In the days before the Internet (“Dark Ages”), if you wanted your book to be published, you would print your manuscript, send copies to various publishers, and hope that they would deign to read it. If they did, you would have to rejoice at the thought of receiving a 5% royalty on every copy sold (if you’re lucky).
But with the Internet came Amazon, and Amazon came along with the Kindle. The Kindle allowed anyone to publish their own books and cut out the traditional publisher network. We also have other eBook platforms like Apple Books, Kobo, Nook, Tolino, Google Play and many more.
I have ten books in the last two years, but it was a steep learning curve and mistakes were made. The production of these books was also costly. It got me thinking. Can this be done with little or no budget?
Components of creating an ebook
To prepare an eBook for download on various platforms, you need the following:
- Your manuscript (obviously)
- How the manuscript is converted to eBook format.
- Book cover.
Let’s take a look at each one separately. It should be noted, however, that cheap, poorly made e-books will not sell. So while you can cut costs here and there, don’t sacrifice quality in the process.
How you print your book is completely up to you. Some people I know use Microsoft Office, but it’s clearly not free. For a writer on a budget, you can use:
- Google Docs
- Pages (MacOS only)
- Adobe Photoshop is only for those who really know what they are doing. A free alternative is GIMP
- Amazon Kindle Cover Creator – Inside the KDP (which I’ll talk about a little later) there is a “cover creator” that makes pretty simple covers. This should be seen as a last resort.
- Canva – Canva has templates for creating book covers. The templates are free, but if you use Canva‘s pictures, you might be asked to pay a couple of dollars.
- Fiverr is probably your best bet if graphic design isn’t your forte. You can hire someone to do cover for about $ 40-50.
- Give away your first book for free – if you have more than one book planned, why not give out the first one for free to gain fans? Set up your website and add the Mailerlite mailing list form there. When someone subscribes to a book, they will automatically receive an email with a download link.
- Send free copies to reviewers and influencers – decide who will like your book and hopefully recommend it to others. Then send them a free e-book by email.
- Social Media – It costs nothing to create social media accounts. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram should be the three to focus on. You can run contests with giveaways, create campaigns using hashtags, and more.
- Create promotional graphics in Canva – create brochures, social graphics, email graphics, and more in Canva
- Make YouTube Videos – If you have the know-how, create your own YouTube channel and promote your book in your own movie-style trailer.
Line spacing should be either 1.15 or 1.5 and shouldn’t bother the font. One of the standard ones will do. I prefer Arial or Garamond.
Keep track of your book length as the Amazon Kindle places strict limits on the size of your book. Anything over 100,000 words should be shortened slightly to a maximum of 80,000 words (or consider turning this into two books).
Convert manuscript to e-book format
Once you’ve finished your magnum opus and are ready to go, it’s time to convert it to eBook format. I assume you thoroughly checked and edited the manuscript first, right?
I use an expensive macOS-only software called Vellum, which I bought because I saw it as a long-term investment (and tax-free!). But if you don’t have a budget, there are other options.
First, convert the file to PDF. All word processing platforms, including Google Docs, have an Export to PDF button.
But Amazon and Draft2Digital (which can upload files to other platforms for a fraction of your royalties) actually prefer Word DOCx files over PDFs. They will then convert the DOCx file for you.
Another option is to use the free Caliber and convert the file to the desired e-book format. The Kindle uses the .MOBI format, and the others ask for .EPUB.
They say, â€œDon’t judge a book by its cover,â€ but in fact everyone does it. Whether or not you spend your hard earned money on a book depends in part on how attracted you are to the cover.
So really bad cover will really hurt you. You will need an image that you can legally use for commercial purposes (just in case, buy it from iStockPhoto for just $ 9 – cheaper than a copyright infringement lawsuit).
Here are your options for creating a book cover.
If you’ve read this far, then your formatted e-book and cover are ready. It’s time to put your Precious online.
Besides the Amazon Kindle, there are MANY other e-book platforms out there. But instead of loading each one separately, why not use an aggregation service?
Draft2Digital – in exchange for 10% of your sales – will upload your book to multiple ebook platforms like Apple, Nook, Kobo, and OverDrive (which put eBooks in libraries). Huge time savings.
For Amazon, create an account on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and then follow the instructions to download the book (which Amazon clearly explains).
Advertising and promotion
Online marketing and promotion is a huge topic in and of itself. So trying to cover everything here would be foolish. And since most of the advertising and promotion is about money, we need to think about what you can do if you don’t have money.
When it comes to marketing and promotion, your imagination is the only limit.
This is just an abbreviated version of setting up your own eBook, but hopefully it gave you a good idea of ??what to do and how easy it is.