Self-Publishing For Free
March 31, 2014

Self-Publishing For Free

Until recently, the image I had in my head of self-publishing was that it was an exciting opportunity to spend loads of your own money on selling almost no books. A bit of investigation into traditional self-publishing options, i.e. on paper, revealed little more promise. I was offered the chance to give about a year’s wages to a company who would do all the things I could do by myself, without even getting to the stage of printing any books.

But I have recently published my first novel, Three Little Boys, as an e-book for Kindle through Amazon. The system is called Kindle Direct Publishing, and despite having early doubts that some or other hidden pitfall would reveal itself, I can now recommend the option to anyone interested in publishing their own book.

It is completely free to publish, and royalties vary depending on which region of the world (or “marketplace,” as Amazon calls it) the sales are in. They are between 35 and 70 percent, but much of the world gives a 70 percent royalty. This is pretty high by traditional standards. 35 percent isn’t bad either, actually.

There are a few details to be filled out, such as author details, publishing dates, as well as prices, payment, tax information and the like. But once this is done, the publishing part itself is fairly easy. Just upload your manuscript, in an HTML document converted from Word or other word processing program, and a cover, and in 12 hours it should be up and available for purchase on Amazon. They do a check to make sure it is appropriate, but this is for major issues or illegal content, it is not to make sure it is the next international bestseller, otherwise you’re out.

In terms of formatting, standard size fonts should be used, so about 12pt, but it is worth checking out other details in their online guide before uploading just as it is. Happily, amendments can be made even after the book has gone live (although all attempts should be made to deliver a decent product before publishing).

Being published on Amazon is no guarantee of sales, and obscurity among the hundreds of thousands of other books out there is the new author’s main enemy. But Amazon offers promotional options such as KDP Select, where the book will be promoted at lower or zero price for a few days. The use of this scheme means not publishing elsewhere for each 90 cycle that you are enrolled in it, but it is worth it for the early stages, I think. Once tried, you can opt out (your book will still be available at normal price) and sell elsewhere too.

It is recommended by those in the know to proofread and edit your own book eight or nine times. I did this, but still missed things. I think we read our own work differently. It is at least worth getting a trusted friend or family member to go through it, or also looking at cheap options, such as on or It is also well worth getting a good cover done professionally too. The same sites are options for that. Also think carefully about a great title and opening – this is even more important for self-publishers on Amazon, where the website’s ‘Look Inside’ option and book description and cover are all potential readers will know about an author.

A little to think about in advance, then, but overall a very quick and cheap (free, if you wish to do your own cover, proofreading, etc.) way to self-publish!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on

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