You’ve written a book, you want to get it on Amazon and KDP, and maybe a few other online outlets. So, how much does it cost to self publish a book? Well, that all depends…
First you need to lay out the book and come up with some cover art. You can achieve this with desktop publishing software like Adobe Indesign, or more likely for the average user, Word Processing software like Microsoft Word. If you can save the document into a PDF you will have the file you need for the interior to upload.
Your cover art will likely be a PDF and need to be high resolution. For instance 300 dpi. If you’re making the artwork yourself try to save into the PDF format which will preserve the quality of the text (something called vector art) as opposed to saving as a JPG file which will make the type part of the picture (called raster art). Vector art will produce clear text on the cover. All the text on the inside PDF will be vector. When you upload your artwork if the resolution isn’t right generally you’ll get an alert. The on demand publishers we recommend have specifications which make clear what the resolution of the images need to be.
So if you can pull this off by yourself, so far your budget is zero. That being said, hiring a Graphic Design Professional is certainly worth thinking about. They also may be able to help you with the ebook version, which is a little harder to do on your own as it requires the ebook format (.mobi is the final format on Amazon but you can upload an ebook) and an interactive table of contents. How much this will cost depends on the designer, but a top notch graphic designer who can design a professional cover and interior for you could be $2000. A discount designer could be a few hundred. Remember though you generally get what you pay for.
You can also think about having someone proofread and/or edit your manuscript. You can hire an editor, or perhaps look to the local college which teaches writing or journalism and hire a student. At the least have several friends give it a read though, we always miss out own mistakes. This being said self published, on demand titles can be updated after they are published at little or no cost so don’t panic if some typos get through.
Ok so you made it this far and you have the PDF of the interior and the covers (front, back and spine). Now you want to upload your book to an on demand publisher (printer). On demand publishers print the book when it is ordered and generally do not hold inventory. Yes, believe it or not they can print one book at a time. This tech is recent and is a wonderful thing, making it possible to get published book off the ground very inexpensively.
If you want to use Amazon’s own Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly Createspace) to self publish your book, you can open an account on https://kdp.amazon.com, upload you interior file, your covers (they have extensive information on formatting online) and they will provide you with an ISBN barcode and place it on the back cover artwork for you. You can get a template here for your covers: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/cover-templates
They will send you an exact template based upon the size of your book that you choose, the number of pages, and the type of paper you choose. Very handy.
Once it passes KDP’s review process (usually just a day), your title will go live on Amazon.
So going this route the actual cost to self publish is nada, nothing, zilch. Off course Amazon will wind up taking about 2/3rds of the purchase price of the book, but that’s true of any on self publishing.
Another choice is Ingram Spark. https://www.ingramspark.com
Ingram is of somewhat higher quality than KDP. If you are going to do color imagery inside your book Ingram is much better in terms of quality and price of each book when you buy authors copies to sell yourself. Ingram is low cost, but by no means free. Interior color on KDP isn’t worth doing. Ingram also has a hard cover option.
Last we checked, and these things change all the time, Ingram had an initial set-up fee of $49 for a print version of a book. You may be able to recoup the fee if you order 50 or more books soon after publishing. Ingram does not give you an ISBN barcode for free. Buying just one such barcode is expensive. Ingram charges $85. When bought in bulk they are cheap per barcode, so you may be able to get one from a broker for much less. We’ll go into this in another blog in the future.
If you make changes to your book after it’s uploaded Ingram will also hit you with a $25 revision fee. So could be well over a hundred dollars to get off the ground with Ingram. All in all though that’s still pretty cheap.
There are other on demand printers for self publishing authors such as Book Baby and Blurb. Be wary of any ‘printer’ where the initial set up costs exceed one hundred or they charge you to keep an inventory or monthly fees of any kind. These places about and they all pretty much suck.
In either case with the two on demand published listed above after the book is approved you can order authors copies very cheap to sell yourself and take to book signings. You might have a book you’re selling for $15.95 and you can get your copies of for about $4.00 each for instance. Be aware when Amazon or Ingram sells the book they will get the lion’s share of the royalties. But this is fair enough, they printed it, mailed it, and made it available on their website. Your costs have essentially been nothing.
If you choose expanded distribution with KDP your book will show up off of Amazon, albeit with skimpy royalties. This will be the subject of another blog soon.
But to answer the question How much does it cost to self publish a book? If you’re willing to do the work yourself, essentially … nothing.