How to Publish a Book with Limited Cash

My clients often tell me that they want to publish their book, but they’ve got limited cash to do it with. So, their dream of being a published author and seeing their book in print sits on the back-burner waiting for the additional cash to be freed up.

Aleweb Social Marketing - How to Publish Your Book with Limited Cash

Publish your book even on a shoestring budget

Unfortunately, for many, that day never comes!

I found myself in that situation when I wanted to publish my first book, autographed paperback. So, I know the feeling, and the burden that goes along with thinking “If only…”

However, I was determined to see how far I could get, despite my lack of funds at the time. Amazingly, there’s a lot you can do to publish your book on a shoestring budget if you’re willing to put in the time to do the work yourself.

Having self-published 5 books now, I have to admit that I like the amount of control I have when I create the book listing myself rather than letting someone else do it for me.

Not only that, it’s a bootstrapper’s dream! The total cost can be less than $10 and a few hours’ time if you do it yourself.

So, if you find yourself with limited cash and a burning desire to see your book in print, here’s what I’d recommend you do for now.

  1. Take your source document (I’m assuming it’s in Word) and make sure it’s properly formatted using styles, formatting, table of contents, etc. When you use Word’s native functions, the result is much better than when you manually create a table of contents, or use additional line breaks for paragraph spacing and manual formatting for design.
  2. Go to Amazon and download and install the SendToKindle driver. This will allow you to send your Word file to Amazon and have them format it into an eBook for you.
  3. Have the eBook sent to your Kindle device. I recommend sending it to the actual device rather than a reader app because you can connect the device to your computer and copy the resulting file if needed (to send to a reviewer perhaps?).
  4. Review the formatting. Does it look good? Check it out on a reader app as well. Still look good? Good!
  5. That was all for review purposes. Before you get into creating your listing, you want to know what it is that you’re going to be giving to people. Remember, first impressions can be hard to change. So, make sure you’re making the first impression you wanted!
  6. Go to kdp.amazon.com and create an account if you don’t have one.
  7. Go to Amazon and research which two categories you want to list your book in. Find the most relevant categories with the fewest number of entries in it, if you want a chance of hitting the #1 spot.
  8. Create a listing for your eBook and assign those categories, as well as some relevant keywords.
  9. I recommend, if you’re not planning on distributing it digitally elsewhere to begin, enroll in the KDP Select program. It can gain you exposure to readers who might not otherwise know you. However, it’s a toss-up as to whether it will be financially as beneficial as simply taking a royalty.
  10. Set your price knowing that Amazon may offer a lower price for it. So make sure you’ve got some wiggle-room in what you’re comfortable with.
  11. Elect to use the 70% royalty program. (I have no idea really why anyone would ever choose the 35% program…)
  12. Decide whether you want to enroll it in the MatchBook program. I see no harm in doing it, and potentially some good (although only a slight amount).
  13. When you’ve done all that, publish it to Amazon!
  14. Next go to CreateSpace.com. The process is very similar. Upload your document and cover file. Set the parameters you want for the listing, etc.
  15. Before you can publish it here, you have to order 1 print copy as a proof. That runs around $6 depending on the size, binding and page count of your book. Not a bank-breaker…
  16. Once you’ve proofed the book and like what you’ve got, publish the listing!

It’s really that simple. I’m doing it today for a client, and the majority of it will take me less than 2 hours to do. (Waiting for the proof to be mailed to me and reviewing that is the most time-consuming piece.)

Once your time in KDP Select is over, you can consider other online book retailers that you want to distribute your book through, but Amazon is simply the biggest and easiest to work with. That’s why I recommend starting there.

If you’re going to spend any more money on your book, there are two things I’d recommend you spend it on.

Find an experienced cover designer. (If you don’t know one, we have one here at Aleweb.) The cover makes all the difference in the world to your book sales. It’s easy to spot ones that are “home grown” from those that are created by designers who know the industry, and it does have an impact on sales.

The second place is on an editor. (Aleweb also provides editing services. Contact us if you need more info.) It doesn’t matter how well you write or how long you’ve been writing. Having another set of eyes editing your work is extremely important.

In addition, before you make the decision to publish, I highly recommend having at least 20 people read your book. These individuals may be people you want to have endorse your book or review it, but more importantly, it’s critical to simply have people read it and provide you with feedback as to what works and what doesn’t in your narrative.

Need help? Aleweb is here for you!

Tell us what your next book is about in the Comments below.

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Tara R. Alemany

Award-winning author and speaker, and owner at Aleweb Social Marketing
Tara Alemany defies a simple definition. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and speaker, as well as a serial entrepreneur. Her publishing company, Emerald Lake Books, benefits experts and thought leaders as they grow their business by taking their words from manuscript to masterpiece. Her consulting company, Aleweb Social Marketing helps authors and speakers to get found online, on-stage and on-the-shelf. In addition to publishing, consulting, writing and speaking, Tara serves on the Boards of Directors for a Christian writers’ critique group, as well as acting as co-president and chaplain of the group. In her spare time, she is a novice winemaker, a martial artist, a juggler, a military Mom to 2 teenagers (one of each), step-Mom to 2 dogs (one of each) and is owned by a black cat.

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