Gimme the Numbers

I hope you are all well. It’s time for another weekly update. If you’re like me at this time of year, the weeks just disappear under you with all the festive organisational and social stuff to do, along with all the regular stuff. But I have made some progress in all areas–not least of which was getting all my Christmas presents wrapped!

Book one: I successfully uploaded my paperback to Createspace and have ordered the proofs. Yay! All being well, they will arrive in time for Christmas.

Book two: I managed to edit five chapters this week. I was aiming for one a day, so I didn’t quite meet that goal, but I was getting a little overexcited about ordering the book one proofs which distracted me for a day or so!

I thought it might be interesting to share a few numbers with you this week. If you choose to self-publish, then you are not only responsible for writing, editing, formatting, publishing and marketing–you also have to deal with the business side of things.

Personally, this is something I’m quite at home with because I work with finances every day in my regular job. But I can imagine it might come as a shock to the system for some writers who aren’t terribly into numbers.

If you type into Google, or a writers forum, “how much does it cost to self-publish a book”, you are going to get a variety of answers ranging from next to nothing, all the way up to thousands of pounds. And the real answer is that it costs as much as you choose it to cost.

You could pay for the following services if you wanted:

  • Developmental editing
  • Ghostwriters
  • Copy/line editing
  • Art/covers/illustrations
  • Formatting
  • Proofreading
  • Printing

And it’s entirely up to you what you pay for. Obviously, not many people use ghostwriters. I just stuck that in there to illustrate the point that you can basically pay someone else to do ALL the donkey work, if you so choose.

However, most writers pick and choose, and spend their money on the essentials. And one person’s essentials may differ from another. If you are great on Photoshop, you may not need to pay for a cover. If your writing is a decent standard, you may choose not to pay for editing.

I decided not to pay for any editing services in the end, for a few reasons. Firstly, my level of writing is a reasonable standard to start with. A few pointers from friends and some research and reading of craft books have enabled me to do a reasonable job on my own. Secondly, I have extensively workshopped my novel. Book one has probably had fifteen people read it from start to back, plus a few extra read sections of it. It’s been time-consuming, but the end result is reasonably polished, in my opinion.

My main costs have been ISBNs at £151 ($190) and a cover at £179 ($225). With a few other incidentals along the way, I will have spent nearly £500 ($630) in order to bring book one to print. The ISBN cost bought me 10 though, so that will last a while.

And even those main costs were choices. You can use a Createspace ISBN for free, if you don’t mind having Createspace as the publisher, and of course if you have the skills (which it turns out I don’t), you can produce your own cover.

So don’t listen to people who say you MUST spend x thousands on self-publishing. Generalisations don’t help anyone. However, bear in mind that what you do spend may be indicative of the quality of the final product you end up producing. You may find some costs become necessary to get you where you want to be. But as a self-publisher, you are in control of those costs.

And don’t forget to keep a note of all your costs as you go along! You will need them to do your taxes when you start making income. A handy spreadsheet is a good place to store them. And I will stop there, as I hear my friends snickering in the background because a spreadsheet is my answer to every problem 🙂

Have a good week everyone.



  1. You do love your spreadsheets! I use one to keep track of all my publishing expenses too; it’s important!

    The ISBNs are a pain. My sister and I ran a Kickstarter when I was preparing to release Augment back in 2015, so used part of the money from that to buy a block of 100, but it’s still expensive. :/

Leave a Comment Below!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.