Avoid Scams and Self-Publish For Free

Self-publish for free

In 2022, you don’t need to pay to publish a book. You can write, edit and design a novel without spending a penny. You can also market your book without parting with cash. And you can even self-publish for free if you know where to look.

However, as a self-published author, you will be limited to where you can publish if you want to do it completely free.

This is because the cost of an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is only absorbed by a few publishing platforms. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase your ISBNs to have complete publishing freedom.

Unfortunately, there are sharks in the water who prey on new authors. They know that writers are eager to get their book on the shelves. Because of this, they will try to play to your ego and make you promises of sales and reviews – all for the extremely low price of £X or $Y.

Don’t fall for it.

You don’t need to pay anyone anything to get your book out there. So, keep your money in your pocket and read on.

Save your cash
Save your cash

What does it mean to be published?

Published simply means that your book is available to readers – either as an ebook or in a physical form.

If your book is readily available, and you set your price right, you can sell your work to readers around the world. And hopefully, build up a fan-base who will line up for your next book.

However, even though writing and finishing a book is hard work, most new self-published authors quickly discover that writing the thing was the easy part.

Now they have to lean to learn about publishing.

Soon, they begin searching online for guidance, tips, or help to publish; eventually coming across adverts from publishing companies.

It seems like an easy fix. Pay a company to do it for you. But this is where scammers begin to come out of the woodwork.

Self-Publish for free online

The age of the internet has given us all access to things we never thought possible. And that includes the ability to get our books out into the world without traditional publishing houses.

We have a world of information at our fingertips. By accessing that information, we can learn to self-edit our work. We can learn to format and design our covers by using tools like Canva etc.

All for free. And this brings me to publishing. Which can also be done for free.

The easiest (and probably most recognisable) platform to publish your novel is through Amazon.

All you need is the document and an internet connection. The process of setting up an account and uploading your book is a very straight forward process.

It took me less than an hour to go from creating an account, to pressing the orange ‘Publish now’ button. And I’m rubbish with technology.

Once published, your book will be checked by Amazon to ensure it has real content. This is because there are some people out there that create files with little-no content in a bid to cheat the system.

But, once approved, your book will be available to Amazon customers.

And it’s not just Amazon. You can self-publish your books with:

  • Apple’s ibook
  • Kobo
  • Barnes & Noble Press
  • Smashwords
  • Draft2Digital
  • Gumroad

And many more…

All you have to do is go to their websites, choose a platform to suit you, and sign up. Then, follow their instructions and your book will be available to readers around the world in no time.

Scammers and thieves

Now, I will be upfront and state for the record, not all companies are actively trying to scam you. They just omit the reality of the results and lead you to believe that their service is the key to success.

They probably do have a few good results in their portfolio. But these are exceptions to the rule.

Companies who promise to edit, design, market and publish your work do not have your best interests at heart. They are thinking about their profit margin.

They try to recruit new authors with promises of ever-green sales and marketing campaigns.

Publishing contract
Publishing contract

You might even get a “dedicated agent” to make the experience more personal. But ask yourself this: How much does that agent get paid per month?

£2000 before tax?

If you pay the company £499.00 to do all that work for you, that agent will need to be handling four new clients each month to earn their salary. And this is before company overheads and profits are taken into account.

So, how personal is that agent really?

What actually happens is this: They take your money, edit your work (to a degree), give you a new cover, sign your book up to a few review websites, and upload your book to Amazon.

That’s it.

Why on earth would they spend weeks or months working with you to market your book? You’ve already paid them.

Their job is to recruit new authors each and every month and encourage them to pay the fee. Then, they move on to the next new writer.

Your best bet here is to reach out to other self-published authors and ask how they published their work. The #writingcommunity will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

There is also another type of scammer out there who thrives off of the dreams of new authors. And they will come across as your best friend.

They are vanity agents or vanity presses.

Predators of Publishing
Predators of Publishing

If you tried the traditional publishing route, you may have sent out query letters. I would hope that before reaching out to agents, you researched them. But in the early days as a new author, you might not have been as diligent as you could’ve been.

And this leaves the door ajar for imposters posing as literary agents.

In today’s world, it’s common to be represented by an agent whom you never meet in the flesh. They could work and live in a different part of the country. But thanks to technology, we can communicate easily without ever having to meet.

This is something that fake agents and dodgy publishers will take advantage of.

If you are contacted by a literary agent or publishing house with an offer to either represent you or publish your book, enjoy the moment. But be cautious.

Yes, this is how real lit agents make contact. And yes, representatives from publishing houses will call you if you’re work is something they want to sell.

But when the topic of money is brought up, you must pay attention.

Money should only ever flow in one direction, and that is towards the author.

An author does not pay a literary agent. Nor do they pay a publishing house. This is NOT how the industry works.

If your caller suggests that you pay for any part of the process (including editing, marketing or publishing), politely end the conversation.

Reviews and marketing

This last area will see you get inundated with emails and direct messages on social media.

When you create an author’s account on social media, you will probably start following other authors, editors, publishing houses etc. And in return, a lot will follow you back.

But when you begin sharing your progress through Tweets or posts, you’ll end up on the radar of companies (and individuals) who want you to buy their product.

Within a month of being active on Twitter, I had dozens of DMs from companies “inviting” me to sign up to their marketing programs.

“For £199.99, we will secure 20 reviews for you books release date. (Guaranteed 5 star).”

How they can make that promise, I don’t know. But they would make it nonetheless.

Paying for reviews
Paying for reviews

Then, they try to sweeten the pot. They talk about creating an author’s profile on Amazon and Goodreads, and a few other places. This is to help get the most reviews.

Don’t engage with them. You can set up the accounts yourself.

It takes minutes to set up a Goodreads account. So why pay someone to do it for you?

Also, paying for reviews is not the way to start a career as a writer. You will almost always end up out of pocket.

The best way to get reviews for free is to be an engaging and friendly human being.

In The Power of Internet Influencers, I talk about how to reach out and engage with readers and reviewers.

Twitter is a great place to meet book bloggers. Go to their blogs and read their reviews. Talk to them. Build a relationship. And if they enjoy your genre, ask them to review your book.

But the best part is this: You connect with some wonderful, like-minded people.


If you want to self-publish you book for free, you can do it.

You don’t need to pay anyone for the privilege of publishing a novel. And you most certainly shouldn’t be paying for services that you can learn to do yourself.

I understand that you will be eager to get your book into the hands of readers, but don’t rush. Your readers will always be there.

Instead, take the time to learn about book design, formatting, publishing. And then learn about marketing and reviews.

Knowledge learned through research and experience is much better than paying someone to do it for you. Especially if that person is only interested in your money.

Good luck.

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