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eBook Publishing for Authors on a Budget.

eBook Publishing for Authors on a Budget.


Before I begin this article, please understand that you embark on this cost-saving journey at your own peril. If any one of the following  steps is handled poorly this will negatively affect sales of your eBook. I would  recommend using professional services wherever possible.


The Background.

Historically authors self publishing their books had a large portion of their royalties that they never saw. These profits were eaten up by the tradtional printing process. Enter the Knight in shining covers - eBooks, who did not just level the playing fields but totally destroyed them.

This article won’t look at the technical benefits of the eBook over their printed cousins but instead I will show you how to reduce the already ridiculously low cost of publishing an eBook should you have more time than money to your name and not mind getting your hands a little dirty.

For the purpose of this list we will ignore the cost of the time taken in the writing phase of your manuscript for the following reasons:

  1. It is hard to accurately assign a monetary value for the time taken.

  2. Your text could theoretically be a short story which would not have taken that long to create.

  3. Emotion will invariably creep into the cost-calculation.



Typical costs involved in publishing your eBook online.

Typical costs for authors publishing an eBook would look something like this:


Proof Reading/ Editing.

  • You must have your manuscript professionally proof-read and edited.

  • Use a professional editor and avoid the temptation to use a family friend.

  • Have your editor write you a marketing blurb for your eBook, this will be used to promote your eBook on Amazon.


eBook conversion

  • Manuscripts must be converted into the two most popular eBook formats (MOBI and ePUB).

  • eBook files must be reviewed before publishing and have no formatting abnormalities to detract from the reader’s experience.

  • Make sure to increase eBook value by adding "about the author", "also by the author" and various social links to the eBook.


eBook cover design

  • This is a critical although often neglected process.

  • The cover is the first view your customer has of your work within Amazon.

  • A badly-designed cover will consign your potential best-seller to the big library in the sky ensuring sales-figures are always disappointing.


Publishing online

Once your well-formatted eBook with a catchy cover design is ready you will need to have the eBook made available to the public. All self-publishing authors should at a minimum have their eBooks published on Amazon.

Often a well-written eBook with an engaging cover will still have poor sales due to the author not publishing online correctly. Make sure that before publishing live on Amazon that you research your eBook keywords (allowed 7) and categories. (allowed 2)



Thus far the costs involved in preparing your eBook for the public have included:

  1. Proof Reading/ Editing,

  2. Cover Design,

  3. eBook Conversion.

  4. Publishing of eBook online.


Remember - eBooks have an Unlimited Return on Investment.

Once you have the eBook ready and loaded online your returns are theoretically unlimited as your profit from sales of the eBook is not eroded by the cost of physical prints. After your initial investment has been recouped, every cent you make is pure, undiluted profit and you would never have to lift a finger as readers will be  purchasing your eBook online through stores like Amazon. This is where the traditional printing industry falls short. An added bonus here is that the eBook sales reports are all immediately available through most online portals such as Amazon.


Want to reduce the cost of publishing online?

Here are my recommendations to aid those authors looking to save money.


Saving money on your eBook Cover Design

Covers can be created by using standard or stock photos from one of these free options;




Once you have found the images you want to include on your Kindle cover, stich everything together using one of these two graphic-editing platforms (Obviously the eBook cover will need to obey certain specs depending on the eBook store you plan to publish through.)




Here are the Smashword cover requirements.

As an update, authors who are publishing via Amazon KDP will now have access to the free cover design feature. Whilst it wont create a best-selling concept, I have used this in the past to create covers for desperate authors.


Saving money on Proof Reading

This should obviously be handled by the most competent editor your money can afford. Costs cannot easily be cut here, however, here are some things authors can do to reduce the cost of hiring an editor.


Saving money on eBook Conversion

If you are feeling very brave and have a technical background you can convert your book into eBook formats (EPUB or MOBI) using the following free-to-use eBook conversion software Calibre. Calibre does has a steep learning curve, be warned!

If Calibre seems a bit too confusing to understand and your eBook is fairly simple fiction-type layout, you would be better-off using the automated conversion systems found both in the Smashwords and Amazon KDP platforms. Just a word of caution, before attempting to have either platform automatically convert your MS Word manuscript into eBook format, read the appropriate style guide first!

Download the Smashwords style guide

Download the Kindle eBook Style Guide


Saving money on eBook Publishing online

So you have the converted eBook files, here is how to reach your readers by publishing online.

First we need a great international eBook sales platform and the one I would recommend using is I recommend Smashwords for a number of reasons;

  1. They have partnerships with the Apple (iBookstore) and Barnes and Noble and many other online eBook stores.

  2. Load your eBook on the Smashwords platform once and it gets shared through multiple online retailers via one interface.

  3. To reach the most readers through Smashword's expanded distribution option, make sure you pay attention to their eBook formatting requirements.

  4. Smashwords collect royalties from all partner eBook retailers and  pay you royalties using Paypal  (South African Authors can access Paypal through FNB.)

  5. The also offer the free "Meatgrinder" eBook conversion service.


The next step is to load your eBook onto Smashwords. Here is an youtube video by author Paul Salvette on how to load your Book onto Smashwords. 




Whilst it is definitely possible to publish your Book online for next-to-nothing,  one should never cut certain essential services out such as proof reading as this will cost you dearly in lost revenue. A poorly-written eBook or one with a shoddy cover and formatting errors will likely damage your reputation with readers and only make it harder to sell your next book.





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