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I can’t afford to publish a book…

Words are free, but having your professional book published is not. This post reveals expenses you might face, ranging from the low end to high. These estimates are based on a 50,000-word book, or a total of between 150 to 200 pages.


Ghostwriting ($10-20,000) – A ghostwriter is a writer for hire, who doesn't require credit for his work. Ghostwriting often includes layout, presentation and structuring content for flow. Hire a ghostwriter to pen your entire book, or to step in where you have writer's block.

Book Layout

Book layout ($750-1,500) – This is another area where you shouldn't cut corners or skimp on price. Even graphic designers don't know all of the nuances of book layout, so ensure you hire a professional who specializes in this area. A professional understands the requirements for fiction and non-fiction page layout, will format your text so it's easy to read, and will ensure your words don't run into the book binding crease.


Editing/Proofreading ($400-1,200) – You could have a friend proofread your book, but there isn't a substitute for a professional editor's expertise. Proofreading deals with correcting grammar and punctuation errors, while editing is a total package that includes content and structural edits. Editing can take 20 hours or more for a 50,000-word book, while proofreading is around 10 hours for the same size book.

Cover Design & Synopsis

Cover design and Synopsis (Free - $3,000) – The website Create Space has a cover design wizard, but using it limits your design options. The best option is to hire a graphic designer with experience in book design to layout your covers. Additionally, the synopsis on the back of your book is of utmost importance, since many purchases stem from this content alone. Hire a professional.


Marketing (Free to $2,500/month) – If you do it yourself, social media will only cost the price of your time. Depending on how much your time is worth, it might make more sense to hire someone to do it for you. Professional social media services cost up to $2,500 per month or more, depending on the frequency of the postings..

Publishing Platforms

Publishing Platform ($4-$7 per book) – On Create Space, you can publish a standard-size, 200-page book for under $4. Create Space also offers an upload option to have your semi-professionally written and produced book sold on Kindle with its own ISBN. As a caveat, the print quality from Create Space is not the best. Other options for self-publishing quality books are LuLu and Lightening Source, where the average cost per 150-page book is $5 to $7.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy reading about the life cycle of a self-publishing book process. Also, stay up to date with the latest in self-publishing at the Book Elves Facebook page.

Monica Crowe writes blog posts, newsletters and sales messages for passion-driven entrepreneurs, so they can make the most of their business hours, while doing more of the work they love.