How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish?

“If you create incredible value and information for others that can change their lives – and you always stay focused on that service – the financial success will follow.”

Brendon Burchard 

This depends on the choices you make. There are PODs that allow you to publish your book for free. There are dozens of book marketing gurus with excellent information on how to get your book out there, but if you are spending your money on marketing before you focus on investing in producing your book and your platform, you may be spending too much time and money on all the wrong things for your specific book at the wrong time.

The rest of this post is dedicated to introducing authors to creating a budget for their book and giving pricing examples.

Book Budget Basics
A budget records the money that comes in  (income) and the money that goes out (expenses). Although writing is a creative process that deals with ideas, when it is time to publish them we need to look at the resources we have at our disposal and make decisions on which activities we’ll spend money on to avoid spending the time, which activities it’s better to spend time on, and which activities to set aside all together.

For right now, let’s focus on outlining the different elements that should be included in the book budget and we’ll get to the part about choosing what to include later.

The budget will have two main sections: income and expenses.

The income section should include space to record the following:

  • Income from title related crowdfunding campaigns like Kickstarter and Pubslush,
  • Income from partners or investors, and
  • Other Income

The expense section should include space to record the following: (Estimates are included as a reference for what you may pay to a service provider for a 125 page book.)
Book Production

  • Editing ($1,000 for about two rounds of copyediting and one round of proofreading for a 125 page book)
  • ISBN ($125 or $250 for a set of 10)
  • Cover Design ($350)
  • Book Layout ($180-1,500)
  • E-Book Layout* ($250)
  • Printing ($1000 for 300 copies – OR- $100 set up fee for IngramSpark/Lightning Source-OR-$0 CreateSpace or Lulu)

Platform Building Components:

  • Reviews to Feature in Promotion Campaigns (S&H to mail out books for review)
  • Contact list of key book reviewers to submit to ($27 from Danielle)
  • Print Bound Galley’s to Submit to at Least 10 Reviewers in case they don’t accept electronic submissions ($400)
  • Mailing of Bound Galleys ($80)

Essential Branding Elements

  • Professional Media Kit ($750)
  • Customized Professional Website ($1250)
  • Professionally Set-Up Social Media Profiles ($300)
  • Custom Logo ($375)
  • 500 Custom Business Cards ($145+S&H)

The following items are optional additions that many bestselling authors tend to incorporate as appropriate:
Personal Selling: (Each item does not include price estimates because of the large range of options.)

  • Virtual Book Tour ($199-$1500 with and similar companies)
  • Live Book Tour (include line items for telephone, postage, copies of press kit, tour marketing, travel, car rental, hotel, printing cost for the books you plan to sell, venue rental, parking, meals & other)
  • Trade Show or Book Fair (include line items for: exhibit space, display, travel, hotel, meals, car rental, booth cleaning, shipping, printing of books to present at the show, giveaways, promotional literature, business cards, and other)

Publicity Options: (The third option is the secret weapon that helped launch bestsellers like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul.)

  • Contact list for Newspapers, TV & Radio Stations in all 50 states – (ask how you can get this for free during your Free Consultation.)
  • Contact list for over 5,000 national magazines ( ask how you can get this for free during your Free Consultation.)
  • 4 Month RTIR Advertisement that attracts TV & Radio producers – ($1500)

Direct Mailing Options:(Please note that you are considered successful if you get a 2% response rate. That means for every 10 mailings you send, you can expect 2 responses. If you choose this route, make sure you send out enough mailings to get a high enough response rate to make it worth the time.)

  • Creative Design of the Mailing ($750)
  • Direct Mailing Components ($.66/mailing)

The Take Away

  • Focus your financial investment in producing a great book and a solid platform.
  • Once you have established an engaging platform, start focusing on your promotion.
  • Personal selling tends to get best sales results, so start here.
  • Publicity partners well with personal selling and can be an extremely cost-effective way to promote yourself and your book.

Are there cheaper options than the estimates listed above? Absolutely! I often recommend several resources that will allow you to save money. But if you don’t have the discipline and time to dedicate to using those resources effectively, you may end up hurting yourself more than you help. The specific companies listed above do not give me any financial compensation for listing them. I include them because I have been impressed by their work. Customers won’t follow your platform if become known for producing a mediocre product or experience. Just keep that in mind.

Why do you think there are some PODs that will allow you to print for free?

Image by: Svilen.milev (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at


  1. Danielle, do you also provide the essential branding elements as a part of your services?

    • Not at this time. However, as part of the Book Blueprint, I recommend a custom strategy for creating and using essential branding elements along with recommending which services meet the unique needs of my author to make that stage easier.