Top 5 Sites to Self-Publish eBooks for Free

These days, you don’t have to get accepted by a traditional publishing company to realize your dream of becoming a published author. Instead of jumping through hoops to get editors to accept your manuscript, you can go straight to your target audience. 

Another good news is you can do it for free. We've compiled a list of the top sites where you can self-publish eBooks for free so you choose the one that best suits you.

Related Reading: How to Sell Books on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing Your First eBook

First and foremost, we have to clarify that self-publish eBooks can get costly, especially since you’re not only writing the book—you’re also responsible for the cover design, the marketing, and everything in between. 

Normally, an author who intends to self-publish their ebook may need to spend a few bucks to pay an editor and a designer for the book cover.

While this article lists sites where you can publish your eBook for free, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to shell out a couple of bucks for the other steps toward publication. You can always DIY your cover and reread your manuscript multiple times to ensure there are no typos, but it’s always better to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at your work before you make it available to the public.

Where to Get Cover Designs for Your eBook

We’ve been asked many times for recommendations on where we find graphic designers to create A+ designs. Several sites offer these services, but interestingly, Fiverr is one of the best options.

The biggest downside to using Fiverr is that the design may have a generic feel, but considering the price, it's a great option, especially for first-time authors.

In general, there are two ways to distribute your eBook to a broad audience:

  • Book distributors. You can sell your book through online stores that own publishing platforms like Amazon. This is the easiest option to publish your book because you simply have to upload it and mark it for sale.
  • Aggregators. You can use aggregator services like Smashwords to distribute your book to various retailers at the same time. This option can save you time but expect to pay an additional fee for their services.

Regardless of the option you choose, you will get most of the profits. However, it's important to consider the fine print when you use self-publishing platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Pay special attention to the amount of royalties you'll receive, the overall process, and how much exposure your book will get by using their platform. We'll explore these factors more in the next section.

Top 5 Sites to Self-Publish eBooks for Free

If you’re a first-time author who is looking for a low-risk outlet to get your work out in the open, these are some of the best sites to consider.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, also known as Amazon KDP, is one of the most popular free self-publishing platforms. 

This is because a large number of users utilize this platform, resulting in greater visibility for your book. In the United States alone, Amazon makes up 40% of self-published digital books. 

The downside of publishing your eBook on Amazon KDP is that you have to wait for 90 days before publishing it on any other eBook platform. Fortunately, this restriction is only temporary.

Amazon KDP

The following article can help you become familiar with the KDP Select program: How to Publish Your Book on Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Barnes & Noble Press

Barnes & Noble is probably the second most popular self-publishing platform and currently, Amazon KDP’s biggest competitor. It also offers print-on-demand services.


Apple Books

Apple Books is another major online retailer in the eBook field since it has a potential customer base of over 1.5 billion Mac users. It was originally called iBooks but is now known as Apple Books.  

The downside of this app is you cannot directly upload your books to the platform if you're not a Mac user. You'll need to rely on major book aggregators if you want to do so.

Apple books

Google Play Books

Google allows authors to publish and sell their books on Google Play Books. It’s available in 75 countries and has been downloaded over 1 billion times worldwide.

Getting your book published on this free platform will help you rank on Google and gain exposure for search on the biggest search engine, which improves your visibility. 

Also, Google doesn't demand exclusivity like Amazon KDP requires, so you are free to publish your book on multiple platforms.

Google Play Books

Rakuten Kobo Writing Life

Kobo is a Canadian-based company (a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten) and a popular international ebook retailer available in over 190 countries worldwide.

This can be a significant benefit for authors looking to expand their global reach and connect with readers outside of the US.


Other Popular Self-Publishing Platforms

  • Smashwords. The platform offers free tools and services to help authors format and publish their ebooks for free.
  • Lulu. Another popular platform that allows authors to create, publish, and sell their books in both print and ebook formats.
  • DraftDigital is a free ebook distribution platform that allows authors to self-publish eBooks and distribute them to various retailers and libraries.

How Much Can You Earn by Self-Publish an eBook?

As we mentioned above, when you choose to self-publish eBooks, you must consider the upfront costs of editing, cover design, and book marketing. However, you retain the rights to your book and receive a larger share of the royalties.

As a rough approximation, self-publishing can earn authors between 50-70% of the royalties.

Self-Publish eBooks for Free

Summary of the Top Sites to Self-Publish eBooks for Free

PlatformRoyaltiesSupported Formats
Amazon KDP logo 70% royalty on eBooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99, or a 35% royalty if the price is set below $2.99DOC, PDF, HTML, Kindle Package Format, OBI, and ePUB
70% on eBooks priced above $0.99HTML, DOC, DOCX, TXT, or EPUB
add media snip 70% regardless of the price of the eBookPDF and ePub format
add media snip 70% regardless of the price of the eBookPDF and ePub format
add media snip 70% royalty on eBooks priced more than $2.99, or a 45% royalty if the price is set below $2.99EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, and MOBI

Final Thoughts

If you're looking to publish an eBook, there are plenty of companies that offer free self-publishing options. 

Some of these companies even offer print-on-demand options so your audience can get a physical copy of your book.  But of course, if you're publishing a paperback or hardcover book, keep in mind that there will be production and shipping costs per copy that the platform has to charge for.

Have you ever self-published an eBook on any of the platforms listed above? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below!

Helena Fernandez Morano

I'm proud to be part of an amazing group of talented political scientists who never shy away from blazing new trails, especially in uncertain times. Outside of my work in this field, I delve into the fascinating world of eCommerce. I'm always eager to join projects with scope, where I can team up with people who inspire me.

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  1. Very useful and informative article. I have just published my first ebook on Amazon KDP. I really enjoyed thr process.

    Yes, for 90 days I can’t publish my book on any other platform. But through your article I will definitely try other platforms for my next book.

    Thanks and regards.

    1. Thank you for your comment and congratulations on publishing your first ebook on Amazon KDP! I’m glad you found the article useful and informative.

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