How much does it cost to publish your book on your own?
What are the concrete steps?
What are some good platforms and tools?

An author spends about $2,500 – $5,000 to self-publish his or her book. With this article we want to give further information how to save money by doing the self-publishing process right.

There are various platforms like Bookbaby, Authorhouse, Fastpencil, Notion press, etc wherein they charge a fixed price without any guarantee for book sales. The problem in most cases is the lack of any marketing activity, or any serious quality assurance of your upcoming book.

The whole self-publishing thing isn't about outsourcing everything, but to gain control over the complete process (cover, edit and marketing). 

Let us quickly answer your starting questions with our self-publishing step plan.

Write your manuscript first (free)

Write your story down, there is no point to start the process without a complete manuscript. 

Don't use any formatting, just headlines and paragraphs, maybe bolded text. Read and correct the whole manuscript at least once.

Register on KDP (free)

  • Fill out your personal information, bank data etc.
  • Start the setup process of your first book, grab a free ISBN on the platform

Order a Quality Cover ($30 – $500)

  • Never start your book with a self-made cover, you will need a professional cover no matter 
  • If you are looking for cheap service providers (not bad at all) go find with a higly rated provider on Fiverr
  • If you have a budget for this purpose check out 99designs 

You could find both good and bad designers on both places, so always check their latest works and choose the selected one according to their work reference.

Editing and proofreading ($50 – $500)

This is one long term task for your book, if you want a quality book this step takes a lot of time. It consists of the followint elements:

  • Initial Editing – It takes a lot of time and effort, but I suggest to do it on your own. 
  • Copy-editing – This part should be always made by a 3rd party, you can't do everything on yourself
  • Proofreading – Maybe it is the cheapest task from this list, but this is also should be done by someone who haven't read the text before

Book formatting (free – $200)

If we are speaking about ebook editing with Sigil it is considered free (even the software is open-source). Just takes time and some Html and CSS knowledge.

If we are talking about professional formatting with a lot of pictures and pages, the price could quikcly climb higher.

Upload your final book (and/or ebook) to KDP and publish (free)

Don't be afraid that the book cover or the formatting wouldn't be perfect at the first time (it won't be for sure), you order a copy and you may correct everything by re-submitting your files after the correction of source files (word, epub, cover pdf). 

Anyway, Amazon's support staff  will point a lot of errors when you first upload the manuscript. The KDP platform also pre-generates your book electronically, so your could flip like a book.

Marketing and book visibility (free – $300)

You could read more about book marketing here.

Basically infinite numbers of steps should be made to gain visibility for your book, even if it has a charming cover. But book marketing worth it, if you are serious about your work.

Just to give you some marketing ideas:

  • Listing your book on several book catalogs
  • Influencer marketing and listing your book on several book blogs
  • Amazon Sponsored Ads for books
  • Social media marketing (pages, groups etc.)
  • Goodreads and Listopia lists
  • Free Kindle promotion (on KDP)

Audiobook ($50-$500)

ACX is a good platform to turn your existing ebook into Audiobook. You could either choose a narrator who with you will share the royalty, in this case the narration work will cost close to zero ($50 – $80). The other case is when you cover the cost of narration and you will receive all the royalties after future sales. 

Audiobook sales have been skyrocketing with much lower competition than ebooks.