Book publishing for everyone

We are ready to help you become a published author now. You will find our rates low compared to other companies. This is not because we do a lesser job, but because we are a non-profit helping prisoners lead positive and productive lives. We are also happy to provide our services to those on the outside who are not in prison, but want to take advantage of our excellent rates and service.

Why Self-Publish?

It’s the dream of most authors to come up with a great idea for a book, find an agent who will represent them to the big publishing houses, make a pitch, sign a publishing deal, receive a healthy advance, and write their best seller to be read by millions.

For most writers these days, unless already a known author, the likelihood of this path is slim at best. For prisoners, these chances are far less. It’s not an impossible dream, but it is an improbable one. This does not mean, however, that you cannot be a successful author. It simply means that it will likely require taking a different path to get there.

Enter self-publishing.

Through self-publishing, you have the unique ability to get your book out there and selling right away. You can begin living out your dream right now without relying on a hope that may never be realized.

With success – with sales – your option at a full realization of your dream expands. Where you may not have been able to break into the traditional publishing houses with your great story idea before, using your sales results to prove to a publisher that people like your writing can be a fantastic tool for opening those doors. Publishing houses regularly track successful self-published best sellers, seeking to procure the rights to publish them under their own label. But it all begins with getting your book out there.

Unfortunately, even self-publishing can be a daunting path from a prison cell. Just getting your words onto printed page can be a challenge, much less the rest of what getting a book published requires.

Enter Prison Lives.

With Prison Lives, you get the best of both publishing worlds. We are your bridge to self-publishing. Whether all you have are piles of handwritten pages, or if your manuscript is properly formatted in a ready-to-publish digital file, we will help you through every step you have left on your path to selling your book.


Self-Publishing Basics

Your writings can be published very quickly, depending on the amount of preparation you've already made. Once published, it will be available to the world on, Amazon UK, and an expanded distribution network of thousands of major online and offline bookstores and retailers (including Barnes & Nobles). 

You can begin receiving royalties within as little as thirty days of your first book sale, and utilize a variety of marketing opportunities to better increase those selling opportunities.

You can get started today.

In reality, however, self-publishing requires a substantial amount of effort to get from your pages to the point of bringing in sales. The fortunate part is that you’ve already accomplished the most time-consuming part – writing your book. But your job is not done yet. You still have some work to do, and several decisions to make that will greatly influence the success of your book.

All of the following basics will need to be done before you can begin selling your book. Go over the following checklist to determine what you’ve already accomplished and what you have left to do. We can assist you with most, if not all, of what remains.

  • Is your manuscript typed?

  • Has your manuscript been spell-checked?

  • Have you read, rewritten and revised your manuscript several times over?

  • Has your manuscript been professionally edited?

  • Will you need a table of contents or an index for your book?

  • Do you already have a cover design?

  • Have you written your back-of-the-book text?

  • Have you decided which formats you would like your book published in? Hardback? Paperback? Ebook?

  • Do you have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number)?


Self-Publishing Advantages

Content & Design Control

Using a traditional publisher means that you have to answer to someone else. When you self-publish, you have total control of what’s in your book, how long it is, and the how it looks.

Marketing Control

Traditional publishers stop marketing a book after a few-month trial period, or when it stops selling, without the author having much say. As a self-publisher, you control this process. You can keep your book in print and available forever marketing as you wish.


Traditional publishers pay authors 10 to 15 percent of sales proceeds. Through self-publishing, you retain 35 to 70 percent of the proceeds (depending on the distributor you choose.) What’s more, you control the price of your book and retain the rights to raise and lower it.

Time to Market

A traditional publisher can take 12 months or more to get your printed book to market. If your book is finished, you can have your book available within weeks.


Self-Publishing Disadvantages

No Advance

With self-publishing, there is NO opportunity for a book advance (money paid in advance of writing your book.) In reality, however, unless you are a known, in-demand, author or celebrity, there is little chance of an advance anyway.

Less Marketing Muscle

A traditional publishing house has the resources with which to pack a substantial marketing punch. While there are many marketing avenues at your disposal, self-publishing requires some amount of success to attract A-list marketing options.

If your book is written and you’re ready to get started, review our services and rates.

Services and Rates

Not every prisoner writer is at the same stage of their book publishing effort or has the same amount of resources to spend on self-publishing services. For that reason, our services can be purchased either individually or as packages, depending on your personal needs.

Individual Services


If your manuscript consists of piles of handwritten pages, we can provide professional typing services to get it ready for publishing.

What you must know:

The typing of your pages is a service designed to better prepare your manuscript for proof-reading and editing. Your pages will be typed and formatted according to industry standards.

  • Industry standards: paper size: 6 x 9”;  Each page holds approximately 250 words.

    • Handwritten pages must be legible.



If your manuscript is already typed, but not in digital format, as required for publishing, your manuscript can be scanned into the necessary computer program and digitized.

What you must know:

Scanning involves more than just feeding your document through our high-end scanners. It requires optical character recognition (OCR) software, which matches your text and makes it editable. Unfortunately, it is never perfect. This means that we must compare your entire document with the finished scans to ensure accuracy, which takes time, hence the cost.

FAQ: Can I just have my manuscript scanned without OCR for a lower price?

Scanning to create a static image is possible, but it prevents editing and creates unsightly lines on your finished product. This will result in an unprofessional appearance.








(Includes typing, spellchecking, and digital formatting)
$4.50 per typed page WITHIN INDUSTRY STANDARDS (approx. 250 words/page)
$5.50 per typed page OUTSIDE industry standards (approx. 350 words/page)
Add Basic Editing for $1 per page more (punctuation and grammar corrections)




(Includes scanning, OCR to create an editable document, spellchecking, and digital formatting)
$1.50 per scanned page
$2.50 per scanned page for above plus editing (punctuation and grammar)



Table of Contents & Indexing

If you would like to make your book easy to navigate, you may want to consider adding a table of contents and/or indexing.

What you must know:

Creating a table of contents or an index involves more than just adding page numbers into required fields. It is a process of “bookmarking” words and features of your book to assure accuracy and that page numbers continue to track with any changes you make to your manuscript. Indexing, specifically, can be a very time-consuming process.

NOTE: Most projects can be completed within one hour, but experience has told us that we cannot depend on this.)

Critiquing Services

Having spent so much time writing your book, it can be difficult to stand back from it and give an honest assessment of just how good it really is. Our critiquing and reviewing services can do this for you.

If you are looking for someone to praise your writing, family and friends may be a good source. If, however, you are looking for honest and constructive feedback to improve on your writing skills, as well as advise on what you do well, then our critiquing service is for you.

What you must know:  Your manuscript must be legible, preferably typed and in digital format. If choosing our professional critique option, a typed format is required. Handwritten manuscripts, if legible, are accepted for our basic critique service, but will incur additional cast for handling and photocopying.



(includes design and bookmarking)

INDEXING: $30 per hour

(includes design and keyword marking)






$100 (up to 300 page books)

Unbiased general critique from an experienced author/publisher.


(depending on the level of critique you are looking for and page count.)

Thorough critique from an industry expert/writing instructor.

Book Cover Design

A quality book cover is an obvious necessity. How often have you picked up a book with a poorly designed book cover only to set it down and find another book? The cover of your book is the first impression that your potential reader will have. A poorly designed cover reflects poorly on the contents, as well as on how you feel about your own book. A professionally designed cover will enhance the interest of potential readers, as well as your own confidence, which translates into sales.

What you must know:

There is a broad range of book-cover design options, and therefore costs.

You can supply your own artwork, use a basic design of stock photos that represent your book, have it professionally designed, or anything in between. All options require you to invest some amount of money.

FAQ: How much should I pay for a book cover?

Professional book cover designs for the books you see in your library can cost up to $1000 or more. A more basic design can be purchased for under $100. Because the cover of your book is as important as the words inside, you should invest as much as you can on its design, but quality professional covers can be created for as little as $200.

FAQ: Can I use my own artwork?

Absolutely. Just bear in mind that it should be of the best quality possible and of sufficient size so as not to be distorted when it is sized for your book. Bigger is always better. Smaller than your book's cover is never good.



Book Publishing Packages

We understand that it can be easier to prepare a budget for your book publishing needs if you have a set price to depend on. Therefore, we offer a variety of packages, which can be purchased in accordance with your needs.


Design & Publish Package 

Conversion of your typed manuscript into digital format (up to 300 pages)
Book content design (title page, headers/footers, TOC, indexing, numbering, etc.)
Cover design (Basic graphic design)
Basic Editing – Two passes (spellchecking, grammar, punctuation)
Publishing of your completed book file (in print or Ebook)
Prison Lives Publishing ISBN




Publish & Promote Package

Conversion of your typed manuscript into digital format (up to 300 pages)
Book content design (title page, headers, footers, table of contents, indexing, numbering, etc.)
Cover design (Basic graphic design)
Basic Editing – Two passes (spellchecking, grammar, punctuation)
Publishing of your completed book file (in print or Ebook)
Prison Lives Publishing ISBN
One year of ad space in Prison Lives Almanac: Prisoner Entertainment Guide (4 editions)
Personal Author website
Author pages on Amazon


Publish & Promote Plus

Conversion of your typed manuscript into digital format (up to 300 pages)
Book content design (title page, headers, footers, table of contents, indexing, numbering, etc.)
Cover design (Basic graphic design)
Basic Editing – Two passes (spellchecking, grammar, punctuation)
Publishing of your completed book file (in print or Ebook)
Prison Lives Publishing ISBN
One year of ad space in Prison Lives Almanac: Prisoner Entertainment Guide (4 editions)
Personal Author website
Author pages on Amazon
Amazon and other paid reviews
Custom flyer creation and distribution, which will be included in mailings to Prison Lives customers and cold mailings.
Social media setup




The greatest challenge for any author, new or established, is getting their book out there and seen by as many potential readers as possible. With thousands of books coming online every day, you need to find ways to stand out in the crowd. You need to market your book.

Prison Lives offers a broad range of marketing solutions for your book. From advertising in our regularly updated publications to internet pay-per-click advertising, your book promotion options are endless. The only real restriction is budget you set.


Here are just some of the marketing options that we specialize in:

Virtual Books Tours (“blog tour”): ($600 to $1200)

Your book is promoted through a network of blog sites and other media across the web.

Blogging Services: Per hour

Author Pages: Per hour

Personal Author Website Setup & Maintenance: ($200 to $900)

Social Media Setup & Maintenance: ($50+)

Pay-per-click advertising: charged by click

Direct Marketing: ($0.25 per flyer plus setup and design)


(Includes a hard copy of your cover design for approval prior to publishing)

Basic (in-house) Graphic Design
$50 to $150 

Typically, this service will involve either artwork that you supply or stock images of your choice purchased through our vendor, back-dropped and properly formatted.

Professional Graphic Design
$200 to $500
 Professional graphic design artists will custom design your cover based on your ideas. This service is charged based on the complexity of your design.









What you must know:

Your manuscript must be in typed format.
If over 300 pages, add $1.50 per page beyond 300.

If your book is only in handwritten form, add $3 per page for typing.

Cover design services included in this package are basic graphic design service. (See Cover Design section for more details.) If you would prefer professional graphic design services, we will obtain a quote for the design you have in mind.




Your personal website will contain up to 5 pages, including a contact form, a photo gallery, SEO optimization, and blogging, among other optional features.

Author’s pages are designed to link to your book on the Amazon site giving you the opportunity to tell your story at the point of sale, potentially helping to sell your book.


One of the primary methods professional authors use to promote their books is to pay for reviews from companies such as Kirkus and through third parties that post reviews through Amazon and other places your book is located. Pricing varies depending on the reviewing options you choose.

Social media is the modern way to reach the world, without it you may be perceived as being behind the times. With this package we will set up your social media site of choice (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and offer you monitoring options.

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