An In-Depth Guide to Self-Publishing Your Own Book

An In-Depth Guide to Self-Publishing Your Own Book 1.jpg

Self-publishing is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to publish. Over recent years, the money made in the publishing industry has gone down, but the pay per writer has increased. This change is due in part to the shifting marketplace. Writers who self-publish their novel are actually paid better per sale than traditionally published novelists. While the traditional publisher pays less than 10 percent of each sale to the author, self-published authors regularly make 70 percent of their sales. Due to this, there is a huge market for self-published authors. When done right, authors can make more money through self-publishing than traditional publishing.

Self-Publishing: The Basics

For centuries, the only way to publish a book was through a traditional publishing house. In the 1990s, this situation changed for the first time. Print-on-demand technology allowed books to be printed individually. For the first time, authors could pay to have a book printed. New outfits like iUniverse and AuthorHouse sprang up to meet the need.

Since 2007, e-books have become increasingly popular. They have minimal costs to distribute and are created as needed by readers. The wide reach of Amazon has ensured that e-books can reach any reader, and publishing a book can take under two hours. Currently, the leaders in the field of self-publishing include Amazon KDP, CreateSpace, Draft2Digital and IngramSpark.

How Does Self-Publishing Work?

Self-publishing essentially allows the author to release their book to the world and enjoy the majority of the profits. Unlike traditional publishing, there are no editors, cover creators or marketers involved in the process. An e-publishing company's only job is to help distribute the book. They do not do any editing, proofreading or copyright protection services. Due to this, it is important for self-published authors to ensure the quality of their book before they publish it.

For most self-publishing companies, authors do not have to pay any upfront costs. In rare cases, an upfront fee may be charged. BookBaby actually charges an upfront fee, but it allows authors to keep 100 percent of the net profits. Most other publishing companies take about 30 percent of the sale price and do not charge any additional cost.

With e-book retailers, authors can upload their work at any time and have it immediately available for sale. New versions can be uploaded, the book can be removed and the price can be continuously changed. The entire process requires minimal technical knowledge, and the online platforms make it easy to upload new books.

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish?

The cost of self-publishing ranges from entirely free to tens of thousands of dollars. For a better quality of book, authors will need editing, proofreading, cover creation and marketing services. Below, the various price ranges and types of costs are listed.


While many authors think they do not need an editor, this view is entirely incorrect. Even the world's top authors use editors, and every traditional publishing house has editors on staff. Depending on the experience of the editor, the fee may range from US$45 to $65 an hour. Assuming that one to five pages can be edited every hour, the average 280-page book can cost anywhere from $2,520 to $18,200. Using freelance editors on sites like Upwork may be able to lower this cost, but it will still generally cost at least $1,000 to have a book professionally edited.

Cover Design

Books are judged by their covers, so the cover design is extremely important. While some designers sell premade designs for US$40 or $50, professional cover designs can cost up to $3,500. For a simple, cheap option, try using websites like Fivvr to buy cover designs for as low as $5.

Copy Editing

One the manuscript has been edited, a copy editor is needed to adjust punctuation, spelling and grammar. They can complete about 2 to 10 manuscript pages an hour, and the services cost US$25 to $50. For a 280-page novel, this amounts to a price range of $700 to $7,000.

Formatting the Book

For the book to appear correctly as a print and e-book, it must be formatted. This can cost anywhere from US$150 to $2,500. If authors have the time, they can format their book using programs like Pages, Sigil and Calibre for free.

Buying an ISBN

To ensure that the book can be printed and appear in libraries, the book needs an ISBN. This can cost anywhere from US$25 to $125. Individuals who buy in bulk can get the lower price of $25 by paying $250 for 10 ISBNs.

Reviews and Marketing

Before and after publications, authors will want professional reviews to market their book and show potential readers that it is worth buying. On Publishers Weekly PW Select, a book review costs $149. Kirkus charges $425, and BlueInk Reviews charges $396 per book review. Bloggers and other websites may be able to review the book for less, but the author will have to do additional legwork to find these sources.

As for marketing, authors can pay anywhere from $100 to over $5,000. It is also possible for the author to do the marketing of their book alone, which can save significantly on costs. At the very least, authors should market or hire someone to market their book for at least 10 hours.

Can You Do It for Free?

The short answer to this question is yes. Many services allow authors to self-publish for free in exchange for a cut of their royalties. If the author has the time and is technologically savvy, they can create the cover, do the marketing and format their book alone. Some of the editing can also be done by the author or a knowledgeable friend. Ideally, the author should still pay for at least some editing to be done on their book. No one wants to read an e-book that is filled with typos, so the cost of editing will more than compensate for itself in additional book sales and readers.

How to Do It on Amazon and Alternatives?

Publishing on Amazon is easy. Once the author has signed up for an account, Amazon guides them through the publishing process. The book has to be formatted and uploaded. In addition, the title, author name and other information given to Amazon must match the information in the book. If the book is already edited and ready to publish, it can take a matter of minutes to publish it on Amazon.

Other than Amazon, there are literally hundreds of options available for self-published authors. Other e-book platforms include Apple's iBooks, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble and Cobo. Some authors choose to use multiple self-publishing websites to reach the maximum audience. While Amazon accounts for 65 percent of all e-books sold in the United States, these alternative platforms account for about 21 to 26 percent of the marketplace.

With all the options laid out, which way would you go? Let us know in the comments.