How To (Self)Publish Books On a Budget (updated April 5. 2021)

It’s possible. And if it’s your first book, you might have no other choice. Unless you’re filthy rich, but again, then you should go somewhere else.

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

A book, isn’t a book, isn’t a book

My book is a small book. It’s a season with six short episodes. The total word count, a whopping 13 000 words.

What you DO need to spend money on

Before I start being assertive, and I will be, trust me, I have to repeat my disclaimer: I am not a professional publisher or an experienced, published author. I write this before my first book is out.

1. A Professional Editor

There are several ways to edit a book, some would argue six. I will focus on the two edits I think is the most important (three if you count proofreading, but more on that later):

  • Copy edit.

A professional cover designer

No disclaimer here. This is a universal truth. Don’t be cheap when it comes to the cover design.

Cover sells.

It doesn’t matter what you think is pretty. You have made a product, and the buyers of those products are expecting a certain package. Are you writing a cozy mystery, well then you better be making a cozy mystery genre-specific cover. *Cozy mystery writer waving at you*.

What you SHOULD spend money on

These are things you can do yourself but will take a lot of time and frustration to get done right.

Keyword, categories, and competitor analyses.

Keywords and categories are extremely important to make your book visible to people that search for your type of book. In KDP (Amazon), you have two (but really ten if you ask nicely) categories. You also have to insert seven keywords. These are words or phrases people search for to find your type of book.

Description, aka Blurb

The description is your sales pitch. Your 2–300 words to get potential buyers to press the button. It’s almost as important as the cover, but only almost.


This is also in a way defined as editing. This is the final quality check before it gets published. If you have friends/family that are writers and/or vivid readers and preferably typo-hunters, you can use them.

What you CAN wait with

This is what you probably shouldn’t spend any money on out the gate. Especially if you are writing a series and this is the first book.

Ads (AMS, Facebook, BookBub)

I have spent a good chunk on marketing, trying to learn the ropes. But I will not spend much on it before I release book number two. I learned that in the twelfth hour, ready to pull the trigger.

Promotional sites

The same as ads. Many promotional sites require you to have reviews. You will probably don’t have that off the gate unless you have a review team or a huge following.

Farewell and a bonus tip

Thank you for reading. I hope it wasn’t too messy with all the updates. If it is, please tell me. I will make version 2.0 of this article in the future, but I want more experience first.

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Father, writer, aspiring blogger, connoisseur of everyday joy and professional procrastinator.

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