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How much does it cost to self-publish?

While it doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive, getting a book published does require some money to do it in a way that will give you a real chance at success. As I’ve discussed here before, using a "self-publishing company" will only lead to heartache over the long run. People are now thinking that "if I just e-publish I won’t have to pay anything." This too is faulty thinking as you will see.

What we need to remember is that self-publishing is a business and, like any business, there are costs associated with running it. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but depending on how much you can do for yourself, you will have (minimally) costs in this range whether you e-publish or p-publish:

Business set-up: $20-$500+ depending on whether you set up as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation and what the laws are in your state regarding licensing, taxes etc.

Business tools: ($50-$2,000) computer, software, bookkeeping/checking account, business cards, stationery, website - some things you may already have, some you may have to acquire.

ISBN: block of 10 costs $250 from the US ISBN agency, Bowker. NEVER buy your ISBNs from someone else and never buy a singleton. The numbers identify who the publisher is and if you buy one or more from someone else - they are the publisher, not you. As a small press, you don’t need any of the other services offered by Bowker.

Book Production: This includes editing (about $500-$2,000 depending on what needs to be done), cover design (roughly $200-$1500), interior design and typesetting (depends on complexity and book length $200-$2000). If you can do some of these tasks yourself, then those costs can be reduced or eliminated, however, I don’t recommend skipping editing or editing your book yourself, even if you are professional editor - you are too close to it.

Marketing: $500-$5,000+ - depends on your goals for your book, how you will distribute it, what types of publicity you want to do (print, broadcast, internet & live appearances), and, again, how much knowledge you have to do some tasks yourself.

As you can see, the only cost that e-publishing avoids is printing, which runs from about $1.50 a book on up depending on size of print run (and whether it is off-set or POD),  format & size, page count, color usage, etc.

Because the book business is so hyper-competitive with about a million new books being produced each year, you really can’t cut corners if you want a professional book that will get noticed and garner sales in a range to be profitable. But successful publishing is a business and has costs like running any business.

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