Publish Your Book for $500 or Less While You Keep Your Full-Time Career and Busy Lifestyle

If you are an aspiring-author who knows that there are readers out there who are hungry for your message and you are willing to learn and do what you need to do to write a great book and get it into their hands, then this post is dedicated to you.

This post is inspired by a woman who is a single-mother, an amazing massage therapist and an inspiring Christian poet, but the tips within are designed to help both you and her write and publish the book your readers deserve on a $500 budget.

Why Use A $500 Budget When There Are So Many Free Publishing Tools?

It can be tempting to find all the free tools and resources possible and use them to write and publish your book, but those free tools often come with a result that you may not realize until readers begin buying your book and make comments about a long list of mistakes that would have been caught by a professional editor or when a reader compares your formatted book to another book they bought in a bookstore and the comparison makes your book seem inferior or you have several people comment on how your book cover looks so much like a list of other books they came across because you used a free popular template.

Sometimes it is success that highlights the consequences of your free tools. Maybe you are selling so many copies that bookstores are interested in carrying your book, but you learn that the ISBN you used only allows you to distribute your book through the company that gave it to you for free. In order to get into the bookstores, you will have to buy an ISBN number of your own, revise the formatting for your book cover and interior to feature the new ISBN number, add a bar code that features your book price to the back of the book cover, and possibly redo the entire interior format of your book to meet the bookstore’s quality standards.

Free can have a price.

Fortunately for you, that is a price that you won’t have to pay. I can’t guarantee that following any of the tips in this post will make you a bestselling author, but I can guarantee that these tips will make your writing and publishing process less overwhelming and more likely to get you the results you want.

Who This Budget Is Best Suited For

I like to offer advice based on goals, and the author who inspired this post wants to self-publish a book that will make an impact on generations to come while allowing her to make enough profit to continue spreading her message and not distracting her from her full-time life as a single-mother or her full-time career.

If that goal echoes yours, you may appreciate this budget too. If your goals are slightly different, you may want to simply use this post for inspiration and book a consultation with me so we can talk about how to customize it for your goals.

The $500 Book Publishing Budget

This budget echoes the expense categories I listed in “How to Build Your Publishing Budget,” but this version includes specific resource and service recommendations.


  • Research: N/A because the author/poet is writing about her life lessons
  • Writing: N/A for the same reason listed above
  • Critique/Editing/Proofreading: $55 for an experienced Fiverr editor to proofread the non-poetry part of the text after the author has three experienced writers help her edit. I prefer to have first-time authors go through a minimum of three rounds of editing with a professional editor before they publish, but on a tight budget we do what we can. The author understands and assumes responsibility for any errors that appear in the final manuscript because of this editing approach. (As of this publication, the fee was $5/1000 words. There is an estimated total of 5,500 words in her book that are not part of poems; 5,500 words is the estimated equivalent of 19 pages for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ book.)
  • ISBN: $10 for a Custom ISBN through Amazon’s CreateSpace (Note: I don’t recommend this for all authors, but this meets her request of having her own company recognized as the publisher while leaving her funds to invest in other key production and promotion components.)
  • LCCN: N/A because this book will not be marketed towards libraries and the ISBN chosen will not allow it to be distributed to libraries.
  • Book Cover Design: $25 for an experienced Fiverr designer of the author’s choice to design the front, back and spine of book cover and deliver the design files after the author follows these tips for designing a great cover. As an alternative, she may also choose to use these tips to design her own cover for free using CreateSpace’s cover design tool since she only plans to distribute through them. I often recommend using easy-to-use DIY templates to authors who are on a tight budget, but poems can be tricky to format and the short length of her book makes it more affordable to hire someone to do it for her.
  • Book Layout:  $75 to have a creative and experienced Fiverr format an estimated total of 12,766 words-or 44 pages-into a 5.5″ x 8.5″ book for CreateSpace with 2 rounds of revisions and the source files in case the author ever wants to have someone revise the print file in the future. If your book is a simple narrative that doesn’t need all the special formatting that poetry requires, then you may be interested in using a free DIY book template from and put the funds from the layout towards another round of editing.
  • eBook Layout: $20 to have the same Fiverr designer who worked on the print book interior to create an e-book version for Amazon Kindle that compliments the print book version. If your book is longer and you need this money for editing, skip the e-book layout for now and invest in editing.
  • Audiobook Production: N/A-The author may release an audiobook version later, but it will not be part of the first publication launch.
  • Printing: $69.25 for her first 25 copies of the estimated 45 page book to be printed and shipped to the author in 5 business days via standard CreateSpace shipping. Each book will be printed for $2.15. The author will most likely keep one copy, give 10 away as gifts to family, friends and reviewers and keep the other 14 on hand for in-person sales. Most of her buyers will buy online via Amazon, but she will always keep at least dozen books on her for in-person sales. If your book is longer and you need more money to complete editing, skip the printing costs by using online book sales revenue to buy your print copies and put this money towards editing the full length of your book or even adding another round of editing.
  • Distribution: $0 via Amazon’s CreateSpace to reach, European Amazon websites and other online retailers like Barnes& if she chooses to release the book beyond Amazon.
  • Other: $25 on standby if she needs it. If book production is complete and she has not needed to use these funds, I recommend using it to buy a copy of Tim Grahl’s “Your First 1,000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book” to help her learn how to build an effective marketing system and Carol Topp, CPA’s “Business Tips and Taxes for Writers to help her appreciate the financial side of her new business as an author and how to make the most of it at tax time.

Promotional Expenses

  • Website/Blog Design: $102.99 to build  your own simple WordPress website that is hosted by for 2 years with a custom domain name and unlimited email accounts on the same domain at the current price of $2.25/month for a 2 year hosting account plus $9.99 for domain privacy. If you catch them during a promotional period, you pay less. This fee includes $25 to have a Fiverr design the site for you and put in the information you offer and $9 to allow you to use the autoresponder feature of Mailchimp’s email marketing software so that you can make the most of your long-term list-building strategy that will help you nurture relationships with readers and fans of your message. If you already have a website and you only need to add information about your new publication, then your fee will be lower to update it. If you plan to publish more books in the future, you can simply update this website and avoid needing to pay this again. Note: If your book production costs are higher than allowed in this budget because your book is bigger, instead of building your WordPress site now, you can build a free website on a free domain that you can get from Google’s Get Your Business Online program and only pay $9.99 for domain privacy $9 for the Mailchimp autoresponder for a total of $18.99 for your working website. When you begin to earn sales revenue, you can use the funds to build your WordPress website and transfer your domain to that new site because it will be cheaper than keeping the Get Your Business Online site once your free year is complete.
  • Press/Media Kit: $15 to get Fiverr designers to help you with the visual elements of your press/media kit.
  • Business Cards: $38.97. This includes an estimated $20 for the Fiverr designer of your choice to design the front and back of your business card featuring the cover of your book, a quick note on the book’s message, list your website and book availability information and send you the source files in case you decide to edit the design in the future. VistaPrint will charge about $18.97 for you to print and ship 100 full-color standard business cards with a glossy front. You can buy more cards as necessary with book profits.
  • Postcards: N/A for this budget strategy
  • Bookmarks: N/A for this budget strategy
  • Sales Sheets: N/A for this budget strategy because those who might ask them will be referred to the online media kit hosted on the website.
  • Crane’s Print Galley:N/A for this budget strategy because book will be emailed to reviewers.
  • Postage: N/A for this budget strategy
  • Blog Tour: N/A for this budget strategy
  • Publicity Campaign: $0 because the author will take advantage of these free online publicity tools and strategies.
  • Online Advertising: $50. Thanks to the new iPage website hosting account, the author will get $100 credit for advertising on Google AdWords when she spends $25 of her own money, plus $100 credit for Bing/Yahoo! sponsored search and $50 credit for Facebook advertising. $25 of the funds will be invested into polishing and customizing a series of face-to-camera promotional YouTube videos that will feature her reading favorite passages or talking directly to her ideal readers.
  • Print Advertising: N/A for this budget strategy
  • Other: $13.79 as needed.  If book production is complete and she has not needed to use these funds, I recommend using it to buy a copy of Tim Grahl’s “Your First 1,000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book” to help her learn how to build an effective marketing system and Carol Topp, CPA’s “Business Tips and Taxes for Writers” to help her appreciate the financial side of her new business as an author and how to make the most of it at tax time.

The Action Plan

Now that you know how you will spend the $500 to write and publish your book, you need to know the steps necessary to execute the plan.

The author who inspired this post used the “Quick Start Guide to Writing & Publishing Your Book” to develop an 11 month-long timeline that allows her to develop a great book, a strong website-based platform and a marketing plan for her book while not compromising her roles as an author and a professional. This budget helps her complete one of her action challenges for the “Quick Start” guide, and if it meets your needs then you already have a jump-start on your guide.

Start working on your “Quick Start Guide” now to begin planning your publication, and once you complete it you can schedule a free consultation with me so we can create a custom step-by-step checklist to carry you through your publishing journey.

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