How to Sell eBooks Online for Free

Learn how to sell ebooks online for free with our easy guide! Maximize your profits with zero investment. Start now!

How to Sell eBooks Online for Free
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Selling eBooks online is an exciting journey that starts with your decision to share your unique story or knowledge with the world. Once you make the leap, the next step is to find the right host and distributor to showcase your work, whether that’s your own website, Amazon’s KDP, Draft2Digital, or another industry leader. From there, the opportunities are limitless.

Traditional publishers don’t want you to know how simple and cost-effective it can be to sell eBooks online for free, but that’s why we’re here. This blog post outlines a seven-step process to sell eBooks online that anyone can follow—even an alien from outer space. 

Why Selling eBooks Online is a Good Idea 

After helping tens of thousands of publishing students all over the world, here are some of the most common reasons everyday moms, dads, teachers, and even scuba divers decided to publish their very first books: 

  1. To Check It Off Their Bucket List 
  2. To Become Their Own Boss 
  3. To Help and Inspire Others 
  4. To Challenge Themselves 
  5. To Add an Additional Income Stream 

But at the end of the day, the only reason you need to publish a book is because you want to

Why eBooks are Good for Supplemental Income

Selling an eBook online can be an additional stream of supplement income for two main reasons: 

  1. Sales can roll in at any time (even when you’re sleeping or on vacation) 
  2. You can take home a bigger chunk of royalties by removing printing costs from the equation (especially if you publish through KDP) 

It’s a great way to turn your passion into financial rewards.

Different Types of eBooks

Now that you know how eBooks can be an additional source of income for you, let’s dig into the details. First off, eBooks typically come in one of two file formats: PDFs and ePUB files. 

Secondly, no matter the topic of your eBook, each file format can support the following types of content:

  1. Guide Book
    • Description: How-to books that provide step-by-step instructions.
    • Example: "A Guide to Training Your Puppy to Stop Peeing in the House"
    • Why It Works: Easy to write with structured chapters based on rules or steps.
  2. Tips Book
    • Description: Collections of practical tips on a specific topic.
    • Example: "45 Tips to Save Money for College"
    • Why It Works: Typically short and sweet, with a small section for each tip.
  3. List Book
    • Description: Books that list ways or methods to achieve something.
    • Example: "30 Best Restaurants in NYC for Couples"
    • Why It Works: Simple format, similar to tips books but focused on lists or rankings.
  4. Daily Rituals Book
    • Description: Books focused on daily habits or routines.
    • Example: "365 Morning Rituals to Start Being More Productive"
    • Why It Works: Engaging format that readers can follow daily throughout the year or a specific season.
  5. One Big Idea Book
    • Description: Focused on a single, powerful concept or idea.
    • Example: "How to Stop Smoking, Save Money, and Get Your Life Back"
    • Why It Works: Deep dive into one topic, often expanded from a blog post, article, podcast, or life experience. 
  6. Q&A Book
    • Description: Books formatted around questions and answers.
    • Example: "Your Top 20 Retirement Questions Answered"
    • Why It Works: Easy to structure and organize. 
  7. Interview Book
    • Description: Books based on interviews with experts.
    • Example: "Nurses on the Frontlines: 10 Interviews with Health Professionals About their Most Life Changing Experiences"
    • Why It Works: Provides valuable content and credibility by highlighting others’ experiences. 

How to Sell eBooks Online for Free

If you want to sell eBooks online for no cost, Amazon KDP is 100% free to use for publishing and selling books in various formats, including paperbacks, hardcovers, and eBooks. 

On the other hand, some distributors charge pretty big fees (upwards of $1k) with the promise that your book will reach more readers—don’t buy it! 

While it’s free to hit the publish button and host your book on KDP, you might still incur costs with ghostwriters, editors, or graphic designers, depending on how you approach the manuscript process. Luckily, none of these costs are required or set in stone, so you can shop around to find the right freelancer, contractor, or even software that works best for you. 

What Are the Best Places to Sell Books and Publish Them?

The best place to self-publish books and sell online will depend on your end goal. 

Do you want to prioritize recognition or distribution and sales? Is your book better suited for a global audience or a particular region? How much time do you want to dedicate to your books?  

There aren’t any right or wrong answers, by the way, but you need to be honest with yourself. 

These are the leading players in the galaxy right now: 

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Join the big leagues! Amazon KDP's platform gets your eBook in front of millions of readers worldwide. 
  • B&N Press (Formerly Nook Press): Got your sights set on the U.S. market? Barnes & Noble Press is your go-to for reaching American readers with a smooth, straightforward publishing process for those who prioritize brick-and-mortar bookstores and physical books. 
  • Apple Books: This sleek platform targets Apple users. Publishing on Apple Books means your eBook is just a tap away for all iPhone, iPad, and Mac users.
  • Kobo Writing Life: Thinking more global? Kobo Writing Life is great for international distribution, especially in Canada and Europe. Plus, they make it super simple to publish.
  • IngramSpark: Want your eBook in bookstores and libraries? IngramSpark’s massive distribution network has you covered.
  • BookBaby: Looking for the full package? BookBaby offers everything from formatting to marketing support, helping your eBook look its best and reach a wide audience.
  • Draft2Digital: Love simplicity? Draft2Digital makes publishing a breeze and distributes your eBook to multiple online retailers without a hitch.
  • Smashwords: Ready to go wide? Smashwords gets your eBook onto major retailer shelves and into libraries, with tools to help you format and market your masterpiece.

*Some of these options charge to publish and distribute your books, which is why we’ve always stuck to Amazon. Plus, Amazon is expected to take even more of the market share in the book industry for the next decade. 

7 Steps To Sell eBooks for Free

When you’re ready to sell eBooks for free, this process is specifically designed for Amazon KDP. 

Step 1: Create and Publish Your eBook

Content creation is going to be the most time-consuming part of the publishing process, at least for those of us who want to do right by our readers and put out quality information. 

  • Write Your eBook
    • Start with a clear, detailed, and optimized outline based on market and competitor research. 
    • Publishing.ai can generate these in a fraction of the time and money it would take to do it manually or hire someone to do it for you
  • Edit and Format
  • Cover Design
    • Create a book cover that makes people want to stop scrolling and immediately add your work to their shopping cart. 
    • You can use free tools like Canva or hire a designer from a platform like Fiverr.
    • Don’t be afraid to swap out your cover if your book sales hit a lull. 

Read more tips for Amazon self-publishing here to set you up for success.

Step 2: Learn from Successful Publishers

Community is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. 

We are all social creatures, and even the most successful business owners in the world couldn’t achieve what they did without others who bet on them, supported them, and mentored them. 

The only shortcut in life is learning from those ahead of you on your journey, which is exactly how Publishing.com came to be. We’re passing on decades of collective publishing knowledge, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes we did. 

The result? Our students have already earned millions of dollars in collective royalties in just the past few years. 

AIA Course

Unlike many courses that quickly become outdated, the AI Publishing Academy is backed by a full team whose sole purpose is to keep it as updated, beginner-friendly, and relevant as possible. You’ll find lessons for every step of the publishing process, making it much less overwhelming and time-consuming. 

Student Testimonials

Hear stories directly from successful students who were able to start making money publishing on their own time, even with the busiest of schedules, modest budgets, and really challenging life circumstances. 

Free Webinar

AIA is like a buffet of publishing knowledge, and this webinar is the appetizer. It’ll give you a taste of how self-publishing works, what it takes, and how it can completely change your life. Sign up for our free webinar here to discover our proven system.

Step 3: Create an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Account

By the time you get to this step, the hardest part is already done, so give yourself a pat on the back. You’re SO close to officially calling yourself a publisher. 

There are just a couple more housekeeping tasks to get out of the way: 

  • Sign Up
    • Go to the KDP website, follow the prompts, and sign up for a free account.
    • It should take less than 5 minutes.
  • Complete Your Profile
    • Fill in your author profile with relevant information, like your legal name, address, and tax information, to get paid. 
    • This step might take closer to 10 minutes. 

Step 4: Upload Your Book 

This is the step you’ve been waiting for. There’s no going back. 

After you complete #4, you’ll officially be a publisher for the rest of your life. 

  • Add Your eBook
    • Upload your formatted eBook and cover to your “Bookshelf,” then fill in the necessary details, such as title, author name, and description. 
    • This step could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on whether your manuscript is formatted properly and accepted right away. 
  • Call-to-Action
    • Stick to one call to action inside your book description to guide visitors toward purchasing your eBook.
    • Confused people don’t buy anything (write that down). 
  • Celebrate Going Live: 
    • Amazon will get to work reviewing your materials and your book will automatically go live once it’s accepted, or you’ll get an email telling you exactly what you need to fix before reuploading your work. 
    • A lot of times, the review process takes a minimum of three days, but don’t panic if it takes closer to a week. 

Step 5: Promote Your eBook and Get Reviews

It’d be pretty nice if our books just sold themselves, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for most of us. You'll need to gather book reviews on Amazon to be successful.

Here’s what to do about it: 

  • Reach Out to Your ARC Team: 
    • The goal as you finished your manuscript was to start setting up readers who would be willing to review your book during its release. 
    • This is the time to reach back out to those people and remind them that it’s launch week. 
  • Free Promotions
    • Run free promotions and sign up for Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program to increase visibility and attract reviews.
  • Focus on One Book at a Time: 
    • It can be really tempting to get straight to work on your next book, but we caution our students that it usually pays to build up your reviewer base for your current book first. 
    • We recommend to get mix getting reviews for more organic sales with outreach and investing in Amazon Kindle advertising
  • Start Seeing Results: 
    • Sure, books won’t sell themselves with zero work on your part, but once you build your reviewer base, then organic sales WILL become much more likely. 
    • It feels like magic, but the magic was really just your hard work 

Step 6: Keep Optimizing Your Book Description 

Keeping your book description and metadata updated isn’t necessarily a requirement, but your competitors will definitely be on top of it for their books, so you might want to follow suit…

  • Keep Your Book Description Updated: 
    • Play around with bold text, bullet points, and HTML formatting to highlight key points, and switch up your Call to Action if it isn’t leading to more sales. 
  • Choose Strategic Keywords: 
    • Use Amazon’s keyword tools or third-party services to find high-traffic, low-competition keywords that potential readers are likely to search for.
  • Select the Right Categories: 
    • Balance between popular and niche categories to maximize visibility.
  • Optimize Your Author Page: 
    • Link your existing Amazon Author Central profile to your KDP account or create a new one from scratch. 

Step 7: Track Your eBook Sales

You’ve put in the work, now it’s time to see those results start rolling in. 

Keeping an eye on your book’s performance helps you stay ahead of the game.

  • Adjust Strategies
    • Don’t be afraid to shake things up! Use the data to tweak your marketing and promotional tactics.
    • If a particular keyword or category isn’t bringing in the clicks, experiment with new ones. The key is to keep refining and improving.
  • Rinse and Repeat
    • You can follow these same steps for all your future eBooks, print books, and hardcovers, too. 

Your New Income Story Starts Here 

Picture this: You've published your eBook online, and it's spreading like wildfire. 

Readers from all over are downloading it, leaving enthusiastic reviews, and telling their friends. 

You're creating a supportive community, sharing your unique voice, and making a difference—all while enjoying the process. 

Oh yeah, and you’re getting paid to do it. 

The world is ready for your story—are you ready to share it? 

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