How To Self-publish and Market Your Book On the Cheap

by Hank Quense  (mi amigo satirico)

So you wrote a book and you want to publish it.

If you’ve done any research, you’ve probably read that it can be expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, I have a list of creative ideas that can shave big bucks off your publishing project and save you a ton of time.

Publishing Ideas:

Cover art:  art work costs a lot of money.  Do one yourself.  It’s easy.  Take a sheet of printer paper and give it to your small grandchild or a neighbor’s kid with a handful of markers   After the child scribbles all over the paper, scan it to make a picture file.  Open a word processor page and set the scribbled page picture as the background image.  Then type the book’s title and your name on the page.

Everyone will think you sprang for expensive modern art work and they will be suitable impressed with your cover. Potential buyers will marvel at the cover and try to interpret what deep philosophical insights it represents.


Getting a book edited by a professional editor is expensive.  Why go with the professional when a high school kid probably knows just as much as the professional.  Hire a kid to do it and pay them a couple of bucks. (Hint: pay them a flat rate.  Don’t pay them by the typo.)

Formatting and book design:

These are more areas where ‘experts’ charge excessive money to get your book shaped up.  Does it matter? The teen who did the editing can handle the formatting.  Just tell her to make it look like an important term paper and give her ten bucks (after she finishes the job).

Marketing Ideas:

If it’s your first book, you have now discovered that you are expected to MARKET the book. And good luck with that stuff.  Really, where do people come up with these silly concepts?


This book is your masterpiece.  Don’t underprice it!  Never mind what similar books are selling for.  They have nothing to do with your book.  Price your book at least thirty-three percent more than similar books.  Potential readers will notice the premium pricing and assume that your pricier book must be superior to the cheaper books.


These are another very expensive marketing item if you chose to have a professional company make one for you.  Fortunately, smartphones now have the capability to record video.  So have someone make a video of you holding your book (right side up) and grinning and acting like you’re having a wonderful time because you’re holding the book.  Make a voice over on your computer and upload the video to YouTube.  Voila!  A book trailer at no cost!


Going around to bookstores takes a lot of time, effort and gas.  Really, isn’t it their job to know that your book is available? Ignore them and maybe they’ll shape up.


Same as bookstores.  Why do you have to do the librarian’s job?


These can be a major source of frustration and wasting time. You’ll spend many hours figuring out how to use the software.  Just picking a template on WordPress can drive you crazy.  Who has the time and money to put up with this nonsense? Find a cheap web site that has a hosting service and a few templates.  Use the template to make two or three pages. Don’t worry that thousands of others share the same website name.  Don’t listen to the self-proclaimed experts who claim this is tacky and counter-productive.  That may be true, but you’re saving lots of time and money and that trumps tacky every day of the week.

If you aren’t interested in doing this yourself, you can hire a professional web designer for a thousand dollars or more or, you can ask your grandkid to do it sometime when the kid has ten minutes to spare.

Social Media:

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram: They are all opportunities to waste gobs of time and send messages to total strangers who will ignore you because you are a total stranger.  The only good thing about the social media stuff is that it’s free.  Spend a few minutes every other month pimping your book to these total strangers.  Challenge them to find out where your book is sold and offer a discount coupon to use if they find it.

The Next Step:

Once you have all these ideas implemented, you can sit back and write another book.  You can also write articles about how the publishing industry is rigged against new authors, otherwise your book would be selling better.  You can write another article about how video games and reality TV have destroyed the minds of potential readers who would otherwise have bought your book. Another article could point out how the lame-stream media ignores important new voices in the book publishing industry, such as yourself.  Maybe you can put all this stuff into your new book.  It could be an exposé of the publishing industry.

If you do indeed sell any books by following my advice, please send me a consultant’s fee of at least 25% of the royalties.

For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.

Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced ebook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and settings. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.

Blogs & Books

Hank’s Amazon PageCreating a Story

How to Self-publish and Market a Book

Comments 9

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  1. Hi Joylene, This was a good article. I am seriously considering getting a coffee-table book of Ghost Towns and Tombstones of Saskatchewan published. Your article has given me an extra couple of things to consider. Feliz Navidad and hello Ralph!

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      That’s a great idea, Terry. Come back any time and check out Hank’s posts. They’d be a huge help for you. In case you don’t know, just put Hank Quense in the search window and all his posts will pop up. Merry Christmas to you and Rita.

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