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Silver Spring, MD
United States


Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

What Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

Biff Barnes

Estimating the cost of a custom self-published book project is a bit more complicated than walking into the auto repair shop and getting an estimate for a brake job.

Courtesy of Mark Coughlan under Creative Commons

At Stories To Tell we always say, “Our rates are generally $50 per hour. When you are ready, send us your digital files and we’ll create a custom estimate for your project.”

What’s involved in creating an estimate for editing, book design or publishing services?

There are three primary factors to consider:

  • What services do you want or need?
  • How long and how complex is your book? We look at both a word count and whether the book is illustrated either with photos, original art or with charts, diagrams or other graphics.
  • How finished is your manuscript at this point? This refers both to how fully revised and edited is it when we receive your file and whether you have things like photos or graphics you want in the book or will you need help finding or creating them?

Let’s take a look at how the process of creating an estimate works.

Editing Services

What type of editing will you need?

  • Developmental Editing - It is best while your draft is still open to major revisions. We read your draft, give it a thoughtful, in-depth review, and offers insights on ways to make your book more interesting and effective.
  • Content Editing - We look at the whole of the book, and its parts, too – the sections, chapters, paragraphs, sentences, and even word choices – and determine how it all works together. Your editor will recommend revisions: adding, cutting, moving or changing parts of your book, all to make it a better reading experience.
  • Copy Editing - We or review your manuscript for correctness at the sentence and word level for syntax, grammar and mechanics, spelling and punctuation.

When we receive your file we evaluate the length of your manuscript and the level of editing – light, moderate or extensive – it will take to get your text ready for publication. This allows us to estimate the hours required for editing.

Interior and Cover Design Services

What design services will you need?

  • Will your book be text only or will it be illustrated?
  • If it will be illustrated do you have the images you will use or will you need us to locate them for you? How many images do you want to include?
  • If you want to include images – photos, original art, charts and graphs – do you have it in digital form appropriate for publication (a minimum of 300 dpi) or will you need us to scan the originals?
  • Do you have the necessary permissions to publish images gathered from other sources including the internet?
  • How long will it take to collaborate in placing the illustrations where you want them in the book and in adding the captions you have created?
  • What styles and special formatting – chapter headings, subheads, pull quotes, sidebars, index, footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, glossary, etc. – must be created?
  • What type of cover do you want? Color, types of artwork, number of images, fonts, cover and back cover copy, etc all have an impact on the cost of cover design.

Publishing Costs

We are not publishers, but we often guide and assist clients through the process of getting their book printed.

  • Have you chosen a printer, or would you like our help in choosing one?
  • Printer costs are based on questions like hard or soft cover, trim size, color or black and white, type of paper. You may want to consider distribution after the book is printed.
  • Do you want to deal with your printer directly or do you want us to handle it?
  • Would you like us to prepare your book files to the specifications of the printer you have chosen?
  • Will you sell the book commercially so that you need an ISBN? Do you want to purchase it yourself or would you like us to purchase it for you?
  • Do you want your book listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc? Do you want to do that yourself or have us do it for you?
  • Do you need advice about marketing or publicity for your book?

Your book is unique. Answering your question, “What will it cost?” deserves a thoughtful answer.

If you have a book you want to self-publish, send us your files and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free, customized estimate of what it will cost to get your book published just as you want it.