The Cost of Self-Publishing a Book

writingMaybe you dream of publishing your own book. Perhaps you realize that traditional publishers have really tightened up their requirements, and most don’t accept submissions unless they come through an agent. You’ve heard of self-publication but you don’t want to wade through all the pages of options and information. You just want to know, bottom line, what would it cost you to self-publish your own book. This article will give you a ballpark figure of that bottom line.

Many options are out there for self-publication and the help you would need to get a book published, but I’m going to talk about the giant Amazon. Anyone can publish through Amazon. CreateSpace produces their print books and Kindle produces their ebooks. That doesn’t mean everyone should publish their book, but that’s another article. Let’s say you’ve got a book you really believe is well-crafted and you just want to get it out there. CreateSpace offers a wide range of services and also distributes through If you choose this option you won’t be selling books at a bookstore, but anyone can order them through Amazon.

So let’s say you’ve written a 60,000 word fiction book. You want to publish a print book through CreateSpace and  an ebook with Kindle.

Cheaper Option

You want to lean toward the cheaper end of things and you don’t need help with editing or marketing. A good cover is really important, but you believe you can design your own cover with a bit of help by them. You can purchase the supported cover for $399. You are also prepared to format your own interior by choosing design elements they provide and getting support by them. You can purchase the supported interior for $249. Kindle conversion will cost you $69 for a project like this. So for a little over US$700 you can publish a basic book like this.

 Step Up

But maybe you really feel you need more than that. You want a unique cover that an Amazon designer has created especially for you. You could order the custom cover for $599. You don’t know anything about formatting and would like the interior to have some nice design elements. You could order the custom interior for $379. You also feel you need an editor to evaluate your book and give you some suggestions. Content editing for 60,000 words is about $1260. You’ll pay $69 to convert your file to Kindle. You might want to order a few others things, but now you’re looking at about $2300.

How much do you pay to print your books? Nothing. Where do your store your books? Nowhere. CreateSpace prints books on demand and sends them out as they are ordered. They charge the customer for the printing and postage and pay you a royalty. You set the list price and that determines your royalty.

 Royalty Calculator

CreateSpace has a great royalty calculator, but let’s look at your 60,000 word novel. If you have about 325 words per page it might be 190 pages long. For each book Amazon sells they’ll take $.85 per book; plus a per word charge of $ .012 which at 60,000 words would be about $2.29 per book; plus 40% of the selling price which you set. If you sold the book at $10, 40% of that would be $4. So your customer who orders it through Amazon pays $10 and you get about $3.87 per book. You’ll get more if you order books at your member price and sell them yourself. You can sell it on Kindle for $8and get about $5.50 per book.

Remember these are my ballpark figures. You can do a combination approach and use some of their services and hire people to do others or do them yourself. Many more options exist on CreateSpace and Kindle and conditions apply. You can spend many hours researching it all. This is just a quick look at what it could cost you to self-publish your book through CreateSpace and Kindle. After that you’ll probably want to spend additional money on marketing. You may want to put up a website for your book or a personal website and blog to advertise your book. Today there are many means of free advertising on the internet if you are willing to work at it. 

Maybe this is just a starting place for you. As you look at this, you realize that book you’re dreaming of just might be possible. Unless you’re a top-selling author, you’re not likely to get rich fast, but you might be able to publish that dream book and make back your expenses. If things go really well, you might even make a little money at it. That’s a good beginning. I hope this article moves someone a little closer to his dream.

(Note: At the time of publication, clicking on the royalty calculator link brings you to the distribution page, wrongly, but from there you can click on royalties to find the calculator.)

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