Self-publishing is hot right now.
Yet with hundreds of books published each day, it’s more important than ever to make sure your self-published book stands out from the crowd.
You don’t just want to self-publish. You want to self-publish well.
The websites, apps and tools on this list will help you do just that. From getting your manuscript down on paper, to formatting for publication, to distribution and marketing, these resources will help you every step of the way.
We’ve sorted the resources into seven categories: Websites and blogs, general self-publishing courses and toolkits, writing, format and design, cover design, marketing, and distribution.
Let’s get to it!
Websites and blogs
ALLi is a membership community for authors who self-publish. With multiple membership levels starting at $75 per year, ALLi offers an international network of authors and professional advisors, forums, online workshops, guides, a self-publishing services directory and more.
This organization puts a strong emphasis on ethics and excellence, so you’re sure to get quality support.
Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport are bestselling self-published authors and marketing experts. Along with a blog filled with helpful tips, tricks, and advice, they also produce the Authority Self-Publishing podcast, which covers how to grow your author platform, market your books, and build a business around your self-publishing.
Be on the lookout for the next registration round for their course, Authority Pub Academy.
With tons of self-publishing guides, advice, templates, and toolkits, The Book Designer is the go-to place for navigating the publishing world. Joel Friedlander believes every author can make an impact — they just need to get their book out there! With his experience in book design and advertising, he’ll show you how.
Not sure where to start? Check out Friedlander’s book A Self-Publisher’s Companion for words of wisdom.
As an author, editor and investigative journalist, Mick Rooney is serious about bringing you the latest from the independent publishing world. Here you’ll find an expert’s perspective on the future of self-publishing and the reform needed in the industry — along with reviews of many paid-publishing services from printers both large and small.
Don’t miss Rooney’s monthly Publishing Service Index, a comprehensive ranking of self-publishing companies.
Self-publishing courses and toolkits
Who says you can’t make money off your technical writing? Odds are, you’re an expert in something, and Nathan Barry wants to help you self-publish a book around your expertise.
Starting at $179, Authority packages include a 160-page guide, video tutorials, video interviews, and other materials to help you write your book and build a following around it.
When it comes to self-publishing, best-selling author and entrepreneur Chandler Bolt believes anyone can do it — even if you don’t have a lot of time or writing experience. For $297, The Self-Publishing Success Summit includes access to more than 35 expert interviews and insider secrets on book writing, marketing and monetizing.
He dishes his best advice for learning how to write and publish a book in a timely fashion in addition to continuously providing readers with his free training webinar where you’ll learn how to turn your idea into a completed, ready-to-self-publish book.
Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Publishing is a great primer to the publishing world and can help you decide between traditional and self-publishing methods. This package features guides on book marketing, writing a proposal, and community building, and also includes interviews with top editors.
Prices range from $58-$129, depending on the package.
Scrivener is a powerful writing tool that helps you organize research and easily structure long documents. It’s the word processor specifically made for writers — though it does have a steep learning curve. When you’re done writing, you can export your work in ready-to-go formats for ePub, Kindle, iBooks and more.
Scrivener is the secret to success for so many authors. But the software can be hard to learn and get used to — and because it has so many features, most authors are definitely not taking full advantage of the software. With Joseph Michael’s course, you’ll be a Scrivener pro in no time.
Pricing starts at $127.
10. Author 2.0 Blueprint and Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn
In these free ebooks, Joanna Penn gets in depth on the writing and self-publishing process from start to finish. She walks through how to accomplish your first draft, explore publishing options, and build your platform as an author-entrepreneur.
You’ll also learn how to go about formatting, distributing and marketing your book so that it’s a complete success.
Formatting and design
This e-book library management application lets you convert your content to and from an extensive list of formats. The conversion feature automatically detects book structure, and the application has a built-in editor where you can preview your changes in real time.
Calibre is free, open source and available for both Windows and macOS — and even Linux, for you super nerds.
12. iBooks Author
This free app for macOS makes it easy to create a awesome-looking book. It features drag-and-drop templates and support for movies, audio and widgets, making it a great option for a multi-sensory and interactive experience. iBooks Author is also an author favorite for creating textbooks, since it elegantly supports charts, graphs, and mathematical expressions.
With Pressbooks, you don’t need to know anything about design to make a great-looking book. This online writing software has designs for all types of books, from novels and memoirs to white papers and textbooks.
When you’re ready to publish, Pressbooks will deliver files optimized for all major ebook platforms along with print-ready files for publishing hard copies through services like CreateSpace and IngramSpark. You can use the software for free with Pressbooks watermarks in your book, or pay to remove watermarks starting at $19.99 per book.
Streetlib is a one-stop shop to write, publish and sell your book. With this free online software, you can draft and edit your content, choose from a set of beautiful themes, and download ready-to-go files for all major platforms.
If you wish, you can have Streetlib handle publishing of your book on any platforms of your choosing — in which case, Streetlib receives 10 percent of each book sold.
Vellum helps you polish the look of your book and get it ready for publication. Simply upload your file and use the Book Styles feature to add a coordinated set of typography and flourishes. Then preview and export your book for all major ebook platforms including iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Google Play.
Vellum is only available for macOS systems, and offers two purchase options: Vellum Ebooks, which allows you to create unlimited ebooks for $199.99, or Vellum Press, which covers both digital and paper tomes for $249.99.
(Check out this review TWL contributor Blake Atwood wrote about Vellum.)
These ready-to-use templates for Microsoft Word and InDesign are a great alternative to the high cost of professional design services. Joel Friedlander (of The Book Designer, mentioned above) takes care of the major details — like typography and industry-standard formatting — so you can add your custom text and be ready to go with a professional-looking book.
Licenses start at $59 regularly, but certain designs do go on sale from time to time.
At 99Designs, you can pick from a selection of custom-designed covers to find the perfect one for your book. Start by filling out a questionnaire so designers can get an idea of what you’re looking for. Designers submit their ideas, and after a few rounds of feedback, you pick the winner.
Packages start at $299, with more expensive packages guaranteeing more designs to choose from and more expert designers. You can also choose the “hire a designer” option to work with a designer of your choosing directly; estimated pricing starts at $249 and runs to $699.
18. DIY Book Covers
This resource gives you access to everything you need to design a beautiful book cover: Tutorials, fonts, easy-to-edit templates, promotional materials, and more.
No design skills are necessary to create a unique cover to fit your book!
SelfPubBookCovers.com boasts a huge selection of pre-made book covers that are ready for you to customize and download immediately. Once you buy a book cover it is never sold again, ensuring your book is one of a kind.
Covers start as low as $69.
Want to sell more books? Jim Krukal knows that is takes a village to get your self-published book off the ground. In this community, members get access to tools, promotional opportunities, video courses, and other resources that help with everything from formatting your Amazon description to finding more reviewers.
A lifetime membership to the Author Marketing Club costs just $97, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you find you’re not satisfied.
Take a page from bestselling self-published author Mark Dawson, who leveraged Facebook advertising to grow his list and sell more books. You can do it too!
This masterclass also covers metadata, finding your perfect audience, and building automation sequences that introduces new readers to your writing. Choose between 12 monthly payments of $49 or a one-time sum of $497 — both of which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Martin Crosbie is an Amazon success story, having sold tens of thousands of copies of his self-published books and entering the ranks of Amazon’s top ten overall bestseller list. In his book, How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle, Crosbie shares the secrets to his success.
Crosbie offers promotional services for free ebooks at his website, BookDoggy, starting at $14 per listing. But not every book will be eligible. “We would love to accept every submission we receive,” say the requirements, “but we only pick books that we think our readers will enjoy. This takes into account the genre our readers are requesting as well as the professionalism of the product – cover, blurb, formatting, and editing of the content.” (Some erotica is accepted, however!)
In this book, independent authors Sean Platt, Johnny Truant and David Wright share their “no-luck-required” secrets to selling books. They take a business approach to publishing, and believe that when you start to think of your book as a business, you’ll be a self-publishing success in no time.
Give their Self-Publishing Podcast a listen.
It’s hard to figure out which self-publishing distribution service one is right for you — and if it’s going to provide the best customer experience. This $9.99 book from the Alliance of Independent Authors reviews and compares all the players in self-publishing, like Kindle, Createspace, Author Solutions, Lulu, IngramSpark, Apple iBooks, and more. It’s also available for the Kindle for just $4.99.
E-junkie is a well-established service for authors who want to sell directly to their audiences on their own platforms. It’s easy to get started: Set up your account, upload your product to E-junkie and embed a shopping cart wherever you want to sell your book. E-junkie handles the rest.
Authors pay a monthly subscription depending on how many products you offer. Since there aren’t any transaction fees, you can make unlimited sales without having to pay extra.
Gumroad offers a clean, customizable platform to sell your digital and physical products, and it’s a recent favorite among self-published authors who want to sell directly. Gumroad provides community-building support as well as a profile feature, so your audience can see all your works at once.
Pricing starts at $10 per month, which includes unlimited bandwidth.
Draft2Digital makes distributing your book easy. Create an account, upload your book, set a price, and choose where you want to sell. Draft2Digital works with many major book vendors, including Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Scribd, and CreateSpace.
At Draft2Digital, everything about your book and distribution platforms is in one easy place. Though there aren’t any set-up or monthly costs, they keep about 10 percent of the sales price whenever you sell a copy of your book.
As the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks, Smashwords lets you bypass having to deal with multiple author platforms by letting you upload your book and immediately start selling at more than 20 ebook retailers.
Authors have control over pricing, marketing and sampling of their book, and Smashwords offers free marketing and sales reporting tools to help you make the most of your launch. Smashwords is free to get started, and they only get paid when your books sell.
It depends on the retailer, but generally you get to keep 60-80 percent of each sale.
Self-publishers, what are your favorite resources from this list? What would you add?
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This post was updated in October 2018 so it’s more useful and relevant for our readers! It was originally written by Marisol Dahl and updated by The Write Life team.