The True Cost of Publishing a Book in 2021 – SFGate

The cost of self-publishing ranges greatly depending on how much you have to spend. However, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a lot! 

With the help of online platforms, self-publishing is easier than ever. You don’t even need to have physical copies if you publish your book as an ebook. However, no matter what route you take, there are always some costs to consider. 

So if you’re ready to get your book out there for the world to enjoy, here is a guide to the cost of publishing a book. 

Edit Your Book

You have your completed manuscript. Celebrate because you have a lot of the work accomplished! However, if you want your book to be ready for publishing, you need to have it edited. 

This is where you have to weigh the cost to quality ratio. There are three types of editing you can get. Each comes with its own benefits regarding cost and how in-depth the editor goes. 

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is the most comprehensive option. A developmental editor will focus on the content and tone of your book. Be prepared for a collaborative process. 

They will help you identify the message of your book and how to speak to the reader effectively. They might challenge you on larger plot points or character development so this editing process requires more communication on your end. 

Remember, they are there to help you keep your book authentic to its purpose so remain open-minded and get ready to brainstorm new ideas. This editing service is generally the most expensive as it requires the most time and commitment. Budget to spend about $7 per page on a developmental editor. 

Copy Editing

This type of editing will look at the mechanics of your writing. If you feel like your content is good, but are looking for someone to check grammar, syntax, and ensure that your book is easy for the reader to understand, then a copy editor is your best option. 

A copy editor will help fine-tune the flow of your sentences and perfect the structure. In this stage of editing, there may still be some rewrites but the changes won’t be as large as those of a developmental editor. 

This editing process is usually slightly more affordable at $5 per page. 


This is the final stage of the editing process. The proofreader will receive your manuscript in its final draft and look over it once more for any small errors that might have been missed through more in-depth editing processes. 

Proofreading is a must for peace of mind before publishing. It works best in conjunction with the other two editing methods as it requires a completed project, free of most contextual and grammatical problems. 

Proofreading is the cheapest part of the editing process at around $3 per page. 

Other Factors to Consider

These editing costs are just an estimate. Other factors can affect how much you will spend on this part of the process. The length of your manuscript will be an easy way to get a rough calculation. 

However, you should also consider the topic of your book. For more niche subjects you might need someone with more expertise in both fact-checking and developmental editing. This could increase the cost slightly.

Additionally, taking the time to do a couple of rounds of self-editing is a great way to save on cost as it will limit the number of edits that professional editors will have to do in order to get your manuscript ready for publishing. 

Design the Cover

According to a survey of just over 600 participants, 79% of people said that the cover of a book plays an important role in the decision to purchase. 

That means that it’s important to consider your cover design and not to cut corners on investing in something unique and eye-catching. While you can design your own cover if you have the skills to do so, it’s beneficial to hire a professional who has market knowledge of designs that sell. 

The price of a cover design will vary depending on the designer’s experience. However, you can expect to pay about $500 for quality cover art.

Ebooks are generally cheaper when it comes to cover design as you won’t have to consider the tangible elements of the book. Different designers specialize in both online and physical formats. If you’re hiring a designer for an ebook, they will be able to consider how the cover will look as a thumbnail and adjust the design accordingly. 

Format Your Book

Formatting includes both the layout and design of the interior of your book. Typesetting will deal with the font, margins, and other more invisible elements while typography will address the more decorative features of the book. 

In summary, formatting will ensure that your words look good on the page and can help in determining things like chapter headers and font that elevate the quality of your book. 

As with everything else, expect to spend more or less depending on the designer’s experience as well as the length and complexity of the manuscript. Most people spend between $500 and $1,000 on formatting. 

Print Your Book

For those opting to print physical copies, budget the cost of printing services. The cost might change depending on what paper you choose, how long your manuscript is, and what kind of binding you want. 

You will also need to communicate with your designers to make sure that the cover and layout will work for the printing method. Additionally, printing in bulk will usually save on costs in the long-run. This means you will need to determine how many copies you aim to sell. 

Read these tips for more information on printing services and how to choose one. 

Determine the Cost of Publishing a Book and Make Your Budget Today

We hope this guide has helped you get started in budgeting for self-publishing. Remember that these numbers reflect the average cost of publishing a book. You might decide that you would like to spend more on the cover design or invest in a highly experienced editor. 

Determine what steps you want to prioritize and allot your budget accordingly.  

You’ve poured your heart and soul into this book so see it through to the end! Don’t wait on sharing your masterpiece with the world. Get started publishing your book today.  

June Potter wrote this article on behalf of FreeUp. FreeUp is the fastest-growing freelance marketplace in the US. FreeUp only accepts the top 1% of freelance applicants. Click here to get access to the top freelancers in the world.   

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