Quora Question — Can you create and market ebooks for free? — post by Mary C. Findley

Image of ebook and money changing hands from pixabay by Mohamed-hassan

Sorry, I don’t remember the exact question but this is the gist of it: Seeking a magic formula for how to create, sell, and market ebooks for free. Sometimes I want to explode at people who want everything to be free, plus make them money. But I realized that this is almost exactly how I have approached our book publishing endeavors, so I decided to give serious consideration to and seriously answer this question. Here is what I wrote:

I may be the closest thing to living out the answer to this question, because I am the main writer and only editor, formatter, layout and design creator, book cover artist, and uploader of all our Findley Family Video Publications books, in ebook, paperback, and hardcover formats, plus the recorder, producer, and uploader of our audiobooks. (I should say audiobook, because there is only one so far.)

The only cost I have is when I choose to use stock images from paid sites for the covers. I buy Depositphotos packs of 100 images for around $40 when they go on sale. My copy of Microsoft Word 2010 was given to me. My design program, Photo Impact, came free with a video creation program we got years ago but only cost $35 when I had to repurchase it. Atlantis Word Processor creates my epubs and cost, again, about $35 when I bought it. Uploading and publishing to the multiple platforms has no cost. (IngramSpark is an exception but I don’t use it for that reason.)

Amazon and draft 2 Digital do not charge anything except to purchase author copies of paper and hardbacks. (I know the question was about ebooks but these other formats are also free to create, and potentially give buyers more options to choose what they like, so why not do them?)

As far as marketing, you can develop relationships online and in real life and market to people through all kinds of free platforms. I think my system is the closest to free anyone can hope to get. You can find free images here and there on the internet, marked public domain or with “give credit and use freely” types of licenses, so you don’t ever have to pay for images if you don’t want to.

But calling all this free is kind of a fallacy. Here’s why: You need a computer. You need a reliable internet connection. But most of all, you need to learn how all these things are done. The writing, the editing, the formatting, the design skills, the knowing when, where, and how to share marketing posts and messages, all require at least learning the skills and knowledge necessary to create books and tell people about them.

This takes years, and it can be self-taught, but you have to take the time to learn the skills, to pick the brains of others who do it, and by trial and error find your own way to make it all work. I will be 65 this year, in 2022. I have been publishing since about 2008. Before that, I had to acquire knowledge and skills, sometimes by formal education, most often by listening, asking questions, scratching out knowledge, and failing a lot before getting it all to work to produce books that reach at least some readers every month. That’s how I do it. How you do it is up to you. It might be free, but it certainly won’t be easy.

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