Are you an author looking to self-publish? Are you worried about cleaning out your savings to publish your masterpiece? Worry no more!
With the advent of online self-publishing, there are dozens of platforms where you can publish for free. However, that’s not to say you won’t hire an editor or book cover designer, but as a self-published author, you can do it all yourself if you want to, especially is budget is an issue. Just keep in mind that whatever route you choose, your book will need to look polished and professional to get sales and engagement. Formatting (if you’re doing a print version), editing, and proofreading are integral pieces to the self-publishing puzzle, as is a professional, eye-catching book cover. Click here for some extra help with all these bookish puzzle pieces.
But don’t get overwhelmed, dear indie authors. Most ebook publishing platforms have built-in formatting, so no worries there. You can also make your own professional book covers in Canva, as well as make impressive promotional videos and social media posts. Here’s a helpful post on how to use Canva as an author.
And keep reading for five great fiction platforms where you can publish for free, whatever your needs might be.
Best for speculative fiction
If you’re a speculative fiction writer—meaning you write sci-fi, horror, fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, and everything in between—Fictionate.Me could be a great home for your work.
A newer kid on the self-publishing block, Fictionate.Me sets themselves apart with their free ebook publishing that also allows you to create an AI narrated audiobook, all for free! Don’t worry that they seem small now—this platform is growing every day, and since it is a newer platform, your work will get noticed much faster than on larger platforms like Wattpad, which has millions of users.
Writers also get to keep 100% of their own profits, and payouts are almost instant—no waiting for a set payout amount to release funds. You only have to sacrifice 2.9% for the payment provider. It’s fast and easy to publish too, with an easy-to-use book editor with automatic formatting. You can also post chapter by chapter, so you don’t need a finished manuscript to start making money.
Your fanbase and Fictionate.Me critics can also comment on your books, giving you invaluable engagement and encouragement for your work! Your readers can also enjoy reading and listening on Fictionate.Me’s new app as well, available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
Best for serialized steamy romance
Are you the next E.L. James or Anna Todd? Radish might be perfect for you.
This mobile-only romance reading app for serial fiction is gaining ground as a popular platform for self-published romance scribes. One caveat about this platform is you do have to submit your work and apply to be published, unlike other platforms like Fictionate.Me that has no gatekeepers. However, if your work is professional and follows their guidelines, you should be accepted, no problem. You also must release chapter by chapter (or by episode) so keep that in mind when you apply.
With hundreds of thousands of readers, you can grow your fanbase here while monetizing your work. Radish welcomes both emerging and established authors, so don’t worry if you’ve never published before. Established authors can use this platform to tease their upcoming novel releases as well.
As for payment, you will get paid royalties quarterly, but since the payment depends on your contract, it differs from author to author. Click here for more information on their payouts.
Best for comics
If you’re a comics creator, the self-publishing website and app Tapas has you covered!
Publish for free and monetize your work, just like the other fiction platforms on this list. You can make money through ad revenue, a support program, and premium stories, which will make you even more royalties.
Like Fictionate.Me, your readers can comment directly on your work, helping to steer your stories in the right direction and keep you motivated to create. With over 700K users, you’re sure to grow your audience on this platform.
Like Radish, you will have to sign a contract to publish your works on the site. Your royalties will also depend on your contract. Royalties are paid monthly if your revenue is over $25. Click here for more information on royalties.
Best for serials, reader engagement and support
If you’re a serial fiction extraordinaire, head down Royal Road to best grow your audience, reach, and engagement.
Royal Road is known for its thousands of titles, focusing on LitRPG, sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, although you can publish any genre here. There is a great community here of both readers and writers, and you can take advantage of their site forum to get great feedback on your work. Readers can also comment on your novels or message you directly, giving you engagement and feedback on your masterpiece.
While Royal Road doesn’t directly pay royalties, or allow authors to sell their books, you can link your PayPal and Patreon information directly to your author page, so your fans can donate money.
If you’re looking to publish and be a part of an active, engaged community, Royal Road might be a great fit for you. This platform also has an on-site ad creator so you can extend your reach, but this does cost extra.
Best for publishing and promotion tools, print novels
Ebook only format not for you? Try Smashwords to publish both digital and print books, all for free. This only works if you have a completed manuscript, so keep that in mind before making an account.
What sets Smashwords apart is that isn’t only a site for self-publishing—they are also a distributor, so they will distribute your books (no matter what format) to public libraries and major retailers like Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, to name a few. You can also create and distribute audiobooks through their partner Findaway Voices.
You can earn 60% royalties from major retailers or sell your books through the Smashwords store and keep 80% of your earnings. You set your own price, so you can pass your savings on to the reader.
Besides global distribution, Smashwords also boasts many promotion tools for authors on the site, like a free author page, presale events, Coupon Manager, Special Deals, Smashwords Interviews, Series Manager, and Alerts.
Smashwords has recently been acquired by Draft 2 Digital, so look for new perks and improvements soon!
Author bio:- Heather R. Parker is a freelance writer, editor, and poet from Georgia. Her work has been published by Nightingale & Sparrow Magazine, Goats Milk Magazine, Analog Submissions Press, Between Shadows Press, Friday Flash Fiction, Clover & Bee Magazine, 365 Tomorrows, Entropy Squared, and others. In her spare time, you can find her doing yoga, taking long walks in the woods, birdwatching, or picking flowers in sun-dappled meadows. You can follow Heather’s writing on Instagram and Fictionate.Me.