How to publish a book without paying a cent

You can do it with all the equipment you are currently using at this very moment.

That’s right, just a computer, an internet connection, your brain, and your fingers. Let’s say you have a manuscript. It could be a novel, non fiction, book of poems, biography, cookbook, or whatever. If it’s polished and ready to see the light of day, you already have everything you need!

How can you do this without fancy software or paying publishing fees? Read on.

If you have your text ready, the first thing you will want to do is format it and make sure it includes all the bits you need. Author’s note, copyright, acknowledgements, etc etc. That’s not bad. Then you need to be able to convert it to PDF. One free software program can do all that and it’s called LibreOffice. It’s available for free, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Just gGoogleit!

Many self publishing places want you to put your book in 6 by 9 inch format. That’s easy to do with Libre Office, you can set up the page size so it will automatically be in that size. And when you have your file exactly the way you want it, you can convert it to PDF through the “export to PDF” in the file menu. PDF format is good because it makes sure the book prints out exactly the way you have it set up.

But what about the cover? If you have some artistic or creative talent, you can do it in GIMP, another free program that works for Windows, Linux, or Mac. When you are done setting up the titling and everything, it will also export to PDF format.

Don’t want to draw your own cover? No problem, both of my favorite print on demand sites have a cover wizard that help you make a nice looking cover with very little work.

My favorite print on demand sites are CreateSpace and Lulu. Both support print on demand and ebook options. CreateSpace takes a bigger cut of the profits than Lulu does, but at the same time it gives you much wider distribution options. Both places will assign you an ISBN and let you keep all your own rights in case you should make it big. And neither charges anything for basic set up, they only make money if you sell a book. How much you need to charge to make a profit will depend on how many pages your book is.

My own novel, that I published last year, is 250 pages that are 6 by 9 inches in size. If I charge $14.99 for my book I make just over $5 in profit. That may not sound like much, but it’s a lot better than most authors get with traditional publishing. The Kindle edition makes me more, as I get about $4 per book if I charge $5.99. I like that anyway, because ebooks are great! If anyone would like to see my book, they can search “The Dice of Fate” in the CreateSpace or Kindle eStore.

So there you have it. I published my book and I didn’t pay a cent, and you can do it too.


Dice of Fate cover small

Writing Tackle

If you are reading this, you are have a high probability of being a writer or aspiring writer. So I think this subject is near and dear to many people here.

For artists or for writers, a small pocket sized notebook can be a real best friend. Author Robert Michael Pyle (known as “Butterfly Bob” to his friends) says that he is never without his “writing tackle.” He’s a real character. He’s an outdoorsman, scientist, folklorist, and grandfatherly eccentric. His writing tackle consists of a nice leather bound notebook, a refillable fountain pen, and an ink bottle. He carries them everywhere, so he’s always ready for when inspiration strikes. When I saw him at a book signing, there he was, filling his pen from the ink bottle.

What kind of “writing tackle” or “drawing tackle” would you like to carry? Is there a set of writing tools that would make you feel more creative, or possibly give you incentive to write more often? Would you use your smartphone? A tablet computer? A batterd spiral notebook? A nice hardback sketch diary? Backs of envelopes? Napkins and borrowed crayons? Do you think that inspiration might strike more often if you took notes more often? One thing is for certain, carrying a little notebook helps you remember whatever ideas you do have, so you don’t lose them.

I have different levels of “writing tackle” and “drawing tackle.” I try not to go anywhere without at least a pen and a few scraps of paper. I have a small lined notebook that fits in my pocket along with a writing pen or two. For drawing I have a tiny sketchbook, maybe the size of a stack of index cards, that I use along with three technical pens and a mechanical pencil. That’s pretty easy to pack. I also have a bigger sketchbook with a long rectangular tin that holds several woodless graphite pencils and a kneaded eraser. If I really want to go all out, I can take my wooden sketchbox easel… with an even bigger sketch book, and room for ALL my pencils and pens!

Whether you call it Writing tackle, your emergency creativity kit, or portable memory, be prepared!