Self-publishing a book requires a considerable commitment of time and money. While you can self-publish relatively cheaply, you won’t find success if you’re cutting corners or hoarding your cash. Why? Because it takes an investment for a book to become noticed. There are two aspects of self-publishing that come at a cost – the actual price of each step you have to take in the publishing process and the high price of neglecting to self-publish properly. While you may not lose as much money upfront if you ignore some steps, your book’s low sales down the road can be devastating.

The Monetary Cost of Self-Publishing

Every step of the book publishing process costs money. If you don’t spend it, your book will end up riddled with errors and looking cheap. Low quality or poor design can destroy a book before it ever gets read, so keep in mind that there are several steps to the publishing process, and each one has a price tag. While these costs can vary widely depending on where you live and what you pay for, here is a general idea of what you can expect to invest if self-publishing:


This can range from quick proofreading for grammar, spelling, and sentence structure to an in-depth edit that covers clarity, structure, tone, and consistency. At the highest (and most expensive ) tier of editing, some editors will give a writer feedback on improving flow and restructure their manuscript for better presentation and readability. Simple editing starts at $1,000 for a 50,000-word document and can easily run to five figures.

Cover Design

Anywhere from $50 to $5000 for a cover. You don’t want to self-publish a book with a cover that looks like a high school art student-designed it, and you need to be aware of what you’re buying. A $50-100 cover design from Fivvr may get you an ebook front cover only. If you’re printing a paperback, you’ll need a full cover. Top designers charge top prices, and the covers they design show up on the bestseller lists. Self-publishing with unattractive cover art can condemn your book as unprofessional.


Proper layout and design make your book readable. If paragraphs are cut short, chapters shift on the page, and there are uneven margins, readers get frustrated and give up reading. Sadly, this is one of the most common errors of self-publishing.

ISBNs, BISAC codes, Amazon Category Selection, Etc. 

Depending on your expectations and goals as a self-publishing author, you’ll need to educate yourself about various publishing industry requirements and standards. Getting an ISBN and using it properly is one of the basics. Figuring out the right category for your book is another. What you need to learn depends on what you want to do with your self-published book, so be prepared to spend time getting up to speed, so you don’t make foolish mistakes.

Printing the Book When Self Publishing

Once your book is formatted and you have a cover design (full cover), you can take your files to any book printer (as long as the files have been set up properly).  Most self-publishing authors can take advantage of digital printing technology to keep the investment in printing costs relatively low. A 300-page 6×9 book with black & white interior and 4-color cover will run $5 to $10 per copy to print, maybe more depending on the printer and the quantity. Depending on your sales expectations, marketing plan, and budget, an offset print run might be more advantageous to keep the unit costs down. Offset printing begins to make sense when you want more than about 1500-2000 copies. 

Marketing Your Book

Marketing requires advertising, social media, possible radio appearances, book signings, and a host of other actions to get your book in front of readers. While appearances may be free, you can spend thousands, even tens of thousands, on advertising time and space.

The Investment of Your Time and Energy

Most writers don’t think about the value of their time when they are self-publishing. The hours spent working with a cover artist, correcting manuscript mistakes based on editing and proofreading input, and spending time marketing yourself all eat into your writing time and personal life. 

Marketing is one of the most difficult parts of going it alone with self-publishing. With no media or publishing contacts, you’ll be going in blind to talk to bookstores, gift shops, and online shops hoping to sell the idea of your book. You need to find a space on the shelves, but the competition is fierce, particularly when you don’t have an industry professional to vouch for you and your book.

The Loss When You “Cheap Out” on Self-Publishing

You can always go the cheapest route so you can finish your book and get it out the bookshelves or in online eBook stores, but this has a substantial negative impact. Your rankings on sites like Amazon will be distressingly low unless buzz has been generated through savvy marketing.

If you opt for an editor or cover designer with little to no experience to save money, you’ll pay later in lost revenue. You may also have to take time to rebrand your book a year down the line to find your audience. 

A better option for many writers is to work with a hybrid publisher such as Dudley Court Press. A hybrid publisher is the solution when you find yourself choosing between the difficulty of finding a traditional publisher and spending too much of your own time and money with no guarantee of self-publishing success. With hybrid publishing, the writer and the publisher share the costs involved. The publisher brings expertise, contacts, and professional advice to the table that can catapult your book to success while requiring less time and stress on your end. 

Dudley Court Press

Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors.

Are you interested in Self-Publishing your book, but could use some assistance? Check out our Assisted Self-Publishing Program.

For more information, including about DCP’s latest program Aspiring Author to Published Pro, please get in touch at

We recently launched our latest program as well, Memoir Writing Made Easy. Are you interested in writing your memoir, but don’t know where to start? Our Memoir Writing Made Easy course is a step-by-step guide to help you generate story ideas and write with a style you can be proud of. Plus you can work at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want! The course is written for non-writers. Topics include: setting yourself up for writing success, writing styles and formats, editing, legal issues, publishing ideas and lots more!