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Last updated on Apr 08, 2024

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book in 2024?

According to Reedsy data, it costs independent authors between $2,820 and $5,360 to publish a book in 2024. This can include everything from editing, book design, and marketing and will vary significantly depending on your genre and word count.   

In this post, we’ll break down the average costs of various book publishing services based on more than 230,000 recent quotes provided by thousands of freelancers on Reedsy. They are some of the world's best and most experienced professionals in the publishing industry, so the quotes reflect this level of quality. 

An infographic breaking down the costs to publish a bookWhile the numbers presented in this post are based on real market data, they are still only indicative of the final price tag, not a guarantee. Ultimately, the best way to determine your book's costs is to send a request to professionals and evaluate their specific offers.

Editing: $1,900–$4,440 on average

The average cost of professional editing for an 80,000-word book ranges between $1,900 and $4,440. The lower end of the price range assumes that you have only had one round of copy editing done, while developmental editing would set you back a bit more. The upper range reflects the cost for a manuscript that undergoes a comprehensive editing process that includes both services.

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Editorial Assessment

Developmental Editing

Copy Editing

Proofreading

Editing is a critical investment that improves every aspect of your manuscript, including the structure, plot, dialogue, language, tone, grammar, and the overall quality of your writing. By having it professionally edited, you make sure that your work is ready to hit the shelves. 

If you’re not familiar with the different types of editing, here’s a quick breakdown with average prices for an 80,000-word book:

Editing service

Description 

Average Cost

Editorial Assessment

A comprehensive review for early-stage rewrites, providing a report on story, structure, commercial viability, and suggestions to guide your rewrites.

$1,830

Developmental Editing

A nose-to-tail structural edit offering recommendations on characterization, plot, pacing, and craft, including in-line suggestions for authors who've taken their book as far as possible by themselves. 

$2,540

Copy Editing

Detailed sentence-level revisions focusing on prose clarity, eliminating repetition, and correcting inconsistencies to fine-tune the manuscript. 

$1,900

Proofreading

The last step in editing focuses on catching spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors and ensuring consistency.

$1,360

🖋️

What kind of editing does your book need?

“Takes one minute!

It’s strongly recommended that you go through the editing process in this order. It'll save you from having to backtrack and pay more later down the line. If, for example, you decide to get a copy edit, but you discover that you have broader issues and have to rewrite whole sections of text, you will not only have to pay for a developmental edit, but you will also probably have to pay for a second copy edit once the rewrite is done.

Your final costs will also depend on the state of your manuscript 一 you can expect to pay less if you go through multiple rounds of self-editing as opposed to handing in a super-rough draft. 

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There are two other editing services you may want to consider: 

Indexing: $1,070 on average

If you’re publishing nonfiction, your book must include an index: an alphabetical list of sources, studies, and people you mentioned, referencing the pages where you mentioned them. It’s a laborious, time-consuming process that’s commonly outsourced to a professional. 

Query Letter Review: $250 on average 

If you’re pitching your book to literary agents, you can increase the chances of getting noticed by having a professional editor assess your query letter, offering advice on its structure, tone, and content to make it more compelling. 

Your genre affects your editing costs

Genres requiring more intensive editing and research usually result in more expensive quotes. 

For example, Historical Fiction requires a strong focus on fact-checking and historical accuracy. Fantasy and Sci-Fi books often require reviewing complex new worlds, magical or political systems, and sometimes invented languages. Plus, they tend to be longer than the average book

Biographies and Memoirs must strike a delicate balance of factual accuracy and engaging storytelling, while Nonfiction books require an editor with expertise in the book's specific subject matter and thorough fact-checking, further contributing to higher per-word editing rates.

Picture books, despite their short length, demand impeccable storytelling and age-appropriate wording, with each sentence undergoing thorough scrutiny. They have the highest cost per word, but overall they cost much less than other genres. For more details, check out our dedicated post on the cost to publish a children’s book.

Before we continue, a word on traditionally published books…

Traditional publishing isn’t always cost-free

If you plan to traditionally publish your work, you won’t be expected to pay a single dime out of your pocket. In fact, not only do publishers cover all costs to get your book ready to hit the shelves, but they also pay you an advance on royalties. That said, some authors still choose to pay for a few editing or marketing services independent of their publisher. 

Submitting to agents and publishers doesn't require a perfectly edited manuscript — just one with potential. So, if you're confident in your book after several rounds of self-editing and positive feedback from beta readers, you're ready to pitch it! But if you've already faced multiple rejections or still feel unsure about your story, you can consider either an editorial assessment or developmental edit. 

Moreover, If your manuscript is solid but you feel your query letter isn't effective enough, you can have it reviewed by editors and former agents

Back to self-publishing, let's find out what it costs to make your book beautiful inside and out.

Cover design: $860 on average

The average price of a professional book cover design is $860. Over 50% of the cover design collaborations on Reedsy cost between $500 and $1,000. Fantasy and Science Fiction genres tend to be on the higher end, with averages just above $1,000, while Romance and Poetry are usually less expensive, rounding up just above $700.

Example of professional book covers made with Reedsy
Covers by designers on Reedsy. Browse more examples

The range of quotes you may receive from cover designers can vary enormously, depending on a few key factors.

Your designer’s relative experience. A novice book cover designer might charge between $300 and $500 per project. 

The style and complexity of the design. An elaborate illustrated cover (like you might see on a Fantasy novel) 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 book formats you need. While ebooks only require a front cover, print formats require attention to dimensions as well as a spine and back cover design, which can add to the cost. If you are publishing in multiple formats (perhaps even audiobook), you can expect your designer's quotes to increase in line with the additional work required.

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However, the cover isn't the only part of a book that requires design.

Illustrations: $1,540–$4,950 on average

If you’re authoring a children’s book, you may need to hire an illustrator to bring your words to life. The average cost to hire a freelance illustrator for a 24-page children’s book is between $1,540 and $4,950. Again, the final quote will depend on the illustrator’s experience, the number and type of illustrations you need and so on, so the best way to figure out the number for yourself is to request an actual quote from a professional. 

Illustration of a cat from Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThere are other types of books that may require illustrations, such as Fantasy and Middle Grade, which sometimes include interior illustrations to enhance the narrative. This could include worldbuilding maps or some story scenes, like John Tenniel’s drawings in Alice in Wonderland. For Fantasy illustrations, you can expect to pay on average $1,300 while for Middle grade novels around $2,370. 

Book interior design: $550 on average (...or $0)

The interior design of a book, also known as typesetting, can usually be done for free. For any type of book that is primarily words, like a novel, short story collection, or nonfiction title, you can get professional-grade results using the free Reedsy Studio app.

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. Around 50% of book interior design projects on Reedsy cost between $275 and $825.

Once your book is all polished up, the next type of cost to consider is printing costs. 

Printing: $0–$295

If you’re going to publish your book independently, you're likely going to use print-on-demand book services that only produce and ship copies when customers buy them. On most of these services, you can list your book for free, while the printing costs and distribution fees are subtracted from your sales revenue, meaning there are no upfront costs involved.

However, there are a few other costs to consider…

ISBN barcode: $0 to $295

Several services, from Amazon to Draft2Digital, will offer you free ISBN barcodes, but if you’re planning to distribute widely on both Amazon and other platforms, and you want to maintain control over your work's distribution rights, we recommend buying your own. The cost for acquiring ISBN numbers independently is $295 for a bundle of 10 (you’ll need different ISBNs for different formats) or $125 for a single ISBN.

Speaking of different formats, you may want to create an audiobook version of your book.  

Audiobooks: $50–$2,000+

The production cost of an audiobook varies depending on the path you choose from the three available options. First, you can hire professional narrators, who typically charge between $200 and $400 per hour and can record about 8,000 words in that timeframe. So, for a manuscript of 80,000 words, the cost would range from $2,000 to $4,000. On platforms like ACX, you can choose not to pay upfront, but split your royalties 50-50 (or negotiate a hybrid solution). 

You could also record the audiobook yourself, though renting the studio and necessary equipment may end up costing you a similar amount. Lastly, for those willing to trade quality for savings, AI narration tools are available for around $50/month.

The next costs to consider are those to promote it. 

Marketing: $60–$1,640 on average

While paying for marketing is optional, and you may opt to do it yourself, without marketing the reach of your book will likely be limited. That's why many authors treat marketing as an investment and hire professionals to maximize their book’s chances of success.

Author website and newsletter: $60–$500/year

One of the cornerstones of book marketing is building your author website and newsletter list so that readers can easily find you and receive direct updates from you. Overall, you should set aside a budget between $60 and $500/year to host and manage an author website and newsletter. The costs vary significantly depending on the services you use and the size of your following. For example, the email provider Mailchimp is free for up to 500 contacts, but it quickly gets expensive once you surpass that. 

Here’s a quick breakdown: 

Service

Examples

Cost/year

Domain host

Namecheap, GoDaddy

$8–$12

Website builder

Wordpress, Squarespace

$48–$300

Email marketing platform

Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign

$0–$300

If you are not tech-savvy and dread the idea of building your website on your own, you can always hire a web designer. On average, the cost to have a web designer create your author website from scratch is around $1,640.

Editorial reviews: $50 

Editorial reviews are a potent word-of-mouth marketing strategy that can help you sell more copies of your book during the launch phase, before readers start reviewing it. Although it's possible to receive these organically, opting to pay for a review before your book's launch can help with making the first sales, as it will give you quotes to put in your blurb, on your sales page, or on your cover (if you do it early enough). On Reedsy Discovery, you can submit your book to hundreds of reviewers for $50.

Targeted digital ads: from $5/day

Digital advertising is one of the few ways indie authors can quickly reach new audiences. If you’re fairly good with ‘the interwebs’, you can learn some of the basics of ad testing with our free courses on Facebook ads and Amazon ads. You can test out your potential audience with a $5 daily budget on Facebook and Amazon ads, then scale up your budget once you see some success.

Price promotion slot: $15–$120

You can also run a price promotion to temporarily discount your ebook to drum up some interest. While that’s free to do, you need to make sure people will know about it! For that, you may want to pay for listings on free/discount book sites that alert voracious readers to your promo. The actual cost will vary depending on the size of the promotion site and how competitive your genre is, but it’s usually under $100.

Hiring marketing experts: $700–$1,200

Finally, if you don’t have the patience or time to learn about marketing strategies, or if you really want to invest in your marketing, you can hire a book marketer who can help you with different services. Here are the main ones and their average cost. 

Service

Description

Cost

Marketing Strategy

Receive a comprehensive marketing plan based on the best channels that are likely to work for your project.

$1,200

Advertising

Learn to set up your ad campaigns and how to maintain them.

$1,080

Metadata & Blurb Optimization

Get your book’s metadata, keywords, and product pages optimized.

$770

Email Marketing

Create a mailing list and learn to grow your subscribers.

$700

These services not only help you boost your launch, but they will give you the skills to continue your marketing efforts on your own. Even traditionally published authors often use these services, as publishers often create a minimal marketing plan and then abandon projects that don't sell.

🚨 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.

Other potential book publishing costs

Publishing a book can entail various additional costs, depending on the author’s preferences and needs. For example, you may have more expenses if you register an LLC to manage your business, use proofreading tools like Grammarly or join a course on novel writing to help you finish your manuscript. 

While we won't delve into the granular details of all potential costs to avoid overcomplicating this post, we will touch on some other services authors might need, like book coaching, translation, and ghostwriting. 

Book Coaching: $100–$250/session

Hiring a book coach typically costs between $100 and $250 per hour-long session, though the price varies depending on the type and frequency of the mentoring required. The coach will usually support you in crafting and completing your manuscript, as well as reaching your publishing goals.

Meet writing coaches on Reedsy

Industry insiders can help you hone your craft, finish your draft, and get published.

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

Translation costs: $4,980 on average

On average, translating a book of 80,000 words costs $4,980, though the price varies depending on the genre. Picture books, due to their brevity, average around $150 for translation. Meanwhile, genres such as Mystery & Crime, Historical Fiction, and Contemporary Romance can approach the $7,000 mark due to their length.

Book ghostwriting: $6,500–$42,000 for nonfiction books

Finally, if you have a great book idea but don’t want to write it yourself, hiring a ghostwriter is an option. However, be prepared for a significant increase in costs, as ghostwriting is a premium service. Again, your genre will significantly impact your costs. Read our comprehensive posts for a detailed breakdown of the costs of ghostwriting.


That's quite a bit of math to work through! As it turns out, the expense of self-publishing a book really depends on what you're able and willing to spend, alongside your literary ambitions. Publishing your book on a budget is an option, but you can also invest significantly in it to increase its chances of success.

For the last part of this guide to self-publishing, we'll look to the stars and meet some authors who have found great success as indie publishers.

 

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