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Why Self-Publishing Can Be Expensive

Many writers who investigate the self-publishing route are surprised by the cost. This is understandable; not many people have insight behind the scenes of the publishing industry. It is also only recently that these services have become open to the public on such a scale. Even traditionally published authors do not always have full insight into the A-Z of developing a manuscript into a hard-copy book ready for sale – after all, they do not have to pay for each of these. But publishing is changing, and independent writers should now obtain as much knowledge about the publishing process as possible. They also need to understand the amount of work that goes into publishing a book, and why this means that self-publishing is an investment.

Break It Down

For now, let us focus on the most important phase of the self-publishing process: pre-production. This stage requires a lot of work by multiple service providers. You need a professional book cover; a designer is hired. You need your writing to be ship-shape, structurally perfect and the best version of itself; an editor examines your manuscript. You need a second pair of yes, because nothing screams “unprofessional” like a typo or missing word; the book is sent to a proofreader. And finally, you want everything between the covers to look good, be it making the typeface easy to read or the pictures perfectly formatted; a typesetter is on it!

These are just the four first services. Some feel this is enough, asking the typesetter for an ebook conversion and thereafter focusing on having an online presence. But even if you choose to stop here, there are still four professionals working for you, the author. When broken down in this way, self-publishing is actually not so expensive. It is a complex venture, and one which requires much hard work and time.


When self-publishing, it is useful to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Usually, it is one or both of the below:


If writing is your career, investing in your book is crucial. Like any other business investments, you are spending money in order to make money. The better and more professional the book, the greater your chances of earning a large salary from it. Additionally, once your book is on the market, it could be making money for you the rest of your life. There might have to make a big one-off down-payment, but the book will keep paying you back (it’s like being a bank, giving a loan to a customer!).


Most writers just write for fun. Writers in this situation often find it hard to justify the costs of self-publishing, which is understandable. Sometimes it is enough to pay a little bit and get a few printed copies, or go for a professional cover design but rely on your friend’s edits. That is OK – sometimes great! Only the author knows which is more suitable. However, if writing is your main hobby and you are passionate about it, investing in it is not only justifiable but wise. Think of your friends’ hobbies – do they ski? Sail? Travel? Collect cars? Love dogs? Or are they devoted to their garden? There is an endless list of hobbies, and almost an equally endless price tag attached to most of them. If people are serious about their leisure pursuits, even stamp collecting can be exorbitant. But they do not mind, because it is their passion! Perhaps because writing is such a cheap hobby – what do you really need beyond pen and paper, a book now and again, and access to a computer? – writers do not think they should be spending money on it. While it is great that you don’t have to, don’t be afraid to invest. Who knows, you might be making back that money later, which is more than the sailing enthusiast or petrol head can claim!

If you do not feel you fit in either categories, contact us or leave a comment explaining your motivation for considering self-publishing.

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