It Adds Up: The “Real” Cost of Self-publishing

I’ve seen several references to the article cited here, and IMHO – it’s pretty far off base. NO ONE in his right mind would pay this much! What do you think?

M.E. Kinkade

I found this Bloomberg article on the costs that (can) go into self-publishing really interesting. I don’t think it’s 100% accurate in all cases (for example, some of their steps are skippable or there are cheaper options out there), but it is a good snapshot. Just like the article I found about how much you can expect to earn at each “level” of self-publishing success, I felt this article provided a good benchmark.

In summary:

  • Editing: $500 – $1,460
  • Cover art: $200
  • Interior design: $0 – $1,400
  • Book printing: $6.77/book -> $8,800
  • eReader formatting software: $39
  • Single ISBN: $125
  • Kirkus Review: $550
  • Website: $2,300
  • Color business cards: $45
  • Press release printing: $100
  • Facebook announcement: $300
  • Direct mail: $1,000
  • Distribution: $200 up front (plus a cut)
  • One-stop shop: $5,000 – $6,000

Potential total (leaving out distribution and one-stop shop figures): $13,959 – $16,219


Even considering that I wouldn’t do some…

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6 comments on “It Adds Up: The “Real” Cost of Self-publishing

  1. Umm…who is she kidding? I’d agree with this figures maybe 10 years ago before Ebooks became popular, but definitely not by today’s standards. What a joke!


    • Sure, one CAN do these things. And likely still never, ever break even!


    • I also thought these figures were seriously inflated. Especially the “Kirkus” one. Not that they don’t charge $500 for a review (they do), but that I have a fundamental issue with paying for reviews in the first place. Plus, it isn’t as if everyone doesn’t *know* Kirkus is a paid for review, so in the end it really doesn’t help at all (and might even hurt).


  2. M.E. Kinkade says:

    I completely agree, Robin; my reaction was much like yours. But it feels like there’s a lot of pressure to go for “upgrades.” Like “You really want your book to succeed? Well then you NEED xyz gizmo, of course! Sure you can do it for free if you only want your mom to read it, buuuut….”

    It’s good to know I’m not the only person who felt this was a little insane, though!


    • No, you’re not alone – I’ve had several discussions in groups and on boards about this article. I have five websites – free ones! And that’s only ONE thing that stood out as a definition of insanity!


  3. The figures are way inflated. One can definitely do everything oneself. What I consider vital, however, is a GOOD EDITOR. Poor or no editing can hurt any self pubbed author more than fancy covers and formatting can help. That is a that a person service that you can shop for, too. However, ebooks are competitive, so I think finding great cover art and an interior that is correctly formatted along with great editing is a key to success. I’ve read a great number of self pubbed books that are a good but difficult to read because of poor formatting. There are professionals who format very reasonably today. Again, I think because competition has brought out more and more people who do it.


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