Chris A. Baird | July 14, 2023
Cheap Self-Publishing - 8 Cheapest Ways to Publish a Book

So, you've finished writing your book, and now it's time to get this thing published. But you don't have that much money to go through the publishing process, so you need to figure out ways in which you can save money but spend money on the things that are going to give you the highest return back. 

This balance can be really hard to figure out. That's why you're going to want to stick around for today's topic. We are going to look at cheap self-publishing, the eight cheapest ways to publish a book. And these eight tips to minimize the cost of publishing a book involve several key things that you're going to want to take away from this whole thing here.

Tip #01: Plan Ahead

The first thing you can do to save is tip one: plan. Now, this means that when you're looking at getting going with your book in the first place, trying to figure out exactly the whole course of action. "I'm going to use this service, I'm going to connect it with this thing here and this thing here," so you can sort of see the entire path that you're going to be taking.

This is something I do with my clients, whether in the group coaching or in the 1-on-1 program, where we're looking and seeing where are we at right now and what are the exact steps we need to take to get our book published, and in this case, doing it affordably.

And by doing this, planning, the thing is that we're able to make sure that. We're not wasting money as we go. We can use the experience of self-publishers who have done a lot of self-publishing, which is what I've done over the years—lots and lots of books.

So, I can see exactly that path to getting it done effectively, putting a high-quality product book, and doing it at an affordable price. And this planning makes a huge difference. That's one of the reasons why I try to figure out tools that are also going to save money as we go through the process.

Check out this related article: Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid and Ways to Spot Them

Tip #02: Proofreading

Tip number two is proofreading. There are several ways to save money when it comes to proofreading. One option is to pay the full price of a major proofreader with thousands of years of experience. However, I would not recommend that. Instead, you can opt for cheaper proofreaders, such as those on Fiverr

Just make sure that they have top reviews for the services they provide in proofreading. Look for people with thousands of five-star reviews or a lot of really positive feedback. You can also use Upwork, but I have found quite a bit of success by using some of the top-rated proofreaders on Fiverr. Even if you don't want to hire a proofreader, you can use free software like Grammarly to help.

When it comes to proofreading, you can use tools like Grammarly or Google Docs' own built-in proofreader. There are also various software options available, such as LibreOffice Writer, OpenOffice, and Microsoft Word.

I like to run my writing through multiple programs and sometimes hire someone on Fiverr for additional proofreading. By doing so, I ensure that the final product is of high quality. However, if you're on a budget, you can use these tools and proofread the book yourself or consider trading proofreading services with another author.

For example, you can proofread each other's books or swap services based on your strengths, such as proofreading and cover design. Bartering with others allows you to achieve your goals affordably, even if it requires investing some time.

Tip #03 Formatting

Now, moving on to tip number three: formatting. This is a crucial aspect of self-publishing. I emphasize the importance of learning how to format your book yourself, despite the additional time it may require. It's worth the effort to acquire the necessary formatting skills. Find the formatting tool that suits you best, whether it's LibreOffice Writer, OpenOffice, or another program.

Now, I believe the easiest and best tool for removing all the unnecessary formatting issues and ensuring that your book gets accepted on the first try is Jutoh. Additionally, I offer a book formatting course specifically designed for self-publishers. It's a powerful resource that will guide you through the formatting process, ensuring that your book is properly formatted for various platforms. I've worked with hundreds of individuals who have successfully formatted their books with my guidance. 

Some people may find the technology involved in formatting a bit challenging, but with my assistance, you'll be able to overcome any obstacles. The benefit of learning formatting skills and using tools like Jutoh is that it saves you money in the long run. 

Once you've acquired the skill and purchased Jutoh or a similar tool, you can format as many books as you want without incurring additional costs. With each formatting iteration, you'll improve your skills, and if you come across mistakes during the proofreading stage mentioned in tip two, you can easily fix them by reformatting the book with a few clicks. 

This ensures that your book is ready for upload to the market, unlike relying on a Fiverr freelancer who may make formatting errors. And now that the formatting issues have been resolved, the question arises: Who will make the necessary changes? This is a crucial matter that requires your attention. By learning to format your book yourself, you can save a significant amount of money. 

Tip #04: Outsource the cover design to freelancers

Tip number four is to outsource the cover design to freelancers. This tip is highly effective because attempting to design the cover yourself, even using platforms like Canva, may not yield results as impressive as those of a professional graphic designer. If you lack a background in design, it's strongly recommended to have a professional handle it.

I have a preferred cover designer on Fiverr. Check that out, she has created almost all of my covers, and they are of exceptional quality. Her services are available for around $25, and she is a top-ranked cover designer.

Alternatively, you can opt for services like 99designs, where the cost can range from $100 to $200 for a cover design. However, this may not be the most budget-friendly approach for everyone.

Tip #05: Use print-on-demand services

Moving on to tip number five, consider using print-on-demand services. While this may be obvious to most of my audience, it's important to note that there are beginners who may not fully understand this concept. Many people have found success with print-on-demand services, which allow you to have your books printed and shipped as orders come in, without the need for upfront inventory.

Does all of this make sense? This idea is that I'm going to create these books, and then I'm going to order a thousand of them, and they're going to come to my garage, and then I'm going to sell them so fast it will be amazing. Well, it doesn't exactly work like that. When you first get started, it's hard. Building an audience takes a lot of time and effort.

Okay, so when you're getting started, it means that you're not going to want to order a thousand copies of your book, because you're going to end up giving those away for Christmas presents and stuff, and people may not wish to have them at this point.

Okay, instead, you're going to use a print-on-demand service like Kindle Amazon KDP Print, for example, or Lulu or IngramSpark, or any of these other services that also offer similar types of things, so that you can get your book printed when people place an order.

So there's no need to have a thousand copies, and when you're done with your first book, you just work on your next book, you see. And it doesn't cost you anything, so there are no additional fees to have it printed on demand. And this is by far the best way to go. You simply set it up, and all of the things are taken care of.

So, when they place the order, they literally can just run it right through the entire thing, where they just literally can pump out the print of the book through their printing press. They put it in the mail; they do everything for you. You don't have to do a thing. They just send you the money, and you get paid usually three months later.

Tip #06: Crowdfund Your Publishing Efforts

Tip number six: crowdfund your publishing efforts. That means going to one of the crowdfunding platforms that you can find. There are multiple of these platforms available, and you're building an audience. You sort of need an audience already if somebody's going to crowdfund a new book.

So, if you've already got a social media following or you're a semi-celebrity or an influencer micro, then you're going to want to take that audience that we have and say, "Hey, I'm so excited about this book, and here's where you can help support in exchange."

"I'm going to give you something special, like early editions. I'm going to let you see the book in advance. I'm going to let you get signed copies." There are all sorts of stuff you can do to reward people for giving money on GoFundMe or any of these other types of programs, or they'll be able to pay money in advance. But to do this, you're almost always going to need to already have an audience for this. 

Tip #07: Self-Publish the book to minimize the cost

Tip number six: self-publish the book to minimize the cost. Now, I know I mentioned, in the beginning, the whole thing was self-publishing, but some of you may still have the idea in your mind that traditional publishing is a cheap way to go.

Well, it might be, but you see, the problem is that you have to keep in mind you're going to need an agent. You're going to need to do a much deeper level of editing on the entire book. You're going to need to research to make sure the market is even there.

If whatever, you're going to send the money to one of the big six publishing houses, if they're even going to accept a book like yours, you're going to need to modify it. Then, we're going to keep on paying money to our agent to make sure that it's put in front of as many eyes as possible year after year, and we're giving up revenue royalties we would have made if we just self-published the book.

So, that's why the self-publishing route is by far the cheapest way to go, even though you do have to pay for the services upfront. At least we can pay them and then start making our money back, as opposed to trying the traditional route.

Check out this related article: How To Self-Publish In A Recession

Which has a whole bunch of expenses and then not making any money at all, and hoping and praying that they will choose you and your book. It's just a very losing strategy for most authors. If you are going that route, then give yourself a deadline, one year, for example.

And then at that point, you can decide, "That was enough time. At this point, I'm now going to self-publish." Some people have this idea, they have these grand visions of how things are going to turn out, and somebody always wins the lottery. I'm just going to tell you that doesn't happen.

But nobody I've ever personally met has just magically got accepted and their book selling millions of copies. It just doesn't seem to happen with traditional publishing. And if you looked at my last article, I was exactly discussing this idea of all these major authors you recognize, but they were all self-published authors.

It's amazing. You may not have realized it, but they saw the problems with trying to get traditionally published, so they built up a following by self-publishing and then were able to go from there. 

Tip #08: Marketing

Tip number eight: marketing. Marketing is one of my favorite tips of all. I find it the most fun and engaging. It challenges you on many levels. There are two types of marketing we're looking at. The first one is you should be doing Kindle KDP ads, and you can use Amazon ads. That's what you're going to be doing to promote your ebooks.

And you're going to have a separate ad campaign that's going against your paperback books. We separate those two and then we use a whole bunch of strategies I share with people in my group coaching and my one-on-one program. I tell you exactly how to set these ads up, taking you step by step through that process to make sure you can see results.

Now, you might be thinking, "Well, marketing paid ads, how's that going to save me money?" The answer is, it's going to get a lot of your books to sell in comparison if you didn't have those ads. Because unless you're a celebrity, how are you driving traffic to your books in the first place?

Ads are a great way to do it on a budget, assuming you're not spending too much money on that particular route. There are a lot of tricks to making sure that it spends money if it's making money and stops spending money if it's not. Okay, I hope that's pretty clear on that.

The other one is that you can use content marketing. That's an even cheaper way of doing it. That's one of the reasons why you should check out my content marketing course, where I go exactly step by step on how to use content marketing.

Check out this related article: Book Marketing Motivation  

This includes using blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and now also talking you through using a lot of the other social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok. We're using all these different platforms to get our message out to as large of an audience as possible, ensuring that our books are discoverable.

By utilizing both paid ads and content marketing strategies, you can save money. If you join the group coaching, I will show you exactly how to set up the paid ads. Alternatively, you can simply get the course on content marketing without signing up for anything else. I answer all the questions related to the course content itself, just to make sure everything is 100% clear.

And you can start experiencing success in terms of selling your books. You're building up a following, and the following is really what this game is about. As we build up that following, we're able to leverage our loyal subscribers, followers, and viewers to purchase our book, spread the word about our book, help us edit, proofread, and beta read our book, as well as provide reviews.

Building up this audience is one of the most important things you can do. How do you do that? You do it through content marketing. The more content you create, the more discoverable you become on Google, and the more traffic they continue to send your way. As time goes on, you'll see that you're making great progress in this entire endeavor, and it is a lot of fun. It's something you'll want to consider doing. 


In conclusion, you can see that I've covered eight tips, going through every aspect of how you can save money and publish your book on a budget. But not so cheap. You can obviously do it for free, but then there will be no sales and you won't make any money.

That's why I would not recommend going that route. It's one of the reasons why you need to follow each of the steps as closely as possible and see what happens. We continue to learn along the way.

Now, one of the questions I have for you today is: What have you done to keep costs low when publishing your books? I want to know. Please share your thoughts below in the comments area. I reply to 100% of all the comments. Also, make sure to check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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