How to Self Publish an Ebook To Make Passive Income

by | Last updated Dec 5, 2023 | Work Online + remote & nomad Life

If you are wondering how to self publish an ebook to make passive income, wonder no more. Writing and self publishing ebooks and books has generated a very good passive income for me over the years. I’m talking quite a few thousands dollars in passive income. Enough that helps me travel and work abroad. And you can do it too. In this post I’ll go through why self publishing an ebook is a good idea and provide you with the steps to follow to self publish your own ebook. So if you are serious to make money selling ebooks, let’s get started.

Note: Ebook can be presented in a number of ways: ebook, Ebook, e-book, E-book. I have chosen without the dash for this post.


First, What is Passive Income?


Passive income is income that is acquired with minimal labour. Examples of passive income include earning interest on savings, owning dividend paying stocks, renting out a space and writing and selling ebooks. Many start off making passive income as a side hustle, until they can do it full-time. This post is all about how to publish an ebook to make passive income.


Why Self Publish an Ebook to make Passive Income


Most authors dream of writing a book and seeing it published. And I can tell you seeing your hard work on a shelf is a huge buzz as is seeing an electronic version on a screen. Depending on the genre many focus on the print format however, in my opinion having an ebook is a much better idea. I have found there are a number of pros to publishing an ebook. Here’s why.


Authors Make More Income From Ebooks


That’s right, authors make more income from ebooks than printed books. How? Well, you make more profit per ebook because there is no printing, shipping or marketings costs involved. Authors usually have a contract where they receive 10%, yes that’s right 10 per cent of book sales. This is because a publisher will take 60% to cover the editing, printing and marketing costs, plus your advance. Then, 40% goes to the distributor who gets your books into the bookstore. So if you have a printed book available at $20, in theory you will receive $2 per book sold. Whereas with an ebook you can receive 100% of the ebook price if you do everything yourself. Though sometimes i outsource things like editing, designing and marketing, so probably 80-90% of the ebook sale. Sounds good to me!


Readers Can Buy the Ebook Immediately


Yes, that’s right, readers don’t have to wait until they get to a store or have it delivered to get their eyes on it. This means by having no access barriers to your product you can sell more ebooks. You will see you will need to set up ‘instant download access after payment’.


You Retain World Rights of your Ebook


With printed books you sell rights to areas to have your books published in that particular area. This could mean your printed book may only ever be available in one area. With an ebook you can sell it to anyone, anywhere in the world. My printed travel guide Live Work and Play in London and the UK was only available in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Now, as an ebook I have made sales of the ebook to readers from 18 countries. And with instant access and no shipping costs I have sold more ebooks than my printed books ever did. So how does it feel to have a multinational global ebook business from my laptop? Great I say! And you too can have this.


You Control the Technology of Design and Deliver


The speed of ebook publishing means you have more control of when and how readers can get your ebook. Once you click publish, your ebook can be available instantly. And if you need to update any details, like I do with a travel ebook, I can have the new information available straight away. No more waiting for a new version which may come out once every 2 years. This makes me look like more of an authority in the field being able to provide the latest information available.


Ebooks have a lower risk because they have a lower cost of entry


Yep, apart from paying for upfront editing, proofreading, internal design layout and cover design the actual publishing is free. With no printing costs which can cost thousands of dollars if you are self publishing, most ebook platforms where you can self publish your ebook are free. Amazon KDP is one such publishing platform which is free to join and only charges minimal percentage of sale. So publishing in this digital age has low overheads, low entry costs and at the same time, provides potentially a high rate of return. 

There you have it, 6 very good reasons why you should self publish an ebook to make passive income. So let’s get started on the steps to take to make your dream of self publishing an ebook come true.


Passive Income Occurs While You Sleep


Writing, publishing and selling an ebook is a great way to make passive income. Once you have your ebook ready for sale you sell it on different online platforms.These platforms will have automation of instant delivery after payment set up. So sales can occur while you sleep without you doing anything. And there is your passive income from your ebook sales. And these sales should grow as more and more readers transition to digital and mobile technology.


Where to Self Publish An Ebook


The two most popular places to self publish an ebook are on your own website and on Amazon KDP, also known as Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon KDP has a monopoly on the ebook market with a staggering 85% of the ebook market worldwide. It is the most widely used self-publishing platform in the world, therefore, it is highly suggested to sell your ebook on this platform. Plus you can receive 70% royalty publishing with them. However, there are other platforms to sell your ebook. They include Kobo, Google Play Books, Gumroad, Apple iBooks and on your own website, if you have one. If you don’t have one, but would like to start one, here is how you can start a blog and make passive income from it. The more places you publish your ebook you expand your reach which in turn hopefully generates more passive income for you.


How to Self Publish an Ebook


Following is the ebook procedure I follow every time I create a new ebook. It has proved successful for me and I hope it helps you too!


1. Have an Idea and do Some Research


Female thinking of ebook ideas to make passive income.

Hmmm….what idea can I turn into an ebook to make regular passive income?


If you thought I was going to say “just start writing”, well you are wrong. Before you even begin to write your ebook you should do some research as to whether the idea of your ebook is a viable one. You may not know, but print publishers do this before accepting someone’s book pitch. If they are going to invest their money and time in a book they need to know it will not only cover costs but make a profit, and preferably a big one. So you too need to do some research for your proposed ebook idea.

Some popular genres that sell well on Amazon are children’s books, self help books, business and money books and cooking books. I’m afraid travel ebooks aren’t as popular, but hey, that didn’t stop me!

Most self-published authors sell their ebook on Amazon KDP. I mentioned this before since they own 85% of the ebook market. I would suggest you visit Amazon and check out the ebooks in your genre. Is there a demand for your idea? Are there ebooks already published? How many competing, if any, ebooks are there? If you do have competitors, should you rethink this idea and come at it at a different angle to ensure your ebook is unique in the cluttered ebook market.

Definitely take note of any competitor ebooks’ page length, design, name and price. Knowledge of all these things will come in handy when working out the same for your ebook.


2. Write the Ebook


People can write their books in different ways. A method I use is to write my travel guides is to make a list of my chapter headings, then headings within the chapters and then I begin to write information under each heading. Eventually, I have an ebook. But a key to writing your ebook is to actually write it. Many can procrastinate so I suggest you give yourself a timeline and very importantly a publishing date of when you want to have your ebook on sale. Aim to set time each day to write a specific number of words, maybe 1,000 words per day. Then in a month’s time you will have around 30,000 words which is enough for a non-fiction book. At this early stage, just push yourself to get your ideas down on paper, or computer, before you do any refining or editing or proofreading. There is no hard and fast rule as to how many words are needed for your book, but as I said before, take note of the word count of your competitors.


Design as you write


You could even do a little designing of the internal pages as you write your manuscript (ms). For instance, chapter headings can be in 14 point and centred on the page. Then headings could be in 12 point and the text in 10 point. If you plan to sell your ebook on different platforms, Amazon KDP, Kobo, and/or Apple iBooks, I would suggest you read their design requirements first and do some of the designing and formatting while writing your ebook – if you can. If you don’t understand the formatting, don’t worry, just write your ebook in Word and find someone later to do the designing and formatting.


Consider including Affiliate Links to Monetize Your Ebook


While writing your ebook, consider providing affiliate links within the text. By adding affiliate links, if the reader clicks on one of the links and makes a purchase from the link, you will receive a commission for it. This can be quite involved so if you don’t know much about affiliate linking either leave the links out, or do a course on the subject.


3. Proofread and Edit your Ebook


The main differences of editing and proofreading is that editing can see you change or delete complete sections of text while proofreading is really ensuring the ts are crossed and the i’s are dotted. Definitely do things like run a grammar and spelling check of your manuscript afterwards. But really, it is always a good idea to have another set of eyes proofread and/or edit your ebook. Fresh eyes can pick up things that you may have missed. If you don’t have a family member or friend who could help you out, then you can pay for the service. I also offer a Proofreading / Editing Service, please contact me for details and rates @ I’d be happy to help you.


4. Design a kick-ass Book Cover and Internal Pages


People can, and do judge a book by its cover. When people are scrolling on Amazon KDP or other digital platforms you ebook needs to stand out. You can try to design a kick-ass book cover yourself through designing programs like Canva and even Amazon KDP will let you design a cover but you might want to have someone design it for you. If you are going to use Amazon as one of your main digital platforms to sell your ebooks then you should definitely read through their designing guidelines. They offer extensive guidelines and easy to follow instructions to design and upload your ebook to their platform. Check out Amazon KDP here for all the details how to self publish on Amazon..

Apart from the designing, which is basically making it look good, you will need to have a formatted ebook to load to your chosen publishing platform. If you are only going to sell your ebook via your website then designing your ebook in a Word Doc and converting it to a PDF should be fine. However, other platforms like Amazon prefer .mobi and others prefer ePub. So decide where you will be uploading to before you begin the process of designing and formatting.

Most ebook authors want to produce their ebook as cheap as possible, yet being of good quality. You either have the choice then to design and format yourself which may mean you need to learn new software or you can find someone to do it for you. Not everyone would agree, but I have found some great designers and formatters of ebooks on Fiverr.


READ MORE: How to make money on and with Fiverr.


5. Pricing Your Ebook


One great thing about pricing your Ebook is if you got the price wrong and the ebook isn’t selling, you can always change it. But how do you price your ebook? This is a really hard one. When you look at your competitors on say Amazon KDP you will see many prices ranging from $2.99 upwards. It will be trial and error as to the price you put on your own ebook. I would suggest you ask yourself, ‘how much would you pay for the information’. Or possibly ask your target market, how much they would pay. You could do this by doing a survey on your website.

You also need to take into account and commissions taken from the sale of your ebook by using online platforms. And is your product subject to any added taxes such as GST (Australia) or EU VAT. I suggest you work out your bottom line and then add some to cover commissions and taxes. For instance, I would like $5 every time I sell an ebook. If I have to pay say 10% commission (50 cents) and 10% tax (50 cents) then I would probably sell my ebook for $6.00 minimum.


6. Launch and Market your Ebook


Once written, edited and designed it is time to release your product to the world. People do this in different ways and an Ebook launch is quite different to a printed book launch. It is pretty hard to sign an ebook in a bookstore sipping on champaign! A lot of ebook authors fail in the launching and marketing of their ebook because realistically all authors want to do is write, not promote. In order to succeed in selling your ebook you will need to undertake some marketing. I would suggest you work on a media campaign. Basically uploading information on your ebook, and most importantly, how to buy your ebook by uploading information to as many social media accounts that you have. You could always find a social media manager.

After the launch and initial marketing of your ebook I suggest on a monthly basis you do more marketing as you will want to keep the ebook in front of people’s eyes. You can do this by promoting your ebook in your newsletter, if you have one. You could do an ad campaign on Facebook. And at sales times such as Black Friday, Boxing Day, etc. you could offer the ebook at a discounted price. Anything you do to keep your ebook in front of people is a good thing to create sales which in turn generates passive income for you.

OK, we are done. Now you can go and self publish an ebook and make passive income to fund your lifestyle. Perhaps as a digital nomad, a remote worker or as a freelancer publishing ebooks.


How Much Does it Cost to Self Publish a Book


I’m a spreadsheet girl so I would suggest you start a spreadsheet outlining the cost to self publish a book. I found the actual cost to self publish is quite minimal.  I did everything myself for my travel guide, well I tell a lie, I had help designing the front cover which cost me a couple of hundred dollars. But the rest I did, the writing, proofing and editing, designing and uploading to Amazon and onto my website was free if you don’t count the time involved. If you can’t do all the steps and need help, factor in the cost for getting the help you need to create your ebook to publish so you can make a living from your ebook.


Are You Ready to Make Passive Income from Writing and Selling Ebooks?


Self publishing an ebook is a popular income stream for digital nomads and remote online workers. Here’s more online job inspiration.

Make Money doing online Surveys
How to Get Started as an Online or Remote Worker
How to Start a Blog and Make Passive Income


To Self Publish An Ebook You Need A Laptop, Pen And Writing Paper, A Camera If You Include Photos And A Work Place.

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Just so you know: some of the links in this post might be affiliate links, which earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. No pressure to use my links, but I REALLY appreciate when you do! Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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Sharyn McCullum Travel Writer and Founder Of Live Work Play Travel, Work Abroad, Work Online, Travel Blog Enjoying At Beer At The Coldstream Brewery In The Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to live work play travel around the world with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.


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