business really well, and what sells and what doesn’t. They will tell you exactly what size, what market, what colors are best for that market, ect. I had to just wing it, other wise. Needless to say, for my next book, I will be looking for a company and spending a lot more money to get exactly what I want.

I hope this helps you self-publishers like me. Don’t learn things the hard way like I did. I mean, you can if you want, but I was here to warn ya. ##