Do you think independent publishing is too expensive? Think again.

You are driven to write a book. I understand. I’ve written 46 of them and the last 25 or so I have independently published (an upgraded term for self-publishing).

Is it expensive to independently publish now? Before electronic publishing, the cost of publishing a book yourself was prohibitively expensive. The most common way to publish was to work with a vanity press, a title that certainly wouldn’t have done much to boost the average author’s self-esteem.

Vanity presses would publish anything. They would also do nothing to edit, proofread, promote, or publicize your book. You gave the company your manuscript and a lot of money, and they gave you a book—typos and all.

You might also get a garage full of books.

Technology created a much more favorable environment for the would-be self-publisher.

Kindle Direct Publishing for Independent Publishing

Print on Demand (POD) is probably the most helpful development in the independent publishing world. I’ll use Amazon, the most widely used POD distributor, as an example. I have about 25 titles on Amazon.

When a customer orders your book, the company prints and ships it.

You, as the author, can also order the book. This option will cost you less than an individual printing, on which you might get an average 20% return on the cover price.

Actual prices, which you can determine using a chart on the Amazon site (Kindle Direct Publishing, which replaced Createspace), are based on the size of the book—i.e., 6” x 9”, 5” x 8-1/2”—and the number of pages. The use of color inside the book is extra, sometimes a lot.

The most important aspect of this is that in terms of the actual printing you have no upfront costs.

Formatting and Covers

You will have expenses in these areas. If you are a talented designer familiar with Photoshop and other programs and gifted at the selection of typographic fonts, you can do a lot of the work yourself, but you may have to pay for a cover photo.

If you aren’t gifted in this way, you will need to hire a cover designer. For cost analysis purposes, it can cost you from $15 to $400 for a cover. More expensive isn’t always better.

Many people are able to format a manuscript for both print and ebook formats, but if you aren’t, you will run into some expenses here.

Some people turn the whole process over to a book formatting company, and if you have more money than time, you can do this. However, it doesn’t take so much time to do at least part of it yourself.

For print formatting, do see if you know anyone who can recommend a formatter. You want someone who will not only do an affordable job—again, this depends on the size of your book—with reasonable prices ranging from $60 to $200.

For ebook formatting, Mac users rave about Vellum, This program doesn’t have a Windows option. You can try it out for a low cost or buy the program. The ebook only program is $199.00. The program that also creates print book formats is $249.00.

Free is a better price. has a free program for converting text documents to ebook format. So does Both of these platforms distribute your ebooks to major booksellers online, Smashwords having more outlets than Draft2Digital. Both companies take a small cut of the revenue.

Remember, none of the above includes the cost of editing, proofreading, or sometimes major surgery to your manuscript.

However, you now know that the technical aspects of getting your manuscript into publication aren’t prohibitively expensive.

  • There is an article or book trapped inside you that is aching to get written
  • You are interested in developing or expanding your ability to write for publication.
  • You are unsure how to get started as an author.
  • The idea of writing seems so overwhelming that you do not know how to start.
  • You are afraid of being embarrassed by misusing words.
  • You are concerned with avoiding traps associated with being an author or editor.

If you liked this post, you’ll love How to Get Published.

Cover of How to Get Published

Pat Iyer - Editor, author, ghostwriter, book coachPat Iyer is an editor, author, book coach and ghostwriter who helps individuals create books that encourages their expertise to shine and advances their businesses. She has written or edited 48 of her own books.