When you have your manuscript ready to publish, the costs of turning your work into a book can surprise you. This is especially true for authors who are looking into self-publishing as an option. It is pretty easy to drop thousands of dollars into a self-publishing venture before the first book ever rolls off the presses.
Whether you’re approaching literary agents and traditional publishers or you want to self-publish, here’s how you can get your book published for free so that you can start to make some money off of your creative efforts.
Note: This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put money into making sure your book is well positioned to stand out among all the competitive books in your genre. It also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in hiring a great book cover designer or developmental and/or final editor. Finally it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider hiring a book-creation expert to help you with the many details of publishing your book.
All the above options should be looked at and explored. But following are steps you can take to get started, specifically, with the publishing of your book.
Step #1: Decide Your Approach
If you decide to self-publish, then you’ll need to look for free publishing services. The best option in this area is Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP. It is powered by Amazon and allows you to list your book on their site without cost. You will split royalties on each sale of the book, but there are no upfront costs. You can have your book live in 48-72 hours.
If you want to take a more traditional approach, then your best solution is to create a reader-friendly online file for your manuscript. Create a query letter that explains your manuscript and then provide any other materials an agent or publisher may want to have to review your work.
There is no cost to approach a publisher or agent about your work, though some may request a hard copy of your manuscript to be printed.You will also need to create a proposal. A good book I recommend often is “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” by Jeff Herman. You can find it on Amazon.
Step #2: Get your cover ready.
If you decide to take a self-publishing approach, then you’ll need to have a cover designed for your book. You can design the cover for free by using royalty-free images or your own pictures and text while following the best practices for book cover design. Note, again that I don’t recommend this approach as your book will most likely not look as professional as you wish it would, but, you can go with this approach if your funds are very limited.
When locating the images you want to use, it is important to look at the licensing of the image before you submit your cover for approval. You will typically need a release for anyone that may appear in the image. You may also need written permission to use copyrighted works. Royalty-free images may not require any ongoing costs, but you may need to pay for an initial license.
To keep your book free for publication, it is typically better to use your own images to avoid a future headache.
Step #3: Conform your manuscript to publishing standards.
There are specific ways you should be creating your manuscript so that it is ready to be turned into a book. When looking to be published for free, the most common method of publication will be an ebook. KDP and other ebook publishers will have specific guidelines for your manuscript to follow in order for it to be accepted.
If there are no publishing standards listed on your preferred platform, then your best solution would be to follow the industry standards for formatting to obtain the best possible results.
Step #4: Promote your book
Just publishing your book is not going to be good enough. You will also need to promote it and there are some free ways that you can do this as well.
- Write a blog.Use a free blog to begin discussing what your book is about, what you’ve learned as an author or even a few tips on what you experienced during the self-publishing process. Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and other free platforms are widely available.
- Talk to people. Between your friends on Facebook and your colleagues on LinkedIn, search for people who might be interested in the subject of your book. Share with them your book will be coming out within the next couple of months and ask if they would like a free chapter of your book.
- Schedule local events.Many businesses will be willing to let you present your book to local readers with some kind of partnership. Look for ways that you can trade opportunities to keep your promotional efforts free.Another great method of free promotion for your book is to create a press release. It’s a lot like a query letter, but the goal is to get media sources to discuss your book or offer you an interview instead of trying to get it published.
Step #5: Set Your Pricing
You might decide to give your book away for free. You might also decide that you want a 70% royalty through KDP, which means your book must meet some pricing minimums. This is all up to you.
Setting your pricing may make or break your free publishing opportunity. If the book is priced too high, then readers will wait for a better deal. If it’s priced too low, then you might not maximize the potential value of your creative efforts.
Many ebooks are priced at $0.99-$2.99, depending on what type of royalty is desired.But books that carry more detail and can be used for professional career growth, can be priced higher. KDP now has a tool that offers a suggested selling price for your book when you load it up to publish.