How to Self-Publish an eBook

We love eBooks as a way to spread ideas while generating passive income for your business. The best part is, once you have created your eBook, it can generate passive income for you on an ongoing basis, even when you are not specifically focused on sales. 

Every eBook is going to be different. Although the term eBook is common, it can really be any kind of digital download. A recipe book, a novel, and an illustrated children’s book… They all look different, and will take different paths to create. If you’re about to self-publish an eBook (first of all – amazing, we are cheering you on!), here’s where we suggest you start.

Consider hiring a freelancer, if needed.

Determine where you might need support, perhaps where your skill set cannot take you. If you are needing someone to help you create images or illustrations for your eBook, we recommend (and have used) Upwork, a freelancing website where businesses and independent professionals like graphic designers collaborate on projects remotely. Share your budget (in USD!) and a description of your project by following the simple form and prompts on their site. Then, freelancers will apply to work with you. Many applicants will even provide you with samples or a portfolio of past work (we recommend you ask for samples if they do not supply right away) which is essential in engaging someone who is a great fit to deliver and develop your vision!

Important: No matter how you find your freelancer, we recommend clearly communicating your needs and terms before signing (or e-signing) a contract (for example, make it clear that anything a freelancer creates for you becomes your property). Consider whether you would prefer to make payments based on project stages, or all at once. Keep these details clear in your job posting, in messages with the freelancer, and in your contract agreement. Like with hiring anyone, set very clear expectations, and all parties will be more satisfied, always. 

Decide on a publishing platform, based on your needs, wants and goals.

If you want to keep things really simple, try Payhip (it’s a quick solution to get your eBook online for download as a PDF, like we did for the Alphabet of Avoidance). Gumroad is another simple tool that lets you sell your eBooks directly on your site.

If you already use WordPress for your website, WooCommerce is a great option – it’s what we use for the e-version of The Tale of Kale.

If you have your sights set high for your eBook, and you want your title available on Amazon and Apple’s e-stores, you’ll want to look more into using services like Kindle Direct Publishing or iBooks Author.

Choose the right file type – before you start.

Know what your end goal is before you start, as the process can be very different depending on what you want to create.

If your book is meant largely in part to be read on desktop (think: a short recipe book or a short children’s book with illustrations), publishing your book as a PDF is the best option, and it will help you keep your desired formatting. For our own books (like The Tale of Kale), we design each page deliberately, and then export the full document as a PDF. This way, we ensure that our design’s integrity is left in tact, and nothing shifts (not mobile responsive).

For longer form eBooks, with less visual content (for example, a novel), create an ePub file. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s okay: ePub is the official standard format that eBooks are published in. In general, most online publishers will convert a Microsoft Word document into ePub for you, for free. It makes your book accessible on eReaders, where users can increase the font size, etc.

Design and create.

If you choose to publish as a PDF, you can design your book’s layout. Work backwards: Start by figuring out the specs (dimensions) required by the service you’re using. If you don’t have strong design skills, keep things very simple, tidy, organized, and easy to read – nothing could be more important! We often set up a template for our clients that they can use, or offer the full design service. Going to your bookstore or library for inspiration always helps, too.

Note: If you are also planning on publishing hard copies of your eBook, a little more planning should go into the layout. Ensure you get your publisher’s specs and guidelines before you design and create – including how much space to leave for a barcode, and how to design and allocate space for your spine. 


Follow the instructions for the publishing service you’re using and take your eBook live! Let everyone know about it: share it socially, include a link on your website, and promote it in your newsletter and via your other engaged channels.

Remember take pride in the process, celebrate your accomplishments and promote and sell effectively and with sights on the long term goals.

Ensure a successful launch with some of our tips.



This post is a resource from The Borden Workbook, our comprehensive guide to help entrepreneurs organize and grow their small businesses. The Borden Workbook is used in conjunction with consultation with Borden Communications, or as an organized guide you can used on your own to launch, develop, and nurture your small business (starting now!). We take pride in creating a clear and humble approach to good business tactics that everyone can understand and execute.