how much does it cost to publish a book

How much does it cost to publish a book in 2021?

Making the decision to write a book is an absolutely huge moment in an author’s life. But once you’ve walked through the writing process and created something truly valuable, you’ll no doubt be wondering how you can get it published and into as many hands as possible… and that often can equate to cost. How much does it cost to publish a book? I’m glad you asked! 

We’ll look at the cost of self-publishing, conventional publishing, and some industry-standard costs that authors commonly spend.

How much does it cost to publish a book?

Let’s start with some straight facts here. Typically, the cost to publish a book will be contingent on two factors:

  1. The length of your book in terms of raw word count
  2.  The level of expertise and quality that you’re seeking in your publishing team

It’s not uncommon for authors to spend $2,000 – $4,000 when self-publishing their books, which usually includes the editing process, formatting, cover illustration, and any additional marketing services attached.

That being said, there are also solutions out there to get your book available immediately… such as Amazon’s self-publishing platform. Amazon’s publishing tools can get your book available within 72 hours, but may be restricted to certain formats.

Some authors love writing, and consider the publishing to be secondary to the joy of creating something. But if you’re an author who is looking to actually sell copies of your book, you’ll be in need of a more premium book publishing team.

Assuming that you’re looking to publish your book with its absolute best foot forward, then you’ll need to understand how the associated costs are put together.

The importance of editing your book

Editing the book is like the “eating your vegetables” of publishing. It’s not the most glamorous part of the process, most authors don’t want to do it, but it offers the absolute greatest benefit.

When an editor gets their hands on your book, they can ensure that there’s something within its pages that readers will actually want to read (or listen to, in audiobook).

In short, forgoing the editing process or using an inexpensive, inexperienced editor can turn a book with amazing promise into nothing more than a dust collector on the shelf.

Types of Editing

There are several types of professional editing that you can procure for your book.

  • Developmental editing (most intensive, expensive option)
  • Copy editing (middle-tier editing option)
  • Proofreading (bare minimum basic level of editing)

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is going to look at the absolute structure of your book and can mean a serious overhaul of certain sections.

Copy Editing

Copy editing is the most common service that publishing authors select. A copy editor will look at the ins and outs of your writing and make recommendations appropriately.


Proofing mainly relies on critical grammar and final check items that make sure your book makes coherent sense.

It’s important to remember that each book’s editing cost will vary depending on its length and genre, but it’s important to invest your budget into this process… lest you risk publishing a book that garners bad reviews on Amazon.

To know what type of editing process is going to be best for your book, we definitely recommend reaching out for an evaluation.

Cost of cover design

Some authors like to create their own book cover, but it’s still highly encouraged to hire a professional designer.

Even though we’ve all heard the adage that we ought not to judge a book by its cover, many of us still are going to. Few people purchase a book with an unappealing or amateur looking cover.

Having an experienced designer is almost as important as having a sharp editor for your book.

Of course, you can choose from novice designers, experienced designers, or long-term professional designers. Made for Success has put together a team of talented designers that can flex to the needs of your book.

Factors that affect book cover design costs

The design of your book’s cover can vary widely based on the following factors:

  1. How complex and intricate the design is
  2. Whether it’s an eBook cover or printed
  3. How many revisions you’ll need to make

Print covers will require your designer to consider different factors, like the spine, back cover, and how it ultimately looks printed out in a hardcover copy.

There are lots of different options for cover designs, but again, it’s another important layer to consider when publishing your book.

Cost of formatting your book

What’s the difference between editing and formatting? And what’s the cost of formatting a book?

When we speak to “formatting costs” this refers to the interior design of the book and typesetting. It’s how the book displays to the reader’s eye. Choosing the right font size, style, setting, and other factors can determine how engaging the book really is for the reader.

Starting to feel like there’s a whole lot more to publishing a book than just writing it… right?

The median cost of formatting for a book is usually around $500 – $1,000, although it can vary widely depending on the author’s specific needs.

The level of experience in the book formatter, your manuscript’s length, and the overall scope of the book will impact your cost of formatting.

Marketing costs

If you’re self-publishing your book, you’ll still need to market it to make sure the world knows about it!

Marketing campaigns, as many entrepreneurs know, can be $50 a month or $5,000 a month. It depends hugely on the expertise and capabilities of the marketing team, the scope and reach of the marketing, and how long you want your campaign to run for.

Though it can be an additional cost, hiring a marketing expert can maximize the ROI of your publishing endeavor and increase the number of book sales.

There is also a lot of passive value in hiring a marketing professional, as they’re able to get your book noticed by as many outlets as possible. This can lead to increased opportunities for speaking, PR, and even partnerships with other authors or professionals.

Other costs

You might also find that you need to pay for eBook distribution, if you’re only looking for a digital outlet.

There are some free tools that enable you to do this, like Draft2Digital, which only charges a royalty percentage, but it’s recommended to have a team that can help you determine the very best solution for you.

Print book distribution is a little bit different. This can vary depending on your book publishing company’s relationships with vendors and how far you want to go with your book.

Summary of Costs

Wrapping things up, these are the biggest factors to consider in publishing your book.

  1. Editing for development, copy, and proofreading
  2. Effective and engaging cover design
  3. Formatting the book
  4. Marketing to multiple channels to drive sales
  5. Distribution of the book

If you’re looking to self-publish and do all of these services independently, it can spell out a lot of work and associated costs.

As a Seattle-area publisher with years of experience, we’ve cultivated solutions for authors of all shapes, sizes, and numbers of books published. As experts, will show you the impact that having a well-architected book will have on your publishing journey.

You can click here to submit your manuscript for a free evaluation! We’re here to help make sure that you are set up for success.