How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

  • Most authors spend £500-£1,200 self-publishing a book. This includes editing, proofreading, formatting, and book cover design. Promotion and printing will increase the costs.
  • You’ll need to decide which publishing services are worth paying for. Proofreading, editing, formatting and design costs can ramp up quickly, so make sure you budget accordingly.
  • Self-publishing platforms take a cut of every book you sell. Make sure you price your book accordingly.

Whether you've completed your first draft or are starting to write, the goal is to see your work published. But how do you self-publish your book?

Do you need a proof-reader or editor? What about the cost of formatting and book cover design? Where do you even begin?

This article answers those questions and will hopefully give you an idea of how much it costs to self-publish a book in the UK.

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

Generally speaking, the cost to publish a book depends on the length of the book, the level of quality you want and the complexity of the manuscript and book cover. Most authors spend £500-£1,200 to self-publish their books — this includes editing, proof-reading, formatting and book cover design.

To summarise, here's how much it could cost on average to self-publish a 300-page paperback:

  • Editing: £300
  • Proofreading: £500
  • Book cover: £320 (ebook and print)
  • Printing cost (per book): £3.70

The total cost to hold your finished book in your hand would be £1123.70.

Although proofreading and copy editing are essential, you can often do this yourself. The same goes for formatting. But one cost you can't cut back on is your cover.

You don't have to pay anything if you want to copyright your book in the UK. However, when publishing internationally, or in the USA, you may need to register your work to protect it. Our extensive guide covers copyright when self-publishing.

Now let’s see look at the detail, what exactly affects the cost and what the possible price ranges for professional help are.

Book editing, proofreading and formatting costs

Once you’ve gone through a couple of drafts and you’re ready for someone else to take a look at your book, you’ll probably start with proofreading and editing.

Professional editing services fall into three categories: developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

Developmental and copy editing costs

A Development Editor, or DE, reviews your whole manuscript. This includes plot lines, story arcs, character development, and themes.

They look at 'the big picture' to see if it makes sense and help spot any inconsistencies. For non-fiction, Des can also help ensure the book matches market expectations.

A Copy Editor, or CE, does a similar job but concentrates on your later drafts.

They pick up on sentence structure and incorrect grammar. They'll highlight plot holes and help you tidy up to copy (and they may even cut your word count if required).

Costs average around £5.50-£9.00 per page.

For a 70,000 word manuscript and for average book size (e.g. 5x8) that  could add up to £660 to £1080. But before you dismiss an editor consider submitting a portion of your work.

Send the first 20,000 words with a chapter breakdown to keep these costs to a minimum. The goal is to receive honest feedback so you can create the best draft possible.

If that sounds a bit of your budget, we have a guide on the different ways you can edit your book on a budget.

Proofreading costs

A proofreader’s job is to ensure your copy is error-free.

That includes punctuation, formatting, etc. You want a polished product and you really want to avoid spotting any errors after the book’s been published and it’s landed in people’s hands.

Costs are usually tied with your word count and are calculated on an hourly or daily rate or per 1,000 words. Prices range from £13-£35 per 1,000 words or a daily rate of £250-£400.

Fees vary depending on how well your manuscript reads - the more shoddy the work the more time and expense to fix it. So, it pays off to do as much as you can yourself, before paying a profession proof-reader.

You could get someone you know to help you proofread to help cut the cost. But remember that you need to fix things yourself first.

Formatting costs

What software did you use to write your book? Microsoft Word? Or a basic DOS system like George R.R. Martin uses?

You probably have the page set to A4 size with wide margins. But before you self-publish, those pages need to be converted into a suitable for a book format.

If you’re publishing with Amazon KDP, and you want to do it yourself, you can download free Microsoft Word templates to use for your manuscript.

Just paste your text then examine each page for formatting issues. It's a good idea to leave proofreading etc. until after this stage. Or better yet, use the template from the outset.

If you’d rather pay for some professional help, the services will :

  • Formatting copyright information
  • Checking margins
  • Starting chapters on new pages
  • Gaps in paragraphs or text are correctly added
  • Ensure consistent style

The price is based on page count and if the manuscript includes any complex graphics, tables or elements which need to be inserted and require extra attention.

We’ve spoken to a few clients to find out how much they’ve paid for their formatting. While many were able to do it themselves, most self-publishers paid less £400. However, there were some which have paid upwards of £600 because their book included maps, graphics next to each chapter name etc  and generally had heftier manuscripts.

So, you can really do it yourself if you wanted to, and the templates will do most of the hard work for you. However, more complex manuscripts would require a professional touch. If you're writing a short story, then that may not be such a big consideration.

Book cover design costs

After your manuscript is edited, proof-read, and formatted we land on another important step. The difference in sales between a poor book cover and the right one can reach 1000% according to research by Smashwords.

The cover helps your work stand out and promotes your brand as an author. One image speaks volumes on your style and tone and whether the book's worth pursuing.

Prices for cover design vary depending on the designer’s experience and complexity of the project. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay:

  • Novice designer - £100
  • Experienced designer - £400+

We at Book Beaver look at each project individually and on average our clients pay ~£330 for a full cover for print (which also includes ebook cover, mockups and licensed stock images).

You can also design your cover for free using Amazon’s Cover Creator. The tool has dozens of different templates and royalty-free images to choose from. You can edit the title and author and add your blurb to the back.

Although great in terms of cost saving, DIY designs are easy to spot. Authors tend to use the same images so they all look alike. More often than not, poor font choices and garish colours are dead giveaways!

That's why Book Beaver provides a professional book cover design service that's worthy of your hard work. We also offer AI book cover design which harnesses the power of AI to bring your unique story to life!

We don't use templates. Everything's bespoke and crafted to suit your book. And you own the full rights of the final design. Our designers work with you to provide the perfect result. That includes unlimited revisions at a reasonable price – starting from £250 for an ebook cover. Check out our detailed guide on book cover design costs.

Book Beaver also offers custom cover illustrations to bring your stories to life. Just imagine your hero or heroine embraced on the cover of your love story. Or daring the reader to join their quest.

Our personalised artwork packages begin at £450. All we need is an idea of what you want to achieve and we'll do the rest.

Publishing costs

Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service (KDP) is used by authors from around the world to self-publish their work online.

It's free to join. Be sure to use your author name, especially if you write under a pseudonym.

How much does Amazon KDP cost?

KDP offers two publishing formats: paperback and Kindle ebook.

You can choose one or both and it won't cost a penny to set them up. However, Amazon has a unique way of pricing each one.

Amazon KDP POD

For print-on-demand,  Amazon charges a printing cost that's tied with your page count, the country the book is sold and whether the interior is in colour or black and white.

The cost can vary, but to give you an idea we’ve tried to put some example costs together. In the UK, for an average novel size of 300 pages, the fixed cost is £0.70. Per page cost is £0.01 for black/white. So, the formula now reads:

£0.70 + (300*£0.01) = £3.70 per book sold.

You can learn more about Amazon's pricing here.

List Prices

You don't need to sell your book on Amazon. In fact, you can order author copies at a discounted rate based on the printing cost and distribute them as you wish.

But to sell on the largest online marketplace you need to pay a fee called a list price. The formula for the minimum list price is:

Printing cost divided by 60% (royalty rate)

Taking the example above, the minimum price you could list your book on Amazon would equal £5.83.

Remember, you need to add your own profit margin and still be competitive. The average novel price in the UK is around £7.99 so your profit here is £2.16 per book.

Kindle Ebook Costs

Of course, you could choose the Kindle ebook option and void all printing costs.

The cost depends on your selling price and if your ebook is public domain. Amazon offers:

  • 35% royalty - the Amazon sales commission is 65% for books priced below £2.99 and above £9.99
  • 70% royalty - the Amazon sales commission is 30% for books priced between £2.99 and £9.99

You may also want to factor in the cost of registering an ISBN - our guides explains all.

At Book Beaver, our customers receive 100% satisfaction because we work with them closely until they're fully happy.

Get in touch with us today and tell us about your book. We'll discuss the plot, the characters, and themes. Then together we'll create the perfect cover to suit your story.

Advice from a published writer

Alex Fisher, "Seadogs and Criminals"

First and foremost, prices depend on your budget. Once you know what that is, the price will depend on the length of your book, your word count and if there are any other services you require such as proof-reading or editing so the more proof-reading and editing you do yourself (believe me, the more editing you do, the better you get at it) the less you’ll have to pay.

Of course, this is completely up to you whether you want the self-publishing company to proof-read or edit your work, but it will be an extra fee. Take some time to think about your covers too as this is vital in the self-publishing process. Good books need great covers, it’s what will draw the reader in.

Some, not all, self-publishing companies will also offer cover designs for an extra fee, but there are book cover designers out there who will also do a great job. Usually, self-publishing companies will provide packages priced accordingly to your word count, so make sure you have completely finished writing and have a total word count before you contact them (but even this isn’t final – you can make small last-minute changes and edits as your book is being typeset).

This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
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