Updated: Jun 3, 2020
UPDATE December 2018: The cost for Copyrighting a book has increased to $55.
How much does it cost to publish a book?
Well, it depends. Isn’t that a sucky answer? But it is true. It depends on how much you are willing to learn and do yourself and how much you want to pay people to do it for you.
It also depends on what you want from your writing. How serious about your writing are you? Do you plan to write several books, maybe in different genres, or one book here and there? Are going to do this as a hobby or is your wish to be a bestselling author or at least make money with your writing? How much work do you want to put into building a writing career?
All of those questions will determine your costs.
Below I break down the bare necessity costs.
1. eBook: Publish on Amazon and use their ISBNs. Save yourself an enormous amount of money. You can do this on several other retail outlets as well. Amazon is the easiest and quickest to do. (some will require you to purchase an ISBN or their ISBN.)
2. For print: using CreateSpace: you can use their free ISBN or their 99$ custom ISBN…each one offering various benefits.
***I recommend always using your own ISBN, here’s why—if you use Amazon’s ISBN (or any other retailer/distributor) they will be listed as the publisher. NOT YOU. If you are going to be an indie author and publish your own work, why would you want someone else listed as the publisher? I don’t know why you wouldn’t purchase your own ISBNs. You buy them from Bowker. $125 for a single or $500 for 100. Yes they are expensive.
***Here is where deciding what you want from your writing comes into play...if this is a part time hobby, so to speak...then it won't bother you to have Amazon or iTunes listed as the publisher. Now, if I was just putting out a book here or there. Say one every 2 or 3 years or longer, I would use Amazon, use their ISBN, and I would list my book in KDP Select. I would use the Amazon author page and link to that on my social media accounts. If I am doing this option, I am not messing with a website, or a blog, and I am not concerned about marketing. Just saying.
3. BOOK COVERS: Buy a pre-made cover that fits your book, usually these can be as cheap as $25 or as much as $100-150, way more if you pay a graphic designer. You can buy pre-made for print as well. If you want a specific picture for your cover, and you can’t find a free one, I suggest using Shutterstock, and that cost is $85-125 per photo.
***You may have to purchase some software that will help you create the book cover, whether you choose to create one yourself or buy a pre-made one. Most of the pre-made ones will require Photoshop to manipulate it. (I have used Word and put in the parameters of the size, but this will require you to be proficient in Word. I currently use Affinity and BookCreative. However, I build all my covers in word until I get what I want it to look like. Then I use my software. Windows will suffice for making a Kindle cover.)
***Some say you should use a graphic designer for your book cover. This is where I differ. I studied Joel Friedlander and Derek Murphy and what they say about how to create a great book cover. I didn't like the fact that anytime I needed to change my cover I would have to go back to that graphic designer, be charged again, just to make a change. If I didn't do my own book covers, I would buy a pre-made one and just swap out the pictures for ones I wanted to use.
***Warning: If you are going to use a free photo say from Pixabay, or any other photo offering website, you need to make sure it says for commercial use. I am leery of these. I either find the owner of the photo I want to use, I did that with book three, and ask for a release and permission, or I buy my photo. This is why I use Shutterstock. It's easy and for $100 I can get the Enterprise license and not worry about someone coming after me.
4. EDITING: Even if this is a hobby you want to put out a great product. Editing can range from $200 to $2500 and more. You could get it cheaper if you have a friend who is an English teacher. (They may not be able to give you a content edit though.) Editing software such as SmartEdit ($45) and Grammarly ($140/year) can help significantly get your book in the best shape to send to an editor. (They do not want your first or second draft. They want the best draft possible.) I highly recommend this be your biggest budget cost, next to your cover cost.
5. Copyright: Yes, you own it the minute you wrote it. I would pay $35 to register your work with the Copyright office. I strongly recommend you pay for the Copyright to be registered with the Copyright office. For reasons why, this is a very important aspect of publishing, read my post about Copyrighting.
6. Formatting: To get your book in either eBook or print ready form, you will need to format it. You could learn this on your own. I did. I almost killed my family, but I learned how to do it. Then, I bought The Book Designer Template for $65. Your choice, I recommend the later. This is definitely one of those times you pay for someone else to do the hard work for you.
All this is the minimum to get your book published. I have not ventured into cost for marketing or websites, or anything else. The costs above are for getting your book on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, etc…
It is not expensive to publish a book. All you really need is a formatted version and a cover. Your biggest cost will come from editing and book covers, and whether or not you want your own ISBNs. Again, knowing where you want to go with your writing makes a big difference in what you will spend.
There are some things you should do if you plan to make a long career out of your writing. (Check out my author platform post for those.)
Whatever you do, don't give up. If writing is your passion do whatever it takes to make that passion a reality. It doesn't matter if you want to make a career or just publish a book here or there.
Don't let anyone stop you.
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I write crime fiction horror, thriller, and paranormal novels. My time in the Coast Guard and my degree in Forensic Chemistry helps me create fantastic stories. If I'm not writing, I am binge watching Netflix and probably drinking whiskey.