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What Are the Hidden Costs Authors Should Be Aware of When Publishing on Amazon?

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Publishing a book on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is completely free, making it an attractive option for authors looking to self-publish. However, while the Amazon book publishing cost is initially zero, it's important to consider additional expenses for ensuring the quality and competitiveness of your book.

First-time publishers are often advised to invest in professional services such as editing, book cover design, and illustrations to enhance the quality of their work. Although these services come with a price tag, they are well spent to ensure the book stands out among others in the marketplace.

Additionally, if you choose to offer physical copies of your book, there are additional fees involved. Fortunately, Amazon deducts these fees from your royalties, meaning you don't have to pay upfront. For US sales, the minimum printing fee is $0.85 per book.

Understanding these Amazon book publishing costs is crucial for authors who aim to sell digital books on Kindle and turn a profit. By investing wisely and being aware of potential expenses, authors can navigate the self-publishing journey successfully and maximise their earnings.

What Are the Hidden Costs Authors Should Be Aware of When Publishing on Ama

Amazon Book Publishing Cost 

Although self-publishing on Amazon KDP is free, it won't come without any expenses, particularly if your goal is to easily make a consistent monthly revenue. 

Professional Ghostwriting

Self-publishing is similar to starting a customised trip where you may decide how much help you require, whether that help is in the form of a book outline or hiring a ghostwriter to manage the entire writing process. If you decide to outsource, it's imperative that you let the ghostwriter know what you expect in terms of the project's voice, tone, and deadlines.

Ghostwriters may charge by the hour, per word, or per project. Platforms like Upwork offer easy access to skilled writers across various specialities. Expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,000 for a 30,000-word book, depending on the complexity of your niche. Specialised writers, such as those focusing on veterinary sciences, may charge more than general writers.

If hiring a professional writer isn't feasible, you can still improve your writing with AI tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and Grammarly. These tools offer features for writing, editing, and formatting, and many have free versions or premium accounts with additional benefits like plagiarism detection. Overall, these options offer cost-effective solutions for enhancing your book, alongside managing your Amazon book publishing cost.

ISBN costs

It is advised that you get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for your book if you plan to self-publish it on Amazon. A book's unique identifier, or ISBN, is necessary if you wish to sell it on Amazon and other online stores.

You can get a free ISBN from Amazon, but this restricts where you may sell your book. That would mean you could only sell on Amazon, which isn't necessarily the best option.

Typically, the price of an ISBN is approximately £80. You can purchase a block of ISBNs if you want to publish more than one book. Over time, this will save you money.

Editing and Proofreading

No matter how skilled a writer you are, hiring an expert to refine your manuscript can greatly enhance its quality. An editor's objective perspective can improve the content, making it more appealing to readers.

Editors are tasked with fixing grammar issues, addressing storytelling gaps, providing clarity, and refining overall writing quality. There are three main types of editing to consider:

  • Developmental Editing: Editors in this stage focus on identifying and fixing plot holes, awkward storytelling, and inconsistencies. Developmental editors typically charge around $15 per page or $0.9 per word on average.
  • Copy Editing: Copy editors concentrate on the language used in your book, refining sentence structure, word choice, and paragraph flow. They ensure that your manuscript flows smoothly and offers an enjoyable reading experience. Copy editing services usually range between $2.50 and $5 per page.
  • Proofreading: Proofreading is the final stage of editing, where the editor conducts one last review to check for spelling, grammar, syntax, and other errors. After proofreading, your manuscript is ready for formatting. Proofreaders typically charge around $1.50 to $3.50 per page.

Cover design costs

Cover design is one of the major costs you'll face when self-publishing on Potential readers find your book through its cover, which frequently influences their decision to continue reading or to make a purchase. Consequently, it is essential to spend money on a cover design that effectively conveys the core and attractiveness of the information in your book.

The complexity of the design, the designer's experience, and any other services offered as part of the package are just a few of the variables that can affect the cost of cover design. You should budget between £300 and £1,000 on average for a professionally designed cover.

If you possess design skills, you have the option to create your own cover at no extra cost. However, this approach requires a solid understanding of design principles and software proficiency to achieve a polished and marketable result.

Alternatively, there are pre-made cover options available, which can help reduce costs while still providing visually appealing designs. These pre-made covers often come at a lower price point compared to custom designs, making them a viable option for authors on a budget.

Despite the various options available, it's crucial to prioritize investing in a quality cover design. Your book's cover serves as its primary marketing tool, attracting readers and conveying the essence of your work. Therefore, allocating resources towards ensuring your cover effectively resonates with your target audience is essential for maximising its potential success in the competitive marketplace of Amazon book publishing cost.

Advertising costs on Amazon 

It's similar to asking "how long is a piece of string," in that most ad networks allow you to spend as much money as you wish. To help you with your budgeting, let's examine some minimum expenses for this promotional activity.

Amazon offers two types of sponsored ads: Sponsored Product and Sponsored Brand ads. These ads are shown to users based on their browsing behaviour, such as targeted categories, keywords, or specific book titles. You can set a daily budget for these ads, starting as low as $2 or $5, and Amazon will only charge you when users click on the ads. Therefore, most authors end up spending only a fraction of their daily budget.

Additionally, authors can advertise their books through lock-screen ads on Kindle devices. These ads are displayed to readers who use ad-supported Kindle devices, typically the more affordable ones where Amazon displays ads. To book these ads, authors need to commit to a minimum budget of $100 and set a bid for each user who clicks on the ad. The average cost-per-click bid for lock-screen ads ranges from $0.15 to $0.20, according to Amazon's data.

To self-publish a book, you'll need access to specific software, but the exact ones depend on your preferences and budget. 

Formatting costs

It is true that formatting a book for publishing may be a difficult and time-consuming task, which is why many writers hire professionals to help them.

Some writers get so frustrated navigating the complexities of formatting that they want to throw their laptops out of the window! Using websites like Draft 2 Digital, which provides free formatting services, might be quite helpful in these situations. As an alternative, hiring a professional formatter will guarantee a polished and expertly produced end product.

The complexity of the formatting specifications and the formatter's level of experience are two factors that can greatly affect the cost of formatting services. You should budget between £100 to £300 on average for expert formatting services.

Software Costs 

Word Processing:

Amazon book publishing costs include word processing software to type your book. There are both paid and free options like Microsoft Word, Pages, or Google Docs.

When choosing a word processor, consider:

  1. Can it save your work in the right file formats? For example, Amazon KDP requires PDFs for book covers and interiors.

  2. Check the software's license. Can you legally sell your work using it? Some plans may have restrictions.

  3. Look for fonts. Are there free fonts you can use for commercial purposes? Or will you need to buy them?

Free options include:

  • Pages (for Apple devices)

  • Canva (limited for typing)

  • Google Docs

You can even use Kindle Create on Amazon for templates and avoid spending too much on expensive software.

Niche and Keyword Research Tools

Researching your niche and keywords is essential to your success on Amazon. Keywords play a vital role in crafting a book title and description that is optimised for search engines, significantly boosting its visibility. Choosing the right niche is paramount for driving revenue, as you don't want to be stuck writing about a topic that fails to engage readers.

While you can conduct research manually, we recommend using speciality and keyword research tools. These tools enable you to make informed decisions and save valuable time, ultimately contributing to your success on the platform. By investing in such tools, you can optimize your book's performance while effectively managing your Amazon book publishing cost.

Marketing costs

After publishing your book on Amazon, effective marketing is crucial to ensure it reaches your target audience. Various marketing strategies are available, including social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising.

The cost of marketing can vary significantly, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact figure. However, it's not uncommon to spend anywhere from £500 to £5,000 or more on marketing your book.

If you're working with a limited budget, consider leveraging cost-effective marketing strategies. Social media marketing, email campaigns, and securing press coverage are all viable options that don't require a financial investment.

While paid advertising, particularly on platforms like Amazon and TikTok, can yield significant results, it's essential to approach it strategically. Start with a modest budget and closely monitor the performance of your ads to prevent overspending.

Paperback Printing Cost

Only print books are eligible for this. Every time a consumer orders a physical copy of your book from Amazon, you are billed a small printing fee. The entire expense is subtracted from the royalties you get and is contingent on the number of pages and type of ink used. The cover finish, the trim size, and the bleed settings are completely irrelevant.

Remember, nevertheless, that local printing prices can differ. Therefore, for a book of 110–828 pages, you should budget at least 0.85 USD for printing if you are selling in the US. Similarly, the identical book will cost you 0.7 GBP if you're from the UK.

As you've seen, while it’s free of cost to publish your book on Amazon, there are certain charges you need to bear that will affect how you publish your book. By keeping your ebook files compact, choosing a cost-effective print option, and selecting a suitable price for your books, you can keep your KDP account in the black as you grow your readership on Amazon. These strategies help manage your Amazon book publishing cost effectively.


What is the Amazon book publishing cost?

The Amazon self-publishing platform is available without charge. Authors are now generating more money than ever before because there are no up-front fees, but Amazon deducts printing costs from your book's earnings and leaves you with 60% royalties after the book print price. 

What are the hidden costs of self-publishing?

Self-publishing requires a substantial time investment. Along with writing, you also take on the roles of publisher, marketer, and project manager. Writing may suffer as a result of the time you must devote to marketing, administrative, and research activities.