Self-Publishing a Book from Scratch

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If you’re reading this, you’ve either had bad experiences partnering with a major publisher or an independent publisher. While every form of publishing a book has its ups and downs, the quickest, most reliable way to get your words out is by self-publishing your work. 

Self-Publishing a Book from Scratch

Distribution – You Do Everything

The author is in charge of everything, from writing the book to printing physical and/or selling through e-retail platforms, such as Amazon or Booktopia. As an independent worker, beginner writers might struggle to find an audience.

Costs – Cheapest Option

Compared to partnering up with a major publisher or independent publisher, self-publishing a book is the least costly option. While authors may need to prepare upwards of $5,000 to print and distribute their work, going with a major publisher can cost three or four times as much. The silver lining is that self-publishing authors can cut costs by exclusively selling e-books via online marketplaces and proofreading their own work. Using an online PDF converter like to transform Word documents into a PDF file will make it easier to gauge how the final product will look.

Difficulty – Taking a DIY Approach

Major and independent publishers have staff that will do much of the grunt work for you. As a self-publishing author, you must be prepared to take on a heavier burden when writing, editing, marketing, setting up a website or blog, and contacting online marketplace reps. Here’s a quick overview of the costs you might incur.

  • Proofreading – Up to $500 (depends on length, quality, and complexity)
  • Illustrating – Up to $8,000 (depends on complexity and number of illustrations)
  • Printing – Up to $4,000 (for 200 copies, depends on complexity)
  • Marketing – Between $700 and $12,000 (DIY marketing or hiring a reputable marketing firm)
  • E-book Fees – Around $0.15/MB/book sold (depends on online marketplacemarket place)
  • Postage and Packaging – Around $8/book (depends on where you ship the book)

Flexibility – 100% in Control

You, the author, are in charge of everything, but that doesn’t mean you have to work yourself to death to get your book out. Newbie authors can enjoy the view while slowly completing each step of the self-publishing process. Since you’re not chasing a deadline, you’ll have more time to come up with an idea for your book and its contents, interview designers and proofreaders, to speak with marketing reps, and to set up an online store. Also, since no other parties are directly invested in the success of your book, you have full creative control over the final product.

Relationship Management – Figure It Out

It’s the author’s duty to contact suppliers, distributors, and service providers. Luckily, everything can be done online— and Fiverr are filled with expert proofreaders, professional printers, and wholesale paper manufacturers. You’ll have to make the first move when contacting third parties that contribute to the completion of your book. This includes financial institutions if you need to take out a loan.

Chance of Success – Most Challenging

Regardless of which publishing avenue you choose, the success of your book relies heavily on the quality of its content. However, self-publishers typically have a harder time getting their books off the printing press and into bookstores. It’s highly advised that aspiring writers try to distribute their works on online platforms. offers a generous 35-70% royalty for every book sale, depending on its retail price.

Speed to Market – Up to You

On average, self-publishing authors need at least five months to get their book out. This includes writing, printing, and distributing physical copies. However, you can fast-track the release of your by avoiding physical prints and opting for the ebooke-book route. Still, it will take a few months to set up a blog, garner an audience, and set up your book’s page on Amazon.

Is Self-Publishing Right for You?

After going through this infographic, you might still have a few lingering questions. Before deciding whether to self-publish or go with a major/independent publisher, you should ask yourself the following:

How much can I spend?

Although self-publishing a book is the cheapest option, it can still cost the author $4,000 or more to get their book onto shelves. However, this is preferable to the $12,000-plus figure you’d spend on partnering with a major publisher.

How much should I spend?

If this is your first time publishing a book, please remember to not sink your entire life savings into a process you’re not fully familiar with. While working on your first book, expect to spend up to 50% more than your budget while also searching for ways to improve cost-efficiency.

Can I market my own books?

Even if you’re not a marketing whiz, you don’t have to tackle this extraordinarily difficult endeavor on your own. Freelance platforms are filled with aspiring marketers just itching to build a name for themselves. Give them a try—they’re cheap(ish) and eager to please. 

Author: Firdaus

I work as an IT consultant in the Toronto area and I love to write blogs about a variety of subjects. My passion for writing stems from the desire that everyone should have access to meaningful information. Whether it is a blog about society, culture, technology, or social media, I don’t want to miss the opportunity of sharing my thoughts with my friends and audience. Since I believe in mutual exchange of ideas, I am always on the lookout for a feedback on my writings.

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