Keep Your Day Job. Self-Publishing Is A Expensive Addiction

Save yourself. It’s too late for me.

A persistent myth about self-publishing is that it is inexpensive. That is a lie. If you think self-publishing your book will be cheap, think again.

A tech-savvy person can learn to perform the tasks required to publish a book. Learning all those skills could take years.

I’ve self-published six books. I’ve attempted to find the best package for every step along the way. The best package is not the cheapest; the best package is the best overall mix of cost and time investment that suit my needs. I base the indicated costs on my personal experiences.

When I learn to perform a task rather than pay, I’ll share the quotes I received that steered me to the do-it-yourself road.

The parameters of the book are:

· twenty-two thousand words

· English

· non-fiction

· no illustrations

· black and white

· author’s photo in black and white (in the paperback book)

I am self-publishing an e-book and a paperback. I own the copyright on all content.

Software #1–4

I assume you already own the Microsoft Suite — Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I use Scrivener to write my manuscripts. It enables me to switch back and forth between my various IOS and Windows devices as needed.

I check my spelling/style/grammar first in Word, then Grammarly and finally using ProWritingAid.

ProWritingAid has a free version, but it only allows a check of five hundred words at a time. To check over five hundred words requires investment.

1. Scrivener for IOS (Apple) $45 (purchased)

2. Scrivener for Windows $38 (purchased)

3. Grammarly $140 (annual subscription)

4. ProWritingAid $60 (annual subscription)

5. Editing

Some authors use Google Docs to enable simultaneous real-time editing and collaboration with the editor. I prefer to send a completed draft to my editor, using the Word track changes feature, have the editor mark it up, then return the draft.

I accept or reject the changes and return it to the editor. We repeat the cycle.

The minimum I have paid for is two rounds of revisions with the editor was seven hundred dollars. The maximum for three rounds was fourteen hundred dollars. We’ll use twelve hundred fifty dollars as an average.

6. Proofreading

The next step after editing is proofreading.

For proofreading, the minimum was two hundred dollars; the maximum was three hundred and sixty dollars.

I send the edited manuscript to the proofreader in Word with track changes turned on. They return the book with the recommended changes. I accept or reject the changes as needed. There are no rounds of proofreading. One and done.

7. Formatting

The edited and proofread manuscript requires formatting before loading onto book distribution platforms. For my books, I’ve used Amazon. I needed one format for the e-book and a different format for the paperback.

8. Book Cover

Book covers are key to a book’s success. Readers judge books by their covers. Covers can be do it yourself for free either on Amazon or by using the materials available on the website. is a free website. It has numerous templates for book covers and other graphics.

It requires different covers for the e-book and the paperback. My, do it yourself covers looked like shit. The finished result reflected the graphic design skills of a writer. I did my best, but I am not nor pretend to be a graphic designer.

After basking in the glow of my do-it-yourself book cover, I used 99 Designs for my book covers.


Publishers require ISBNs are for any paperback book published in the United States. An ISBN is a unique International Standard Book Number used as a numeric commercial book identifier. If you don’t purchase an ISBN, some publishers will provide one free. You don’t want a free ISBN. If you move your book to a different publisher, you may find the provided ISBN does not belong to you. is the only official source of ISBNs in the United States. Any other distributor of ISBNs bought them from Bowker and is repackaging and reselling them. Bowker’s current best value pricing is 10 ISBNs for $295. An ISBN is required before any platform will allow a print book upload for distribution.


1. Scrivener for IOS (Apple) $45

2. Scrivener for Windows $38

3. Grammarly $140

4. ProWritingAid $60

5. Editor $1250

6. Proofreading $280

7. Formatting $240

8. Covers (99 Designs) $360

9. ISBN numbers $295

Total $2,513

You are ready to upload your e-book to Amazon and publish your paperback. The total for the self-publishing of my first book is two thousand five hundred and thirteen dollars.

5 through 8 are the costs associated with each subsequent book. Each new self-published book requires approximately two thousand one hundred and thirty dollars.

5. Editor $1,250

6. Proofreading $280

7. Formatting $240

8. Covers (99 Designs) $360

Total $2,130

As your books are being published, you’ll find professionals that perform their services so well you will work with them multiple times. Once relationships are established, the costs could drop.

Some authors will spend less but perform more of the work themselves. Some authors will spend more but will perform less of the work themselves. They’re less expensive sources of labor out there like FIVVER, but (most of the time) you get what you pay for. Someone is performing all the tasks identified. The only questions are who is doing the work and what are you paying for it.

As I publish each book, I have become savvier. I will seek and learn the best ways to deliver a quality self-published book while managing the cost.

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