How Much Does it Really Cost to Write and Publish a Book?

How Much Does it Really Cost to Write and Publish a Book?

By: Melinda Copp

When an aspiring author is thinking about writing and publishing their book, the question of cost inevitably comes up. All books are different, though, so asking how much it costs to publish a book is like asking how much a house or a car costs. The price depends on the book itself.

Longer books are more expensive, and so are full-color books and hard-cover books. Self-publishing the traditional way, meaning a print run of a couple thousand copies, requires more money up front than print-on-demand. But the cost per copy decreases when you print an inventory, meaning you can make more of your money back faster. Obviously hiring a ghostwriter to write your book significantly increases the cost of the writing–it’s free if you do it all on your own. And working with a one-stop shop for your publishing services, as opposed to finding suppliers on your own, will affect your production costs. All these factors, and more, play a role in your publishing expenses.

With that said, I’ve done some research to put together the following list of expenses you should budget for when writing and publishing your book.

Writing: As I mentioned before, writing your book is free if you do it all on your own. Working with a coach or taking a class to write your book will cost more. And hiring a ghostwriter will be the most expensive way to write your book. However, working with a coach or hiring a ghostwriter will help reduce your editing costs-something to keep in mind. And don’t be afraid to invest money in the writing process–well-written books sell better.

Editing/proofreading: Again, if you do it yourself, or find a friend or two to read your book for you, you can get the book edited for next to nothing. However, this approach isn’t recommended. The content of your book is the foundation of your publishing venture, so you can’t afford to skimp on expenses associated with creating a good, marketable manuscript. Every writer needs an editor, and at least a proofreader. A professional will help you create a professional product.

Design (both cover and interior): Although I know many self-publishers do their own interior design in Microsoft Word, you probably don’t want to design your own book cover unless you’re a graphics designer. Covers can range in price, depending on the level of customization and amount of illustration required. And many self-publishing companies offer stock templates you can choose from to save money. The same goes for interior page design. Some companies offer stock templates, or you could do it yourself. But if you have lots of graphics or illustrations, or you want a custom job, the cost will be higher.

Miscellaneous production costs: In addition to the design expenses, producing your book also includes securing an ISBN number, copyright fees, and shipping from the printer to you (or your warehouse). You may also need to pay someone for order fulfillment.

Printing: As I mentioned before, it costs less to get your book set up with a print-on-demand publishing company, and then you don’t have to worry about warehousing the books and fulfilling the orders. But the cost per copy is significantly higher than if you printed one or two thousand copies. I recommend looking at both options very carefully, and if you know you can sell a thousand copies through your existing marketing channels, then bite the bullet and have them printed. You’ll make your money back faster.

Your Book Investment
Regardless of the cost, keep in mind that your book is an investment in yourself and in your business that will pay off. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to do it the right way and create a quality, professional product.

About the Author

Melinda Copp helps aspiring nonfiction, business, and self-help authors get clear on their story and book idea, and figure out how to put it all together so their ideal readers love it. Visit for a free copy of her “Jumpstart Your Book E-course!” and get your book started now.

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2 Responses to “How Much Does it Really Cost to Write and Publish a Book?”

  1. Dave Sheets Says:

    Great article. One thing to note: POD publishers that require an author to buy minimum quantities can be quite expensive. Some POD printers (notice the difference) like Snowfall Press, are actually quite inexpensive. POD printers must really be able to print just one book at a time for an author. When all of this comes together without the risk of inventory, warehousing, obsolescence, etc…it can be the best option. Snowfall’s pricing?…a 200 page softcover, is $3.25 for ONE copy. No minimums. No set up fees. No hidden fees.

  2. Mahesh Golani Says:

    I began my writings in TRIOND.COM. wrote more than 40 pieces. Got paid very little. But it gave me the best reawrd. EXPERIENCE..Thanks.God bless

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