Hi everyone! So happy to welcome writing coach Mandy Wallace to the blog, who has rustled up some great links for anyone looking to Self-Publish. As most writers know, a good set of tools is worth its weight in gold…especially when it comes to something as stress-inducing as publishing a book. Please read on!
You don’t have to ask permission anymore.
Self-publishing means the freedom to choose—when to publish, where to share your work, and how many readers you reach. No more gatekeepers means your publication goals and how to reach them are up to you.
But that also means your book’s design, writing, and technical details are up to you too.
That doesn’t mean self-publishing has to be hard.
Not when there’s a wide range of free and easy-to-use tools out there that make self-publishing easier. It’s possible, in fact, to DIY every step of your self-published book—from writing and design to file conversions and tracking sales—all without an advanced degree in design or unlimited funds for software and professional services.
Now, not only do you get to decide when and how you publish but also how your book looks and reads across every printed or digital page.
The free tools listed here make it all a breeze. Ready to check them out?
eBook Tracker provides sales rank and pricing data for Kindle books. Use it to track changes in your sales and monitor the impact your marketing efforts have on them.
Word processors like Google Docs and Mac Pages convert simple documents into ePub files in just one step. Compose your book using the same tools you do to write a simple letter, and export it as an ebook.
Evernote and writers go together like peanut butter and jelly. Keep it (or whatever cloud-based word processor you like) on your smart phone. That way you can capture all those moments you’d usually waste waiting—in the grocery store line or on that guy finishing your oil change—to work on your book instead.
InDesign isn’t free, but its design capabilities are arguably unparalleled. And if you want a book that’s interactive or has a fixed layout—great for kids’ books, cookbooks, textbooks, manuals, and graphic novels—you can’t beat InDesign. InDesign can export documents into the ePub format that works on most non-Kindle devices. Convert them from there into Mobi, which works on Amazon’s Kindle, using the converter tool listed below.
iBooks Author may be leading the way in interactive and fixed-layout ebooks. And even though you can use it to create books with swipe-friendly photo galleries, widgets, videos, animations, and other interactive features—it also makes gorgeous text-only fiction books.
Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is another fabulous, free design tool for fixed-layout books. Since it’s made by Amazon, using this tool to create your book means you’re less likely to have issues running it on Amazon’s platform or devices. And don’t let the name fool you. It’s not just for kids’ books. You can create any fixed-layout book using this software (like those textbooks, manuals, cookbooks, and graphic novels you can create using InDesign above).
Unsplash is a great place to get gorgeous, free, and copyright-free stock photos for your book’s cover or interior pages. Don’t be afraid to use stock photos. Yes, it means your readers may have seen the same image in other places before. But it’s more important your images look professional than unique, especially when it comes to the image on your books cover.
Canva offers a number of attractive, professional-looking book cover templates to choose from. You can use them as-is, or edit them for a unique look. Canva also makes it easy to edit stock photos. Cropping can make stock photos look more unique, and using the same filter for all your photos gives your book a consistent look.
JPEGmini shrinks bloated image file sizes that can quickly inflate your book’s overall size (and cut into your Amazon royalties!). This is especially important for image-heavy books. But even one oversized image or graphic can slow your book’s load time. So shrink those images!
CreateSpace is your go-to book designer if you plan to offer printed copies of your self-published book.
Kindle Direct Publishing is where you go to upload, sell, and manage your self-published book on Amazon.
Kindle Previewer 3 converts ePub files into Amazon’s Mobi, so you can spot flaws that didn’t convert well in your design. Fair warning, this is only to check design issues. It can’t guarantee the preview file will actually function on a Kindle. So test those files on your target device!
Calibre says it’s an e-book manager, but it’s really so much more. Use it to convert the ePub files you create using InDesign, iBooks Author, Google Docs, or Mac Pages above into Mobi files for Amazon and vice versa.
Free Tools for Fiction Writers offers its own list of free tools for the writing stage of your self-publishing journey—things like free writing course listings, character development tools, historical language trends tracker, a writing consistency trainer, editing tools, and more.
With this set of tips and tools, your book will be on digital shelves sooner than you thought possible. Happy writing!
Questions about these resources? What other helpful self-publishing tools do you use? List them in the comments so we can all check them out!
Mandy Wallace is a writing coach who shares tips and free tools with new writers. Her blog has been named one of the 100 Best Websites for Writers three years in a row, and several of her posts have clocked over 50k social shares each. Pick up a free copy of her Free Tools for Fiction Writers. Because the writing life should be easy (and fun!).