How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book? [2024 Costs]

Scott Allan
February 12, 2024 | 22 mins

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How much does it cost to publish a book realistically?

Warning: if you’re looking for the cheapest way to publish a book, this guide probably isn’t for you. 

You shouldn’t necessarily want to know the cheapest way to publish a book. Because let’s face it – publishing a book on the cheap usually means cutting important corners.

This guide takes a realistic look at publishing costs, both tangible and intangible.

We’ll also explore the various publishing options and how much you can expect to pay for each. You’ll see average price ranges based on industry standards, but keep in mind that prices can always go above or below the range depending on circumstances. 

In the first section, we’ll cover book production costs only (writing, editing, and designing). In the second section, we’ll look at printing and distribution costs, and in the last section, we’ll provide information on additional costs you may have, including marketing, coaching, courses, etc. 

History of publishing costs

As a self-published author in 1995, the cost to self-publish was much higher then than it is today.

The biggest reason for the price difference was because it was before the rise of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which made print-on-demand technology readily available. In the 90s, scammy vanity publishers overcharged authors, so many authors, rejected by big house book publishers, would turn to self-publishing as a final option to seeing their published book dream realized.

There were not that many options for printing books, except for going through a publisher or local printer which ended up costing you thousands of dollars. Many of these books eventually took up space in your garage until you could get rid of them.

An example is James Redfield, who self-published his first novel, “The Celestine Prophecy,” in 1992. He sold the book one copy at a time out of the trunk of his car.

Yes, back in those days (and it wasn’t so long ago) the investment and the risk were very high. No one wanted to fork out a bunch of money just to stock their garage with printed books that wouldn’t sell.

Today, self-publishing services and the cost of publishing a book are much more reasonable than the choices authors were given before. Thanks to digital publishing and print-on-demand technology, we can sell our books through many online platforms with the click of a button.

Modern authors now have the luxury of deciding between self-publishing vs traditional publishing. Although upgrades in technology and the forward movement of the industry as a whole have made book publishing more affordable and accessible, one thing remains true: High-quality books sell. Low-quality books continue to miss the mark. 

What makes a high-quality book?

Since this article focuses on the costs associated with publishing a professional book, let’s define what makes a high-quality book. 

These are the main elements of a high-quality published book: 

  • A catchy, quality cover that looks professionally designed
  • Strong, fluid writing
  • Free of grammatical errors and typos
  • Thorough editing for grammar, syntax, word choice, and style
  • Professional formatting design with zero formatting errors (like extra spacing, awkward page cut-offs, etc.)
  • High-quality images and illustrations

When you understand what makes a high-quality book, you can get a better idea of what’s needed from a budgeting perspective as you consider how much it costs to publish a book that will sell.

How much does it cost to publish a book?

The cost to publish a book (pre-production and post-production costs)) falls within a huge range: $200-$50,000. Publishing costs can vary significantly depending on the type of publishing you select (e.g. traditional, hybrid, self-publishing) and what parts of the writing, editing, distribution, and marketing process you’ve decided to hire out or do yourself.

In this next section, we’ll take a look at traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing and how much you can expect to pay using each.

How much does it cost to publish a book traditionally?

Traditional publishing

Traditional publishing is when a publisher acquires rights to publish your book under their company name. You still own the copyright, and your name is on the book, but they handle the book production and maintain creative control.

With traditional publishing, there are no upfront costs but you will invest time, and most traditional publishers want authors to actively promote their books, so marketing expenses are a possibility.

Caution: Legitimate traditional publishers will not ask an author for money upfront. While you will incur costs when working with a hybrid publisher or a self-publishing company, steer clear of vanity publishers that take your money but don’t offer a return on your investment.

When it comes to traditional publishers, keep in mind that while you don’t have to pay upfront costs, you will pay in the long run for a loss of revenue. 

Traditional publishers are in the business of making money. So, while you may not pay upfront for their in-house editors, book formatters, illustrators, and designers, traditional publishers recoup those expenses by taking a larger share of your book sales revenue.

On average royalties for authors who are traditionally published range between 5%-25% of book sales. 

While tangible book production costs for an author are not associated with traditional publishing, there are other costs like these:

  • Creative control. You’ll be giving up the right to give creative direction and the final say in your book’s production. This means you most likely won’t have a say in the final cover design and editing. 
  • Lower royalty rates. Traditional publishers take care of all the up-front production costs for you, but this means there are more hands in the pot. When it comes to your royalty rate, the publisher wants to be sure they will earn their money back, which means you’ll get paid less. 
  • The rights to your book. When a publisher accepts your book, you sign a book contract that gives the publisher the right to publish your book and, ultimately, the rights to your book altogether. Depending on which rights you turn over to the publisher, you may miss out on revenue if the publisher isn’t equipped to maximize profits for that right (e.g. foreign, translation) on your behalf. 
  • Time. Trying to get a publisher to accept your manuscript can be very time-consuming and, for many aspiring authors, fruitless. Even if your book is accepted, going through a publisher means you are at the mercy of the publisher’s timeline. Traditional publishing typically offers the longest turnaround times to get a book to market compared to other forms of publishing.

If you want more creative control over your book’s publication and more profit, then hybrid or self-publishing is the optimal choice. Let’s define the terms and then take a closer look at the associated costs.

Hybrid publishing
$4,000 – $50,000

Independent Book Publisher’s Association (IBPA) defines hybrid publishing as follows.

Hybrid publishing companies behave just like traditional publishing companies in all respects, except that they publish books using an author-subsidized business model, as opposed to financing all costs themselves and, in exchange, return a higher-than-industry-standard share of sales  proceeds to the author. A hybrid publisher makes income from a combination of publishing services and book sales.

Hybrid is a mix of traditional and self-publishing. The author pays upfront costs for book production like in self-publishing, but a hybrid publisher has their own team of editors and designers that will design the book and handle all production and distribution setup. In this type of partnership, an author will receive a higher royalty rate compared to traditional publishing. 

The author still has limited creative control, however, they get access to a cohesive team of book professionals that they might not have access to if they were to self-publish. 

$200 – $25,000

Self-publishing is when an author acts as the publisher of their book, meaning, they take responsibility for book production, sales, distribution and marketing. They front all costs associated with publishing and retain all profit and creative control. 

When acting as the publisher, an author can choose how much or how little they want to participate in the book’s production (e.g. writing, design, marketing), and if they choose to outsource, they can hire individuals or they can hire a publishing company like to handle the details. 

At we’ve found that on average, the cost to publish a book and get it to the market) is about $6,000 from start to finish. This does not include advanced marketing expenses, such as BookBub ads and Amazon Ads, which we’ll cover later. 

You can always find ways to self-publish for less, but anything under $2,000 often requires you to make decisions that can sacrifice the quality of your book.

On the other hand, you could spend well over $25,000 if you have the budget and would like to hire a professional team to ensure the quality and success of your book. For many entrepreneurs and nonfiction authors, this is a great way to gain a competitive advantage and get their books out on the market faster.

This can be a big expense for a first-time author, fiction author, or those just starting on their writing journey.

Note: At, we work with you to make sure you get the services, coaching, and support you need within the budget you have. If you want to self-publish your book but want a bit of extra support, reach out for a book strategy call to talk about your book idea and options with us.

Even if you’re on a budget, you should think of the initial cost of publishing a book as an investment. Your investment should ideally pay off once your book starts selling. To determine how many books you need to sell – and at what price – to earn back your initial costs, use this Book Profit Calculator.

As you can see, answering the question, “How much does it cost to publish a book on your own?” will depend on your unique situation.

Self-publishing costs: an overview

Before we break down the potential costs, let’s take a look at a sample budget.

With the emergence of digital products, on Amazon and many other online platforms, the cost of writing, editing, and creating a book product from start to finish is very affordable.

A sample budget: the cost to self-publish a book

Reference: Editorial Freelancers Association for editing, formatting, and marketing costs.

Product/ServiceDetailsCost Range (US$)
Author ToolsWriting software, educational courses, apps, templates$50—$500+
Cover Design
Stand out in a crowded market with a professional cover

Professional EditingFrom developmental to proofreading, book professionals will make your book easy to read and error-free.$1350—$5300 ($.02-$.079) p/word) for a 67K manuscript
Formatting Your book has to look as good on the inside as it does outside. Get formatting for your eBook, paperback, and hardcover (optional) book.$1350—$2600
($.02-$.039 p/word)
Pricing varies on formatting needs: Book size, graphics, tables, color photos
Audiobook CreationYou can DIY your audiobook or hire a professional. Audiobooks are a popular format that should be considered in an author’s book production strategy.
$600 – $3,000
Book Launch (promo sites)
You can purchase book promo services to promote your book at the 0.99 price point to boost sales and Amazon rankings

Make your author branding get noticed with a professional-looking website
Author Website
Make your author branding get noticed with a professional looking website


When it comes to investing in your book project, knowing your budget and managing it wisely is critical. You may not have $10,000 to spend on publishing a book. That is okay. There are cheaper alternatives, but you have to know what you’re working with to make the best use of the funds you have. 

Low-quality books are published every day on Amazon and other platforms. These books don’t sell. They are riddled with grammatical errors, have cheap covers, and often scream “amateur.” 

We know that anyone can write and publish a book. But not everyone will do it right and succeed.

The best strategy for recouping your investment is learning everything you can about creating a high-quality book that sells. While it is true that quality costs money, you can still put out a good quality book without breaking the bank.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each section of the chart above so you can confidently answer the question: “How much does it cost to publish a book?”

Author tools

When answering the question of how much it costs to publish a book, most people may not think about self-publishing education. But this is a huge step in setting yourself up for success. 

Before you start writing a book, you should do your research and educate yourself on the process first. 

I would recommend you check out the best self-publishing companies and self-publishing courses. Compare value and pricing and get into a good course so that you have a community supporting you and a step-by-step blueprint for getting everything done the right way.

On average, you can expect to pay $500—$6,000 for a quality self-publishing course, ranging from beginner courses for first-time authors to advanced courses in book marketing.

If a course isn’t an option for you, then you can invest $20—$100 for the best books on self-publishing. From publishing your first book to marketing to writing hacks, there are abundant resources to support your learning journey.

Here are some book recommendations to learn how to self-publish your book:

10 Books To Learn How To Self Publish

Writing help

Another factor to consider when answering the question, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” is the writing and author tools that boost your productivity and save you time.

Effective writing tools also play a huge role in helping you stick to your writing goals. For example, you might invest in your favorite book-writing software or novel-writing software program to help you write your book faster.

Here is our list of recommended author tools.

Market research

Online editors

Online editors improve your writing before publishing it or polish it before sending it to an editor. 


When you’re writing on the go having notetaking apps close by makes it easy for you to jot down story ideas quickly and pull them into your main document later. 

Here are some favorites:

Book writing software

Mind mapping software

Mind mapping software helps you map out ideas visually. 

Professional publishing services costs

To self-publish a high-quality book, you need to budget for the cost to hire professionals to provide book publishing services.

So, how much does it cost to publish a book with these services? Let’s break them down.

Professional editing and proofreading

No matter what you have been told, you shouldn’t edit your own book. It is vital that you hire a professional editor when budgeting how much it costs to publish a book. 

Self-editing and rewriting are highly recommended, but after that, ship your finished manuscript to a professional editor.

Next to your book cover design, the editing is the one area you don’t want to skimp on. Hiring a bad editor can significantly harm the sales of your book. It’s exhausting and frustrating for readers to get distracted by a book’s typos and grammatical errors. 

Here is a breakdown of the different levels of editing, and the average cost for each service based on a 60,000-word manuscript. These prices were sourced from the Editorial Freelancers Association website.

Based on the , for a 60,000-word nonfiction manuscript, you can expect individual project rates similar to the ones below unless the services are bundled, which is usually cheaper.

  • Copy editing cost: $1800 – $2,340
  • Developmental editing cost: $2,400 – $2940
  • Fact-checking cost: $3,000 – $3,540
  • Line editing cost: $2,400 – $2940
  • Proofreading cost: $1,200 – $1740
  • Sensitivity reader cost: $600 – $1,140
  • Alpha reader cost: up to $1,000

Formatting and interior layout

While your cover design showcases the exterior of your book, a well-formatted book interior will enhance your reader’s reading experience as they flip through the pages. Just like the cover design, a professionally formatted book is a must-have.

When factoring in how much it costs to publish a book, make room in the budget for an interior book designer (book formatter). 

The cost of formatting depends on the complexity required. Books heavy with graphics, fancy fonts, tables, charts, or graphs will add to the cost.

You can outsource the formatting of both your print and eBook versions starting around $200+.

Here are some sites to find book formatting services. Prices will vary significantly, but according to the Freelancer’s Editorial Association, industry standards are around $.02-.$39/word.

If you are confident in formatting your own book, we recommend these DIY formatting tools:

Although we’re covering paid options in this post, it’s important to note that Kindle Create and Reedsy are free options that produce professional results.

Professional cover design

Book covers DO matter. They have to look good, so the reader will be enticed to click on them.

Why is this important?

If a potential book buyer clicks on your book to check it out, they are interested. If they are interested, they will look at the reviews and book descriptions. Then, hopefully, a click becomes a buy.

You can spend anywhere from $175 to $2,000+ for a cover design. On the lower end, you have pre-made book covers or sites like Fiverr and on the higher end, you’ll find book cover designers with a proven track record for producing covers that sell so they charge more.

For a high-quality cover design that stands out in your genre and on retailer sites, you should plan to spend $300 or more.

For lower budget covers, Fiverr is a solid option. Years ago, when everything on Fiverr cost $5, you would get what you paid for, which meant a sloppy, low-quality cover that rarely did the author’s story any justice. But the cover quality has improved on Fiverr, and although it depends on the designer, you could get a good cover for as little as $100 if you choose the premium option most designers offer.

Here are some recommended book cover designers on Fiverr:

Let’s take it up a notch. You will likely get a higher quality cover and better support if you have a bigger budget and can afford $200-$1,000.

Here are our recommended sites for creating quality book cover designs:

For pre-made book template designs, you can check out:

Before your book launch, share your cover design with people in your community, online following, or friends or colleagues you trust to give you honest feedback.

If you’re learning how to write a children’s book, you’ll have to factor in the cost of a designer for your book’s cover, as well as the interior illustrations. If you’re specifically writing a children’s picture book, the use of illustration is super important, and your budget will need to be higher for this.

Audiobook production costs

An audiobook can be a great addition to your income stream.

There are two ways to create an audiobook:

Either option will cost you money, but the DIY option is cheaper and once you have the equipment set up, you can use it again and again to create audiobooks for cheap.

The cost varies if you are doing fiction or nonfiction, too. If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read the many roles, it can become expensive, especially if you’re using professional actors.

Record the audiobook yourself

To record this yourself, the basic equipment could run you from $500—$2,000, depending on your needs and quality of the equipment.

  • Computer (minimum of 8 GB of RAM) $350-$2800+
  • Audio recording software Free – $599/year
    • Audacity: Free
    • AudioDirector $69.99-$134.99/year
    • Adobe Audition: $22.99/mo. 
    • GarageBand (for Mac): 
    • Pro Tools: $599/yearly 
    • Reaper: $249.00
  • Microphone $160- $1200
  • Headphones $45 – $300
  • Pop Filter / $10 – $150
  • Shock mount $20 – $400
  • Mic boom arm $21 – $300
  • Barrier curtains/shields – $29 – $150
  • Noise reduction wedges – $60-500
  • Portable laptop noise reduction stand $25-$100
  • Shure A 15HP High Pass Filter $55-$65
  • GoogleDrive / free [backup storage—15GB]

Total cost for setting up your own audio recording studio: $775—$6,500

Hire a professional audiobook artist

As with the DIY recording studio, the price range varies depending on the audiobook artist’s talent, experience, and the overall length of the book.

If you need to hire multiple people for recording, this could get expensive. On average, voice actors charge $100-$500 per finished hour (PFH), so if your book is 3 hours long, you can expect to pay, $300-$1500 depending on who you hire and how many actors.

Here are our recommendations for hiring audiobook narrators:

How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book

Book promotion costs

If you want your book to take off when you launch it, consider book promotion sites. Readers sign up with these websites to gain access to eBooks at discounted prices. For authors, these websites offer access to genre-specific readers they might not have access to if they were marketing on their own. The prices for authors to sign up range from Free to $240+. 

Each site has its own specifications, but most require that your book be discounted to give their subscribers a “deal.”

Book launches are a great time to offer your ebook for free or 99 cents for a limited time. Using a book promotion website during a discounted launch can help boost traffic and get algorithms on websites like Amazon and other retailers to take notice and promote your book to their shoppers. 

The regulations and rules vary for each book promo site, so be sure to check before signing up. Some sites require a minimum of 10 reviews before you can use their promotional services.

Here are the best book promotion sites we recommend:

Whether you use the suggestions listed in this article or others, always do your research. You don’t want to throw cash away on bad promotional sites.

How much you decide to spend is up to you. Budgeting between $75—$500 is a good place to start.

The more you can stack up promotions during launch week, the better your book will rank overall in the store when the launch is over, and the book rolls out of the 30-day new release funnel.

Advanced book promotion costs

When it comes to advanced promotion, there are many ways to spend your money for ongoing book marketing and driving traffic to your books and website.

Here, we will introduce three methods you definitely want to invest in to level up your book business.

Email marketing tools

Every author should build an email list to have greater control over who sees their content and more opportunities to market directly to subscribers.

The start-up cost for this is relatively low. You will need to sign up with an email service provider (also known as an email marketing platform) where your subscriber addresses will be collected and managed in confidentiality.

The top email marketing tools we recommend for authors are:

Pricing: The cost depends on several factors. Mailchimp provides a free service for the first 2,000 subscribers. ConvertKit provides 30 days free to try it out then you pay a monthly fee after that. Your monthly fees usually depend on subscriber volume. MailerLite is free if you have up to 1,000 subscribers (with limited features). For a maximum of 2,500 contacts, it costs $15 a month, $30 monthly for 5,000 contacts, and $50 per month for 10,000.

But keep this in mind: If you are paying $200 to an email marketing service because you have a list of 20,000 subscribers, that is NOT a bad position to be in. With this list, you can market and sell your book products continuously to your fan base.

AMS Advertising and BookBub Ads

Running ads for your books is a great way to keep sales coming. But ads are not free and if you use Amazon Ads, BookBub Ads, or Facebook Ads, you should set aside a monthly budget.

When it comes to promotion, you can easily overspend, so keep close tabs on your budget and invest in ads wisely.

While some authors only spend a few hundred dollars a month, authors like Mark Dawson (Facebook Ads for Authors) spend thousands every month and generate great results from his ads.

If you start with advertising, before rushing in and throwing down your money, it’s recommended that you spend time researching these sites first and figuring out how they work or hiring a professional.

You can check out the programs over at Self-Publishing School to learn how to promote your book effectively.

On average, if you budget $50—$200 to start with for your marketing publishing costs, you can scale up with the ads after some money comes rolling in. 

Author website fees

Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs, and promote your work.

You can build a complete website, or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in for your newsletter.

It’s also important to capture leads to build your email list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.

Here are the essentials to build your author website:


You can sign up for hosting with servers such as FastComet, Bluehost, or HostGator. The cost would be around $140 – $180 per year, which is reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.

Domain name

You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out A domain name will cost around $10-$15 per year.

Premium theme

Your theme refers to your site’s overall design, and it has to be good because it represents you! More importantly, it should be relevant to your author brand.

A common platform is WordPress (hosted and self-hosted) where you can use their free themes or upgrade to premium ones. Alternative sites like Joomla and Drupal also offer premium themes. Paid themes can range from $20 – $200 [and higher].

Note: While you can get buy with a free theme, they are often limited in customizations, can be glitchy, and don’t come with the necessary support.

If you’re looking for something a little easier to set up, you can try websites like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly which offer integrated templates that look professional and offer customizations to fit your brand. 

Total Cost for an Author Website: $700 – $3,500.

Don’t forget your ISBN!

An ISBN is a unique book identifier that contains necessary details about your book. Although you can get a unique identifier for your book for free from companies like Amazon (called an ASIN) or IngramSpark, your book will be listed under their company name instead of your publisher name. You’ll want to purchase your own ISBNs so that everything will be registered in your name. It looks more professional for your author brand.

In the US, you can expect to pay $125 for one or $295 for ten—a much better deal if you plan on writing more than one book. For more information on ISBNs, visit the Bowker website.

So, how much does it cost to publish a book? Now you have the answer!

Can you publish a book for free?

While it’s technically possible to publish a book for free, it’s not recommended. Readers have plenty of choice so a book that hasn’t been invested in is unlikely to succeed.

Moving forward: what is your next step?

Even with limited tech skills, anyone…yes, anyone…can publish a book. Even if you don’t have a lot of cash to put aside for your book budget, you mustn’t skimp on quality.

While you should avoid going super cheap on creating a high-quality book, you don’t have to spend $10,000 either. With less money, you can still publish a quality book—it’ll just require more resourcefulness on your part.

Now first things first: Write an amazing book, which starts with great writing.

If you need some tips on how to write your first book, you can learn how to go from blank pages to a bestseller right here.

Before spending money on your book launch, make sure your novel is polished to the highest possible standards. Then, build a launch team, set everything up on Amazon, and launch it like a rockstar!

With the income you make, roll it into creating your next bestseller!

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