How to Self-Publish for free?

When I wrote my first Novella ‘Life’s Not Over Yet’, I had no clue about publishing or marketing. I researched on the net about traditional publishing and realised it was not for me. I didn’t want to wait for 3 or 4 months to get an answer, if they were willing to publish my novellas. Self-publishing for free seemed an easier option.

I had heard about Amazon. I thought to give it a try. It seemed quite straight forward, upload the book, create a cover and it was done. Then all I had to do was tell my friends and family for my book to be a success. Was I in for a big surprise!

Even with good feedback from my family and friends, nothing happened. At that time I realized writing a book was easier than getting people to buy it and leave reviews. So I had two choices either to give up or learn. Giving up was an easier option but now that I had started writing I couldn’t stop and so I wrote my other two Novellas ‘Love Will Find You’ and ‘Love and Hate’. At the same time I decided to get the cover made professionally and  get my books edited. Now I had three books on Amazon, edited with brand new covers.

But the situation was still the same. After the third book I decided it was time to invest some time in self-publishing my books on different platforms and then marketing them. So I googled free self-publishing sites and I got quite a few. Here’s what I learned about them.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Amazon is one of the best sites to self-publish your eBooks and paperbacks as it is not only free, it is quite easy to publish. Amazon provides a free program called Kindle Create, where you can upload your book written in Microsoft Word or PDF format and use this program to transform your book into a format Amazon accepts.  Once published your books will be available on all Amazon sites worldwide.

The drawback is if you enrol in KDP select you cannot publish your eBooks on other platforms. Hence, if you are planning on publishing on other platforms do not enrol in KDP select. You can run a free eBook promotion or countdown deals as well as be a part of Kindle Unlimited if you are enrolled in KDP select.

Although eBooks are available, paperbacks are expensive if you buy from Indian Amazon as they are imported from international Amazon sites.

Smashwords

Smashwords is also one of the best platforms to publish. It helps in distributing your books to a wide range of online retailers, libraries, and subscription services like Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Overdrive, iBook, and many others apart from Smashwords store. It is fairly easy to promote your books on Smashwords using coupon manager. You can make your discount coupons public or private. This promotion is only available for Smashwords Store.

The drawback here is that It is difficult to format your books as per Smashwords requirements but they have a free book that will help you get the format right. The service is only available for eBooks but you can add your paperbacks links of other platforms on your Smashwords’s eBook page.

Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital is a good platform to publish ebooks and paperbacks. It also helps in distributing your books to a wide range of online retailers, libraries, and subscription services like Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Overdrive, iBook, and many others. The best thing about this platform is that it provides a Universal Link. One link that will link to multiple sites where your books are published. You can use this one link to market your books on social media sites rather than showing all the links where you have published your books.

The major drawback that I see is that if you run a promotion by discounting your books, your books will show at a discounted price but the readers will not know that the book is discounted as there is no message. For example if you reduce your price from $2.99 to $1.99 on Barnes & Noble, it will NOT show that your book was $2.99 and now it is $1.99. The book will show a price of $1.99.

Kobo Writing life

This is another good platform to publish eBooks. You have a choice of either publishing here directly or you can do it via Smashwords , Draft2Digital or StreetLib. Royalty rates will vary based on where you decide to publish.

The drawback is the same as Draft2Digital, if you run a promotion by discounting your books, your books will show at a discounted price but the readers will not know that the book is discounted as there is no message. For example if you reduce your price from $2.99 to $1.99 on Kobo, it will NOT show that your book was $2.99 and now it is $1.99. The book will show a price of $1.99.

StreetLib

StreetLib is a platform to publish eBooks at present. It helps in distributing your books to a wide range of online retailers, libraries, and subscription services apart from StreetLib Store.

I have not been able to decide whether it is a good publishing site. I knew they publish on Google play store for free, what I didn’t know was that I needed to send them an email requesting them to add my books on Google play store. It is not mentioned in their site that you need to send a request. I waited quite a while before I asked about it and then they told me how to do it. You can even publish your books directly on Google Play store as well for free which I found out later.

Notion press

Notion press is a good platform to publish if you want to sell paperbacks in India. It helps in distributing your books on Amazon. The best thing about it is that it publishes paperback in India, hence you can price your book accordingly. It is easy to publish on Notion press and you can promote your books using coupon manager.

The major drawback is that it has no option of reviewing books. The service is only available for paperbacks.

Blurb – (Ingram Network)

There is Blurb and then there is Blurb – (Ingram Network). Blurb – (Ingram Network) is a good platform to publish paperbacks. Blurb on the other hand deletes your paperback book from its store in fourteen days’ time. I think the idea behind is you buy your paperbacks in bulk and then sell them on different platform yourself.

Blurb – (Ingram Network)  helps in  distributing your books to a wide range of online retailers one of them being Amazon.

The service is available for paperbacks and eBooks but it is difficult to format your books as per their requirement. They have a software that you can purchase to format books. Since I didn’t want to buy their software, I managed to fix PDF files and create paperbacks as eBooks were too difficult. Once published you cannot make changes to it afterwards.

Pothi

This is a platform to publish both eBooks and paperbacks. eBooks are easy to publish and hence, I have only published eBooks here. ISBN is not provided by them publishers need to get it on their own. As one doesn’t need ISBN to publish on Pothi’s site, I have not opted for it.

It took a lot of my time finding out free self-publishing sites then figuring out how to upload books on these sites. But I did it. With each site I got to know more about how to market one’s book, how to reach reviewers, where to sign up to meet self-published authors. I will write about it in a different post. First let me tell you about the one site that really helped me. I still have a long way to go and it will require a lot of hard work before I can come close to achieving my goal but this site has given me hope.  As soon as you sign up on Smashwords you get an email with all the information you need to publish and market your books.

These three books really helped me understand what I needed to do. Creating my website was one of them. Hope this information helps in publishing your work for free. Don’t forget, publishing is the first step towards getting your books on various platforms. You still need to successfully market your books and get positive reviews to be able to sell your books. 

 

Summary

Platform/

Description

Amazon (KDP)

 

Smashwords

 

D2D*

Notion Press (India)

 

Kobo

 

 Blurb (Ingram)  StreetLib  Pothi

 

Free ISBN

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

** ISBN not provided
Author Page Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No
Except for few things one can update Books after publishing

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

Yes

 

Yes

Ebooks and Paperback

 

Both

 

eBook

 

Both

 

Paperback

 

eBook

Both & Hardcover

 

eBook

 

Both

Ease in publishing for free

 

Yes

 

No

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

Yes

 

Only ebook

 

Universal Link***

 

NA

 

No

 

Yes

 

No

 

NA

 

No

 

No

 

No

Distribution Platform

 

No

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

Discount Promotion  Only if enrolled in KDP Select Coupon Manager only for Smashwords store

 

****

Coupon Manager only for Notion Press store

 

****

 

No (You can reduce the price)

 

Yes on StreeLib Store.

*****

 

No (You can reduce the price)

*D2D – Draft2Digital

** Pothi Store – Publisher need to get their own ISBN, Pothi does not provide it.

*** Universal Link – One link that will link to multiple sites where your books are published. You can use this one link to market your books on social media sites rather than showing all the links where you have published your books.

**** If you run a promotion by discounting your books, your books will show at a discounted price but the readers will not know that the book is discounted as there is no message. For example if you reduce your price from $2.99 to $1.99 on Kobo, it will NOT show that your book was $2.99 and now it is $1.99. The book will show a price of $1.99. 

***** StreetLib Store – Apart from discount promotion that you can schedule only on StreetLib Store, it will inform you when one of its distribution partners is running a promotion and ask you to join.