First, you must settle on a definition of “free.” Unless you work on borrowed (or stolen) writing implements, no book can be created without a little expense somewhere. So let’s define free as meaning “no expense specifically tied to the creation of a particular book.” Expenses, which are categorized as benefiting your ability to write generally, will not count, nor will gifts or donations of time.
So, you write your book on the computer. You print it out on the printer at your day-job office, and have a really good friend proofread it for you. After revising and editing it yourself, you are ready to release your creation into the world. You have several options for distribution.
Distributing Your Book
You can upload your document to Amazon.com’s Kindle Publishing site, Apple’s iBookstore, and/or Barnes & Noble’s Nook site. They all accept documents in .doc format, which may well be the format in which the book was composed, but your readers will probably get a better experience with .mobi or epub. Amazon will convert whatever you have to the preferred format for free, and automatically upon upload, but they will not guarantee that the end result will be free of typos and glitches, so be sure to proofread from top to bottom before releasing it to the world.
Marketing Your Book for Free
Marketing for free is tricky, and you might have to sacrifice a few inhibitions to get it done, but if you are committed to a lack of expenses, it can still be accomplished. Create accounts with all the popular social media sites, and talk exclusively and relentlessly about your book. Make as many connections as possible, and post as many self-promoting blog entries as you are allowed. Even bad press is good press, so don’t let the tender feelings of exploited blog hosts get in your way. Use their resistance to increase your “word of mouth” exposure.
Network Your Self and Your Book Online
It costs nothing to join online self-publishing discussion groups, but those posts are well-guarded against free promotion, and you’ll only be speaking to your peers, not your customers, so don’t bother unless you’re looking for free advice. Professional networks and social sites are also great ways to get noticed, post excerpts and build a fan base, such as LinkedIn, Tumblr, Facebook, Google+, etc. There are literally thousands of micro blog sites as well, similar to Tumblr, that can be customized to your personality and help you build your audience.
Once you start receiving royalty payments from your distributors, you can use them to finance further advertising efforts without violating your commitment to zero expenses. With advertising, you get what you pay for, so it’s in your best interest to put your profits to work for you. However, if you simply want to get something for nothing, be encouraged and step out boldly!