An Indie Author’s Journey: The Cost Of Book Publishing



I’m delving into the world of indie publishing. Some authors go the quicker route and use a source like CreateSpace or Kindle Direct to immediately get their books out there.

There’s nothing wrong going that route, but I’ve decided to take a different path.

After almost five months of struggling to get the manuscript file and book cover files to be accepted by IngramSpark, a miracle happened Saturday night and EVERYTHING magically fell into place.

LUNADAR: Homeward Bound ebook edition is being distributed to over 20 online retailers, including:

24Symbols                7Switch            Amazon           Apple            Baker & Taylor Blio
Barnes & Noble       Bibliotech       Bookmate        BookI have Shout (Rethink Books)
Booktopia           FeedBooks      Gardners       Glose
iFlipd                          ITSI                   Kobo                  Libreka          Libri
LIX                              SpoonRead      Redshelf          Rockstand      Vida Global          

The print edition is being distributed to over 39,000 retailers (bookstore chains as well as independent bookstores), libraries, schools and universities in the US and all around the world.

And the cost?

I did a lot of research before I started on this journey and I read about books costing everywhere from zero dollars (CreateSpace or Kindle) all the way to $10,000 or more just to get that first book printed.

Now that my book is officially in the production line, here is the breakdown of what it actually cost me to go from an idea to a printed book:

  1. Book Design Template ($15)…This is a software program costing $119 which converts my Word document manuscripts into a book formatted template I am able to upload to Ingram. I know I have at least 8 books scheduled for publication over the next 3-5 years, so my estimated cost per book for this program is $15.
  2. Ebook Creator ($99)…The regular price through Bowker is usually $129, but I got lucky and they offered a special one day so I grabbed it!
  3. Book Promo & Trailer ($34.98)…I found a company making lovely 3D promo book covers and book trailers. I bought one of each and will upload the book trailer on YouTube once Amazon loads the ebook version.
  4. Editing (Free)…I used free grammar and spelling programs. Then I sent the manuscript out to various beta readers who challenged me to strengthen the story. Finally I sent the manuscript to Steve, a Canadian friend of mine who has edited a number of novels. He was not afraid to slash and question my plot, characters, and overall structure of the manuscript to tighten everything up.
  5. Book Cover Design ($100)…I knew this poor gal’s budget couldn’t afford the average graphic design fees of $500 or more for a professionally made book cover, but I didn’t want it to look like a 3rd grader had created it either. So I called my local university’s art department and placed a free ad in the school paper. Kelly Moore, a junior majoring in art and graphic design, answered my ad and the rest is history. My cover is gorgeous and perfectly represents LUNADAR.
  6. Artwork Conversion (Free)…Kelly and I fought with her artwork file for almost four months, getting frustrated because neither one of us could figure out why IngramSpark kept kicking the file back to us. One of my Taekwondo students who is very good with computer programs, but no graphic designer, took Kelly’s file and in one afternoon converted it into the required format Ingram finally accepted.
  7. LUNADAR Map ($20)…I drew the map of Lunadar one afternoon and spent the next few weeks struggling to align it with the book template. I sought out the help from a parent of another one of my Taekwondo students and she was able to adjust my artwork to make it work.
  8. Bowker ISBN & Barcode ($29.50)…I knew I was going to purchase a block of 10  ISBN numbers for $295 and the required barcode was going to be another $100 or so. Fortunately, just when I was about to make my purchase, Bowker offered a bundle special and I basically got the barcode for free!
  9. IngramSpark upload fees (Free)…Usually they charge $49 for the print edition and $25 for the ebook edition but this year is their five year anniversary. They are offering free title setup fees through the end of July.
  10. Copyright fees ($40)…The only thing I have left to do is file for the copyright and my book will be officially born!

Total cost for everything from start to finish is $338.48 to bring LUNADAR: Homeward Bound to the marketplace. Yes, I could have gone the freebie route, but I wanted the best quality product I could afford to produce and it was a personal challenge to see if I could do it.

Only time will tell if the world thinks I did a satisfactory job…


LUNADAR cover jpg




International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy) is scheduled to be released in ebook edition by the summer of 2018 from Story Catcher Publishing, with the print edition hopefully coming out late fall 2018.

Donna L

Hybrid award winning author; aspiring sketch artist; and 4th Degree Senior Certified Taekwondo Instructor. Host of BOOK NOOK REVIEWS. Member of SCBWI. Mom to fabulous son and adventurer delving into the tricky world of indie-publishing.

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