How To Self-Publish A Book On A Budget

The great news about self-publishing is that you can do it affordably (and some even do it for free!). You don’t need a huge budget to self-publish. I’ve been at both ends of the budget spectrum for publishing. I spent around $1500 for my first book – I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was new, and I was following advice of other indie authors who likely had more cash flow than I did at the time. With every new book I published, I was able to adjust my budget to be more reasonable.

Book covers. Some of my book covers were designed by my sister and she has affordable rates. You can also find pre-made book covers that cost anywhere from $20 to $200. You can always take a browse through some pre-made book cover websites and see if there’s something that will suit your book. Some custom cover designers charge very high rates – I worked with one once and she gave me a few discounts but it still ended up costing over $300. Other custom cover designers will only charge around $50-$100 which is more reasonable. If you have some skill with graphic design or have a knack for learning things yourself, you can create your own book cover for free! Many indies do that, so it’s something to keep in mind if you’d rather not spend any money on the cover. This is the one area where I’ll always spend money, because I don’t have the patience to design book covers YET (Well, except for the book cover for Voice Of A Story Teller – that was designed by me!). Your book cover is one of the biggest ways you can market your work and gain interest from readers so having a cool/attractive design is super important.

Formatting. This can be a somewhat frustrating part of the publishing process, but it usually won’t take too long and you can learn how to do this yourself (with some trial and error). The Amazon Kindle forums are a great place to figure out how to size/format your manuscript prior to uploading it. I’ve paid for a book formatter once and it cost around $100, which isn’t bad, so if you absolutely hate this process, you can pay for someone to do it for you.

Editing. This can be a a hot topic between writers. Many indie authors will drive home the rule that you *must* have your work professionally edited before you publish it. I’ll admit that I paid good money for editors in the beginning. I was just doing what I was told, because I thought it was what writers should do – and I wanted to have a good quality work presented to the world, of course. Some editors will charge up to $1500 and they stand behind the principle that they need to charge this much to make a living (Never mind how little the authors actually make once their book is published, haha) so sometimes you have to be your own proponent and stand up for yourself. Don’t let other people boss you around and lure you into spending more money than you can afford. I’ve hired freelance editors willing to do the work for around $250 (I felt guilty paying them any less than that, honestly) and to be fair their quality of work was just as good as the editor I paid $1500 for.

As time has passed, I no longer want to pay for editing services. I edit my own work (Often 10-20 times for good measure) and no matter how much you spend on an editor, there will still be a typo or three that you’ll notice after it’s published. My opinion is that if someone is counting your book’s typos and sees a few errors as something that ruins the story, they probably weren’t invested in it to begin with. People will overlook minor errors when they genuinely connect with a story. I see my writing as art and I don’t want other hands on it. A lot of editors have wanted me to take the story I wrote in another direction and it didn’t make me too happy to see they didn’t really connect with it – in the end, it’s just one opinion. I’m not here to write for market or follow trends, I’m here to write a story that’s true to the one I wanted to tell.

A side note: Some of my best selling books were not edited by an pro editor and they received a lot of positive reviews. So, no, you don’t need an editor. If you want to hire an editor, you can find someone who will fit into your budget. I hope this settles some of your fears about the cost of editing services.

Beta readers. Beta reading is something a lot of indie authors like to have before publishing their work. It’s completely free and a lot of authors will read one another’s books prior to publishing – it can be thought of as a trade of services. It’s a no-cost way to have another set of eyes go over your work. It’s not the same as editing, but it can be helpful to some writers. I don’t personally use beta readers for the same reason I don’t like to have editors.

Proofreading. Some people won’t invest in an editor, but they will have someone proofread their story. This is basically a one time sweep over the story to fix any typos or minor errors. If you were to pay for this service, it’s a lot cheaper than an editor. Some writers think it’s worth it to have a proofreader go over their story. It’s something you can do yourself for free, though, and you’ll get better at it as you write more books.

Publishing services. It’s completely free to publish your book on Kindle Direct Publishing – for both the ebook and the print book. Amazon uses a print on demand system so you never have to pay out of pocket for your books to be printed which is pretty nifty – unless you want to order author copies to sell on your own website. Most online publishers won’t charge you any fees to upload your book on their website – if they do charge you money then there’s a chance that it’s a vanity publisher in disguise.

Author copies. Amazon gives you the option to order author copies at a discounted price if you want to sell them on your own site or at an author convention. It’ll cost you a little money, but some people want to try selling their own books. I tend to order a few of these for giveaways or if I want to do a book photo shoot for Bookstagram.

So, there you have it! You can publish your book completely for free or you can spend a few hundred on an editor and a cover designer. The great thing is that there’s always options if you need help and aren’t sure about how to do something. You can create a thread on Twitter or join the forums on KDP and someone will always be there to help you troubleshoot. I hope you enjoyed my little blog post. Happy writing and publishing, folks! Xx

Do you have any other tips you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

(Photo by from Pexels)


  1. There is also the beat sheet. It is something I’ve learnt about in my writing group. It is the important beats within a book, and if you hit them at the right place, will improve any story.

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