Like most things in life, self publishing takes a lot of either time or money. So when you can get the results you want without spending much–if any–money, it’s totally worth it! There are a lot of resources out there, but I’ve personally tried all of these ones and can recommend them to you as something you’ll actually use.
1. Libre Office
In a lot of writer forums I constantly see the question, “What’s the best software to write a book in?” The answer is really what you’ll use. And if you want to use something free, try Libre Office. It’s open source software that rivals the Microsoft Office suite, including alternatives to Word, Excel, Publisher, etc. You can even use it to format your novel for print.
2. Google Docs
Another free tool to write your story in is Google Docs. I like this one because my writing saves every few minutes, and is always backed up. Here you can use a word processor and even spreadsheets (I like these for plotting and making lists).
Access it anywhere you want to sign into Google, even from your phone, if you have a random idea you need to write down.
Further down the line of the publishing process, many writers get stuck on how to turn their book into an ebook. Calibre is free software you can use to format your novel into an ebook, into several document types like EPUB and MOBI which are the most popular.
I use this to create my eARCs, electronic Advance Reader Copies, which I distribute to reviewers before the official book launch.
4. Kindle Create
Straight from Amazon’s KDP itself, this free software can be used to format your book into an ebook, but only into the format to upload to KDP. It will export a unique file type that will NOT open on your computer, or even in Calibre.
You’ll only be able to see the preview inside the Kindle Create application, and then again after you upload it to KDP.
I like this software because I know KDP will be getting a file type that will work perfectly for them.
Need free software to create a book cover, marketing materials, or social media graphics? GIMP is essentially a photoshop-esque software you can get for free. Be warned, there is a steep learning curve, even if you’ve used Photoshop before.
An alternative to GIMP and Photoshop–though not free–is Affinity Photo. I recently switched to this software because it’s a one time purchase that was less than half of the annual subscription of Photoshop, and so far I’ve found it entirely comparable to Photoshop.
A much more user-friendly graphics generator, Canva is free but they do want you to upgrade to pro for a monthly or annual fee. Even using the free version, you’ll stumble across some photos that are not free, so just keep an eye out for those.
I like Canva because you can make a simple social media graphic that’s just the right size pretty quickly, but one downside you’ll want to keep in mind is that every other person using the app can make a very similar looking graphic. The same goes for book covers made using Canva.
(For example, I made a graphic for Pinterest using Canva, and when I pinned it, Pinterest showed me perhaps 15 other pins which clearly used the same template)
Another graphics generator, this one is great for making animated videos or GIFs. I actually like to use Canva and Pixaloop in conjunction to make a plain picture in Canva, and then add video elements in Pixaloop.
It’s a free app that again has the option to upgrade to Pro, so not all of the video elements are available for the free version, but what’s there is pretty cool still!
8. Story Origin
This website is free for writers and authors to join and use, and there’s a lot of things you can do there.
It’s great for growing your author newsletter–by joining group promotions and newsletter swaps, and for adding a reader magnet (a free usually short story that people receive as an incentive for signing up for your newsletter).
It also offers opportunities to get reviews on your books and audiobooks, and there’s even a section to help you plan your newsletter campaigns.