How to self-publish an eBook and become an Indie Author on a ZERO budget in ten steps

I wrote this blog post based on my own experience as an Indie Author, having illustrated and self-published my children’s book “Happy Friends” in March 2016. I advise you to bookmark and return to this page often as I intend to update it regularly.

You wrote a book or you’re almost done writing it.

What’s next?

You could go two ways. You could submit your manuscript to mainstream publishers and wait … then wait some more OR, with eye wide open and a dry mouth, you could take the road “less traveled” and become an Indie.

What does Indie means? Indie is the abbreviation for “independent”, a term first used in the 1920s with reference to film production.

Join a 100 years long industry. If they succeeded, so can YOU, you and your MS Word manuscript.

Self-publish your e-book on a ZERO BUDGET.

  1. “Stop wishing. Start doing.”


This is crucial to your work, to good reviews and customers.

Search Twitter or Facebook for emerging proofreaders / editors willing do it for free in an exchange for a reference from you. Or find a student in the field looking to broaden his experience. If you don’t have social media accounts create them now, they’re FREE.

Proofreading means correcting spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation or formatting errors.

Editing looks into depths. It will consider the way you present your ideas, making your manuscript easier to read.

When on a zero budget you have to do what best works for you in order to move forward on your self-publishing road.


  1. “Don’t watch the clock. Do what it does, keep going.”


Don’t worry about a book cover at this stage as Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP (Amazon’s own publishing platform) provides FREE templates you can edit and use.


  1. “Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.”

HOW TO get your book ON AMAZON for FREE.

One of the best places to first publish your eBook is on Amazon, using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s eBook publishing platform. Publishing here will take a few minutes and subsequently your book will appear on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours, available for all Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps. Publish once and sell worldwide on all the Amazon sites.

What is great about self-publishing an eBook is that you can make changes even after publishing your book. You just upload the new file!

Step 1.Sign up for a free KDP account on

Step 2.Format your book for FREE.

To publish your eBook on Amazon your manuscript must have specific formatting.

I recommend you read and use “Building Your Book for Kindle, Kindle Edition”. It is a VERY easy to follow, FREE step by step guide on how to format your book to easy self-publish it on Kindle found here.

If you’re a MAC user, then you might want to download “Building Your Book for Kindle for MAC, Kindle Edition“.

Your book cover will be taken care of at this step, during the uploading process.

Step 3.Enroll your book in KDP Select. It is a FREE PROMOTIONAL program.

At least for the first three month (as enrollment in KDP Select is renewed quarterly) I advise that you do enroll your book in KDP Select. You will be able to run promotions (list your book for FREE for up to five days over each three months or run a Kindle countdown deal, also for up to five days over each three months). Read more here.


  1. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

HOW TO get your own, FREE Amazon AUTHOR PAGE.

Create a FREE account on Amazon Author Central.

On your Amazon Author Page you can add a short biography (keep it short and sweet. Include something funny about yourself. Look at what other authors wrote about themselves). You can also include a photo of yourself and have a blog (more about this later). Include links to your social media accounts for your readers to follow and get in touch.

Have a look at my Amazon Author Page.

If you don’t have your own website, then your Amazon Author Page can be your home online.


  1. “Stay focused. Never give up.”

HOW TO create a FREE Goodreads ACCOUNT for yourself and a get a FREE BLOG.

Step 1.Create a Goodreads account for yourself. Goodreads is a free website for book lovers. You can see what everyone is reading, their reviews and you can post your own books and meet like-minded authors, make connections.

Search for your book on Goodreads and add yourself as the author. Now you can request Goodreads to upgrade your account to a FREE Author Account. This is important because it will give you a BLOG. Blogging increases your visibility online, where your eBook is.

Step 2.LINK your Goodreads blog to your Amazon Author Page by using RSS feeds. This way your blog posts from Goodreads will be pulled into your Amazon Author Page, thus giving your readers more information about you, the Author, and giving you more credibility.

Have a look at my Goodreads Author page.

  1. “Action is the foundation key to success.”

HOW TO get Book REVIEWS for your book for FREE.

Step 1.Search Twitter and Facebook, there are great Book Reviewers there. Keep in mind that they will have a pile of books already awaiting their review so you might have to wait for your turn.

Step 2.When your book is on a free promotion on KDP Select ask family and friends to download it for free and post a review on Amazon.

Step 3.Do a review exchange with another emerging author.

Keep in mind that each reviewer has his / her own requirements for submitting your work. Follow them and respect their time as they do give out of the goodness of their hearts and love for books. For free.


  1. “When you feel like quitting think about why you started.”

HOW TO self-publish for FREE on Barnes & Noble and Apple. And get a FREE ISBN.

Step 1.If your three months subscription on KDP Select has ended (and do make sure it is), you can put your eggs in more than one basket.

Smashwords (eBooks for Independent Authors and Publishers) distributes to: Barnes and Noble (a Fortune 500 company, the largest retail bookseller in the United States), Kobo (Canadian company which sells e-books, e-readers and tablet computers), Amazon (but you’re here already so you can opt out for this one retailer), Apple, Inktera (selling the most popular e-book titles, formerly Page Foundry), Baker & Taylor Blio, Baker-Taylor Axis360, Library Direct, OverDrive, Scribd (digital library and e-book, audio-book and comic suetail, Yuzu, Tolino, Odilo, Gardners Library.

Create a FREE Smashwords account then edit your Smashwords Author page. There is even an interview that you can do there and, voila, you’ll have your very own Author Interview on your Smashwords Author Page. For FREE!

Have a look at my Smashwords Author Page.

Step 2.Format your manuscript for Smashwords as they have their own formatting requirements. You can download the Smashwords Style Guide for FREE.

Be patient and follow their requirements to the letter and soon enough you will be able to upload your eBook on Smashwords too.

Step 3.Now you will need a book cover. Smashwords does not provide a free book cover template.


  1. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

HOW TO create your own book cover for FREE, all by yourself.

This is your last push. You’ve come so far, you can do it. And you can do it in Paint! Remember, you want to design a book cover that looks good as a thumbnail, the way it would look on a webpage.

Step 1.Find a background picture that suits your book genre. Look at Unsplash, FREE high-resolution photos, as they have amazing pictures.

Step 2.Open the picture in Paint and include Title and Author Name only. This is important as what appears on your Smashwords Book Cover has to match 100% the info you include under title and author when you upload your eBook file.

Step 3.Save your cover. Follow the Smashwords Style Guide’s requirements for cover size. To edit your pictures you can download IrfanView for FREE.

Step 4.Upload work and cover onto Smashwords and patiently wait for their confirmation emails. You want to hear from them that your book made it into the Smashwords Premium Catalog. If they tell you there are things to be fixed, then fix them and upload again.

You can now upload your new book cover onto Amazon too, to keep your eBook’s appearance uniform on the internet.


  1. “Nothing great ever came that easy.”

Pricing your eBook.

Again, less is more. Books between $2.99 to $5.99 bring the most profits due to higher sales. Search similar books to yours to get an idea.


  1. “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

HOW TO MARKET your eBook for FREE.

Step 1.Marketing your book means creating awareness. This will require all the social platforms you’re on. You can create your own book promos by using pictures and text.

Step 2.Remember, Twitter and Facebook are great platforms to establish connections with like-minded authors and learn from them; they hardly sell your books. But you could land a few author interviews here, hosted on other author’s blogs – which will increase your exposure as an author, thus increasing your chances to sell more books.

Step 3.Use your blog. Write about what you like or what you know. It will create awareness about you, the Author.

Well done, now you’re a published eBook author!

by Patricia Furstenberg

REMEMBER: bookmark this page and return often to check for new updates as self-publishing and marketing are continuous activities.

This article was first published as a Guest Post on O.D.BookReviews on 15 October 2016.

Please follow and share:

Author: Pat

Patricia Furstenberg is a skilled and diverse author, poetess and mother, known for her uplifting, charming themes and lovable, enchanting characters: dogs, cats, elephants, cheetahs, lions, but also squirrels and snails. Her words “truly make the world a happier and more beautiful place!” Her book "Joyful Trouble" is an Amazon Bestseller. Her book of poems "As Good As Gold" became a #1 New Release the day it was published. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain and education and the psychology behind it. Using her knowledge she crafts stories and poems that are great fun, as well as teaching empathy. Her stories are filled with “creativity and vivid imagery” and she knows how to “capture the reader’s imagination.” Her prolific writing is described as: positive, diverse, crisp, joyful and uplifting. Patricia Furstenberg came to writing though reading, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents. As a winner of the Write Your Own Christie Competition, the Judges "were impressed by her thorough investigation and admired the strength of her narrative; they were impressed by her style”. The judges thought Patricia's writing style is "well structured, with a great sense of tension and suspense”, “confident and intriguing”. The Judges were Mathew Prichard, David Brawn from Harper Collins UK and Daniel Mallory from Harper Collins US. When she’s not writing Patricia likes to read, read, read and dance. She never counts how many cups of coffee she enjoys in a day. Between her books you can also enjoy: "The Cheetah and the Dog", "Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles", "The Elephant and the Sheep" and many others. She is a Huffington Post contributor.

8 thoughts on “How to self-publish an eBook and become an Indie Author on a ZERO budget in ten steps”

  1. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you
    get the issue resolved soon. Thanks

  2. Hi! I’ve been reading your weblog for a long
    time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx!

    Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

  3. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?

    Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to
    see a great blog like this one nowadays.

Comments are closed.