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How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book in 2019?

Posted in: Understanding Publishing on July 12, 2019 77 Comments 💬

Finding out how much it costs to self-publish a book is almost always the first thing authors do when they start to think of independent publishing. In this post, we’re cutting straight to the chase and answering that question using data taken from Reedsy’s marketplace. And with the help of some insider knowledge, we’ll show you how to slash your cost of publishing by almost 50% without sacrificing an ounce of quality.

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

The average cost self-publishing an 80,000-word book is $4,300 USD — assuming that it receives developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, cover design, and professional typesetting. The average cost also varies depending on the book’s genre:

Thriller, Mystery, and Crime$4,159
Science Fiction$4,399
Young Adult$4,359
Historical Fiction$4,399
Literary Fiction$4,519
Business, Self-Help & Health$5,239

These numbers are based on the median value of quotes offered on the Reedsy marketplace — which is comprised of freelance professionals with traditional publishing experience. For any project, the final cost will also vary depending on the freelancers’ levels of experience and the length of the manuscript.

Of course, with the availability of free writing, formatting, and design tools — and the ability to list books for sale with zero set-up cost — it’s possible to put an ebook up on Amazon without paying a penny. But to compete in the modern market, self-publishing authors must match the quality of what traditional presses (and Amazon Publishing — Amazon's own imprint) puts out. For the sake of this post, we will assume that you’re looking at creating a best-in-class book that has a chance of becoming a bestseller.

So, first things first...

What is the cost of editing a book?

The average costs of editing an 80,000-word manuscript, according to Reedsy data, are as follows:

Developmental editing$1,920
Copy editing$1,360

Depending on the needs of your project, you will see a range of quotes around these averages. For the editing services listed above, the final cost relies on:

  • The length of the manuscript
  • The editor’s experience
  • How ‘advanced’ the manuscript is (does it require a lot of work?)
  • The genre

Freelance editors will try to figure out how much work they need to put into any job by glancing at the length of the manuscript — so don’t be surprised when a 150,000-word tome costs twice as much to edit and proofread as an average 70,000-word book.

It may surprise you that ‘genre’ is a factor in editing costs. However, by analyzing the quotes offered by editors on Reedsy, we learned the following:

  • A developmental edit for historical fiction is more expensive (+45%), mainly because of the research and fact-checking required,
  • Mainstream fiction genres tend to be cheaper to edit. In particular, editing romance is cheaper by 10%,
  • Nonfiction titles are often more specialized and can be up to 40% more expensive.

If you're not sure exactly what each type of editor does, check out this short guide.


Looking for a professional editor?

700+ of the best editors are on Reedsy. Sign up to meet them within seconds!

Learn more about how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

Free: Book Editing Cost Calculator

If you’re looking for ballpark figures on how much it might cost you to hire editors for your book, take a spin on this calculator which we’ve created off the back of the data extracted from Reedsy.

Just choose your genre, enter your word count, and away you go.

Pricing calculator

Use our data to calculate the average cost of editing services for your genre.

You can search for professional editors over on the Reedsy marketplace.

What is the cost of cover design?

Based on quotes provided by freelancers on Reedsy, the average ranges for the cost of professional book cover design are as follows:

Relative Newcomer$300-$500
Experienced Professional (2+ years with major publishers)$500-$800
Veteran (10+ years with major publishers)$800-$1,500

As is the case with editing, additional factors will determine whether the cost of a cover will fall at the high or low end of those ranges. Those include:

  • The style of design,
  • How many rounds of ‘iterations’ the design requires, and
  • Whether it’s only an ebook cover.

If you're planning on a print edition of your book, you'll need your designer to make a back cover and spine as well, which will spike your costs a bit. Later on in this post, we'll give you our best tips for getting a better cover for less. But for now, let's look at another type of design.

What is the cost of book formatting?

Based on quotes provided by freelancers on Reedsy, the costs of professional book interior design fall into the following ranges:

< $50017%
$1,000-$1,500 19%
> $1,50016%

By ‘interior book design,’ we’re essentially talking about ‘book formatting’ and ‘typesetting.’ These three terms are pretty much interchangeable: it’s the process of setting text onto a page.

Back in ye olde days, this would involve bashing tiles onto metal plates which would then go into a printing press. These days, it’s all done on a computer. Despite this convenience, interior design is still a time-consuming task. Every page of a book is different, which is why typesetting is often more expensive than cover design.

In general, the cost of professional interior book design (or typesetting) will be affected by:

  • Word count. The more pages your book has, the longer the job will take.
  • How ‘graphically intense’ the project is. A novel, for example, is much simpler and quicker to format than a cookbook.
  • Whether you're in a niche category. If there are only three formatting professionals in the world with a lot of experience in your type of book, you can bet that they will charge more.
  • Your designer’s experience. A ten-year veteran is more likely to charge more for a project than someone who’s relatively new to the profession.

If an experienced designer finds your project interesting, they might give you a lower quote. So don’t immediately count out seasoned professionals when you’re looking to save money.

Additional Costs: Marketing, Distribution, etc...

Once you have your finished book in your hand (or on your hard drive), there are other costs you need to factor in.

Ebook Distribution: $0–250 upfront

With all major online book retailers, you should expect to pay nothing upfront for ebook distribution. Some retailers may charge you a “delivery cost” for each ebook you sell. You might also use an “aggregator” as an easy way to reach a large number of retailers. Some of these will charge you an upfront fee or a subscription. Others will simply take a 10% cut of every sale.

Check out our comprehensive guide to ebook distribution to learn more.

Printing: $0–$299 upfront

Indie authors of yore would spend thousands on a single “print run” of their book. Then they’d also have to pay to store all those copies! You’ll be glad to hear that technology has fixed that particular problem and print on demand services will let you turn out copies as and when they’re purchased.

PoD services will charge you for the cost of printing each copy but some of them will also have a setup fee. IngramSpark, one of the largest companies in this field, charges a flat $49 setup fee (which is refunded if you purchase 50 copies within 60 days). You can learn more about the various costs in our post about PoD services.

Marketing: various

How much can you expect to spend on marketing? How long is a piece of string? Generally speaking, marketing a book should be measured in time and effort, rather than dollars and cents. But there are certain costs you should be aware of.

You will probably need a website, which could range from under $50 a year for Squarespace/Wix site, to hundreds of dollars to have one created especially for you. You may also want to look at Facebook advertising, which will cost you at least $5 for each day of your campaign.

To learn more, check out this post about book marketing or enroll on our free Facebook advertising course.

6 Ways to Save Money When Self-Publishing

We're here to tell you that professional editing and design is an indispensable part of self-publishing. But that doesn't mean you can't save a lot of money while still getting the services you need. In this section, we'll reveal six tips that could save you thousands without sacrificing an ounce of quality.

#1. Do as much as you can yourself before hiring an editor

Remember that you are paying for an editor’s time. If you haven’t rewritten your manuscript as much as you can before working with a developmental editor, you’ll end up paying them to tell you things you already knew about the structure or pace. The same thing goes with copy editing. Their job should be to help you turn good writing into great writing — not to fix your basic grammar and spelling mistakes.

From reading your sample chapter, the editor will assess how much work your manuscript will require. Many authors will send a manuscript to an editor, knowing that certain chapters won’t the final cut. This is like tossing money into an open fire, so get your word count under control first.

#2. Consider an editorial assessment instead of a developmental edit

This is where a developmental editor reads your manuscript and gives you a detailed report of what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do to improve it. An editorial assessment checks a lot of the same boxes as a developmental edit but often at half the price — as the editor doesn’t go through the manuscript multiple times and they don’t actively work on the manuscript.

Very often, authors will get an expensive developmental edit way too early, when what they really need is a bit more guidance with their rewrites.

#3. Use stock images for your cover design

Despite what you might think, the majority of books published by traditional publishers are created by manipulating stock images. And if you’re looking to keep your design costs down, the first thing you should do is to avoid bespoke illustrations or photography, both of which take time and money. It’s as simple as that.

#4. Let your designer bring their ideas to the table

One of the worst things you can do is hire a designer to execute a design that you already have in your head. “I want a bridge in the foreground and a full moon lighting up a southern plantation in the background,” you might say. “And there’s a woman in a red dress…” and so on.

Professional designers know what trends are currently working in your genre. They can help you create a cover that will sell but only if you let them do their job. If you ask a designer to simply execute your vision, more often than not, you’ll struggle to communicate precisely what you want. This results in rounds and rounds of expensive revisions and you might still not end up with a cover you like and it will struggle to sell.

#5. Choose professionals who specialize in your genre

This applies to editors and designers alike. Look through their online profiles and portfolios to get a sense of their track record. If a literary fiction editor is asked to work on a detective novel, they will sometimes offer an inflated quote: they’re not dying to work on the project, but if someone’s willing to pay them that much, why not?

So, look for editors with a history of working with books similar to yours.

#6. Use a free tool to typeset your book (maybe)

There are a few free tools online — including our own Reedsy Book Editor — which let you format ebooks and print books to a professional standard. And some of them have a pretty simple learning curve as well!

The big “maybe” is that you should only really consider this for text-heavy books. So if you’ve written a cookbook or something else that relies on a lot of images, you still might want to get a professional typesetter.

Infographic: The cost of self-publishing

Get access to all of Reedsy’s self-publishing data, presented in a single infographic. If you want to know more about the range of costs indie authors are facing, it’s all here in one place.

Cost to self-publish a book 2019

If there’s one piece of advice to take away from this article, let it be this:

For your book to thrive, and for you to succeed as an author, you need to learn from those with experience and work with people who can make your book the best it can be. It won’t be free, but no successful business has ever been built without some sort of investment. And that’s what it is: you’re investing in yourself and your career.

But like any entrepreneur, you also have to be lean and not throw money at every problem. So figure out what you can do by yourself — and which tasks require the help of a professional. If you can work that out, you’ll be well on your way to creating an amazing book at a cost you can be happy with.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the cost of publishing, drop them in the comments below.

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Mia Sherwood Landau

This is a terrific summary, based on professional service providers. It's a keeper!

Donna Barker

Wow! Sharing with all of the writer's groups I'm affiliated with. Gold!

David A. Tatum

Your numbers don't run in line with my experience for editing, at all (yes, even with professional, Big-5 experienced freelance editors, though perhaps not the ones with Manhattan street addresses), and the average number you give for interior design is worthless (you average B&W novel design with color graphic novel design; these are services where the same designer might have a $10,000 difference!). Cover design seems right in terms of range, but the average feels overly weighted towards the more expensive outliers. I don't think you're trying to scam anyone with these numbers, but it doesn't feel like an accurate… Read more »


We have explained the limitations of the data we provide for interior design within the post, and provided a breakdown by ballpark ranges. In terms of editing, this is just raw data from 1,000+ quotes, and there wasn't as much disparity in the numbers as there was for, say, cover design. So these are pretty accurate. The editors are based both in the UK, US, and some in Australia and Canada. Only a few of them actually live in NYC or other places with high costs of living. For cover design, again, we have provided a breakdown by ranges so… Read more »

David A. Tatum

I suppose there might be a disparity related to genre (I write mostly in the sci-fifantasy genre), but your "1000+ quotes" are more than double (in some cases more than triple, when factoring for size) EVERY quote I've ever gotten for my books, except for one guy who lives in Manhattan and factors in the expense of being within easy commuting distance of several Big-5 offices (and his costs were still below your quotes). Most of the editors I've queried have Big-56 experience. And while not in the thousands, I've gotten quotes from dozens of editors. This article was posted… Read more »


These numbers don't match my experiences at all either.

Julie Mayerson Brown

Often I learn as much from the comments as I do from the articles. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this subject. Best of luck to you!


I agree with you. Maybe take the number here and cut it in half.


I see now that "the data was extracted from the last 2,000 quotes sent on Reedsy by our professional editors and designers." Does this cost include the 20% of the fee you take to match and editor and client? Plus, these are QUOTES not actual hires. For that reason, and because your sample does not include freelancers who have to pay a fee to Reedsy and others outside of your own business, this survey is NOT representative of the self-publishing business as a whole. Caveat Emptor, people!


It includes half of it as the Reedsy fee is shared between the professional and the client. A large majority of those quotes convert into collaborations.
As mentioned in the blog post, our objective was not to be representative of the self-publishing business as a whole, but of the cost of working with top professionals, the likes of Neil Gaiman's editor, Stephen King's designer, etc. who are the top talents available on Reedsy.


It was Stephen King's designer who(m) I referenced earlier. (He's working on Joe Hill's book now).


However, admittedly, old Stephen probably has more than just the World Famous Vincent Chong in his stable of designers for covers and, in Joe Hill's case, I heard through the grapevine, for interior art for "20th Century Ghosts." That is the scuttlebutt, anyway.


May I also say that I agree with the person above who said the REAL money goes out for promotion and marketing!!!

S. J. Pajonas

Yeah. All these numbers are high, and I've either hired out for these or done several of the jobs myself. I see where the numbers are coming from, but that only makes it harder for me to choose Reedsy when I can get the same quality from other places.

alex connery

I agree and additionally it seems like this article could use some serious editing services,, at least in the area of "research," ,,,

Clarissa Wild

Not accurate at all for the romance genre. I've had 2 different editors, neither charge over $500 for a 70k manuscript. Cover Design I do myself and I charge my clients only $100. I know other designers who charge in between $150-300, which is the norm with stockphotos. It's only 500-1000+ if the cover involves a custom cover shoot & exclusive photograph. I don't know anyone who would pay 800+ for the interior design, nor do I think it's ethical to ask that amount for such a service. $100-200 is more like it. Honestly, I'd say this entire article can… Read more »

Melinda Tipton Martin

Just shared this fantastic resource in my FB group, http://facebook.com/groups/selfpubsupportgroup. (This is a quality group full of authors and service providers. Our goal is to maintain an atmosphere of educating and learning. It is closely monitored to keep out the riff-raff. For serious self-pubbers only, and we'd love to have a member of the Reedsy team in our midst.)

Ricardo Fayet

Thanks Melinda, I just joined your Facebook group.


Ridiculously overestimated. If any actual authors are paying this much for formatting, covers, even copy and developmental editing, they're fools. The proofreading numbers seem accurate.

Diana Kimpton

Editors charge on the basis of how long they think the job will take so the better your book when you give it to them, the less you should have to pay. So, if these prices look high, do plenty of work on your book before you hand it over to a professional editor.


I don't believe these numbers -- they're way too high, absurdly so -- and I'm an experienced author from both sides, trad and indie. My earlier post suggesting as much was removed. Gee, I wonder why. Don't pretend this is an "informational" page if you won't allow any actual information in the comments. To everyone else: beware a sneaky sales pitch.


Though it seems that this article has data behind it to back it up, the numbers are much higher than any I've encountered after self-publishing ten books. To be fair, for me, I outsource only what I need to - editing/proofing and cover design. I have learned how to properly format a quality looking interior for my prints. I do some design work as well, in fact my bestselling series has covers I did myself. For each book I produce, the total comes in far under the average stated in this article - in fact - I don't believe I've… Read more »


That sounds just about right to me. Thanks for giving some confirmation, TMD. And thanks for your reply, Reedsy rep. I agree with what you say about editing. That's the most important service any author needs. A professional cover artist comes in second. The rest of your data seems too high in my experience (which includes both traditional and indie publishing) and especially the cost of formatting. Anyone who is interested in self-publishing will figure this out soon enough. For example, an ebook program like Vellum (which is very easy to use) costs $10-15/book, and gives professional-quality results. Print formatting… Read more »


I LOVE what Vellum does - alas I don't have a MAC. lol But I did have an author friend run a file of mine through Vellum. It's a wonderful and affordable investment for interior ebook formatting, for sure.

Emmanuel Nataf

Did you know that Reedsy offers that service for free? https://reedsy.com/write-a-book. The Reedsy Book Editor creates beautifully typeset ebooks and PDFs ready for distribution, for free.


I didn't know that. What a great idea! Thanks.


I'm about ready to buy a Mac, so thanks for the tip.


There are different ways to "self-publish", and you should certainly research them and pursue the one that seems right to you. What this article and infographic detail are the average prices and ballpark ranges that top professionals in the fields of book editing, design, and typesetting charge. It's raw, unmodified data from over 2,000 quotes from around 400 different individual professionals. So it's as accurate as it gets. The thing is, however: the people on Reedsy (where the data has been extracted from) are of a certain level of quality and experience—more about how we pick them here: http://blog.reedsy.com/how-does-reedsy-select-its-publishing-professionals So,… Read more »


Definitely different ways. I felt compelled to leave an honest reply to this article because the numbers seemed very high when compared to what I have spent, and what most of my established author friends spend. I think it might scare an author away from self-publishing, if they were to look at the numbers above and think that is the dollar amount that they would need to shell out of their pocket. That's not true in each case. I know authors who spend next to nothing releasing a book, because they have a graphic designer husband and they themselves are… Read more »

Eric Yep

Hello. My name is Eric Yep, and I just had a question....what if the dialog in the story is deliberately a skew. Such as a slang or 1850's cowboy? Example: Gettin along in the day, canteens near empty. Been ridin a couple hours now. Don't really wanna push a friend more than he's been already. Gotta try and find a stream or a creek and get a drink, proper. Maybe post up camp. Know we both could use a good nights rest too. Feel parched, yet all thirst is evaporated by the bright pink silhouetted wispy clouds in front of… Read more »

Kathleen Ellyn

That sounds like a first-person account to me and a western to boot! Not sure what the question is?? I know you don't want an English Major to "clean up the language" for you, for sure.


Once again, I agree with TMD. The Reedsy brand may be the Cadillac, while most of us would be just as happy in a Buick or a Chevrolet or a Toyota. Both of them will run and run well, but one will cost a lot more.

Andrew Chapman

Not a good analogy. You can be 100% satisfied with whatever car you choose, driving around in a total junker if you want. The difference with a book is that you're creating something to *sell* — and the audience is most definitely going to judge your book by its design and editorial.


Hello, I must disagree with your graphic, both in how necessary some of the services you mention are, as well as the price the services you mention which ARE necessary will actually cost if a person takes a minute to look around. I have to date published 23 books on the KDP/Createspace platforms and earn a solid 6 figures from the royalties. They are all 20-30k word serial short stories, I don't expect to be nominated for the Pulitzer. Anyway, here is the breakdown of what I spend... $200 - Ghostwriter (I create the story, plot, etc and plan out… Read more »

Judith Gotwald

Great to save the money, if you have the skills. The number of books I read (at least 12 per month) with serious typos, grammatical errors and awkward construction points to the unrecognized need many authors have for a few extra hands and an extra set of eyes. It's interesting that proofing skills rank lowest in author investment. Poor proofing is probably the biggest factor in perpetuating the stigma of self-publishing as inferior.


I know not one author who ranks editing and proofing at the bottom of the 'must do' list. Self-publishing has definitely helped me strengthen my computer skills, as far as using photoshop and formatting, but I'm not an editor. Not everyone wants to make the time investment to learn something new, which is where more money will be spent in outsourcing. For me, and for the authors I personally know, the fees we pay for editing are always the highest. But that doesn't mean that every Indie author does the same. Self-published books range from the really awful to the… Read more »


I agree with this, as well, from TMD (Judith Gotwald).

alex connery

Well, I think an intelligent "experienced" reader can always find plenty of fault and errors with any manuscript regardless of who published,,,

sylva portoian

Thank you, I have published 16 poetry books ...I do part of the formatting and cover design...only I pay for publishing ...Xlibris Are never bad ...12 of my books i have published with them, but the very small amount to when they sell the book ...one $ only ...!!!


I agree with TMD and have been publishing since 1989 and self-publishing since 2003, with 30 titles, to date. None has cost as much as this "average" price.

alex connery

Thank you much for these "real world" more realistic numbers,,,


I agree with you. If you shop around OUTSIDE Reedsy, you can find significantly lower prices and still expect quality services. This comes over as a little to self-promoting for my taste.


The main problem is that many authors *think* they're getting quality services when in reality they end up with a poor cover, or with an editor who doesn't have the necessary experience. I don't know how many times I've had to say "sorry, but this cover just doesn't look professional" to authors who had hired a designer on Fiverr or similar places. And re editing, it's just a question of thinking about time. If an editor charges you $300 to edit your novel (whether that's developmental editing or copy editing), what does that mean? It means that for a job… Read more »

L (Leigh Matthews)

Fantastic information! I've been lucky, in so far as I have great friendships with talented designers, developmental editors/copyeditors, and a whole raft of beta-readers who are more than happy to point out typos and continuity errors, etc., usually with payment in the form of babysitting (great for writers, when baby is sleeping most of the time!), catsitting, dog-walking.

For any self-publishing authors who can't afford the $3,300 average cost for editing/design, I'd recommend looking at the skills you have to offer your community and leveraging those.


Ah, that's a good idea! Next we'll publish an infographic with babysitting hours instead of $ prices 😉

L (Leigh Matthews)

Ha! Perfect. I find it really interesting to see the different ways in which people value certain things. Just having a couple of hours to oneself as a newish parent can be worth so much! And, as writers, we have a lot of flexibility in terms of time, and can put that to good use by helping friends with things like moving house, picking up kids from school, waiting to sign for parcels or let in/supervise service personnel, and all manner of other things that are tricky when your job requires you to be at your desk in an office… Read more »


Thanks for sharing it, Dennis, and glad you liked it!

Sally Asnicar

Most professional editors won't quote on a manuscript purely on word or page count as they have no way of knowing how well (or poorly) written it is, or even what level of editing it requires - they certainly can't take the writer's word for it. You will be asked to provide the manuscript or at least an extract of it so they can do a sample edit or assessment and work out a price. The sample edit gives the writer an opportunity to see how the editor works and the communications between you will tell you whether this editor… Read more »


That is correct. At The Copyeditor's Desk, for example, we charge a per-word rate, but it's based on the difficulty of the copy.


Yep, this is how it works on Reedsy as well. Authors always provide their manuscript, or an extract of it, when asking quotes from editors. Editors are then at liberty to offer a sample edit or not, but always quote on the project based on what the book needs.

Kristen Steele

This is great information. When it comes to self-publishing costs it's important to remember that quality does matter. If you get a cheap quote for editing or design, it's not the help you want.


Freelance editors tend to be reviewed by the folks they've worked for - it's easy to find highly competent, well-reviewed freelancers without the need to go through an agent. Going direct to get the service you need tends to recuse the cost as there's no-one taking their 'cut'. You can find high-quality designers, editors etc.

Manish Barik

Collaborating with editors who have worked for bestselling authors, is pretty affordable. Thanks, Reedsy.

William Rick Graham

Sharing on the publishing page.

Trynda E Adair

Looks like some of the links are having problems.

If anyone is having issues seeing the infographic and subsiquent images, you can see it at this link as well - https://blog.reedsy.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Reedsy-Infographic-RETINA-compressed1.jpg


Thanks for flagging the links/images issue, it's all back to normal now 🙂

Stephen Tiano

Except, of course, these are prices based on Reedsy's service providers, and as stated elsewhere, part of that jobs board--whether or not Reedsy considers itself a jobs board--reverse leapfrog mambo, where freelancers essentially see who can underbid the most to win a project. The figures quoted I am sure are quite accurate. In Reedsy's experience. But skilled, experience professionals not only know how to find work without resorting to the mambo I spoke of, we also don't accept and could never afford to accept a diet of such prices (whether editors, proofreaders, cover designers, or interior designers). The exceptions, of… Read more »


Hey Stephen, thanks for getting in touch here. I hope we can address a few of your concerns regarding Reedsy and the professionals on our marketplace. Firstly, Reedsy isn't a jobs board at all. It's a marketplace more akin to Airbnb (or perhaps even Match.com, some have said). Authors and publishers will search for freelancers based on their experience, portfolio, and aptitude with the genres they're working in. Jobs aren't, in any way, listed publicly on the site. Authors contact their shortlisted freelancers directly through our request system and invite offers on the project. Reedsy has no hand in setting… Read more »

Jane Ann McLachlan

Wow, these numbers are REALLY high! I get excellent, professional high-quality interior design and book covers for way less than that. People make comments about how good my covers and interior design are, and I pay $300 USD or less each. I think these numbers would discourage many people from self-publishing.

alex connery

You're so right,, it's almost as if this article is "marketing and advertisement" for these publishing services, lol,,,

Jane Ann McLachlan

Well, that's not quite what I meant. I've also seen much higher prices than these. People should just shop around and decide what they want and how much they can afford. And Reedsy is an excellent resource for authors, with great articles on all kinds of subjects. I've gained a lot of valuable information here.


The cost estimates here are far higher than I've experienced - a resourceful self-published author can outsource many of the services listed here more cost-effectively.


Hi Steve 🙂

It's undoubtedly true that the services here can be obtained at a lower cost — the figures we've collected here are based on what the professionals at Reedsy have quoted to authors. I don't know the background of the freelancers you've had experience with, but the cast majority of professionals on our marketplace have years of experience with large publishing companies (and continue to work with them). Accordingly, we would expect the averages to be on the higher end of the spectrum.

Thanks for reading the post!


I don't doubt that the folks you have on your marketplace are among the best. But we can easily find freelancers that have and do work for the Big Five publishing houses and go to them direct. I'm just saying it's not difficult to go direct to freelancers and save money.


For sure. What you get with Reedsy is a wide selection of top professionals and the ability to easily get and compare quotes from four or five in just a few days. And while we charge you a 10% fee, we offer a project protection to both the author and the freelancer: https://blog.reedsy.com/reedsy-project-protection


Sadly, for service providers nearly all categories are showing lower prices than the last survey. I guess that's great if you're an author. Not so much if you're trying to make a living as a designer or editor. Sites like this that have professional service providers bidding for the work (especially of this caliber) will always force prices down. Again, great news if you're buying. But I am willing to bet hard-earned money that these pros are expending far more hours on projects than they bill. This forces wages down even further—approaching minimum wage or less when you factor in… Read more »


Thanks for your comment. May I ask which survey you're referring to?
As indicated in the post, these *average prices* all come from an analysis of over 2,000 quotes from some of the most experienced book editors and designers in the industry. Prices are not forced down since Reedsy is not a bidding marketplace.
We're actually offering a new model for freelance editors, to avoid the "gig economy" effect you're mentioning.


I saved the one you did from April 2016. By contrast, average cover design was $700 on 2016, and above is listed as $650. Average interiors listed at $850 in 2016, today: $830. Average cost of combo: $1250 vs $1100 today. Editing similarly takes a hit. While Reedsy may not explicitly create a bidding competition, essentially that's exactly what happens. There's no doubt in my mind that the ease with which authors may indeed pick the lowest bidder of their choice, this does in fact have the effect of freelancers underbidding to get the work, because bills need paying. I'm… Read more »


Got it. Our research actually shows that authors don't tend to accept the lowest offer. In general, they'll go for one in the middle (neither highest nor lowest). In any case, we have been encouraging many of our freelancers to bring their prices up when we noticed they were under the market rates. Re the dip in cover and interior design you noticed, it's mainly because back in 2016 we had a couple of designers who charged $2k+ for covers and more for interiors who got a few jobs and skewed the averages up. As you well mention, many publishers… Read more »

Gary Zenker

Did they pay you by the word? It;s a lot to get some basic info.

Gail Maynard

Thank you for this great info! Now for your NEXT blog post can you do this same kind of eval comparison of what it costs to distribute and market the book through various companies? My head is swimming trying to compare and they bundle everything together even though I don't need it all. I am a designer and my client wants me to do all the cover and interior design, and author website. My client has also had all the proofing done by pros and editing so I don't know if it is worth it to pay for things I… Read more »


We actually already have a comprehensive comparative post on the different ebook distribution options: https://blog.reedsy.com/ebook-distribution/
We're now working on one for print distribution, which we hope to publish this summer 🙂

Gail Maynard

ahhh - thx!

Dennis Sweatt

Posted on my comic book art page. https://www.facebook.com/dsweattcomicartist/
I will throw it on Twitter as well. Good on ya.

Thabo Mooke

The prices are reasonable, but certainly out of reach for South African considering the Rand/Dollar exchange.


good to know, how much extra cost for a decent marketing campaign?


How much does it cost to publish children books?

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