How Much Does Publishing a Book Cost?
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How Much Does Publishing a Book Cost?

Here we’re talking about how much it costs to self-publish a print book, not an eBook.

There are a million types of book marketing costs, but for production, it’s straightforward. If you want to mainly DIY and write for a sideline, you can use a free layout tool (like Reedsy editor) and buy a cover design from a high-rated cover designer on Fiverr.

Amazon KDP is free to upload your titles but competitor IngramSpark costs US$49.

However, if you want in-store retail distribution, don’t use either, find a book distributor instead. (The costs for this include printing & shipping a bunch of books that may not sell).

Here, let’s suppose you want a professional finish. Editing is usually the largest cost, or writing coaching if you want support from near the start of writing. (This can include structural help). The editor helps to determine whether it will be comprehensive editing or copy editing. You’ll probably have some idea too, for example, if you can’t keep track of repetition and topics are jumping, you’ll know you need more in-depth editing.

The next largest cost is book design, which is a good way to judge a book’s professional standards.

Why Have Professional Book Design/Typesetting?

One day I was at an event and I picked up a book that was about LinkedIn. I looked inside and noticed that all the line spacing, called leading, was all single. That book would be hard to read. It is more usual to have at least 4 points between lines (e.g. 12pt type, 16pt leading).

Points are the standard measurement for line spacing and typefaces. (Note the word ‘font’ means the particular weight (e.g. bold) and style of type, not the kind, like Minion Pro.)

Typical Book Production Costs – Australia

ItemWho?DescriptionUnit PriceLine Total
Book cover  Ngirl Design
Including front, back, spine, 2 mockups, unlimited revision, and 3D shot.You provide graphic image:  $330 incl. GST

Stock graphics cost from $6 – 12.
eBook DesigningOpal Editing  – Fully designed in easily downloaded PDF (option 1) – With ePub and navigable TOC (previewed) (option 2)Standard $90 or
Fancy $200


Book formattingBAACreation of print book to style (matched to cover). Done in InDesign. Artwork is print ready.$400 – $1,000 quoted, including client liaison
Copy EditingPower of Words  Line editing of all grammar, punctuation, spelling, and help with clarity for reader3 cents per word in most cases. Total words x .03 
Comprehensive EditingPower of WordsStructuring chapters, referencing (style), suggestions to keep to readership level, focus on consistency of message, pages needed (front matter/back matter), plus Line editing on revision round 2.Around 7 cents per word.
$1,750 – 25K words.
$2,990 – 45K words. Two rounds.  
Printing (from 1 copy)IngramSparkPrinting includes perfect bound paperback, B&W interior, colour cover. From 64 pp to 250 pp.
(Colour interior: arrange with book printer)
From $3.50 to $7.50 per book, depending on size and print order quantity. Ship & handling varies. 
Proof copy  Proof copy sent to author Averages $30, including P&H   $30
 ISBN reg.Thorpe-Bowker New registration: $55
Each ISBN: $44, pack of 10 $88 – 100
Suggest pack of 10 $143 
These costs can vary a lot, depending on which providers you use for your book and in which country they live. AUD costs.

It could cost around $5,000 to produce a book professionally, using Australian talent. However, you can save some cash if you take up our Diamond Editing Edge (medium length $3,000 – 3,500) + publishing add-on package. This is not featured on this site but the publishing production is described.

The Costs of an Editor

When choosing an editor, it pays to select someone who has done a university course in communications or languages. There are editors on Kindle Community Boards charging 1 cent a word, however, I suspect they are more looking for mistakes rather than creating a solid work, a great work.

There is also the costs of advertising, and some OPTIONS are mentioned here:

When I get design done for my books, I try a book cover designer on Fiverr. I can fix it myself but you probably cannot, so contact Narelle (NGirlDesign), Red Raven books or similar.


So, how much does publishing a book cost? It obviously depends on your quality level sought – amateur, fun publishing or professional, career publishing.

The Ugly Truth about Distribution and IngramSpark

Independent Book Writers have been trusting the Print on Demand companies like IngramSpark for around 15 years to tell them the truth about distributing books. But are they telling you everything? Let’s find out.

Ingram Group (IngramSpark) claim that your book listing goes to 40,000 distribution points. Print on Demand lets an author distribute without housing stock of books, in return for a royalty of 35-55%. (Most set it at 50 or 55% and still have okay royalties).

So, I built an author-publishers’ support business and own indie imprint based on these fundamentals. Little did I know that we are all pushing sh#t uphill to get any sales at High Street bookstores.

I couldn’t even get ‘The Nile’ or ‘Fishpond’ online retailers to list my books or make them a bit easier to find, if in fact they did. Booktopia charged exorbitant prices onwards for my colour book, but it is a bit better now that Melbourne Lightning Source printery have started printing colour books again.

Most of us have read about how Trad. Publishers don’t want to take on any more new authors’ books or take anything but a ‘formulaic’ approach. But we thought Print on Demand would be different – as we call the pricing and production shots.

opened copybooks placed on school bench
Photo by Katerina Holmes on

A-ha, but one blogger told about an experiment. Her friend tried to buy her self-published book and looking at the booksellers’ screen, it said: 5% commission, not the 25% that it should have said. (She set her royalty at 40% of RRP, then expected them to take a portion for retailer and shipping). The difference was taken by Ingram’s book distribution arm.

RRP = Recommended Retail Price.

Low book sales report – AUD

($10.78 appears to be the retail price made up by whoever the retailer was – no information to that regard).

Just Like a Bulk Bookstore Distributor Agreement

It is almost similar to if you opted to print 500-1,000 books and get a Booktopia Publishing System agreement. In other words, not using print on demand at all. They will want 70% of book RRP and this goes towards shipping/returns, distributor markup and retail markup. You get to wear the cost of printing the bulk books and the subtraction of revenues for any books returned, unsold. What a great deal, not!

The Actual Game of Book Distribution

But if the system does not enable the author to deliver it for a genuine retail markup, we now know why self-published authors have suffered poor sales and practically no take-up of stocking in store.

And that is why when you go into a Big W, a Dymocks or a Target, you will see the traditional publishing houses front-running books. You will see the odd Lisa Messenger book, as she turned into a small book publisher with sales clout, but little else.

We still can sell through library suppliers though, and through our online web-stores with some creative marketing practices. As well, we can sell through KDP (eBooks) and upload to KDP for Print if nicely designed. Then the profitability is all taken care of, because you are not going to lose through returns or poor consignments.

The only thing is, you may need to advertise on Amazon (AMS) and you will want a nice and high click-to-conversion rate to profit wisely.

Below is the Royalty screen for a US $2.99 eBook on Amazon KDP. At least this method is crystal clear and the royalty is either $1.05 or $2.04 USD.

Jennifer Lancaster, author of five marketing or money books and author mentor, has created a members portal to help Australian/NZ/US authors learn successful self-publishing and help market their books. It’s called Book Creation Success program. Learn more DIY and insider secrets in the program!

TitlePage, ISBNs and MetaData

When you enter the book publishing world as a tiny pebble called an indie author, you cannot fathom the magnitude of the industry. Through experience, one finds that retail Book Distribution deals in Australia go to publishers with a consistency of mass market titles – e.g. 5 a year. (This is sort of by way of osmosis rather than anyone ‘saying’ it).

People like my past client The Simple Doctor (indie author) end up getting rorted. In 2019, a large ‘indie’ book distributor went out of business and all his 2017 book stock was trashed or lost in the process.

Lightning Source’s website say that it deals with 30+ titles publishers, and IngramSpark deal with publishers who have less than 30. (Many have one or two books).

What is TitlePage?

TitlePage is the Australian book industry’s online price data and availability service. Information that is entered into Thorpe’s MyIdentifiers shows up in the TitlePage database, which is then accessed by 3000+ booksellers, suppliers or library buyers a week.

Naturally, book buyers who see the completed and fleshed out listings on there (from TP members) will take more notice and the book has a better a chance of getting ordered.

Bricks and mortar Booksellers always advise Indie self-publishing authors and micro-publishers that if their titles are not on TitlePage their books won’t sell. Whilst not completely accurate, it is none the less sound advice since TitlePage is the preferred service by Resellers to look-up titles for price and availability.

— Australian Publishing Association

To ‘enhance’ your books’ metadata in listings in TitlePage, if you DON’T have a distributor, your indie publishing outfit needs to first join the Australian Publisher Association. This will set you back about $88 – $220 inclusive for a micro publisher, depending on royalty revenue. Then you can register on TitlePage. But wait, there’s more.

Say you have found the wondrous thing of an Indie Distributor. For a Distributor to ‘batch list’ your titles on TitlePage, they need to purchase a minimum listing of 10 for $330. They will pass that cost on to you at whatever rate the distributor decides is fair. (There will be administrative burdens as well).

As micro publisher or self-publisher, you must earn less than $100,000/annum from gross publishing revenue for your distributor to access batch listings on TitlePage. There are some benefits as you can then access sales force help and promotional activities through a distributor–which is why you want one.

This doesn’t get you banner advertising. That is an extra $210 or so.

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