How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book? – Data from the Reedsy Marketplace

One of the questions we get asked most often at Reedsy is “What’s the cost of self-publishing my book? How much should I budget for editing and cover design?”. Since our launch at the end of 2014, we’ve been able to collect a lot of data about the book publishing industry – data that answers this and other pressing questions for authors and publishers. It’s always been our plan to open-source that data, and now we’re ready to share it.

After 15 months of transactions, we believe we can provide quality information that promotes transparency and clarity. In fact, Reedsy is the only company that can do so: our marketplace allows us to collect thousands of data points from hundreds of professionals in the UK and North America. We hope this data will be shared and become a reference for all publishing professionals, whether they are authors, publishers, editors or designers.

Why can I trust this data?

We are proud of being able to provide unmodified, factual data that comes directly from the Reedsy marketplace. In fact, the data was extracted from the last 2,000 quotes sent on Reedsy by our professional editors and designers. We haven’t modified it and the information presented below is the raw data from our database.

Without further ado, here’s the infographic! Read the post below for more in-depth data and analysis about each service (editing, design, typesetting).

What is the cost to self-publish a book? A Reedsy Infographic

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How should the data be read?

Before we start giving numbers, we should mention that Reedsy’s data is for professional services. As a reminder, about 90% of our editors and designers have worked with Big Five publishers, and all of them have worked on bestselling titles. The pricing presented in our data reflects the high quality our professionals bring to their fields of expertise. Read more here about how we carefully select them.

Those prices are also the result of several linear regressions. For the most scientific minds, the R-squared values were around 0.6, giving us a good level of accuracy.

Lastly, we should mention that we didn’t give pricing recommendations or influence how our editors or designers quoted on projects. The numbers below strictly reflect the state of the market for professional publishing services. Remember also that Reedsy’s quotation system is freelancer-blind. Two professionals quoting the same project will not know what the other bids are.

Where do Reedsy users come from?

Reedsy is available from anywhere in the world. However, as our service is only in English, most of our users (authors and publishers) come from English-speaking countries. In particular, a large majority of Reedsy’s users are based in the US. The UK, Canada and Australia follow.

worldwide distribution of Reedsy users

A similar geographical distribution can be observed for Reedsy professionals, most of whom are based in the US or UK. While we realize there are disparities in the cost of living from one country or city to another, we didn’t take them into account for this blog post. With this in mind, authors and publishers hiring professionals based in cities like London, New York or San Francisco can expect to pay a premium for their services, while hiring a professional coming from a smaller city or suburban area might be less expensive. In some cases, work experience trumps location, but further exploration of a different set of data is necessary to understand the relationship between location, price and experience more fully.

Additional data about the Reedsy Marketplace

While collecting pricing data we were also able to analyze some key metrics for the Reedsy marketplace. The following chart presents the number of offers received per request (requests are sent to 4.3 professionals in average).

Freelance economy

Key findings:

  • Reedsy professionals offer a 99% response rate to clients (note: the response rate includes declination to provide a quote).
  • 90% of requests sent on Reedsy get at least 1 quote, 50% at least two quotes.
  • 10% of requests don’t get quotes from Reedsy professionals but still get some feedback. Here are the main reasons for not receiving quotes:
    • “The book is too early at this stage for an edit.”
    • “My skills are not not suitable to work on the project.”
    • “My schedule cannot accommodate this project’s timeline.”

Cost of professional book editing services

To begin, it’s interesting to look at the type of content submitted to professionals on Reedsy. The average editing project submitted to professionals in the Reedsy marketplace is 73,000 words. Most books (54%) had between 50-100,000 words.

Word count of books posted on Reedsy

A significant number of titles had less than 10,000 words; they are mostly children’s books. We plan to provide more data specific to children’s books in the coming months.

While we only recently started collecting information about book genres, the most predominant in Reedsy requests are:

  • Fiction: fantasy and science-fiction, thrillers, romance and YA
  • Non-fiction: biographies and memoirs, cookbooks, self-help and business.

Lastly, here was the distribution for professional editing services requested on the marketplace:

Editing services requested on Reedsy

Editorial Assessment, Developmental Editing, Copy Editing and Proofreading

With those elements in mind, here is what authors and publishers should expect to pay for professional editing services:cost of editing price per word

CAPTION: (If you are unsure about what developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading and editorial assessment are, we are defining them here).

After looking at the data here are the key findings:

  • Not surprisingly, developmental (or content) editing is more expensive than copy editing and copy editing is more expensive than proofreading.
  • The cost of copy editing and proofreading services is a linear function of the word count.
  • Editorial assessment and developmental/content editing services have “fixed costs”, which means that the cost is not strictly a linear function of the word count. Collaborations started at $180 in both cases (see graph below).
  • Many of our clients requested both copy editing and proofreading at the same time (bundles). This turned out to be less expensive than paying for copy editing first and later for proofreading. We can assume that the price is only slightly elevated because the freelancer does the proofreading on the first pass, then only charges a premium for reviewing tracked revisions.
  • Some authors contracted with a second proofreader after an initial copyedit or proofread, a practice we have endorsed as quite necessary for authors intending to self-publish.

To make the data simpler to digest, we created a few charts that show the average price of the different services for a 40,000, 60,000 and 80,000-word book.

Average cost of book editing

Or for those who prefer graphs:

Graph of the cost of book editing against word count

Query Letter Review

Query letter reviews are a slightly different type of service we only started to offer recently on Reedsy. A query letter is a vital document for writers seeking traditional publishers or literary agents, and one even good authors often get wrong.

We defined a “query letter review” as an evaluation of the letter itself – making detailed recommendations on structure, tone and content – as well as an assessment and/or editing of the first 10 pages of the manuscript (the ones likely to be requested alongside the letter).

The average cost of a query letter review on Reedsy is $280.

Reedsy recommendations when looking for your editor

  • Avoid services that are not transparent. You should know what you are paying for and who you will be working with. Reedsy provides completely transparent pricing when you receive quotes.
  • Always give yourself choice. Reedsy gives you access to a community of hundreds of top editors and we recommend you reach out to several professionals before making a decision.
  • Don’t hesitate to request sample edits, but don’t be greedy!
  • Do hire separate people for copy-editing and proofreading. Though “bundling” is less expensive the whole point of “proofreading” is to have another, separate, and final pair of eyes on the manuscript. You don’t want to skip that.

More tips on how to select a book editor:

Cost of professional book design services

For design services, we simply calculated the average for all the quotes sent via the Reedsy marketplace and presented the distribution.

Cover Design

Cost of professional book cover design on Reedsy

Key findings:

  • The average cost of a professional book cover on Reedsy is $700. The median is $630 and about ⅔ of quotes were between $200 and $800. The distribution was a good surprise for us: it proved Reedsy could tailor design services to most budgets.
  • The cost of book design services varies more than that of editing services. When sending a request on Reedsy for design services, one can expect to receive a wider range of offers.
  • The high-end quotes – those for $1,000-$2,000 – mainly come from award-winning, sometimes agented designers. As there is a strong demand for their services, their pricing increases significantly.

To see what factors will influence the cost of professional covers, take a moment to browse through this in-depth piece on book cover design.

Book Interior Design

Book design is both a science and an art. To make a book truly unique, working with a book interior designer (or typesetter) can make a real difference. As famous typographer Erik Spiekermann told us a few months ago, “Design works not because people understand or even appreciate it but because it works subliminally.” Professional typesetting is vital for authors looking to create a physical version of their books.

It is fair to assume that the cost of book interior design varies based on the length of the book, as every page is different and requires a lot of care. However, you can expect to pay for fixed costs as your designer has to build a template for the book (margins, heading styling, fonts, etc.), independently of the word count.

We will be offering more data about book interior design services in the coming months, but the following graph provides early findings:
Cost of professional book interior design and typesetting on Reedsy

Please note that all quotes over $500 here were not for simple “ebook formatting”. Ebook formatting generally costs <$100, or can be done for free (in most genres) via our Reedsy Book Editor. Print formatting, depending on the level of customization you’re looking for, can already be much more expensive (more about that here). And finally, if you want to self-publish a cookbook or a coffee table book, you don’t need just “formatting”. You need interior design and typesetting. That is expensive because it requires design skills, knowledge of the genre, and a lot of page-by-page work.

Key findings:

  • The average amount spent on Reedsy for professional book interior design services is $840 with most transactions between $500 and $1,000.
  • In many cases, book interior design services are more expensive than book cover services. The reason is that they tend to be quite time-consuming for the designer as every page of the book is different.
  • “Book interior design” encompasses a wide array of services, from simple ebook formatting for novels, to the design, typography and typesetting of heavily-illustrated non-fiction. This explains the strong variation in pricing.

Bonus! Combo Cover Design + Book Interior Design

Cost of book cover and book interior design on Reedsy

Key findings:

  • Working with a designer on both the exterior (the jacket) and the interior is often less expensive than buying the services separately.
  • This also offers the advantage of having a strong visual identity respected both on the outside and inside of the book.

Here’s an example of what a book designer can do for you

A few months after our launch we published a case study about an author who used Reedsy to get his cover and the interior of his book done: Life in the Loop by Matt Bieber, a book about OCD. His designer, Jason Anscomb, offered a process with 2 iterations for the cover (note that you can also request 3 rounds of edits):

Life in the Loop cover comps

Here is also what Jason did for the interior of the book:

Life in the Loop Interior design

Reedsy recommendations for finding a book designer

  • Give yourself choice: When reaching out to professionals, compare portfolios and try to get a sense of how a designer would work on your book.
  • For your book cover, work with a great designer who has experience in the publishing industry, and particularly in your genre. Only they know what type of imagery or illustration will sell (even at thumbnail size).
  • For book interior services, two options are available to you:
    • If you are on budget, the Reedsy Book Editor is probably the best tool available on the market. It is free and allows you to create professionally formatted books in seconds, exporting both ePub and PDF files for digital and physical distribution.
    • If you are looking for a more personalized and premium result, you should hire a professional typesetter who will tailor the interior so it works perfectly with your story.
  • Hiring the same designer to design the cover and the interior of all your books in a series will give your work a strong and consistent visual identity, reinforcing your brand.

More advice on finding and working with the right book designers:

So, how much does it cost to self-publish a book?

Producing a high-quality book is not cheap but remains accessible. If you hire an editor, a copy-editor, a proofreader and a cover designer, self-publishing an 80,000-word book will cost you between $2,500 and $4,000. The cost will depend on:

  • Your writing experience: Not all authors need the same level of editing, and debut authors should expect to go through a learning curve.
  • Your personal objectives: Are you writing with the ambition of reaching millions of people or just to share your story within a small community?
  • Your genre: Graphics-heavy books, such as children’s books, cookbooks or other non-fiction, can require a lot of illustration, which can be expensive. Books that require high-level expertise or specialization will also cost more to edit.
  • The length of the book: At Reedsy, we recommend that authors be lean – publish often, even short stories, to learn how publishing works and rapidly improve craft and market understanding. Gradually build a loyal readership.

We hope this data can help you project some realistic costs for publishing your book. That said, to paraphrase one of our authors — Michael Doane — the real cost of self-publishing isn’t money; it’s time.

Writing, editing, learning how to publish, working with various editors and beta readers, sharing with friends and family and waiting for a response. Having your work torn down by editors so you can build it back up. Patience and effort. This is the true cost of self-publishing. Michael Doane, author of The Crossing

This is just data, of course. Quotes can vary a lot based on your genre and the quality of your writing. So if you want to get an editing or design quote on your project, head to our Reedsy marketplace! If you sign up through this link, you’ll even get a nice $20 to get you started.


Free course: How to Self-Publish a Book.

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  • Mia Sherwood Landau

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

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

  • It ain’t cheap!

  • 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 representation of the real costs of self-publishing.

    • 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 you can see where the majority of the quotes are.

      • 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 on Facebook in a group I’m on with the question “do these numbers match your experience?” The answer is that, outside of the covers, they aren’t even close.

        • Skye

          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!

        • ConnieWilson10

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

      • aphil

        Were the quotes from editors who work for you? Does this cost include the 20% of the fee you take to match and editor and client?

        • 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.

          • ConnieWilson10

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

          • ConnieWilson10

            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.

          • ConnieWilson10

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

    • 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.

  • 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 be taken with a bucket of salt.

  • Just shared this fantastic resource in my FB group, (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.)

    • Thanks Melinda, I just joined your Facebook group.

  • Michiko

    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.

  • Michiko

    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.

  • TMD

    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 ever paid more than $750 for a new book. It’s the advertising and marketing that tend to be my biggest expense during the year. Once a writer finds a quality editor (absolutely necessary but not as easy as one would think), a quality cover designer (if they don’t have the tools or the time to do this on their own) and either learns how to format on their own (truly not as hard to do as most think – I learned, and that’s saying something lol) finding an affordable and reliable way to produce a book is totally possible.

    I’ll break down what I’ve paid most recently for professional work, on the highest end:

    Editing – $300
    Cover Design – $150
    Formatting – $0
    Interior Design – $0

    It’s very possible to release a quality book for under $1000, in fact, over that and I question the validity of those providing the services. It’s important for each self-published writer to do their homework and find the right editor/formatter/designer, etc… for them, but I wouldn’t pay the average for this ‘study’ because it’s unrealistic, and within my group of successful self-published authors, some of who make 5-6 figures (a month), I know many of them would fall under the average listed above as well. There will definitely be a large range in this industry for financial investment required to publish a book, however, this article would scare me if I was just starting out. lol Hopefully, it helps people do their homework and find the right fits for what they need. Part of self-publishing is being our biggest advocate/personal cheerleader and our boss/supervisor – but just as one would research details for their story, one should fully research and fact check the financial investment required.

    • Michiko

      That sounds just about right to me. Thanks for giving some confirmation, TMD.

      • TMD

        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.

        • Did you know that Reedsy offers that service for free? The Reedsy Book Editor creates beautifully typeset ebooks and PDFs ready for distribution, for free.

          • Michiko

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

      • ConnieWilson10

        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:
      So, yes, you can find cheaper out there. Much cheaper. But as with anything out there, you get what you pay for. Just think about it from an editor’s perspective. Properly copy-editing an 80k-word novel takes around 40 hours. If you charge $300 for that, you’re charging $7.5./hour. You can see there is something wrong there… The editor is obviously going to spend much less time, and therefore do less thorough a job.

      What we’re saying is: if you want a fully professional product that respects the standards of traditional publishing, these are the average prices of the different services. Now, if you don’t have that budget, or if you simply don’t want to pay that, you can obviously cut corners at pretty much any stage. There is no right or wrong answer here, cutting corners is a decision that, we believe, pertains to every author – and it’t not necessarily a bad thing. The reason we’re open-sourcing this data is to help authors make that decision consciously.

      • TMD

        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 an editor or something along those lines. That would be the lowest part of the scale, and this article seems to be the highest. Again, this is what I’ve personally seen and heard of. Every author will spend a different amount because each of us outsource differently, if at all.

        • 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 a plum blue canvas. Glancin behind a fiery orange sun blinds as it illuminates the tall dry grasses. It looks like an ocean of gold that rises and sinks with help from a westward wind.

          email me please at if you have the time. Thanks for your time.

        • ConnieWilson10

          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.

      • 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 what happens in the books, but I have someone else type it with flair)
        $100 – Editing
        $ 35 – Cover Art (both print ready and digital) with source files so I can make modifications, and upload ready files for KDP and Createspace.
        $ 15 – Formatting manuscript for print/digital. Upload ready files returned to me.
        $200 – Facebook ads.

        That’s a total of $550 for each book to be written and launched.

        Of course I’ll spend more on advertising and promotion after the initial launch as long as it is a good ROI, but that’s after the book is proven to be a winner. I allocate $600 per book when I’m doing mental math and planning the monthly publishing schedule.

        Also to be fair, that number is lower now than it is when I’m launching a new unknown pen name into a new genre. This is due to the fact that I have to start mostly from scratch to build up my promotional channels ahead of time. This requires a higher initial investment in advertising.

        If I’m launching into a new market with no fan base or contact list built up I usually plan on around 1k per book, including a much greater advertising budget designed to prime my advertising channels with fans of that particular genre well ahead of launching my new books.

        Many of the services you quote here are, to me, unnecessary.

        Interior Design, Editorial Assessment… I’ve never paid for any of those before and I D.G.A.F. about “respecting the standards of traditional publishing” because I’m NOT traditionally publishing.

        Traditional publishing didn’t want anything to do with me before I was successful, now that I’ve figured out how to do it on my own and I don’t need their help, why should I care about respecting their stodgy old standards?

        The only thing I care about is whether or not the people who buy my books enjoy them, are happy with their purchases, and come back for more.

        I don’t get many complaints and a great deal of my readers are repeat customers, so I must be doing okay in that regard.

        You said, “You get what you pay for”. This is a false truism. Look up
        “Influence the Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini for a full
        explanation of why you are wrong.

        The fact is you pay whatever price you can negotiate to pay, which another person will agree to accept, for a particular good or service.

        It’s nice of you to share some of your back end data and I can see how you’d have a vested interest in presenting it in a way that makes the ultra high fees you quote here for a “Professional product” seem like the norm.

        After all, you do provide those same services and charge those high prices for them, it would be stupid of you to tell people that they don’t really need half of what you’re quoting and they could get the parts they do need at around a third to half the prices you charge.

        I don’t fault you for that. Everybody looks out for their self interest first and it’s the consumer’s responsibility to protect themself.

        The problem I have with this article is that it gives a false impression of a high barrier to entry in the self publishing world which will end up discouraging people from getting started who may otherwise have been successful if they’d just gone ahead and did it.

        I think too many people are hung up on doing it the “traditional way” things have been done. But let me ask you this… What has the “traditional way” done for you lately?

        We are all here discussing SELF publishing after all. I presume it’s because the majority of the people here haven’t had any success doing things traditionally.

        Anyway, thanks again for sharing your data and giving us a chance to compare notes.

    • 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.

      • TMD

        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 really awesome. My first book was in the middle of that, and I most likely won’t change it much because it’s a reference point for me. A sort of rite of passage. But what I write now must go through a professional edit and proofing. At least 5 sets of eyes see my work before it releases. 😀

        • ConnieWilson10

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

    • 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 …!!!

    • ConnieWilson10

      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.

  • 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 😉

      • 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 or otherwise away from home.

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

  • 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 is right for you.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Manish Barik

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

  • William Rick Graham

    Sharing on the publishing page.