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Last updated on Apr 04, 2022

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book in 2023?

It costs authors between $500 and $4,800 to publish a book. The cost of publishing depends on the services (editing, cover design, formatting, and marketing) you require, the genre and number of words of your manuscript, and your budget. From Reedsy’s 2022 data, prices range up to $2,000 for an editor and $750 for a book cover designer. 

This guide will go into detail about the average costs of publishing services rendered by Reedsy freelancers, who represent some of the world's best and most experienced publishing professionals. For a closer look at the most up-to-date averages for each service, enter your email below and download our 2022 Cost of Self-Publishing Report. 


The Cost of Self-Publishing in 2023

Get an inside look at 2023 rates for professional self-publishing services.

Note: The averages in this guide are the result of over 20,000 quotes (adjusted for inflation) provided by professionals with years of experience in publishing. You can find cheaper alternatives, though they may not come with the level of expertise your project requires.

Editing costs

cost to self publish | EditingThe average cost of professional editing on a 60,000-word book ranges between $2,400 and $3,400. This assumes one round of developmental editing, plus a combination of copy editing and proofreading.

To see how much you can expect to pay for each kind of editing, you can use this pricing calculator, which draws from Reedsy’s most up-to-date averages.

Pricing calculator

Calculate the average cost of editing services for your genre.

Editorial Assessment

Developmental Editing

Copy Editing


Copy Editing + Proofreading

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

Note: The average rates for children’s book editing do not include picture books, for reasons we will reveal later on.

Types of editing

If you’re not familiar with some of the types of editing mentioned in the calculator, here’s a quick breakdown:

Editorial Assessment. This is a popular and cost-effective first step for authors, ideal for those at an early stage of their rewrites. Editors offering an editorial assessment will usually:

  • Read and analyze your manuscript;
  • Provide an evaluation in the format of a report, covering all aspects of the story, structure, and commercial viability;
  • Offer suggestions to guide your rewrites.

Developmental Editing. A nose-to-tail structural edit of your manuscript for authors who have taken their book as far as they can by themselves. A developmental edit often includes everything in an editorial assessment, plus:

  • Detailed recommendations to improve “big picture” concerns like characterization, plot, pacing, setting, etc.;
  • Specific guidance on elements of writing craft;
  • In-line suggestions and edits in the manuscript.

Copy Editing. A “fine-tuning” of your manuscript. This usually includes:

  • Direct edits to the manuscript on a sentence level;
  • A focus on prose (eliminating repetition, purple prose, awkward dialogue, etc.);
  • Corrections for inconsistencies. 

Proofreading. The final stage of the editorial process. As standard, a proofreader will:

  • Sweep the manuscript to catch remaining spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes;
  • Make suggestions based on the publisher’s chosen style guide to guarantee a consistent reading experience.

As you can see, each type of editing asks the editor to examine your manuscript on a different level, and as such comes with a different price.

For a masterclass on the process of self-publishing your book, enrol in our free course below. 


How to Self-Publish a Book

Learn to set yourself up for success as an indie author.

What else affects editing costs?

The genre of your book. Categories like historical fiction and nonfiction have the highest editing costs because they require fact-checking and a working knowledge of the subject matter. Similarly, editors for comics and children's books (genres with a much lower word count) will have a much higher per word rate. A picture book might only be 1,000 words long — but the editor must handle each of those words with extra care. Plus, children’s editors couldn’t pay the rent if they charge just 1/80 the amount they would for an 80,000-word novel.

The state of your manuscript. Are you handing in a super-rough draft that you haven’t checked for typos? Or have you gone through multiple rounds of self-editing? Naturally, you can expect to pay less in the latter case.

Free course: How to self-edit like a pro

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The density of your text. This perhaps applies more to copy editing. If you write like Ernest Hemingway (in short, spare prose), you can expect your copy editing fees to be lower than if you write like David Foster Wallace (with 10-page run-on sentences and footnotes galore).

The level of experience you require. An editor with decades of experience at a major publisher will cost much more than a newbie. As with most things in life, you might be looking for a happy medium.

Get an exact quote from experienced editors.

Sign up for a free Reedsy account ask for a no-obligation quote today

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

Now that you've got your editor sorted, it's time to make sure your book looks as good as it reads.

Cover design costs 

cost to self-publish | cover design60% of professional covers from experienced designers on Reedsy cost under $750. The range of quotes you may receive from cover designers can vary enormously, depending on a few key factors.

What affects cover design costs?

Your designer’s relative experience. A novice book cover designer (one who may have recently transitioned from other types of design) might charge between $300 and $500 per project. Professionals with over a decade in the industry might offer quotes upwards of $800.

The style and complexity of the design. An elaborate illustrated cover would cost more than one that involves working with stock images — if only because of the different skills and time requirements. To find out more about why certain styles cost more, take a look at our guide to cover design.

The number of “rounds” your designer does. If their first iteration of your cover looks good, then you’re all set! But you may end up asking for a few tweaks or even an entirely different design, which will obviously raise the cost.

Whether it’s an ebook, paperback, or hardback cover. Print book covers require attention to dimensions as well as a spine and back cover design, which can add to the cost. Ebook covers, meanwhile, only require a front. If you are publishing in two or three of these formats, you can expect your designer's quotes to increase in line with the additional work required.

Get a free quote from a professional designer.

Sign up for a Reedsy account and submit a request for a no-obligation quote from your favorite book designers.

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

However, the cover isn't the only part of a book that requires design. So let's take a look between the flaps.

Book formatting costs

cost to self-publish | interior designAround 50% of book interior design projects on Reedsy cost between $250 and $750. But… this could also be free.

The vast majority of self-publishing authors can format their books with free tools like Reedsy’s Book Editor. However, certain types of books — especially those with a lot of graphics, images, and exotic formatting — do require the help of a professional book formatter. 

For a detailed breakdown of average book formatting costs, download our 2022 Cost of Self-Publishing Report. But for now, let’s have a quick look at whether a free book formatting option is suitable for you.

Formatting your book with the Reedsy Book Editor

If your book is a novel, memoir, short story collection, or nonfiction title — basically, any type of book that is primarily “words on pages” — then you’ll get professional-grade results using the free Reedsy Book Editor app.

You can import your manuscript file to the app, add your chapter breaks and configure your front and back matter in a matter of minutes. The app will preserve any formatting you’ve already done to the text (italics, bullet points, etc.) and automatically adjust your book's font, margins, and size. All you have to do is add your book cover files, hit ‘Export’, select your preferred styling option, and you’ll have an ePUB file (for ebooks) and a PDF (for your print editions).

To take the Reedsy Book Editor for a spin, just sign up for a free account and start using it straight away.

However, if your book requires a lot more specialist formatting — for example, a cookbook or an educational book packed with pictures and graphs — then you may need to invest in a professional book formatter.

What affects professional formatting editing costs?

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a pattern when it comes to the factors that affect the various costs of publishing a book — and book formatting is no exception. These factors are:

Level of experience. As always, veteran professionals bring a lot of experience and insight to the table (and they will charge accordingly).

Manuscript length. Longer books take more time to format — the designer isn’t only applying the design to the text, but also double-checking for widows, orphans, and other aesthetically unpleasing elements on each page.

How “graphically intense” the project is. Even the most simple cookbook will involve images that must be carefully placed and text that must be tastefully and legibly arranged. Formatting such a book will be more intensive and costly than formatting a novel.

cost of self-publishing | a sample page from Ottolenghi's "Simple" demonstrating cookbook layouts
Even a spartan title like Ottolenghi’s Simple requires careful design to make the recipes appealing, unintimidating, and easy to follow. 

Ultimately, you can expect to spend at least $500 on a professional formatting job, the same as cover design. If the way your book looks on the page is just as important as the words themselves, then this investment can be a no-brainer.

Get an exact quote from experienced book designers.

Sign up for a free Reedsy account and get no-obligation quotes from up to five professionals at a time.

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

The publishing process doesn't stop as soon as you've printed your first copy — there's plenty of marketing work to be done, which also comes with its own costs.

Marketing costs

Publishing a book doesn’t stop once you’ve finalized your ebook and print editions. After all, what’s the point of publishing a book if nobody knows about it? As such, you may wish to plan for some of the following marketing activities:

Editorial reviews

Reviews will validate your book in the eyes of prospective readers. But without the ability to pick up Amazon reader reviews before your launch date, it’s important to land editorial reviews (which you can feature on your product page at any time). You can submit your book to hundreds of book reviewers on Reedsy Discovery for a write-up to be shared on your big day.

Cost: $50 to submit your book to Reedsy Discovery

Targeted digital ads

Digital advertising is one of the few ways indie authors can quickly reach new audiences. If you’re fairly good with ‘the internets’, you can learn some of the basics of ad testing with our free courses on Facebook ads and Amazon ads.


Facebook Ads for Authors

In 10 days, learn to boost book sales with targeted Facebook ads.

Cost: From $5 a day for Facebook ads. You can test out your potential audience with a small daily budget and scale up your budget once you see some success.

Promoting a price promotion 

While it costs nothing to run a price promotion (where you temporarily discount your ebook to drum up some interest), you’ll need to make sure people know about it! For that, you may want to pay for listings on free/discount book sites that alert voracious readers to your promo.

Cost: From $15 to $120 per promotion slot. The actual cost will vary depending on the size of the promotion site and how competitive your genre is.

Hiring marketing experts

Every successful self-publishing author must have a strong grasp of marketing strategies and will spend a good part of their time marketing their books. If you’ve yet to master every aspect of this dark art, consider hiring a book marketer who can help you:

These services not only help you boost your launch, but they will give you the skills to continue your marketing efforts on your own.

Be careful: Indie book marketing is a grind. Anyone who offers a ‘magic bullet’ solution that promises you success with no work is likely scamming you.

For more insights into the average costs of publishing (including ghostwriting rates) remember to download Reedsy's 2022 Report.

It bears repeating that all book projects have unique needs, so it’s impossible to nail down a final budget until you start hiring your collaborators. If you’re looking to keep your budget reasonable without sacrificing quality, check out the next part of this guide, where we’ll give you some money-saving tips — or, for an idea of what money you could make as an author, this post on author earnings.

78 responses

Mia Sherwood Landau says:

25/04/2016 – 15:19

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

Donna Barker says:

25/04/2016 – 16:02

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

David A. Tatum says:

25/04/2016 – 19:58

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.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

25/04/2016 – 21:11

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.

↪️ David A. Tatum replied:

25/04/2016 – 21:33

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 (by Ricardo Fayet) on Facebook in a group I'm on. He had the question "do these numbers match your experience?" The answer is that, outside of the covers, they aren't even close.

↪️ Skye replied:

25/04/2016 – 21:41

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

↪️ Julie Mayerson Brown replied:

26/04/2016 – 00:22

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 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:20

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

↪️ April replied:

26/04/2016 – 14:26

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!

↪️ Reedsy replied:

26/04/2016 – 15:28

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 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:21

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

↪️ ConnieWilson10 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:22

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 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:23

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 replied:

26/04/2016 – 13:16

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 replied:

25/09/2017 – 16:37

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

Clarissa Wild says:

25/04/2016 – 21:00

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.

Melinda Tipton Martin says:

26/04/2016 – 02:13

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.)

↪️ Ricardo Fayet replied:

27/04/2016 – 11:13

Thanks Melinda, I just joined your Facebook group.

Michiko says:

26/04/2016 – 04:51

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 says:

26/04/2016 – 09:21

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 says:

26/04/2016 – 13:36

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 says:

26/04/2016 – 17:28

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 replied:

26/04/2016 – 21:07

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 is a little more difficult, but is not beyond the abilities of anyone who knows how to use a word-processing program. My costs, after self-pubbing 7 books, each of which is typically ~80k words long, are similar to TMD's: Editing (total cost) -- $1000 Cover (print and digital) -- $230 Formatting -- $0-15 Interior design -- $0 I've earned a respectable, "mid-list" return on my books for the last several years, which tells me that I've grasped the nature and value of professional standards. I do my own promotional and marketing work, and there's definitely a learning curve to it, but anyone who wants to self-publish needs to expect this. As a self-publisher, we are not just writers. We are also publishers, and we need to learn this side of our business.

↪️ TMD replied:

27/04/2016 – 21:31

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 replied:

28/04/2016 – 13:20

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 replied:

29/04/2016 – 03:58

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

↪️ ConnieWilson10 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:17

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

↪️ Reedsy replied:

27/04/2016 – 00:01

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 replied:

27/04/2016 – 21:37

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 replied:

01/05/2016 – 21:23

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.

↪️ Kathleen Ellyn replied:

26/07/2019 – 23:14

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.

↪️ ConnieWilson10 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:16

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 replied:

14/11/2017 – 13:31

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.

↪️ Presley711 replied:

15/03/2017 – 09:07

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 replied:

27/04/2016 – 19:47

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 replied:

27/04/2016 – 21:44

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. :D

↪️ ConnieWilson10 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:14

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

↪️ alex connery replied:

25/09/2017 – 16:41

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

↪️ sylva portoian replied:

04/05/2016 – 07:00

TMD.... 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 $ only ...!!!

↪️ ConnieWilson10 replied:

31/05/2016 – 23:13

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 replied:

25/09/2017 – 16:42

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

↪️ jokawasai replied:

01/08/2018 – 00:15

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.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

01/08/2018 – 08:15

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 that takes at least 15-30 hours, they're charging $10-$20 per hour. Do you know a lot of professionals (in any profession, really), who charge that per hour? Now, I'm not saying you won't be able to sell your book after that. You can barter for services, use a lot of beta readers, etc. to improve the editing. In some genres, readers are also naturally more forgiving than others. But in this article we chose to talk about what it costs to hire *professional* service providers, and open-sourced our data to answer that question.

L (Leigh Matthews) says:

27/04/2016 – 19:06

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.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

27/04/2016 – 19:39

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

↪️ L (Leigh Matthews) replied:

27/04/2016 – 19:56

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.

Reedsy says:

02/05/2016 – 13:33

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

Sally Asnicar says:

06/05/2016 – 03:56

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.

↪️ Melete replied:

15/06/2017 – 20:55

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.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

16/06/2017 – 09:28

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.

↪️ Paula Beaton replied:

01/10/2019 – 21:56

You're completely right. A sample edit is the best way for professional editors to price your edit - and any editor who doesn't insist on one and instead quotes per word or per page should be avoided. Every book is unique so a free sample edit helps the editor to quote based on their time and also let's the author and editor see if they're a good match. Did you know - I'm an editor and I was told to remove mention of sample edits from my Reedsy profile as Reedsy editors "don't offer free sample edits". They clearly want editors to price per word or page. If they had any real knowledge and experience they wouldn't expect this.

Kristen Steele says:

27/05/2016 – 18:11

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.

↪️ Steve replied:

02/10/2017 – 10:41

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 says:

18/01/2017 – 10:03

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

William Rick Graham says:

20/06/2017 – 01:57

Sharing on the publishing page.

Trynda E Adair says:

15/07/2017 – 06:15

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 -

↪️ Reedsy replied:

17/07/2017 – 17:39

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

Stephen Tiano says:

23/08/2017 – 00:40

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 course, are pro bono work and what I call "pay-it-forward" projects. I do a certain number of the latter each year, both because my book design practice has been good to me over 26 years and about a hundred books, and because there are some books I want to make sure get off the ground. (One such project has grown into an affiliation with a young author's own imprint--with her parents'assistance--that I've signed onto, because she's a kid with lots of good things to say and the discipline to write well.) But aside from such exceptions: beware; you do tend to get what you pay for. When you choose to self-publish, you've gone into business as a self-publisher. It's not for the faint of heart and folks who aren't willing to put their money where their mouth is. And parasitical jobs boards who make money no matter what, once you use their connecting-with-freelancers services, don't have skin in the game the way professional editors, illustrators, book designers, and proofreaders who earn a living by such work do. That all said, I understand when self-publishing authors are trying to get their books out on a shoestring. I can sympathize with them for having only the wherewithal to go this route and I wish them well going forward, as I want to see the ranks of the self-published grow, as it's pretty much the only way forward for first-time authors and those without followings. Or you can take a shot at finding pros like myself who do the occasional pro bono or "pay-it-forward" project. Whatever way, keep the faith!

↪️ Reedsy replied:

23/08/2017 – 10:06

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, 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 the rates: those are controlled exclusively by the freelancers themselves. Secondly, your concern of "reverse leapfrogging" is also completely unfounded. When our freelancers make an offer on a project, they cannot see what other editors or designers have bid on the project — they cannot strategically underbid. As a nefarious parasitic organization that works on commission, it's not in our interest to encourage a bidding war to the bottom. Lastly, the suggestion that freelancers on Reedsy are anything but skilled and experienced professionals is inaccurate and very unkind to your peers. Most freelancers on our marketplace will have worked for a major publisher and — we can comfortably say — are among the best in the world at what they do. We offer authors the chance to collaborate with professionals who have worked at the very highest levels of publishing, giving them the best chance to improve their craft and create better books. Many of our freelancers will bend over backwards to make their services affordable to first-time authors (as you do with your pro bono work) and often find the experience of working with indie authors to be a creatively fulfilling one — which, really, is what brought many of them to freelancing in the first place. I hope my reply hasn't come across as snarky, but I do feel like we've been entirely mischaracterized in your comment above (as well as in your comments across numerous other comments boards). If you have any questions or reservations about Reedsy that you want to express, please do contact me at — I'll be happy to help in any way I can.

Jane Ann McLachlan says:

25/09/2017 – 16:42

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 replied:

25/09/2017 – 16:44

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

↪️ Jane Ann McLachlan replied:

25/09/2017 – 17:38

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.

Steve says:

02/10/2017 – 10:25

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.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

02/10/2017 – 10:36

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!

↪️ Steve replied:

02/10/2017 – 10:44

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.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

02/10/2017 – 23:44

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:

MommaT says:

23/01/2018 – 21:14

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 expenses, taxes, and insurances that all get paid by the freelancer out of their meager earnings. (And also Reedsy's cut.) But hey, you're getting some great work super cheap, yay you. Inequality just gets worse and worse, and the gig economy is accelerating the pain. This type of economy we're living in is bad news on the short or long term.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

24/01/2018 – 00:04

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.

↪️ MommaT replied:

24/01/2018 – 01:03

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 not blaming Reedsy. You do have very, very talented people. It's also true that publishers have let go their professional staff, most of whom are freelancing and struggling to get by. And yet just below my comment, "Steve" complains that your prices are "far higher" than what he pays. (Reading other commentors, it gets worse.) My complaint has more to do with the attitude that freelancers must take whatever is offered and often this leads to true starvation wages. And yet many (particularly new) authors see nothing at all wrong with that. It's rather depressing from this freelancer's point of view. So again, I am not faulting Reedsy, you did your data gathering and this is what's happening. It's pervasive everywhere.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

24/01/2018 – 10:15

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 have let go of their editorial staff, but what we're seeing is that this staff is actually doing much better freelancing than they ever were at the publishing company. We work with some of the biggest publishers as well, and I can tell you that what they pay freelancers is well, well below the averages in this post.

Gary Zenker says:

14/04/2018 – 04:57

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

Gail Maynard says:

10/07/2018 – 20:30

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 don't need to get what I DO need. I don't know how, nor have the interest in learning how to do the distribution and some of the marketing these companies offer. My client has a book that is very niche - a HOW TO book and another that is a small book on living the wisdom of the Tao that has more mass appeal. Any advice is welcome! Thx

↪️ Reedsy replied:

10/07/2018 – 21:43

We actually already have a comprehensive comparative post on the different ebook distribution options: We're now working on one for print distribution, which we hope to publish this summer :)

↪️ Gail Maynard replied:

10/07/2018 – 22:21

ahhh - thx!

Dennis Sweatt says:

08/05/2019 – 12:31

Posted on my comic book art page. I will throw it on Twitter as well. Good on ya.

↪️ Thabo Mooke replied:

04/06/2019 – 08:27

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

FLN says:

04/06/2019 – 23:53

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

Terri says:

12/07/2019 – 18:18

How much does it cost to publish children books?

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