Four Places Online to Publish Your eBook for Free

Fri, Aug 14, 2009, by jharmon

Web Talk

Do you want to publish your own book online without it costing you a penny? Check out these four places. If you’ve got a book, you could get it published on selling online in a matter of hours.

A brief introduction

I just want to make clear the subject matter is ebooks, books in an electronic format. There are plenty of sites on the Web where you can self-publish your books in print format, but all of those with which I am familiar will cost you something initially. What I’m specifically talking about below are books in various electronic forms, sometimes pdf documents or for the Amazon Kindle or other popular ebook reading devices, such as PDAs with ereading software.

Amazon Digital Text Platform (Kindle)

The Kindle, created and sold by Amazon, is a handheld device specifically made and sold for the reading of books in electronic format. Through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform you (yes, you) can publish your ebook for sale on Amazon’s Web site in electronic format for the Kindle. That means your potential customers have to have a Kindle to be able to download and read your ebook on their Kindle device. You could also decide you want to become a professional publisher of ebooks and you could begin publishing the works of other writers, as long as you’ve contracted with them to publish their works (of course).

What do you need to set up a DTP account with Amazon? Not much. A computer, of course. A bank account and a social security number or a business tax identification number. This does mean, however, you can only sell your Kindle ebooks in the United States. The Kindle hasn’t quite reached the rest of the world yet, but it soon will and I’m sure you’ll be able to publish to the rest of the world as well at that point. Also, it will be helpful if you know at least some basic html code since that coding is how Amazon ultimately provides ebooks to the Kindle. Learn the basics with the Amazon Digital Text Platform Quick Start Guide.

I’ve published a novel, two screenplays and a couple of short story collections on the Kindle. So far, my Kindle sales are pretty decent. I’m not going to get rich, but readers are finding my work available. Also, by far, the Kindle provides me with the best sales of my work. And who sets the price for your books? You do. The only restriction Amazon places upon you as an independent publisher is that you can’t sell any of your books for less than 99 cents.

Yes, it’s true. You can publish your own books now. Why wait for years and years of sending out manuscripts to editors and agents and publishers? Making it big in the publishing industry is often compared to winning the lottery, so why not get started right away? (Actually, in all fairness, the traditional publishing industry does a fantastic service, so I do not mean to speak/write badly about it, but the traditional publishing industry is not for everyone).


After the Kindle, Smashwords is my next favorite place to publish ebooks. And one of the nice things about the Smashwords site for your potential readers is they don’t need a special device to be able to read the books and stories available. Ebooks on the Smashwords sites are available for the Kindle and other ereaders, but you can also download the stories to your computer in many different formats, including pdf, html, rtf, epub and many more.

Smashwords is the easiest to use of all the ebook publishing sites listed here. It’s easy to upload your book and it’s cover, though I will suggest you download a copy and look it over to make sure it looks the way you want it; if it doesn’t, fix it then upload it again.

Another nice thing about Smashwords is that you can sell your books for whatever price you want. You can even offer the books for free, if that’s your choice. And free books can often draw potential readers to you.

One last thing: Smashwords allows your customers to read a certain percentage (set by you) of your ebooks at no cost. This makes sense to me. It gives potential customers a taste of what they could be reading. If they like what they see, they’ll buy your ebooks.


Scribd has a lot of similarities with Smashwords. It’s a site where you can upload your ebook and offer it for sale in various formats, and you can even offer your ebooks to readers for free. But Scribd is a little down on my list for a couple of reasons. First, the Web site always seems really slow and glitchy to me no matter what computer I use nor what browser I use. Second, I don’t get very many sales from Scribd.

Still, Scribd is a fairly easy to use site for uploading and selling your ebooks, and it is one more place to showcase your work. Also, of all the sites listed here, Scribd seems to have one of the best communities for budding writers and publishers.

Mobipocket eBookBase

Through its eBookBase platform, Mobipocket provides you with the opportunity to sell your ebooks to those who have ereading devices or ereading software on their computer.

I’ll be blunt. This is my least favorite of the self-publishing options available for ebook authors. Why? The uploading process is overly complicated to the point of being a nightmare. You have to download two different pieces of software, one for putting together your ebook and another just to read it, then you have to go through a lengthy and somewhat complicated process just to get your ebooks available on the Mobipocket Web site. Then there’s the fact that this site provides the least amount of sales for me. In fact, I’ve only sold two books through Mobipocket in two months. Not very impressive. And the Web site isn’t all that helpful.

Still, it’s another place to showcase and provide your work to possible readers, so I can’t shoot down the Mobipocket folks for trying. Hopefully, over time, they will provide better services.

A last note

Each of the four Web sites and companies mentioned above are different in many ways. The learning curve for publishing your books can seem quite daunting at first, but with some patience you can overcome any seeming difficulties. Don’t forget to ask questions in forums and in “Help” areas on the Web sites. These companies want to help you because they want you to make money because then they make money.

And I don’t want you going into this thinking there are not any fees at all. There are, you just don’t have to pay anything up front. All four of the sites mentioned above will take a certain percentage of your ebook sales. Sometimes it’s a hefty percentage, sometimes not. But they make more money when you are making more money.

Another thing, don’t expect to get rich from publishing your novel or whatever. Sure, it’s not impossible you could catch a sizable readership and make some money. But the truth is that even once you publish, you still have a lot of work ahead of you. After publishing, you need to begin marketing, and that can be fun, too!


Related Articles 

The Great (Hopefully) Kindle Publishing Experiment
Month One: The Kindle Publishing Experiment
10 Ways Writers Can Promote Their Work for Free

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29 Comments For This Post
  1. clafleur Says:

    i am a long way from publishing a book, but i will keep in mind what you said.

  2. jharmon Says:

    Once you have a good number of Triond articles, you could collect them into a short book, something like a chapbook. This could especially be helpful since you mostly write religious-based articles.

  3. Nikita K Says:

    Wow, I never knew about this. I, like clafleur, am a long way from publishing a book but when I do, I would like to put it up on these sites you’ve shared. Thanks a lot mate!

  4. Redburn Says:

    IS this your best? If so keep it all the time! – Redburn

  5. Ramalingam Says:

    Quite informative article;e-books, ereaders, not to speak of many other terms in ecommerce, are a separate world of their own, but helping a lot to the budding writers.Thanks for sharing.


  6. Westbrook Says:

    Good article. I will make it a favorite for future use. I will also stumble it.

  7. Jeremy James Noye Says:

    This article has inspired to me to write on a larger scale. I’ve been waiting to write a novel, and the time may be now! Thank you so much for the great article!

  8. Th3 El33t Says:

    Thanks for the information! I would love to publish something at least once in the future and this would be a great way for me to do it!

  9. Jackie118 Says:

    Could this be fate? Over the last week I’ve been looking at self publishing to see if I could get some of my history articles published. I like to take a serious historical tale and put a more humorous slant on it so was thinking about a History is Fun publication. Unfortunately all I could find were companies that would charge me the earth, even if the work was to be sold as an ‘e-book’. This sounds exactly what I’m looking for. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!!

  10. jharmon Says:

    Hey Jackie118,
    I’d suggest trying Smashwords first. It’s the easiest place to use without a big learning curve. Smashwords is a good place to cut your teeth on to learn a little about self-publishing an ebook. You can sell ebooks there or give them away free.

  11. Uma Shankari Says:

    I loved this article. You speak from experience. That shows, and counts as well.

  12. Andrew Davies Says:

    Now, if only I had enough drive to finish a book…

    Thanks for the info though!

  13. Bailey Thompson Says:

    Great article – very helpful information. I’ll probably use this in the future!

  14. agriculi Says:

    That was great thanks, I’m going to check it out. This could be the solution for me. But than there is the marketing.

  15. Scott Brooks - How to Write an Ebooks Says:

    Thanks for providing these four places to submit free ebooks. Another great site is My testing has shown content posted on to rank better in Google than content posted on It’s presently a hot Doc-sharing site.

  16. Coralina Says:

    Thank you, I will shortly be publishing a book for 8 to 12 yr olds, a short book of poems, a book of historical photographs and a book wriitten by my late partner, Lastly I will be bullying my son to put his work online. Again Thank you

  17. jharmon Says:

    Coralina, just a word of warning: It’s often not so easy to publish a book with lots of artwork and photos, especially on Amazon’s Kindle. It’s not impossible, but not easy. Just wanted to let you know you might have some work ahead of you. As always, Smashwords is usually the easiest place to get started.

  18. Barbara Amaya Says:

    I am so glad I found this article…thanks for the information, its very helpful

  19. A. L. Monsees Says:

    Another good one is, no upfront costs and you earn 80% as well as more then just the choice of ebooks as well.

  20. raman13 Says:

    Very Good Stuff

    Keep the good work on


    Best Regards

  21. raman13 Says:

    Very Good Stuff

    Keep the good work on


    Best Regards

  22. lindalulu Says:

    Nice informative article. I will keep this one at hand for future use.

  23. Anne Lyken Garner Says:

    Great information. I’ve bookmarked this.

  24. Louie Jerome Says:

    Interesting stuff. I’ve bookmarked this too!

  25. Glynis Smy Says:

    An interesting and informative article, thanks for the insight. This is something for me to consider.

  26. K.D. Storm Says:

    This was very helpful.

  27. pippe vonkuhne Says:

    very helpful. exactly what i needed. thank you

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