Sunday, September 25, 2022

Review of 3 Free Useful Services for the Self-Publishing Maniac

3 free self-publishing tools

As many of you already know, I've been on a self-publishing journey for several years. 

I have to say that I understand what it means to truly love what you do! I find all I want to do is create activity books.

Self-publishing is an endless learning curve. I spend a ton of time listening to "Guru" training on YouTube and investigating products and services to make the process easier.

If you're a self-publisher, I thought I'd share some must-have tools. 

1. ISBN Barcode Generator

If you are using your own ISBN numbers (the number that goes on the back of your book, on the pricing barcode), you'll need to generate a barcode to put on the back of your book. 

My favorite free service is Bookow - here is the link to Bookow

The service is free, but they do offer an opportunity to make a donation if you so choose.

There are many other free barcode generator services online, but Bookow is my favorite.

2. KDP Cover Calculator:

If you're self-publishing books through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Amazon's self-publishing service, you'll want to keep the KDP Cover Calculator page saved for easy access.

To ensure the cover's margins are correctly allocated, you'll want to create a template you can save and bring over to the design platform you're using to make your cover. 

You'll need to know how many pages your book is, so don't bother creating your cover until you do! 

KDP Cover Calculator is easy - simply fill in the blanks and download the cover template.

Here's the link to KDP Cover Calculator.

3. Canva for Professional Cover and Interior Designs:

Canva offers a free version; however, I've recently switched to the paid version. 

The free version works perfectly fine, and if you're just starting your self-publishing journey, go with the free version to start. That's what I did. 

There's a learning curve with Canva; however, it's worth it! In 2019 I published my first book and had no idea how to create my own cover from scratch. Eventually, I was able to use KDP's cover creator and import my own front page. 

For a while now, I've been able to fully design my own covers with my own ISBN numbers and barcodes. I was baffled and intimidated about all of this a few years ago! After much practice and reading, it is much less daunting today. 

Once you get the swing of it, you'll be able to create some gorgeous covers using Canva.

This lady on YouTube has an excellent beginner tutorial on Canva.

You can check out here

My newest self-publishing book is a Gratitude Journal Happy Planner; you can find it on Amazon here. The full Author Page is here.


  1. Love your gratitude journal, Barbara. Congratulations on your latest accomplishment. The tips for writers and self-publishers are very helpful. I have been passing them on to my son who is currently working on his second self-published book.

    1. Thank you Ms. Elf. Wishing your son great success with his books.

  2. You are so thoughtful to share the tools, information and advice for self publishing. You make others self-publishing journey so much easier and save hours of searching for help. Just from what you have written, I know self publishing can be tedious. All the little things that must be done (bar codes, covers, ISBN numbers, etc) when all a writer wants to do is write. Your help would be priceless to a self publisher!

    1. You are so right in your assessment! All the little things are as time consuming, and are actually big things, when self-publishing. I think that's what I love most about it. It's not just one thing - it's a collection of many tasks and specialties so it's never dull or repetitive. When I want to switch gears from writing to creative art, I can do that. I often think about 'what if I had a publisher' and all I did was the writing - some days I think YES that would be amazing - but then other days I think about how much I would miss the creative arts aspect.

  3. Thank you for sharing these self publishing tools. It must be a complete maze trying to self publish. There is so much that needs to be done and sorted in addition to writing! So I imagine your guides are invaluable for anyone on that journey. Congratulations on your latest Gratitude Journal Happy Planner, it's lovely.

    1. It's a maze for sure! There is so much to learn, and many conflicting pieces of advice - I'm learning how to filter through the best pieces of advice - I have my favorite gurus - I'm planning on doing on article on them too lol

  4. Barbara, your self-taught, self-publishing journey is so impressive! I am thrilled that you have found something that you love to do and makes you look forward to doing each day. What a blessing! Your generosity in sharing your hard-earned knowledge is greatly appreciated, my friend.

    1. Margaret thank you so much. You are so right, it truly is a blessing to wake up everyday and only want to do this! But it's a curse too because I have to force myself to switch gears - we women are masters at switching gears though aren't we lol. I often talk about "if I won a gazzilion bucks" would I wake up and still do this - so far, my answer is heck yes!

  5. This is so full of really good information and your experiences with these platforms makes me believe that your recommendations will be so useful to anyone who is thinking of Publishing something! Thank you for your step by step ways to make this journey easier for those who are attempting this avenue. Great Reviews for all of these different things you need to know!


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