The book publishing industry has gone digital. And now, authors no longer need to go through the traditional gatekeepers to publish high quality books. Self-publishing has become quite trendy of late because it combines ease with affordability. Now, authors can use the internet to reach a broad audience and even out-sell the traditional publishing houses.

When you are thinking of self-publishing your book, the first major concern you have is cost. And that’s why the first question that inevitably comes to the mind is, “How much will I need to self-publish my book?” In this article, I will be explaining the two main self-publishing options you have and how much you should expect to spend for each. These options are e-publishing and print-on-demand publishing.

How Much Does It Cost to Self-publish a Book Online

Option 1: E-publishing

Uploading your ebook is usually free of charge. For most stores, all you have to do is fill out a 2-3 page wizard, and upload your ebook file and cover art. Examples of online stores where you can upload your ebook directly and at no cost include Amazon Kindle Store, Nook Store, Kobo Writing Life, and Apple Store. The acceptable ebook format varies by store. Amazon Kindle Store requires that ebook files be in .mobi format while Nook Store, Kobo Writing Life and Apple Store require files to be in .epub format.

If you live outside the United States and/or you don’t have use a Mac, you can also upload your ebooks to Smashwords and use them as distributor to get into the Nook Store, Apple Store, and other smaller stores that don’t have dedicated self-publishing platforms, such as Sony. Smashwords is also a store in itself, and it attracts lots of international readers just like Amazon does. And unlike Amazon, they don’t add VAT fees.

Before uploading your ebook, it must have been completed, you know? Which means the actual writing, editing, formatting, and other tasks must have been completed. While uploading might be free, these other tasks may not, depending on how much of the work you want to handle yourself.

  • Editing

I highly recommend hiring a professional editor to edit (or at least proofread) your manuscript, especially if you know your grammar isn’t stellar. Even if you are a very good writer yourself, you need someone else to help you pick those tiny errors that your biased eyes might have skipped. If you have a friend who has zero-tolerance from grammatical errors and typos, he or she might be willing to help you edit your work for free.

Hiring an editor shouldn’t cost much, but the cost will depend on the length of your work. If you absolutely have no money to spend on this and you can’t find anyone to do it for free, then consider using Autocrit, an editing software package that has been recommended by many authors. In essence, never skip the editing part.

  • Formatting

Before you can upload your ebook to any of the stores mentioned earlier, you will need to have it converted to the format accepted by the store.

Whether you have prepared your work using MS Word, Mac Pages, or any other word processor, you need to convert it into format acceptable by the store you are using. Most stores have conversion programs that will handle this process automatically, but the results are usually poor.

Many self-publishers prefer formatting their ebooks themselves or hire someone to it manually. Most professionals will charge between $50 to $150 for this, depending on the length of your work and on whether your work contains pictures or not (more pictures = more charges).

  • Cover design

Even if you are publishing your book in an electronic format, you need a cover. I mean, those pictures you see when you browse the Amazon Kindle Store or the Nook Store. Although, the common saying discourages judging a book by its cover, how well your ebook cover is designed can make a huge difference in sales. A good cover will attract more sales than a bad one will do. When customers see a bad cover, they start thinking, “If the cover suck, then the content must be really bad.”

You can design your ecover yourself if you are good with graphic design software packages. But if you are not, you can hire a professional graphics designer for $20 to $50. You can go even cheaper by hiring someone on Fiverr for just $5. Your cover could make or mar your book. So, you can’t afford to get it messed up.

Total e-publishing costs

Publishing an ebook and getting it out there can cost between $0 to a few thousand dollars depending on how much of the work you handle yourself and how much of professional expertise is involved.

Option 2: Paperback publishing

This type of publishing, like e-publishing, also involves editing, formatting, and cover design. But where the difference lies is in how the book will get out there. E-published books can be downloaded and read on devices such as smartphones and PCs. But paperbacks are printed.

Print-on-demand (POD) publishing is a good option for authors who cannot afford the cost of traditional publishing. As the name suggests, books will be produced and sent to buyers only after orders are placed. Some POD publishers will not charge you a penny for creating your ebook and uploading it on their platform. They only make money each time your book sells.

Ajaero Tony Martins