We can all accept that being frugal is a virtuous quality. After all, why should we spend more money on goods and services than is necessary? From coupon clipping to comparison-shopping, as consumers we have been conditioned to seek bargains and value.

For someone embarking on their first authorship journey, cost considerations are certainly valid. No one wants to wantonly throw their money down the rabbit hole. However, as tempting as it might be to publish a book on the cheap, do beware. While it’s practical, even laudable, to strive for the cheapest way to self-publish a book, it also pays to remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

Indeed, most of us do need to outsource certain tasks involved in the publication of a book. The trick is to identify the areas where you can safely cut costs, while acknowledging the professional skills you’ll need for undertaking some of the steps.

5 Cheapest Ways to Self-Publish a Book: Where Can You Cut Costs?

When looking for some cost-saving measures, consider how best to allocate your resources. Start with a general budget and make a list of the various steps for self-publishing your book. The list should contain such tasks as editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting, and marketing. Although it would be a grave mistake to try to lowball all of the items on the list, there are some areas where you can limit costs.

Consider these five areas where you can whittle the costs down a bit:


Every author should spend the money to have someone with an objective eye to review their manuscript prior to publication. Nothing will taint your book faster than receiving negative reviews due to misspelled words, typos, and grammatical errors.

Do yourself a big favor and budget for some basic editing help. To save some money on this task, be sure to do several rounds of self-editing first. Take the time to scour each and every line to clean it up as much as possible before sending it off to a proofreader for the final review. The less work you drop in their lap, the quicker the proofing process and the lower the fee.


Some writers may be tech-savvy and confident in the formatting of their own manuscript. Formatting involves following a template that allows the manuscript to properly fit the parameters required for eBook or print-on-demand publishing.

Also, the book formatting step cleans the file by removing all the background code, the invisible noise that is left behind on the manuscript during the writing process. This step also involves styling the copy, choosing fonts, adding graphics, and other design elements. Many authors, however, are not comfortable tackling this themselves.

For the least costly option, consider hiring a freelancer on Upwork or Fivrr to format your book for a nominal fee.


Depending on your book’s genre, you can select a less expensive type of binding. While the hardcover binding with or without a cover jacket is the top-of-the-line, this option also incurs the highest cost. Consider using perfect binding, the paperback cover option, to reduce printing expenses. If writing a children’s book or a cookbook, bookbinding costs can be further reduced by choosing spiral or thermal binding options.

Going digital

The rise of eBooks has provided aspiring authors an opportunity to publish their book at a minimal cost. Publishing an eBook is the cheapest way to self-publish a book, and some tech-savvy authors do the entire process on their own for free.

Of course, keep in mind that all the same advice for self-publishing success applies to eBook authors. Meaning, even though you can publish an eBook for nothing, you should invest in editing and cover design services for the best shot at success.


All authors feel confident that their brilliant book will shoot right up to the best sellers list. The hard truth is that competition is fierce and the field is very crowded. Your eBook, for example, will be competing against 6 million other titles on Amazon.

Truth is, your book is not going to sell itself, which is where marketing comes in. Advertising can be incredibly expensive, potentially making your return on investment microscopic. However, you can control marketing costs by doing some legwork to help promote your book.

You can build a website for the cost of a domain name and an annual fee (about $150). Leverage the website by writing blogs pertaining to the themes or topics in your book and then push them out on your social media channels. Advertise the book and promote the blogs on those social media platforms for a nominal fee. These inexpensive ads can yield engagement and sharing that often result in book sales.

While admirable to attempt to restrain costs in these areas, there is a caveat emptor to consider. Use caution when hiring people on freelancer platforms for editing, proofreading, and formatting your manuscript. Ask to see examples of their past work and check their reviews before hiring them. Keep in mind that some may reside outside the U.S. and not be native English-speaking individuals.

What Should You Leave to the Professionals?

Even if your goal is to self-publish on a shoestring budget, don’t make the mistake of cutting corners when it comes to editing and artwork. Quality matters!


A professional editor can do a comprehensive edit, giving the manuscript a once over for structure, flow, character development and other important aspects of your book. An editor can help a book become successful and competitive in the marketplace by highlighting its best features and polishing up the manuscript. There is a wide range of editing services to choose from, including developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

Book cover design

Cover design is the other job you will not want to cut corners on. While it may be tempting to have your cousin whip up some free cover art, do not trust this important task to anyone but a professional designer. Great cover design is as important to the success of your book as amateur cover art is to its failure. High-quality cover design is a science, taking into account color palette, balance, image, fonts, and genre. Be sure to hire a pro who will wrap your manuscript in something absolutely stunning.


Some books will rely heavily on illustrations, such as children’s books, cookbooks, and some non-fiction books. Because these artistic renderings are so intrinsic to the book’s essence you are wise to bring an art team on board. Book illustrators are able to convert your ideas for the visuals into beautiful drawings that add immense value to the reader experience. An illustration team can provide various drawing styles, allowing you to select just the right one for your book.

Get a Quote Today and See Where You Can Save with Self-Publishing

By now you can understand why finding the cheapest way to self-publish a book isn’t necessarily the best way. When beginning your self-publishing journey, be sure to allot enough of your budget to cover the must-haves. Yes, there are certain steps where costs can be cut without sabotaging your book’s success. However, resist the temptation to scrimp on the editing and design elements. Contact the self-publishing professionals at Gatekeeper Press today for a quote on their expert services.

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