Can You Publish a Book For Free?

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Can you publish a book for free? For most people, the cost is a major deciding factor. Even if the cost isn’t your main focus, you’ll probably want to know how you can publish a book for free (or cheaper) so that you can save money producing your book and make more money with sales on the back end.

Yes, you can absolutely publish your book for free. Traditional publishing is free. You can also publish for free online at sites like KDP, Smashwords, Lulu, or even on your own website. Not only that, but you can also edit your book for free, format your book for free, create a book cover for free, and promote your book online for free.

Many aspiring writers ask, “Can you publish a book for free?”

The good news is that there are lots of options for publishing your book for free online and the selection process isn’t always obvious. So keep reading and I’ll show you, step-by-step, exactly how to publish your book for free in a way that best suits you and your book. 

Check out my post on The Best Writing Books For Beginners.

Can you Publish a Book for Free
Can you publish a book for free? Well, can you…punk?

How to Publish Your Book For Free

Can you publish your book for free? There are several options for publishing your book at no cost. The two big categories are traditional publishing and self-publishing, so let us start with those two.

Traditional publishing is where you complete your book, write a query letter to literary agents, sign a contract with a literary agent, and get a contract with a publishing house that publishes your book at no cost to you. Never sign with a literary agent or publisher that charges money to read, review or publish your books. It’s usually a scam.

The “big five” publishing houses are: (as of now)

  • Penguin Random House
  • Hachette
  • HarperCollins
  • Macmillan
  • Simon & Schuster.

Smaller publishing companies are sometimes called “indie publishers”. These can be easier to reach and often don’t require a literary agent but have much less reach.

Self-publishing is where you publish the book yourself without the help of a literary agent or publishing company.

Traditional Publishing Vs. Self-Publishing: How Should You Publish Your Book For Free?

There are pros and cons to each route. Traditional publishing is a slower and more competitive approach to publishing where the literary agent and publisher take a cut of your profits. On the plus side, they help and coach you so you are not going it alone. And bigger publishing houses can massively increase your reach to readers.

If you choose the traditional publishing route, check out this YouTube video on the best practices for querying literary agents. It will significantly boost your learning curve and speed up your results.

Can you publish a book for free? Yes, but you may need a literary agent. Watch this video!

With self-publishing, you are by definition doing it all yourself. Yes, you can hire coaches, PR specialists and marketing, but all of that is not free.

The free option is to do it yourself. There is much more work with self-publishing. On the pro side, you keep more of the profits. And there are many online websites that will help publish your book at no upfront cost to you in exchange for a cut of your profits every time you make a sale.

This next video by bestselling author Gillian Perkins is a great resource for deciding on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

20 Places to Publish Your Book Online For Free

There are tons of places online to publish your book for free. Some are more obvious, while others few authors even know about.

In fact, I found so many that I made this chart with their site names, format they publish in (eBooks or print or both), whether or not they require exclusive sales rights (meaning that you can only sell your books through them), and how much commission they take from your book sales. All of these factors matter to making the best decision on where to publish your books free online.

After the chart, I’ll give you my recommendations on where to publish your book for free whether you are a beginner or are more experienced.

Publish Books for Free Chart

NAMEFORMATEXCLUSIVE YOUR PROFIT
Payhip Ebooks No95%
KDP –
Amazon
EbooksYesUp to 70%
CreateSpace –
Amazon
Print YesUp to 70%
LuluEbooksNo90%
TradebitEbooksNo25-75%
Depends on price
of your book
ScribdEbooksNo80%
BookTangoEbooksNo100%
Nook Press
Barnes & Nobel
EbooksNo65%
Kobo EbooksNo100%
SmashswordsEbooksNo80%
ClickbankEbooksNo50%
Apple Books
Ibooks
EbooksYes70%
Draft2DigitalEbooksNo90%
Google PlayEbooks NoBased on price
of book
ZipSell
(Open source
software)
Ebooks No100%
GumRoadEbooksNoTransaction fee
of .5% + $.30
per charge
FetchEbooksNo100%
Easy Digital
Downloads
EbooksNo100%
WooCommerceEbooksNo100%
Your Website!Ebooks
or Print
No100%
The ultimate “Can you publish a book for free?” table

On all 20 sites, you can publish and sell your books 100% for free. Can you publish a book for free? That’s “yes” times twenty.

As you can see, most focus on Ebooks only. That’s definitely the way I would recommend you start. You can also see that most of these sites also take a small to large commission but offer more tools and more exposure for your book.

So which one should you choose?

Quick answer:

  • For beginners – Kindle Direct Publishing.
  • For intermediate to pro – Your own website (using one of the free apps or software mentioned in the chart)

Where to Publish A Book Online For Free As a Beginner

Can you publish a book for free as a complete beginner?

If you are a beginner, I highly suggest Kindle Direct Publishing. Why? Because they handle all of the details of publishing for you.

It’s simply an easier way to get set up quickly and started selling your book without all the fuss of having to do it manually, by yourself – and without the financial burden of hiring someone to do it for you.

You also get massive exposure from Amazon. There really is nothing else like it. Many Ebook authors say that Amazon outperforms all their other outlets – combined!

Where to Publish a Book Online For Free with More Experience

But can you publish a book for free if you have tons of experience?

On the other hand, if you are a little more experienced, and have at least 10,000 views or more per month on your website, then I recommend publishing the book yourself on your self-hosted website. I use Bluehost because they are waaaaaay cheaper than many other hosting companies but still have all the features you will need to sell your book.

When you sell your books off your own website, you have complete control of the presentation, you cut out the middleman, and did I mention that you get 100% of the profits? 🙂

So start with KDP, get a little experience, then move to selling ebooks and other digital products directly from your own self-hosted website using some of the tools in the chart (like EasyDigitalDownload, ZipSell, etc). Keep upgrading your tools as you earn income. That’s the smart and sustainable way to approach book publishing.

How To Publish A Book For Free With KDP

  1. Go to KDP
  2. Create an account
  3. Click Publish Ebook
  4. Follow the onscreen directions to upload your book file, create a book cover, format and publish your book.

Here is a short video to show you exactly how easy it is to sign in and get started 🙂

Can you write a book for free? Yes, on KDP. Watch this video!

How to Publish A Book for Free On Your Website

If you want to know the easiest answer to “Can you publish a book for free?”, this is the section for you!

  1. Save your book as a PDF.
  2. Create a private page on your website or simply upload your PDF to Google Drive (or your other preferred cloud storage).

Congratulations! You are now a self-published author!!

How Do You Get Paid From Publishing a Free Book Online?

If you just published with KDP, your book will become available on amazon.com as a Kindle ebook. (Note: This often takes a few days)

When somebody purchases your book on Amazon, you will receive a royalty payment through your KDP account. When you set up your account, you can direct deposit payments right into your bank account.

FYI: You can also publish your book as a print softcover through Amazon. Use CreateSpace for print books or ACX for audiobooks. Both are 100% free!

If you published your book on your own website, follow these simple steps to get paid.

  1. If you don’t already have an account, set one up with PayPal (or your favorite payment app like CashApp). This is how you will get paid.
  2. Note, if you are on a paid, hosted website (such as WordPress.org), then you can use different applications such as an online shopping cart or store on your website, or sign up for one of the free services mentioned in the chart, like Fetch. However, PayPal is probably the easiest way to go for your free website with WordPress.com site, Wix or another free site builder.
  3. When someone purchases your book (by paying you through PayPal, for example) you give them access to your book by sending a link to Google Drive or (if the file size is low), you can perhaps just zip the file and email it to them.

Note: It’s always a good idea to check into the tax laws in your country and state to ensure that you are in compliance.


Conclusion: Can You Publish a Book for Free?

If publishing a book yourself on your own website sounds confusing or overwhelming, I totally get it. I remember feeling the same way when I first started.

Just remember, you always have an easy way to publish with KDP. That’s how you can publish a book for free.

So, can you publish a book for free? Yes!

The only thing left to do is to get started!

Next, check out my post on Can you write a scary story in 150 words? (7 Scary Good Shortcuts).

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