Are you publishing your books on websites that cost you a lot of money? Here are the free self publishing websites that you must put your books onto.
So, you've finished writing your book but the question is, now that you've got it formatted and we're ready to publish it, which platform should you post it on? If you're publishing your book, you do not wish to choose the wrong platform.
Because there are a lot of differences between the different platform choices that you have when it comes to your book. That's the reason why we're going to discuss Free Self Publishing Websites. Now, there are things to do before using free publishing companies.
The reason we're looking at the free ones is that we've also looked at paid ones. There are lots of vanity presses and hybrid presses. I know, the word vanity press sometimes can have a negative connotation to it.
But in reality, they’re companies trying to help you get your book published on the market. But I am mostly interested in the free runs. The things you're going to want to consider are things like, what is the royalty rate?
How difficult is it to get your book onto that platform? How big of an audience do they have? A lot of other things like customer support, how often are they sending royalties to you? How big are those royalties?
8 best free self publishing sites to know in 2023
There are a lot of things we want to know about the companies that we're considering putting our books onto. That's why we're going to be looking at the 8 best free self publishing sites to know in 2023.
Number one is Amazon KDP, the advantage of Amazon is that it has a wide reach. You're able to reach people all over the world. There are millions of Kindle customers and every day, they are adding more and more regions of the world and more customers.
The reason is that you do not need a Kindle device to read their books. Any cell phone will work just fine since they have an app on all. Whether you're an Android or you're an iPhone user, you can do it.
I can tell you, I read almost all of my books on an iPhone through the Kindle app. You can even have it read the books to you if you wish to do it. So, there are a lot of options available.
The other is the ease of use of the platform. The platform is my favorite of all of the free ones I'm going to discuss today. In terms of using the platform itself, there are a few things that are a little bit clunky.
But for the most part, it goes smoothly. You have complete control over the pricing, the distribution of your book, and every aspect of the book. You can completely control what's going to happen and you can see what those royalties are going to be.
The people who come onto the site are ready to buy. They only have to just click the Buy Now button and they've purchased it. Amazon even tries to help you with their pricing to ensure that you price your books in such a way that will maximize sales.
They'll even adjust the price to help you out to ensure you do that. Now, the downside is the royalties. Because Amazon is not as high as some other platforms.
They'll give you 70% off your Kindle books. But you have to price it between $2.99 and $9.99 to get those advantages. So, that's something you're going to have to consider. Plus based upon where in the world it's being delivered.
Like the paperback books that are going to take a bite out. But for the most part, I think the royalties are fantastic on Amazon but it is a downside compared to some other platforms.
The other is competition. There are millions of books coming on Amazon. So, unless you're following the strategies I teach you here or learning things like my Content Marketing Made Easy Course.
Learning how to find that audience and get these people to buy your book. Then you're going to be competing against millions of authors. That's one of the things with the keywords and all of these things that you're going to want to be able to do.
So that when people are searching, your book is going to show up and not somebody else's book. You're going to be top of mind for your readers when it comes to getting your books to go to sell. And then the con even with high competition on Amazon, it is still by far my absolute number one pick of starting places to go with your book.
But moving on, the next one is PublishDrive. Now, the thing is that PublishDrive brings a massive distribution. So, it allows you to push your book out to all sorts of online distributors as well as libraries to reach a maximum audience.
They also have advanced analytics and reporting tools that are built in giving you those real-time sales tracking and reporting. Unlike some other sites where literally, it's completely in shambles. But the downside is you have limited control over the marketing and promotions.
They don't have the same things that Amazon has on their site where you have these promotions. And the ads in particular on Amazon are what I'm thinking about. They don't have the same thing and so the market is a little bit more difficult to do.
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The marketing side is more difficult if you're going to PublishDrive and the biggest reason is the fees. PublishDrive is going to charge you for the service of putting your books onto their platform. This is one of the biggest reasons why most self-publishers I know do not use PublishDrive.
But the royalty rates can be high and it's like a one-time sort of fee on some aspects of what they're doing. The rates can be very high even with different prices outside of the range that Amazon has even suggested. So, PublishDrive is worth considering for certain.
Barnes & Noble Press
The next one is Barnes & Noble Press. Now, what do they bring to you? They bring a large audience, it's one of the largest book retailers in the whole world or at least in the United States. The thing is that Amazon beats everybody and that's why I do push Amazon.
But with their large customer base and book lovers, it brings that crowd in there. They're able to reach them because you're coming straight onto their marketplace. When you're putting your books on Barnes & Noble and get it directly out to those readers.
They will get favorable treatment for books that are done through their platform. The other is it gives you access to tools and resources. They have a whole series of tools and resources that are available to help you promote your book.
Including an easy-to-use platform for formatting, publishing, and doing all these things. Your dashboard is a great one for tracking sales and your royalties that are coming in. The downside of Barnes & Noble is that it has limited distribution nowhere near as big as Amazon has for your books.
It's dependent upon readers coming to this specific platform to do it. That is not as many, not nearly as many as Amazon. In addition, is competition. There are a lot of books on Barnes & Noble Press and so you're going to be competing against a lot of these books.
It's not like you put your book out there and you're the only one in that category. It's got a really wide audience of people who are there. Lots of books are being put out regularly, still not as many as Amazon but then again, the distribution isn't as large either. So, we have to worry a little bit more about the competition.
Now moving on to the next one, Apple Books. The biggest thing with Apple Books is its wide reach. Because these books are available on all Android and iPhone devices. So, you're able to read your books.
They also have high royalty rates. Some of the royalty rates can be as high but depending upon the country. 85% is crazy high when we compare it to even Amazon's amazing rate of 70%.
These are amazing rates if you're able to get your books to sell if you're targeting them correctly as I teach my Group Coaching and 1-On-1 clients. Or you're going in there and using the right tools like KDSpy and Publisher Rocket to figure out whether or not these keywords are profitable.
Then shooting your books, directly aiming at these specific markets. The downside though of Apple Books is limited distribution. Because it has to be on the Apple platform and that's one of the huge challenges you're going to have.
A large chunk of the world is using Android devices and not Apple devices. And since they're not using Apple devices, it makes it harder for them to do it. The other difficult thing is there's a steep learning curve.
It has its unique formatting and submission requirements. It has a lot of things that even if you're familiar with the other platforms, this is yet one more thing you're going to have to learn when you're going onto this platform.
This is probably one of the biggest reasons I do not personally use Apple Books. It is because there's a bit of a barrier, a learning curve that's there. Though by doing things through aggregate companies like Draft2Digital or previously Smashwords, you can get your books onto Apple anyway.
So, it just sort of cuts right through that, if we're talking about the ebook versions. That's also something that you should consider when you're putting out your books.
Google Play Book
The next one is Google Play Book. It has a massive distribution. Because keep in mind, we're talking about all of these Android devices and on the desktop too. So, if they have a desktop version on the Google Play Store on your Windows PC or whatever, you're going to be able to download those books.
You're just going to get in front of a lot of people. Also, it's really easy to put your books together onto their thing. Making the publishing process itself not very painful. But there are some downsides and one of the big ones is limited visibility.
Compared to other ebook retailers, Google Play has limited visibility. There are not that many people going: I'd like to buy a book, let me get onto Google Play to go buy that book. So, it's a much smaller crowd than we would find when we'd be looking at Amazon.
You're going to be expecting lower royalty rates by going on this platform when we compare it to other retailers. So that might be a little bit disturbing, a little bit pulling away a bit from your books.
Being published on this platform, whether you want to do it or not, I don't know if the royalty rates for me are a big deal and what the size of the audience is, but if you can go wide, this can compensate. In other words, what does it hurt to put your book onto the platform? Just to get those sales, all right?
The next one is my first favorite place which is IngramSpark. I love this one. The first thing is a wide distribution network. How many retailers are we talking about? We're talking about 39,000 retailers, libraries, and online platforms.
The size of the audience that Ingram spark reaches is huge. This is one of the reasons I put all of my books onto IngramSpark as paperback and ebook versions. I can tell you that if you want to get promo codes to even cut the costs of doing this, you can do it by becoming a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
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This is the one I'm a member of. This was the main reason I joined them. It was specifically to get the free promo codes. So that I could get my books onto IngramSpark without having to pay $50 per book which is what I previously had done.
But I make more money off of IngramSpark’s paperbacks than I do off of Amazon's. It is amazing because I don't even focus on reviews on IngramSpark. The other big advantage they have is Print On Demand capabilities.
They have some machines that can pump out books. Print them as you do it. So, you're not sitting in a garage, like in the old days filled with your books. We do not want thousands of books and then we're giving them out like candy to people.
No, print on demand means there's simply printing them when people place the orders. Now, this is similar to Amazon, KDP Print does this as well. But I like IngramSpark.
Now, let's get to the negatives and there are a couple of negatives. The first is the cost and they're for their distribution and stuff. The costs are higher on IngramSpark than you'd find on these other platforms.
This means for their setup fees and their book charges as I comment if there are ways of getting around this up to a certain number of books per year which is phenomenal. So, I still would recommend the Ingramspark route. It is so amazing. So, that's the cost side.
The other is the learning curve. It's complicated to learn how to properly use it, and use their entire site. The way that they have things set up, but is doable. I tell 100% of all of my clients and students to learn this tool. It is worth your time.
But the real negative and this is the one that I go back and forth I'm going to tell you monthly with them, it is their reporting. Now, they do have new reports that are fancy but when they pay you money, they make it difficult to get a copy of the receipt. So, I bug them until they finally send me a copy of the receipts
Because in their existing platform, unlike every other distributor, when they pay me monthly and I get this huge paycheck coming in from IngramSpark, I go to the website and say, well where do I find the PDF so I can download it? So that my accountants can register this thing and do bookkeeping.
The thing is that it just can't, there's no way to get it. They don't have a thing. You can spill out something and then they have bugs and problems with their system. But I'm telling you, it's still worth your time.
There's a lot less competition because of these costs. And as a result, your sales are going to be bigger. These books will also show up on Amazon, competing with your books on Amazon. So, that's also something.
You do need to provide an ISBN for these as well. That's one of the reasons I purchased 1,000 ISBNs to ensure I never run out when I'm using ISBNs on IngramSpark. Because it is such a powerful platform.
Kobo Writing Life
Now I want to move on to the next one and that is Kobo Writing Life. They have a large reach and a global audience. The thing is that they are available in 190 countries. They allow you to reach a larger audience and potentially increase your book sales as a result of that.
The other thing I like about them is the royalties and payment options. They allow you to have much better control than you do on other sites. They don't just say, oh you have to sell it in this price range or else we're going to destroy your sales.
They really don't do that and so that's another thing to consider, right? It can be particularly beneficial for authors who are living in the United States. The ability to control these royalty rates based upon different currencies and such. So, that is fantastic.
A couple of downsides, they have a smaller market share compared to when we're looking at Amazon and some of the other sides. So they're not as big but I can't say they're evil creators. Even here in Norway, they sell their Kobos, I don't even see Kindles in the store here.
This is where I see Kobo, their e-readers are more popular here in Europe than they are in other areas of the world. The other one is they have a limited amount of promotional tools available on IngramSpark when we compare it to some other sites.
There are just not that many available. It makes it harder to reach the limited number of readers we already have. So, I do not personally put my books through Kobo.
Now, moving along, we're moving on to Lulu. It is one that I've always recommended about hardcover books. Though I have now been moving and putting them all on Amazon instead even though I like to sort of spread it out.
It's just that the royalty rates were a little bit not as good. But let me save that till the end of this one for Lulu. The first is ease of use, Lulu is really easy to use. They do show you when you're going in there exactly how many sales you're getting.
It's easy to get the receipts, unlike IngramSpark. So that's a big plus on the Lulu front. The other is you have complete control. So, you're able to control the design and the cover and all of these things.
It's about as easy as IngramSpark in my opinion. Maybe it's more difficult than Amazon but you still have quite a bit of control. They may have the most options also when it comes to sizes and things on your books. But I'm telling you, for all of your books and you make your books in 6 x 9 inches.
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That will maximize your distribution. If you don't believe me, Google it: what is the best size to do your books in? I don't care what kind of book it is, if you're doing a children's book or an adult book or you're doing whatever type of book it is, you need to make it 6 x 9 inches.
Quit choosing these weird shapes. I have clients sometimes who will come to me and say I want to make a book and I need it to be like a triangle or a hexagon. And I am like, why do you not want your books in libraries and on as many platforms as possible?
So, just go with 6 x 9 and then we don't have to worry about it. But if you do need these options, Lulu is going to be the place for you and your book. Now, here are a couple of negatives.
You have limited reach. Lulu primarily serves the self-publishing community. Its books may not be as wide as available as others publish through traditional channels and some of the others. So, it has a limited reach, it's not as much but they will push them back through Amazon as well.
You put your book on Lulu and you can link it up to your Amazon profile. So, hardcover books were particularly used in the old days, before Amazon got their act together and started making it easy to do that.
The other is the royalties are not all that wonderful on Lulu. The costs they have are so massive compared to the other side. So, that was the biggest reason I moved my hardcover books from Lulu over to Amazon.
Now, I still keep them on Lulu, the ones that I put out there. But in terms of the long run, they're staying put on Amazon for my hardcover books.
The final one I want to hit is Dreame. You may not even have heard about it, it's a “dream” with an “e” at the end. It has a really large user base and this is most people in the Asian market. That's something worth hitting as it is a growing market.
Lots of people with lots of phones are very interested. It's a very popular reading app with a huge massive reader-base providing a great opportunity to reach these audiences as you're moving forward and giving you that visibility.
In addition, you have all sorts of monetization opportunities. Because it gives you different ways to earn money such as in-app purchases and advertising revenue sharing that you don't have. I've never heard of any of that on any of the other platforms.
Dreame gives you this advantage, a huge advantage. The downside is language limitations because they're focusing on the Asian market. That means the languages they are looking at are Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.
If your writer's writing is in this market, then it may be fine. But otherwise, you're going to need translation services. And here comes a little secret strategy for you: if your book is written in English and you haven't even gotten sales on it, do not start selling your book in 50 different languages.
I have clients who do this. I'm like, oh how many sales are you getting on your book? They would say, I haven't launched it yet, I'm going to have it available in 50 languages. And if you're using automatic language translation software, you're going to have another problem.
You can get yourself banned on Amazon for pumping it through garbage translators. So you have to make sure that the book is properly translated. If we don't even have a market in the US, we don't even know if they're buying your book in the US.
Wait to see that we're getting sales in the US and then translate your book to the other regions. Then maybe put it on to Dreame and see what happens. The other is content restrictions. They have very strict guidelines.
Unlike Amazon, these other sites will let you put up almost any book. Dreame is simply not going to do that.
You can see that of these 8 different companies, there are a lot of choices to make. A lot of positives and negatives to keep in mind. I just want to tell you my own choice would be, you should put your books on Amazon.
Then you should make sure that your paperback and your ebooks also are going through IngramSpark and other platforms. At least on the ebook, I'd probably run it through Draft2Digital. This is the route that I would suggest with your books. But it depends upon your situation and the things that matter most to you.
My question for you is which platforms are you using? Go and let me know below in the comments and check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.