Not everyone has the money to invest in traditional publishing. It can easily cost thousands of dollars just to get your book professionally edited. Luckily, the option for self-publishing exists, and many businesses have made it vastly easier to see your name in print.
There is a significant caveat, though. Most of the legwork to get your book out there to the masses falls squarely on your shoulders. Editing, cover art, marketing…you have to bear the burden of everything yourself.
However, there are a lot of ways you can shave the costs off of such services.
Below is my ever-growing list of online resources that you can use for self-publishing. I’m going to focus on platforms that will help you create eBook and print versions of your manuscript and any services I come across that are worth your time.
Keep in mind that these are systems that I’ve used myself. I won’t promote anything I haven’t experienced firsthand.
13 Tools for Diving into Self-Publishing
|Kindle Direct Publishing||Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s platform to sell eBooks and printed versions of your content. You can use any ePub or PDF file to upload to KDP. However, the promotional tool of Kindle Select is only available if you plan on making your book exclusive to Amazon.||Try KDP for Yourself|
|Barnes & Noble Press||(Currently in progress)|
|Grammarly||I’ve been using Grammarly for quite some time whether it’s for my blogs, clients, or even my book. While it cannot totally take the place of a talented editor, it can still help you get something out there that is polished and legible.||Check out Grammarly|
|Hemingway||The Hemingway App is a free, web-based platform that will analyze your writing for common grammatical errors. Although it doesn’t have a spellcheck ability, using it with Grammarly’s Chrome Extension makes for a streamlined experience.||Hemingway is Free to Use|
Book Writing and Formatting Tools
|Reedsy||Formatting your book is a bit more involved than just setting up headers in a word document for chapters. Reedsy is a free tool that helps you structure the book how you want complete with front and back matter as well as offering basic writing functionality.||Create a free account at Reedsy|
|Kindle Create||Kindle Create is Amazon’s free book formatting tool. It comes with a preview element that lets you see how your book will appear on mobile devices. The major downside is that it exports KPF files, which are only usable by Amazon’s KDP platform I mentioned above.||Download Kindle Create for PC and Mac|
|Scrivener||Scrivener is a popular tool among many as a platform for both writing and formatting eBooks and printed copies. While it has a lot of features and can be a powerful writing tool, it is more advanced than it needs to be and has a bit of a learning curve. However, it’s also one of the cheapest premium software for writing.||Try Scrivener for 30 Days|
Cover Art and Creators
|Canva||Out of the many free, web-based, graphic design apps I’ve come across, Canva is perhaps one of the best. It’s exceptionally easy to use with access to thousands of elements under the free version. Setting up an eBook cover is exceptionally easy. In fact, I show how to use Canva for eBook covers and how I created mine for A Freelancer’s Tale.||Create a free account at Canva|
Marketing for Self-Publishing
|Amazon Ads||If you plan on selling your book on Amazon, they have an ad system that works on pay-per-click. Meaning, you don’t have to pay for ads unless someone clicks on them to view your page. The hardest part is trying to out-bid other promoters and convince visitors to buy your book.||Set up Amazon Ads|
|YouTube||As odd as you might think, YouTube is an incredible tool for marketing your upcoming books. By building an audience on your channel, you can promote hype while interacting with your fans and readers. In fact, I sold several books to my viewers as soon as it was available on Amazon.|
|Goodreads||Goodreads is a social platform that focuses on books. Whether you’re looking for a reading group to join or have published a book you’d like to share, creating an account on Goodreads can be quite beneficial. Plus, it’s free and isn’t difficult to join the Author Program.||Check Out My Author|
Creative Writing Platforms (web-based only)
These are platforms that you can start using right now to test the waters of writing while building up an audience for future work. They are usually non-paid sites but do have other opportunities to grow as an author.
|Wattpad||Wattpad lets you dive into creative writing for both fiction and non-fiction work. You’re not paid for anyone to read your manuscripts, but it is a strong platform for building up an audience, writing fan-fiction without getting sued, and getting constructive criticism to improve your style.||Wattpad is Free to Join|
|Vocal||Vocal Media is a site where you can essentially write blog posts and are paid when people read your content. Although it doesn’t pay a lot, and it’s difficult to gain real traction, you can post your creative works on the site as well. It’s a quick and easy way to flex creativity while getting a few cents for your efforts.||Create a Free Vocal Account|
Does Self-Publishing Actually Work?
There are a lot of authors out there who have made a decent living by self-publishing their works. However, it takes a great deal of effort to make a lot of money.
You can’t assume that you can just upload your manuscript to something like Amazon or Barnes & Noble and rake in the dough. There is a lot of marketing involved to generate those sales.
Not to mention writing a piece of work that piques the interest of your target audience. Just because you write it doesn’t mean people want to read the book.
Every author will have a different experience due to the nature of their niche, topic, storytelling prowess, and marketing campaigns. One author might sell a thousand copies the first month while another may get excited about 50 copies within the past three years.
It all comes down to your ability to deliver what readers want and how well the book gets out there to the masses.
So, if you’re looking for a way to instantly pad a paycheck or replace a full-time income, know that it’s going to take a lot of time or monetary investment to reach those levels of success.
But it is possible.
Why Consider Self-Publishing?
A lot of people jump into the arena of self-publishing for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the first three on this list are the most common. At least the most common that I see from other writers on Twitter and Instagram.
Whatever the case may be, there are several highlights to publishing the book yourself as opposed to traditional methods.
See Your Name in Print Sooner
Seeing your name in print can be highly motivating. I know that I’ve had a fire lit under me to keep writing more books ever since my copy of A Freelancer’s Tale arrived at the house.
While using Amazon’s KDP platform, I received a copy of my book within days of uploading the manuscript. Unlike a lot of other authors who are waiting to get accepted and published, I was able to accomplish it in a much shorter amount of time.
No Upfront Costs Unless You Choose Otherwise
The overall cost for self-publishing can range from nothing to several thousand dollars. It all depends on how much you have and how much you’re willing to spend on specific services.
Case in point, I published A Freelancer’s Tale without spending a single dime outside of marketing. Later this year, though, I’m going to try some paid services to see how well they work.
No Worries About Pleasing Agents or Publishers
Among the most frequent tweets I see from potential authors is how they were “rejected” after submitting manuscripts. In fact, one author recently said how she was just going to “shelve” the book until later because of the number of rejections she experienced.
With self-publishing, there are no rejections to worry about. Well, aside from guidelines from platforms like Amazon, which are pretty lax in comparison to what you’d experience from agents and publishing houses.
Online Platforms Today Make it Easy
After writing my first book, it took less than a few days to create a cover and upload the file to Amazon. Within a couple of hours, it was ready to be bought and read by my audience.
It is extremely easy to publish your book through these kinds of platforms today. In reality, you could set up an online store on your own blog and sell your eBook that way.
Can Help Build Momentum for Fans and Followers
Lastly, self-publishing helps get your name out there as an author. Although you might not have an illustrious house tied to your title, your name as an author begins to spread through the Internet.
It’s a hell of a marketing method whether you’re a freelancer, blogger, or novelist. Truth be told, I know several freelance writers who have written books centering around their niche to help land more lucrative clients.
In other words, it’ll pad the resume nicely when looking for writing work.
Affiliate Disclaimer for Above Tools
As I am transparent with everything I do, some of the tools above are affiliated with the site. This means that I’ll make a percentage of the sale or receive some other form of compensation.
Nonetheless, I do not promote tools or features that I don’t use or have never used in the past.
If I don’t think it is viable for self-publishing, it’s not going to be on this page. If you have a service or product you’d like me to test out and feature on WriterSanctuary.com, feel free to use the contact form.
What Resources Do You Have for Self-Publishing?
If you know of a valuable resource for self-publishing, feel free to let me know as I am always interested in trying something new.
I am constantly adding to the above platforms as I try out new programs, apps, and services. Again, let me remind you that I am only featuring systems I’ve used myself to varying degrees of success. And I’ve most likely published a review on the specific tool.