How much does it cost to self-publish?

How much does it cost to self-publish?

  • Curious about the actual cost to self-publish
  • Wondering how to navigate the publishing process
  • Need help making your book dream a reality

One of the most common questions asked by aspiring authors is, “How much does it cost to self-publish?” The answer to this question is not straightforward, as the cost of self-publishing can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors. In this article, we will explore the main expenses involved in self-publishing and provide a rough estimate of the total cost.


The first cost that any self-publisher should consider is editing. Regardless of how good of a writer you may be, editing is a crucial part of the publishing process. An editor can help identify issues with grammar, pacing, and plot, and ensure that your manuscript is as polished as possible before it goes to print. The cost of editing can vary depending on the length of your manuscript and the level of editing required. On average, you can expect to spend between $500 and $5,000 on editing. The investment in professional editing should not be underestimated. It really can be the difference in mediocre and phenomenal!

Cover Design

Another important cost to consider is cover design. The cover of your book is the first thing that potential readers will see, and it can make or break the success of your book. A professional cover designer can help create an eye-catching and effective cover that will appeal to your target audience. The cost of cover design can vary depending on the designer’s experience and the complexity of the design. On average, you can expect to spend between $400 and $1,000 on cover design.

Formatting / Typesetting

Once your manuscript is edited and your cover design is complete, the next step is formatting. Formatting is the process of preparing your manuscript for publication, ensuring that it meets the requirements of the publishing platform you plan to use. The cost of formatting can vary depending on the complexity of your book’s layout and the platform you plan to use. On average, you can expect to spend between $400 and $1000 on formatting – more if you require diagrams and/or illustrations to go into your book. Children’s books, for example, can require thousands spent on professional illustrations, while a text-only manuscript can be a low-cost production. 


One of the many decisions for self-publishing authors is to decide on how their book is distributed. When you upload a book to online distribution platforms, such as Amazon, they look after the online listing, book printing and distribution to the customer. At the end of the sale, they send you your commission. It’s as simple as that. You can distribute in this way all over the world without lifting a finger. Of course, the website or ‘shop’ that is selling your book, earns a cut of the sale, but you have the potential to reach a lot more people than if you were attempting to sell on your own. Setting up books in on-demand platforms can cost from $49 to $350. Here at Turtle Publishing, we can assist you in uploading your books to multiple platforms. Many new authors find this process overwhelming, so in assisting this process, we can ensure that it’s a fairly smooth process.


Printing can be another significant cost associated with self-publishing. You can opt to print thousands of copies and distribute them yourself, or you can use on-demand printing facilities to keep your print costs low. If you plan to print physical copies of your book, you will need to factor in the cost of printing and shipping. Printing costs can vary depending on the length of your book, the type of paper you choose, and the number of copies you print. On average, you can expect to spend between $3 and $10 per copy for a 200-page book. Most self-published authors choose not to print in bulk anymore, instead choosing on-demand printing. You can in fact print small quantities of wholesale, or author copies, via Amazon and other distribution platforms.


Right! You have your book online and available for purchase… you’re ready to go. This is where the work really starts! Even if you have the best book in the world, if no one knows about it, it won’t sell. Marketing costs can vary widely depending on your strategy. Some authors choose to hire a publicist to help promote their book, while others opt for social media advertising or book review websites. You can also utilise the advertising campaign feature directly on Amazon to reach your target market. The cost of marketing can be anywhere from $10 for a newsletter promotion to thousands in PR campaigns. At Turtle Publishing, we recommend a completely optimised book for Amazon and running Amazon advertising campaigns to reach your immediate market when they’re ready to purchase. We assist and teach this process so you can gain all the benefits from your online book. Pricing starts at $395 depending on your chosen options.

So, how much does it cost to self-publish a book? Based on the above estimates, the total cost can range from $1,500 to $10,000. However, it is important to note that these estimates are just a guide, and your actual costs may vary depending on your individual needs and preferences. We can assist you with parts of the process, or all of the process and we price to suit your specific needs.

It is also important to note that while self-publishing can be a more cost-effective option than traditional publishing, it does require a significant investment of time and effort. As a self-publisher, you will need to take on many of the tasks that a traditional publisher would typically handle.

At Turtle Publishing, we assist this process from start to finish or just a small part of the process. Many authors attempt the whole shebang on their own. This is completely achievable, but ask yourself:

  • Do you have the time to learn the many different aspects of the publishing process
  • Do you have the technical capabilities to tackle the process
  • Do you have the design skills to create a professional publication

What’s the real cost to self-publish?

Even if  you are a very motivated self-starter; what’s the cost to completely self-publish? The biggest cost to your book is TIME. Can you dedicate yourself to this full time or are you working around a full-time job and family obligations? Many authors take 3-5 years to publish a book from start to finish. At Turtle Publishing, we’ll actually have your manuscript published in 10-14 weeks. That includes the whole process from editing through to launch. Many authors think they’re ‘finished’ their book when they type ‘the end’. But the truth is, that’s just the beginning of the publishing process.

The benefits of self-publishing can be well worth the investment. Self-publishing allows you to retain control over your work, keep a higher percentage of your profits, and reach readers directly. Additionally, self-publishing can be a great way to build your platform and establish yourself as an author.

Ultimately, self-publishing can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to bring your ideas to life and share them with readers around the world. Many of the books we publish here at Turtle Publishing cost under $5000 – we want to get your book out into the world, and we don’t believe you need to spend $20,000 to do it. That being said, it’s beneficial to invest funds into producing a quality book. Cheap production generally equal poor quality, but there is a way to manage your self-publishing project, ensuring you get good value for your time and money spent. Book a 20-minute free consult with us, and let’s see how we can help your book dream come true,

Turtle Publishing was founded in 2020 by self-employed designer and happily married mother of two, Kathy Shanks. With 20 years of design experience and having created her own journal in 2019, where she subsequently believes that the ‘universe started throwing books at her’, Kathy is passionate about creating designs that convey the right emotion and ‘vibe’ to the right audience and specialises in budget friendly publishing solutions.

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