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The Cost of Self-Publishing a Book in the USA: A Comprehensive Breakdown


Self-publishing has become a household term in recent years, with many writers finding it a viable alternative to traditional publishing. Choosing this route allows you complete creative freedom over your work at a cost.

Publishing a book is a multistep process that includes editing, designing, formatting, and marketing. A traditional publishing company has in-house staff handling these stages, which cuts down on the overall cost to the author. On the other hand, self-publishing entails the author footing the entire bill.

So how much does it cost to publish a book without a publishing company? Here is a breakdown of the typical costs of self-publishing a book in the USA.

Editing the Manuscript

The first step in self-publishing a book is editing your work, which allows your raw manuscript to evolve into a polished, ready-to-publish piece. You can do this part yourself, but it’s not recommended. Self-editing can be challenging since you can’t be completely objective about your work. An outside perspective can help identify errors and typos and improve your book’s overall flow.

That said, the rates editors charge depend on certain factors, such as:


Genres have different complexities, with some requiring more editing time than others. For instance, a romance piece is less complex than a crime and mystery work, the latter of which usually entails existing knowledge and rigorous fact-checking of law and procedure to ensure that the story is accurate to real life. As a result, the latter will cost more to edit, with an average of $1200 for 60,000 words. Romance works, on the other hand, cost around $1100.

Works that require extensive worldbuilding, like the fantasy genre, also need more time and attention to detail, especially if writers want the world to be believable and have consistent rules. You can expect fantasy manuscripts to cost $1100 if you want copy editing and proofreading.


In terms of manuscript state, the more work an editor has to do, the more their work will cost. If your document has many typos and grammatical errors, your editor will require more time to fix it for polishing. In comparison, a self-edited work already in good shape will cost less to edit.

Do note that editors are open to working with writers in the middle of their manuscripts. They can help with developmental editing, a higher-level type of editing that focuses on your book’s overall structure and flow. It also costs more than traditional editing.


Now, the length of your work also helps editors determine the cost of editing. However, it isn’t as simple as assessing a 100,000-word manuscript versus a 40,000-word one. Density is also a crucial consideration. Dialogue, narration, sentence structures, and paragraph lengths all affect the editing process.

For example, pieces resembling Ernest Hemingway’s writing style have shorter sentences and paragraphs, with an average sentence length of 12 to 15 words. In contrast, works by Charles Dickens have longer sentences that can go up to 40 words or more. These differences will affect the amount of time an editor spends on your work and how much it costs.

In addition, some manuscripts have more dialogue than narration or vice versa. What you have in your work impacts the editing process since each element requires a different approach. Take a look at dialogue-heavy stories. They require assistance with naturalistic-sounding dialogue and pacing. On the other hand, pieces with more description might need work on transitions between paragraphs.

Level of Experience

The final factor affecting the cost of editing is the editor’s experience. Seasoned editors have the skills and expertise to provide different editing services. They can also better catch errors, improve sentence structures, and suggest ways to make your story more engaging.

Meanwhile, newbie editors tend to charge lower rates than those who have been in the business for years. That said, their lower costs don’t mean they’re not good at their jobs. You can find many talented beginner editors if you know where to look, like organizations for freelancers. On these platforms, you may come across developmental editors offering their services for at least $.03 per word.

Regardless of where you find your editor, communicate your expectations before hiring them. This way, you are both on the same page regarding the editing process, what needs to be done, and how much it will cost.

Designing the Book Cover

A published work is the sum of its pieces, meaning you need more than your edited manuscript to self-publish. You will also need a book cover that accurately represents the book’s content. Suppose you work with a professional cover designer. In that case, you can expect the average price to be $500, with several factors influencing the final price, such as:

Style and Complexity

Style and complexity are two major cost-affecting factors. They can also narrow down the artists you may want to work with, given that some specialize in certain types of covers. For example, a more detailed cover idea for a fantasy book might require a designer’s expertise with a whimsical style. In contrast, a more straightforward non-fiction book might only need a simple text-based design.

The number of elements in your cover and the level of detail are also important considerations. A detailed cover with many characters or intricate scenery will cost more than a basic one with just a few elements. Typography is another aspect to consider, especially if you want your designer to develop a custom font for your book title.

The more factors you add, the higher the cost will be. However, you don’t need to break the bank to get a great cover design. Many beginner and intermediate designers offer quality work at reasonable rates. At the end of the day, an artist who understands your manuscript and translates your vision is worth more than someone who charges a lower rate but doesn’t quite get what you want for your book.

Number of “Rounds”

The number of revisions needed to finalize a book cover can also impact the final price. Some designers charge per round, while others include a certain number of revisions, with additional changes costing extra.

The average number of rounds is two to three, depending on the project. If you have a clear idea of what you want from the start, you might only need one or two rounds of revisions. However, more modifications might be necessary if you’re unsure about your vision or if it changes during the design process.

Years of Experience

Lastly, experience is always a significant consideration when computing the cost of self-publishing in the USA. A professional designer with over five years of experience designing book covers will have higher rates than one who has been working for less than a year.

You can expect more experienced artists to understand book design principles better, know how to work with different types of covers, and be more efficient in their processes. They have also likely worked with a broader range of clients, giving them a better sense of what works and doesn’t.

Formatting the Book Layout

The look of your manuscript in your document will drastically change once it’s up for publishing. After all, e-books, paperbacks, and hardcovers have unique dimensions. If you want your book to look professional and get appropriately published, you need to hire professional book formatting services, which will cost you around $200 to $750.The price varies depending on the formatter’s experience.

Similar to editing, the length of your manuscript is a primary factor determining the cost of book formatting. A shorter book will generally be cheaper to format than a longer one since it requires less work.

Of course, this isn’t always the case since genre can play a role, too. A poetry book, for example, might have fewer words than a classic fiction novel, but the content structures are more intricate, thus requiring more care in formatting.

You should also note that graphics and illustrations can affect the formatting cost. After all, the person in charge of your book’s form must ensure that the images are correctly placed without disrupting the text flow. They might also need to resize the pictures or alter their quality for the final print.

Marketing the Published Work

Marketing is the final tab on the total cost of self-publishing in the USA. You need to let your potential readers know that your book exists, and there are many ways to go about it, such as editorial reviews, digital ads, and price promotions. You can acquire these separately or opt for comprehensive marketing services like those offered by Omnibook Co.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial reviews give your book credibility while allowing potential readers a glimpse into your book’s content. These are quotes from other authors or experts in your field that you can use on your book’s cover, website, or social media posts.

You can get editorial reviews by sending out review copies of your book to bloggers and reviewers. Some might charge a small fee for their service, but many will be happy to read and review your work for free.

Digital Ads

Meanwhile, digital ads are online marketing campaigns where you pay to have your book displayed on websites and social media platforms. These can effectively reach new readers who might not have heard of your book otherwise.

The cost of digital advertising varies depending on the platform and ad format you choose. For example, an average cost-per-click ad on Facebook is $5, but it can go lower depending on your budget.

Price Promotions

Lastly, price promotion is a type of marketing that generates interest by offering your books at discounted prices. Running a price promotion encourages people to buy your work, provided they know it’s discounted for some time. If you’re planning to use this type of marketing, you may also want to purchase listings on book-deal websites.


Now that you know the average cost of self-publishing in the USA, it’s time to take your writing career into your own hands and self-publish your book today! If you need help getting started, Omnibook Co. offers comprehensive self-publishing services that cover everything— from book formatting to marketing. Get in touch with us today to learn more!