How Much Does It Cost to Self-publish a Book in 2023?

How Much Does It Cost to Self-publish a Book in 2023?

At the beginning of each new year, most people make resolutions. If you wish to become an indie writer, you may wonder what it takes to get your first book out there.

We decided to help you and tell you how much it costs to self-publish a book in 2023. Let’s dive in.

What do you need to do before self-publishing a book?

A lot of effort and time is behind each finished book. Let’s take a closer look at the steps you need to take before you see your novel in a bookstore.

  • Write the first draft of the novel. It can take a month or several years.
  • Self-edit the manuscript. But first, put the book aside for a while so you can look at it with fresh eyes.
  • Get feedback from beta readers. This test audience allows you to find holes in the plot.
  • Hire a professional editor. This is where the self-publishing costs really start, but an experienced professional will improve your manuscript significantly.
  • Format your book. You should format all text not just because it will look better. Self-published platforms have specific standards.
  • Create a book cover. You can do it yourself or hire a professional designer. Remember that a book cover is one of the essential marketing tools.
  • Get illustrations. This is a vital step for anyone writing children’s books, comics, or fantasy stories.
  • Hire a proofreader. The final stage of editing the book will bring it to perfection.
  • Buy an ISBN. This is a must for authors who publish paper books.
  • Publish a book. However, this is not really the end of your expenses as a writer, as you should also invest in marketing.

If you write non-fiction, for example, a historical, documentary, or scientific book, you also need to:

  • Do fact-checking. A regular editor can’t do this; you need to hire a subject matter expert.
  • Index your book. This stage involves adding all the necessary notes and annotations.

Moreover, your format also affects the cost of self-publishing a book. You can release an e-book for free, but a paper or audio version incurs additional costs. Keep reading to learn more.

How much does it cost to publish a book in 2023?

Let’s be as honest as possible. Today, you can publish a book absolutely for free if you do everything yourself and use free tools. However, it means you don’t care about the quality of the finished book and its success.

If writing is a matter of your lifetime, and you want to become famous and make a profit, it makes sense to invest in creating a high-quality book.

Let’s look at all the stages in more detail.

Self-edit the first draft

It can be absolutely free, or you can purchase additional software that will help you fix gross errors right away:

  • Grammarly (Free, Premium – $12/month, Business – $15/month)     
  • ProWritingAid (Free, Premium – $20/month, $79 – year, $399 – lifetime) 
  • Hemingway App (Free, Desktop app – $19.99)
  • WhiteSmoke (Web – $5/month, Premium – $6.66/month, Business – $11.50/month)    
  • WordTune (Free, Premium – $9.99/month). 

These apps have free versions, but premium subscriptions unlock many more features.

However, do not expect that self-editing is enough to get the high-quality text. You may have 20 years of editorial experience under your belt, but your emotional connection with your novel will prevent you from objectively seeing all the mistakes.

Get feedback from beta readers

Such collaboration is an excellent opportunity to test your book with real readers. Choose assistants among your target audience to make this cooperation as effective as possible. These should be people who are very familiar with your genre. 

This step can also be free depending on who you choose to be beta readers. But you can also pay beta them with:

  • Free copies of your published book
  • Your free time by reading their manuscripts if they are also indie writers
  • Other things by agreement.

Eventually, these people will spend a lot of time and effort on this work, so don’t leave them without a reward.

After receiving feedback, remember to make changes to the manuscript.

You can learn more about how to work with beta readers on our blog.

Hire a professional editor

The price usually depends on the size of the manuscript and the genre, as well as the experience and level of the selected editor. There are different types of book editing. Here are the most popular:

Do you need help determining what type of editing your manuscript needs? Contact the assessment editor first. This specialist will evaluate your book and advise whether you should fix the structure, grammar, or style. Their per-word rate is 2 cents.   

If you’re writing a scientific or historical book, you’ll need additional fact-checking, which costs about $46-50/hour.

You may also need indexing, which costs $36-40/hour. However, you can also do it yourself to save some money. Try this special software:

  • PDF Index Generator (Free trial, License – $69.95) 
  • Vellum (Vellum Press – $249.99, Vellum Ebooks – $199.99, for Mac only)
  • Sky (License – $579).

Format your book

If you want a reader to open your book and gasp (metaphorically speaking) at how clean, beautiful, and readable everything looks, the manuscript needs formatting. 

The price depends on the format of the book: electronic or paper. The first option is a little cheaper.

According to Editorial Freelance Association, it can cost you about $46-$50/hour if you hire a freelancer.

If you have a lot of free time, you can format the book yourself using the following apps:

By the way, while formatting a book, you can turn book pages into true works of art by adding beautiful chapter openers.

Chapter openers design by MiblArt

Create an eye-catching book cover

A book cover matters as one-third of readers choose books based on their design. Moreover, a book cover signifies genre and plot and helps the audience find the right story quickly. That’s why you should do your best to create it.

Indeed, there are many platforms with free layouts for creating book covers today. However, if you don’t have the relevant experience, let the professionals do the work for you. Hire a book cover designer freelancer or turn to a book cover design company.

Why is it better to hire a professional book cover designer?

  • They have appropriate experience and skills.
  • Book cover designers already have all the necessary software and access to high-quality images.
  • They know what imagery, typography, and colors work for your genre.

The average hourly wage for a book cover designer in the United States is $24 as of December 27, 2022. However, actual payment rates vary greatly, and here’s why:

  • Senior designers with years of experience have higher prices than junior. But you shouldn’t underestimate hardworking beginners who can also create an incredible book cover for you. 
  • The type of book cover design matters too. Stock photo manipulated cover is cheaper than illustrated one.
  • Book format influences the price as an ebook or audiobook requires only a front look, but a printed version needs a full cover with the back part.
  • If you set a close deadline, most likely, a designer has to work overtime to make it in time.   

So how much does it cost to create a book cover? Let’s look at the most popular options.

Book cover designers

You can find book cover designers with rates under $30, but this cost services usually includes basic services from beginners. This means you will get, for example, 1 concept and a 3D mockup for an ebook. 

If you want a full cover for the printed book, it can cost $150 and up, depending on the level of the designer and desired type of art. Top specialists charge an average of $500 or more for a package of their services. Some price tags reach up to $1000 for a book cover.


If you want to get a book cover from a professional designer but at the same time save money, consider premade covers. Usually, they meet all genre standards, but at the same time cost about $120. You can also ask for minimal design changes.

DIY tools

You can use special online platforms and applications if you still want to spend a minimum on a book cover. However, before doing so, be sure to do your research on what works for your genre.

Here are some free resources where you can try your hand at being a book cover designer:

Thus, a book cover can cost you $0 if you do it yourself and about $150 or more if you order it from a professional. However, complex book designs can cost $500 and more.

Get illustrations

Illustrations are not a necessary step to publishing a book, but if you plan to do it, let’s consider a possible price. It depends on the type, size, and a number of drawings.

On Fiverr, you can order simple illustrations for $10 each. Complex drawings in the original style start from $150. Thus, the final price will depend on the number of characters and desired style.

According to Reedsy, a fully illustrated book will cost, on average, between $2,000-10,000.  

Hire a proofreader

When you’re at the finish line to publish your book, it’s time to hire a proofreader. Unlike an editor, this specialist will correct spelling and typos but not content or structure.

Proofreading a fiction book can cost $31-35/hour, or 2-3 cents/word. Speaking about non-fiction, it’s about $36-40/hour or 2-3 cents/word.

Buy an ISBN

If you self-publish an ebook, you can skip this step. 

You can purchase an ISBN for your print book online. At the same time, it is cheaper to buy numbers in bulk than separately:

  • 1 ISBN – $125
  • 10 ISBNs – $295
  • 100 ISBNs – $575.  

Publish a book

Ebook is the cheapest way to self-publish as Amazon, Lulu, Barnes & Noble Press, and other similar platforms don’t charge a fee for uploading books. But let’s find out what about other formats.

Envision your cover before making an order
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Printed books

Self-publishing costs for printed books depend on whether you choose traditional printing or print-on-demand. In the first case, you will need to spend money on printing copies in advance. The total cost depends on the number and characteristics of the book you set. For example, printing one 300-page A5 book on Lulu will cost about $14.

If you choose print-on-demand, your royalties will be charged every time someone orders a paper version. Therefore, here you do not spend anything on publishing ahead of time. However, some services may require an entry fee. For example, it’s $49 for IngramSpark and $399 for BookBaby.

You can learn more about book printing services for indie authors on our blog.  


If you plan to publish an audio version of the book, there are two ways you can go. The first is to write the book yourself. To ensure good sound quality, you must buy special equipment (microphone, headphones, pop filter, etc.). Thus, the cost of self-recording an audiobook can be close to $300 or more.

If you want to hire a professional storyteller, such services will cost $25–55 per hour. Therefore, a 10-hour version of the book will cost $250 or more without editing.

Then, how much money do you need in total to self-publish in 2023?

Now you know a lot about how much it is to publish a book in 2023. But let’s combine all prices into one total cost.

An average static novel has 80,000 words or about 300 pages. How much will it cost to publish it?

  • Editing – $1,500-2,400
  • Book formatting – $300-400
  • Book cover – $150-700
  • Proofreading – $1,000‐2,000

If it’s a fiction ebook without illustrations, it will cost from $2950 to $5,500. But if you plan to add pictures or do fact-checking, count on twice the amount.

Summing up

The total cost of self-publishing a book may seem daunting at first glance. However, you can always adjust prices by choosing specialists or doing some work yourself. This is the superpower of indie authors. However, your efforts will definitely pay off with the profits and love of readers.

And what do you think, is it worth investing a lot of money in publishing a book? Share your opinion in the comments.

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Sally Alter
10 months ago

Who on earth can afford these prices? I certainly can’t.

I have published four books this past year and edited them myself. I have sold well over 1,000 books and made over $5,000. Nobody has complained about my editing. If you are good at English grammar and organizing a book to read well, you can save yourself a lot of money.

Sally Alter
9 months ago
Reply to  Vasylysa

Thank you for your reply.

Last edited 9 months ago by Sally Alter