Blueprint to automate your author marketing - click here:Get the Webinar
Free Webinar "Automate your Author Marketing"


The Cost of Self Publishing (Part Two) – What’s A Reasonable Figure?

And How Much Should I Spend When I'm Starting Out?

by Nick Stephenson in Books and Writing

In the last article, we talked about investing in yourself and your business. 

I shared with you some crazy numbers. Numbers that would have made my eyes bleed a few years ago. But, more importantly, I shared with you the idea that investing money in your business isn’t about COST – it’s about VALUE.

This is an important fact that many people forget – that investing in yourself and your business is the only way to grow profitably. But you don’t have to lay down $50k on logo design and a snazzy website. Far from it. More on that in a moment.

With that in mind, onto today’s post.

And I’m probably going to take some heat for this. 

But for all the wonderful branding, the top-notch systems, the editing, marketing and other things I choose to invest in now…

They would have been a COMPLETE waste of time when I was first getting started.

Case in point: when I first hit five figures a month, my logo was something I’d designed in MS Paint. My blog and website were just free themes on a cheap-and-cheerful hosting plan. And I didn’t spend thousands on book production, either.

My first novel’s costs broke down like this:

  • Editing: $600
  • Proof-reading: ZERO
  • Cover Design: $150
  • Formatting: ZERO
  • Interior Formatting (paperback): ZERO

Now, these costs are significantly lower than a lot of people pay.

I was able to trade some favours, make some introductions, and swap some work to get those prices (and still get professionals to work with me). The formatting and interior design I did myself. With considerable difficulty.

That first book has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of readers and brought in a decent chunk of change over the last few years, all from a $750 outlay.

But it took a lot of work.

That’s how the world works. You can either trade time, or you can trade money.

Or occasionally, livestock. But that’s a whole other topic.

Today, I prefer to pay people who are better than me at what they do to provide these services for me. Because I’m no good at formatting, or cover design, or editing. I’d rather spend my time on fun things, rather than try and fix a broken website or marketing platform.

And when I first got started, I knew that growing a successful business wasn’t about having a fancy logo or a slick website. Sure, those things can help – LATER.

After I’d graduated University, I started up my first business. I spent the first six weeks coming up with a website design, branding, and even an automated telephone system that directed people to the right place. I didn’t even have any customers! Or staff!

Looking back, that was a crazy decision. And, you guessed it, the business failed. Miserably.

But I learned from my mistakes. 

Like anything, the real costs of self publishing a book can vary hugely. If you’re just starting out and you have a tight budget, invest in what matters most – cover design (this is what readers see first) and editing (your book needs to not suck). For all the other stuff, either learn to do it yourself or hustle your ass and shop around, trade in favours, or swap services if you can.

The objective is to release your Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Which, in this case, is a professional-looking book that can stand proudly next to anything else on the digital shelves.

And if you DO have the budget the sky really is the limit.

I remember asking myself when I published my first book: “I wonder how much I’d need to invest to work with the best people in the business without having to offer my first-born child as tribute?”

Recently, a company called Reedsy did a little study and answered that question for me…

Reedsy is an online marketplace that helps connect authors with some of the best publishing pros in the world.

They took a look at the work being done across their network and found that, on average, it would cost around $3,000 – including editing, proofing, cover design, and formatting.

You can check out their findings by clicking right here

Now, $3,000 is a hefty investment if you’re just getting started. But remember – Reedsy only offers the best of the best. Consider this something to aspire to if you’re just getting started (and in the meantime remember the approach I talk about above – what I did for my first few books).

And remember – don’t get hung up on business cards and fancy website design. Your cover, your editing, and your writing are what matters most in the beginning – and, of course, finding your audience (more on how to do that listed down the right-hand-side of this page).


So, what do I do next?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below this article and tell me: “What’s the number 1 thing you’d spend more money on in YOUR business if you could?”

I’d love to hear your answers – so leave a comment below

If you want a step-by-step guide to getting started on your email list, go download “Reader Magnets”. This free ebook will show you how to put this process in place and start building your email list – click below to grab your copy:



By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Click "more info" to find out more. More info.

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website (eg, by scrolling down the page or navigating to a different page) without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. You can change your cookie settings in your browser at any time to restrict our use of cookies. Full information can be found on our privacy policy here: