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How much does it cost to publish your book?

Technically speaking, the act of writing a book is free. The act of self-publishing is also free. But, 'free' doesn’t always make it possible to achieve the best results.

illustration of hand written calculations
How much does it cost to publish your book?

It’s the same as if you were to DIY your own wardrobe. If you were building it using wood from your garden, or perhaps an old shed and you already had all the tools required to build it then yes, building your own wardrobe is free. And of course, your labour is free too.


But would it look great?

Maybe.


Would it stay standing?

Maybe not.


The point is, whilst the idea of building your own wardrobe is free, what that really means is that your labour is free.


(Is your labour really free? What could you be doing instead of that labour? And how many more hours would it take you to do, rather than hiring a professional? )


Realistically, the wood and tools would cost money and you would likely sacrifice the quality of the overall product, especially if you’ve never constructed anythin


g from wood before.


This applies to your book too.


So, let’s break down the (arguably necessary) services and costs involved in writing and publishing your book, on your own. Have a look at this table:

Table displaying the costs of self publishing
Self-publishing costs

Cost Table Notes:

Prices are approximate and based on 70,000 words and up to date as of May 2023.


By 'low end', I mean as low end as you can probably go without jeopardising the quality of your book. There are plenty of good professionals out there charging not so extortionate prices. High end refers to the extremely experienced freelancers that would be preferred by top end authors with large budgets behind them.


If we were being pernickety about costs, there should also be an hourly rate column for the cost of your own time or 'labour'. Your time as a writer is valuable – especially if it is not your full-time job.


Let's address each point, one by one:


Beta Reader

A beta reader is someone who reviews your initial manuscript and provides a summarising report, indicating what changes they would suggest being made, what your next steps might be and whether your manuscript is publishable.


Is this necessary?

We would say, yes. Even if it's the only publishing service you pay for, at the very least a beta reader will give you an indication of whether you manuscript has legs. They will also give you some brief pointers on what kind of amendments you can make on your own (without hiring an editor). For example, if you flick between tenses throughout your writing. This is a simple adjustment you can make to improve your work, but something that maybe you wouldn't have even thought about on your own.


How much does it cost?

£50-£500+



Developmental Editor

This type of editor focuses on the actual content and the book in its entirety. They are interested in improving the quality of the creative overall. For example, whether the plot is viable, whether the characters need work, whether the overall feel of the story is developed enough. Or for non-fiction, whether the message is strong enough, which areas need to be improved, whether it’s easy to follow if it’s a guide.


Is this necessary?

It depends on the type of book you are writing. If you are writing a fiction book, yes. It's crucial to your story's viability to have your book critiqued by a developmental editor. Are your characters strong enough? Is the story interesting, understandable, readable? Are there continuity issues?


If you are writing a non-fiction book, a developmental editor is less crucial but still a very worthwhile inclusion to think about if you want your message to be a strong one. For example, maybe you're writing a memoir. It's just as important for your own story to make sense and be well written, as a made up one. Just because your story makes sense to you, don't be fooled into thinking you don't need editing help. Remember, you lived it! No one else did.


If you are writing a short guide or lead magnet - probably not.


How much does it cost?

£1,000 - £2,500+



Copy Editor

A copy editor will focus on the sentence-by-sentence structural aspects of the MS, including grammar and punctuation. Their main job is to look for errors – not areas for improvement as per other types of editors. They will ensure that the sentences read well and make sense within the objective of the MS. They will also pick up on any spelling mistakes. This should be the final stage of editing after the overall story or non-fiction MS has been evaluated.


Main items a copy editor will check for:

  • Technical consistency

  • Capitalisation

  • Syntax and correct sentence structure

  • Grammar, punctuation & spelling

  • Some copy editors also carry out fact-checking

Is this necessary?

This is potentially something you could do yourself. BUT. You would need to have extremely good knowledge of the above bullet points, probably some kind of English lit qualification (no, not GCSE) and an extra keen eye for detail. It's one thing being able to pick up on other people's manuscript errors, but to spot your own is a critical skill.


How much does it cost?

£700 - £2,000+



Book Cover Designer

Is it necessary?

No. See our free self-publishing guide for a walk through of how you can design your own book cover.


However, if you have no graphic design ability and your artistic flare is confined to writing epic manuscripts then I would consider looking into other options.


How much does it cost?

£150-£700+



Proof Reader

This should be the final stage of editing your book before its ready to be uploaded to any publishing platform. A proofreader goes over your MS with a fine-tooth comb to spot any additional mistakes that the copy editor may have missed. A proofreader will focus on punctuation, spelling mistakes, font use, font size, double spacing and the other much more granular aspects of a MS. A proof-reader is the final gatekeeper your MS must impress and pass through before being accepted for publishing.


Is it necessary?

Much like the copy editing service, the proof reading could be completed on your own. Would I recommend it? Not really.


Along with the fact that a proofreading service is often the most affordable publishing service available, I would highly recommend a proofread of your manuscript before publishing.


How much does it cost?

£150-£1,000+


So, how much does it cost to publish your book? How long is a piece of string. The amount of investment into your book is transferable to the quality of the finished product. Our advice?

  • Work out your budget

  • Know your end goals

  • Research lots of freelancers

  • Don't scrimp - make your book the best it can be. You owe it to yourself


If you decide that self-publishing isn't for you, we are here on hand for any further assistance you may need. It is a daunting task and one which you might have hoped would be a simple one! Click the following links to check out our pricing packages and submission guidelines.


We also have a Health & Wellness Facebook Support Group - a safe space for health writers to bounce ideas off each other, ask for opinions or help and generally support each other.


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