Self-publishing an ebook for fun
May 10, 2016 3:19 PM   Subscribe

I have written a book which I would like to self-pub as an ebook. But I don't necessarily want to sell it.

On a lark, I have written a romance novella which I would like to have readers for. However! I am not happy with any of the publishing routes I'm aware of. I'd love to hear people's thoughts.

Actual creation of the book in various formats is not a problem, so no need to worry about that.

I thought about submitting to one of the e-book-only romance publishers, but I've been writing all my life and a) hate surrendering rights, and b) have had mostly bad experiences with editors. Also, this is not the beginning of a new career for me; it's a one-off. Even published in this way, I wouldn't expect it to make enough money to matter, so I'm not highly motivated to do this.

What I want:

The book should be publicly available. My many fans should be able give a URL to friends, or tweet it, and people should be able to get to it and download it without having to interact with me, and vice versa.

It should be downloadable for free or nearly free, but people should have an option to pay me a little something out of love or pity, should they be moved to do so.

The page should be something like a webpage, with space to describe the book and make it sound appealing, rather than just file links.

Those are pretty much the criteria. Here are options I've considered that I don't think will work. I may be overlooking things, so feel free to argue that one of these is actually a better option than I realize.

Hosting it at my own website. I don't have an active website at the moment, and don't plan to. I don't want to have to create and maintain a website just for this little project if I can avoid it.

Publishing through Amazon. I want people to be able to get the book in various formats, and for free. If I decide selling on Amazon is a good primary distribution method, I'll go ahead and submit to publishers and see where that gets me.

Self-publishing at A good option, but limited to publishing epub and pdf files. My perfect option would allow for readers to choose epub, mobi, or pdf from a single site, and would have only a single site for me to keep up-to-date.

Gumroad or the like. This would be a good option, but there are hosting fees. If I were planning to try to market and sell a book, I'd probably go ahead with something like this for 10 bucks/month. I don't want to have ongoing costs, however low, for something I don't expect to generate income.

Dropbox. No option to pay for it. I don't really expect people to pay, but I don't want to make it impossible for them to do so. Also, there's no option for an attractive landing page.

What I want may not exist, but if it does, please tell me. I recognize that to make this happen I will probably have to decide to put in time (to create and maintain a website) or money (to host it at gumroad or the like). But I'm not ready to give up just yet.
posted by not that girl to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You can create a free website at ( You can create a basic landing page, and your Web address will be something like
posted by hydra77 at 3:34 PM on May 10, 2016

Smashwords! It sounds like exactly what you want. It supports reader-set prices, you can download works in your choice of MOBI, EPUB, PDF, and RTF, and you can even put stuff on both Smashwords and Amazon at the same time if you want. And they only take a cut of the selling price, no other fees. And you get a landing page with space to describe the book.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:42 PM on May 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

We'll totally host it at Open Library and people will get a great flippy thing to page through. The "pay" option is a little convoluted, you'd have to add a note on your author page but it's possible. We host some of Smashwords' stuff. Feel free to ping me offline if you want to chitchat more about this, it's a good backup option, in any case.
posted by jessamyn at 4:06 PM on May 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

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