Costs, Costs, Costs: How much does it really cost to self-publish?

Alright, so it looks like I’ll be changing my book prices again… as you can see by the poll up top, which will be closing soon.  I got enough feedback from my friends at DA to finally figure it out.  This will be the final time I change it, unless I’m feeling lucky. 😀  My paperback book will be between the $3.99-$4.99 range and my kindle ebook will still be the same at $1.99.  Okay, now that’s over with… let’s get back to writing!

I just finished another chapter in my trilogy today, 9-10 pages this time.  I’m adding quite a few new chapters apparently.  Don’t know why, but hopefully this will be coming to an end shortly, so I can start revising soon.  But writing/revisions for the trilogy will be halted next month though due to publishing soon.  I’m already setting up.  I paid my freelance editor yesterday as well, she’ll start reviewing my book on Monday, hopefully.  I should have the revisions for half of my manuscript by next week, which is good.  Once I check to see what revisions are made, I’ll send her the other half and by the end of 2 weeks I should have everything ready to go for final revisions.

So, two weeks from now I’ll be doing the last major revisions myself… don’t know for how long.  Possibly a week or so, but it’ll be with the utmost care and concentration, so you may not hear from me for a full week.  I will be revising and printing out the full book copies, without no distractions, no tv, no music, and so on.  The only thing I’m allowed to hear is the sound of my computer’s voice speaking to me as I go word by word, line by line, and sentence by sentence.  It’ll be painstakingly difficult, tedious, and time consuming.  I may not sleep or eat for a few days either.  Just know that I’ll be putting my blood, sweat, and every waking moment on getting this novel the best I can before I start the process of putting everything on CreateSpace.

I have the book cover already uploaded on CreateSpace, so that’s one step down…many more to go.  I did upload my interior just to preview it with the correct book dimensions 5.06 x 7.81.  I will publish the paperback novel first after I pay for the special ISBN # which is… I think $99 dollars and the proofs may take at least another week or two to be shipped to my house.  Then, I gotta read that entire book again, and do the last last copy-editing to make sure there’s no other printing mistakes or typos.  After I’m all done, (really done!) I’ll probably spend about half a thousand dollars or less in total costs.  This is a rough estimate by the way, but I’m not surprised about the high costs though.  However, I have greatly reduced my costs (thank God!) by doing my own book covers and formatting my interior design all on my own.  In addition, uploading a Kindle ebook is completely free, and I have a software program that converts all my books to epub.  So, I can possibly save an extra $50-$70 dollars, without having to pay sites to do it for me.

Let’s calculate the actual costs shall we?

Spent $100 on editing already for 100 pages.

Will spend $250 for the full 100,000 words.  I’ve only paid upfront $62.50 of $125 for half (50,000 words) and will pay the remaining $62.50 once I receive the revisions.

Total = $162.50 which is not bad so far.

Now, for the costs I’ll eventually have to pay.

$35 for online Library of Congress, even though it’s already copyrighted.  :/

$99 for ISBN# (special one where I can have 2 publishers) even though they offer the free ISBN#. Barnes & Noble is not selling Amazon titles.

Author’s Advantage Pro Plan for a year, which is $39-$40 They don’t have this anymore!

Costs for book proofs.  I believe it would be (after reading the FAQs) the $4.99 Will have to call them for more info

$8.71 with shipping/handling$4.99 was too cheap and I’d be making a $-2.13 return on royalties.

Even though I can upload my epub file on Kindle, let’s say (God forbid) something goes wrong.  So, as a back-up I can either pay $69 at CreateSpace (Not doing it!) for a file convert or $50 at  However, I have heard about Smashwords, so I may look into that one as well. Smashwords takes about 1-4 weeks to approve your book, so I’m not doing that. I’m sticking to Kindle, which takes one day, besides… IT’S FREE!!!!

Forgot to add the commission art pieces that Nicoy is doing for me, 5 characters for $115.

Total estimate = 527.99  $404.99  $504.99 

THIS IS THE ACCURATE COSTS = $501.71 with taxes.

To see how much I really saved check out the new re-post of this ->RE-POST: How much does it really cost to self-publish a nice quality book without sending yourself to the poor house?

Now, this price range still isn’t too bad compared to some other places, where you can easily spend about $800-$2,000 dollars.  But I may end up spending a little more, because CreateSpace does charge you additional fees if they have to fix 80 or more errors in your book proof copy.

Now, for a rough timeline of how long this will take.

I should get half of my manuscript next week the 20th, then hopefully… I’ll be able to send out the other half right afterwards.  So about 2 weeks to wait on revisions, which is all right.

In the first week of February, I’ll start doing the revisions, about a week or so.  Not sure if I’ll spend 2 weeks on it.  Let’s say a week and a half.  2 weeks if it’s really necessary.  I’ll start uploading on CreateSpace little by little.  By mid-month, I’ll order my proofs which should take about 3-6 days.  During that time, I’ll start converting my book into epub files.

So, by the end of February to early March, I shall have my book published at last.  I hope!  God forbid something happens and it takes longer.  This once again is a rough estimate.  By the end of 2 1/2 months, it should be all completed.  For Kindle epub, it takes about 24 hours to fully load, then 6-8 weeks for Channel Distribution I believe.  You guys may not hear much from me in the next few weeks.  I’ll try to keep you posted, but there’s just so much on my mind right now and I may not have a lot to discuss.

Will do my very best to keep you updated during down times or between breaks of editing, but I may need a full week of no distractions, just pure silence.  Additional costs I may add on here.  This will help any others who are struggling to find cheaper ways to self-publish without becoming bankrupt.  I want to provide you guys with enough information about what steps to take and maybe more about how to market/advertise…which I’m still in the process of learning myself.   I think selling myself will be the most demanding task ever, even more so than editing and revising.

6 thoughts on “Costs, Costs, Costs: How much does it really cost to self-publish?

  1. You’ve certainly done well budgeting your costs.

    However, and I know I am biased, but cheap editing is similar to buying a cheap car. The car will run — maybe that’s all it can do — but it may not be smooth, luxury, or enjoyable (smelly, no air-con, no kick, stains, etc).

    There’s a balance between paying too much for book editing and not enough. In my opinion, it’s worse to not pay enough because once a reader sees your work, it’s your first and last opportunity to impress them enough to trust anything else you’ll publish. Edit your novel to an extremely-high standard and you’ve only increased your chances of success and sales — not too bad.

    Anyway, good luck, and I’ll be keeping up with your progress. I’m happy to help in any way I can, so I can exchange some publicity for your novel if you ever want to chat about editing in the future.

    1. I do understand where you’re coming from, Novel Girl. However, I have to disagree with some of the things you’ve just said. I had an old used car once. I kept it in fine condition and had it for at least ten to eleven years. A lot of people thought it was brand new, because I took good care of it, always cleaned it, and it treated me well in return. I have looked around for many editors, even found professionals, who’ve had years of experience. However, I also have to look at their prices and decide whether it’s a reasonable investment. Some of them are just too much of a gamble to take while others are pure scam artists.

      The editor who I picked does have experience as a self-published author and has several books already published over the years. Grant it, she’s not a professional, but she’s humble enough and does have the experience I’m looking for. She offers critique to those who need it at affordable rates that won’t bankrupt people. In addition, I discovered that the most expensive editors are pretty egoistical. Not all of them, I’m sure. However, they’re not willing to give their customers better flexible payment options for their hard earned money. If the price is too steep, it’s not worth putting myself into the poor house either.

      I have found many great things at affordable prices before. I don’t think any professional editor can make or break your book really. They all say the same thing, “There’s no guarantee that my book will even sell.” Even if I did hire a pro for $700, $1000, or $1500, there’s still no guarantee. If I had a job and the money to afford it, I would’ve gotten a professional editor a long time ago. But in all honesty, if writers have a good story to tell and the writing is not so horribly bad people are cringing at the sight of it, they can still make it. I’ve seen mistakes in many bestseller novels, and they still sell for some reason.

      Besides, I think the talent really lies within the writer and how they write. If you can’t write, no editor in the world is going to save you. It’s really up the writer and how determined they are to polish their manuscript, rewrite it, and so on. It’s also about the marketing. I believe that if a writer is a hard worker, always revising and editing, toning their craft, and practicing every day that it is possible they can still sell a novel and make a little money on the side. I know I didn’t become a writer because of the money and the fame. I just write because I love it, and I would like to share my works. If a writer can get people motivated or interested in buying and reading their books, I think anything’s possible. 🙂

      1. Much of that is true, but a car that you can buy at half the cost of another car is always going to have flaws — it won’t run as well as the car you pay more for because quality is more valuable.

        The same is true for editing. The “bestsellers” that you say that have editing problems have typos. Typos do not affect reader enjoyment to the same degree that poor structural editing or copy editing will. I’d gladly pay $10 for a book that has a handful of typos than $1 for a book that is unbelievable, has no conflict that warrants the hero’s journey, and has weak sentences.

        Regarding editing prices, it’s annoying when editors expect you to pay three times the amount that someone else quoted you. However, editing isn’t a cut and dry service. It isn’t like buying a Mars Bar. That *will* be the same quality wherever you buy it from, so by all means, please find the cheapest price. When you are talking about editing, you are paying for human knowledge, experience and talent, so it’s up to the writer to decide if they are willing to pay for quality, or risk paying less and ending up poorer and with a manuscript that is still in need of editing.

        Regarding my own editing services, I offer FREE sample edits to ensure the writer and me connect. I want the writer to be happy with what I can offer because I understand it’s a lot to ask to trust an editor.

        Every published work of writing needs editing, but it’s sad to see that some writers don’t think that they need this essential step. Good job for taking a step to improve your manuscript. 🙂

      2. You do have a valid point about “quality.” I do believe quality is better than quantity. That much is true, and I mean no offense whatsoever. When it comes down to old used cars, it’s really the quality that counts. What kind of model is it and what year it was made? I had a good quality car, even though it was old. I’m not knocking you for what you’re saying, believe me. I was even able to resell it, because it was such a good little car. I do understand that bestsellers do have mistakes such as typos and printing errors, but I have seen ones where I think more editing would’ve been better for them as well. I have seen a lot of amateur writers, including some of friends rush at self-publishing to get their work out there. There’s pros and cons to everything. I really didn’t start thinking about self-publishing until a few years ago actually, even though I’ve been trying to go into the traditional route for longer… about 10 years or so. Anyway, thank you for reading my blog and being passionate about what you love. It really means a lot to me. 🙂

      3. No worries. I know this might sound like a “heated” discussion to others but this is why I love blogging; we can connect and share thoughts.

        And I absolutely see your point. I believe that some self-published authors may not have paid much for editing in their book. If the author is stringent with spelling, grammar, structure, etc, professional, paid editing may not be necessary to produce a bestseller.

        Thanks for being supportive too; we are a good team 🙂

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