The cost of self publishing. · Stacy C. Bauer

I get this question a few times each week: what should I expect to spend on getting my book published?

So…based on my experience of self publishing 15 books over 4 years, here ya go! Hope it helps!!

What to expect to pay to self publish your book:


*Anywhere from $2,000-$10,000. This is NOT a place to cut costs. 

*Ask other authors for illustrator recommendations.

*What do ask the illustrators you interview:

  • What is your timeline for completion?
  • Cost?
  • When can you start?
  • Do you allow for revisions?
  • Can I see your portfolio?


*Anywhere from $50-$500.

*Ask other authors for recommendations.

*Questions for them:

  • Timeline?
  • What is included (copy editing only? Developmental too?)?
  • When can you start?
  • Cost?


*Anywhere from $100-$500.

*Ask for recommendations from other authors.

*Questions to ask:

  • Cost?
  • Timeline?
  • What is included? (eBook, paperback, hardcover, book cover design?)
  • When can you start?


*Anywhere from $0 on up.

You have two choices:

Print on demand:

  • paperback (KDP– Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon) or hardcover (Ingram Spark)
  • $0 upfront cost
  • they ship to customers for you
  • no books for you to store
  • you can purchase author copies to sell elsewhere for about $6/each (paperback)
  • you make less per book- Amazon takes 70%

Offset printing:

  • paperback or hardcover
  • through an offset printer (ask other authors for recommendations and get price quotes)
  • need to order at least 500 books
  • need someplace to store them or use a distributor/warehouse
  • need to have upfront cost for the books (about at least $4000)
  • you ship them to customers
  • can price hardcovers higher and make more profit per book –
  • make sure you have a marketing plan for how you’re going to sell them

Other costs:

  • marketing (Amazon ads, Facebook ads, classes, webinars etc)
  • website management (normally a couple hundred dollars/year) Note: You don’t have to have a website! You can just sell on Amazon.
  • copyright (about $50)
  • ISBN ($125 for 1 or $295 for 10)

Total publishing costs are at least $3000 UNLESS you can illustrate your own books!

How you can afford it:

  • Think of it as an investment and just spend the money. Have a sales/marketing plan to recoup the costs once you publish. How are you going to make your money back?
  • Run a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds. LEARN MORE ABOUT KICKSTARTER HERE, HERE and HERE.
  • Find an investor to back your book project.
  • Work an extra job and save up your money.
  • Be smart about where/how you spend your money! Learn how to do your own illustrations. Don’t use a website. Offer a service you’re good at to someone you trust in exchange for a service they’re good at. (example: you know how to create cute social media graphics and they can set up your Amazon ads). Pay a high school/college student to run your social media pages.

Have questions? Want a free 15-minute consult to see if I can help? Schedule HERE. Read more of my blog HERE. Subscribe to my free author newsletter HERE.

Self publishing is a lot of work and money and yes- it’s a risk. But. You can do it! Believe in yourself. Have a plan. Ask for help when you need it. Offer help and support to others in return. Join Facebook groups (I run my own HERE) and meet and support other authors. Don’t give up on your dreams.

A native of Minneapolis, MN, Stacy C. Bauer is a wife, teacher, mother of two and owner of Hop Off the Press, a publisher of quality children’s books. Along with self publishing her own books, Stacy enjoys helping aspiring authors realize their dreams. She is hoping to inspire people around the world to make a difference with her newest endeavor, nonfiction book seriesYoung Change Makers. Check out Stacy’s other book series, Cami Kangaroo and Wyatt Too at

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