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Last updated on Feb 07, 2023
The 17 BEST Self-Publishing Companies of 2023
Deciding to self-publish your book is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Once your book has been edited , designed , and you have a marketing plan in place, you still have to figure out how you'll publish and distribute your work — the number of options available is so large that it can be a bit overwhelming.
There are a lot of companies out there advertising their services to self-publishing authors. Some of them are reputable but many of them are vanity presses looking to take advantage of aspiring authors .
In this article, we’ll guide you through the 17 best self-publishing companies in the industry to see which ones you might want to work with — depending on the book you’ve written. And don't forget to grab a free book launch checklist while you're at it to make sure that you're checking off all of the boxes before the big day!
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The beauty of ebook publishing is that any author can upload and launch their books without any outside help. Broadly speaking you can take two approaches to this process:
- Sell directly through book retailers , such as Amazon and B&N Press. These are online bookstores where your book can be discovered and sold. Big book retailers generally provide a branded ebook publishing platform for you to individually upload your book.
- Use an aggregator , such as Draft2Digital and Smashwords, to distribute to a bunch of book retailers all at once . This will probably save you time and energy, though you’ll need to pay an extra fee for their services.
When you’re publishing an ebook, regardless of the approach, you’ll get to keep the lion’s share of the profits. Most retailers and aggregators will only take a cut of the royalties once a copy of your book is sold.
But what’s best for your book will depend on your personal situation. So, first, we recommend taking this quick 1-minute quiz that will help point you towards the best self-publishing company for you.
Which self-publishing company is right for you?
Find out here! Takes one minute.
That said, if you want to get an overview of the ebook publishing landscape then read on!
Let's start with the four most prominent book retailers . Book retailers are the stores through which you’ll actually sell your book to the public — which means that they’re pretty important as far as your self-publishing ambitions are concerned! Like we mentioned before, each retailer offers its own ebook publishing platform for authors to upload their books. Where they differ is in the cut that they take of your royalties and their exclusivity programs.
1. Amazon KDP
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 OR 35% if priced below $2.99
Amazon is the titan of online bookstores — accounting for 74% of U.S. ebook sales in 2015 — it is the world's biggest seller of digital volumes. It's no wonder Amazon is often the first retailer authors consider to sell their titles.
Kindle Direct Publishing ( KDP ) is Amazon’s self-publishing platform (not to be confused with " Amazon Publishing " — their division that operates like a traditional publisher). Any author can self-publish using KDP, though you’ll need to do it manually yourself.
Note that Amazon KDP is not the same as Amazon KDP Select. KDP Select is Amazon’s exclusivity program — meaning that, if you choose to enroll in it, you can only sell your book on Amazon. In exchange for this, Amazon will give you:
- Access to Kindle Countdown Deals and free promotions. You can discount your book — and even set it to free on the Kindle store — for a certain period every 90 days. Learn more about the power of discounting (and the smart way to go about it) in this Reedsy Live .
- Enrollment in Kindle Unlimited . KU is Amazon’s subscription service for readers, which allows members to read as much as they want. It’s very popular and a good portion of Amazon customers only read titles from KU these days.
If you’ve researched these perks and decided that KDP Select is the route for you, then there’s no need to read the rest of this post, as you’ve essentially agreed not to use any other self-publishing company 🙂 Instead, you can familiarize yourself with the KDP Select program with these resources:
- KDP Select vs. “Going Wide” — Which Option is Right For You?
- How to Self-Publish with Amazon
- The Complete Guide to Ebook Distribution
2. Apple Books
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on most books
Another big name that everyone should know, Apple founded its self-publishing arm in 2010. In 2012, Apple announced that 400 million books were downloaded on Apple Books (though it’s important to note that the number of downloads differs from the number of books sold , as The Digital Reader clarifies in this post ). Though Amazon has far eclipsed it as the foremost ebook reading platform since then, Apple Books still gets a fair amount of eyes.
While figuring out ways to monetize a book on Apple Books might be a challenge, it’s much easier to actually publish one. Using iBooks Author, self-publishing authors can quite easily upload their titles onto Apple Books, all without having to pay a fee!
How to Self-Publish a Book
Learn to set yourself up for success as an indie author.
3. Barnes & Noble Press
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on ebooks priced above $0.99
As you might expect, Barnes & Noble Press (formerly known as NOOK Press) is the self-publishing platform belonging to the big box bookseller. It has pretty infamously struggled for market share against Amazon. However, as far as interfaces are concerned, B&N Press is easy to use — and, similar to the other big retailers, it’s free to upload your book. Exclusivity is not required to publish with B&N Press.
It’s important to note that you can set your book for free on this platform. What’s more, Barnes & Noble is still working on innovating and adding new features for self-published writers. In January 2021, B&N Press introduced an ad portal to help new authors to create marketing campaigns on the Barnes & Noble website for their books. Check out this page for more information on self-publishing on B&N Press.
4. Rakuten Kobo
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on ebooks priced more than $2.99 in the U.S. OR 45% for books priced below $2.99
Rakuten Kobo is the last big retailer that you should know. It’s a Canadian company (that’s a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten) — as such, it’s got a strong reach in the international ebook market. Kobo is only the #5 store in terms of market share in the U.S., though it’s growing year by year.
If you're hoping to reach readers outside of the U.S., Kobo is a strong candidate. Kobo's self-publishing arm, Kobo Writing Life, is simple and free to use. It also comes with several perks, including exclusive promotion opportunities, if you choose to distribute through Kobo and not an aggregator.
Speaking of aggregators… if you’re getting a migraine just thinking about uploading your book onto all of these different book retailers by yourself, then perhaps aggregators are what you’re looking for.
Aggregators collect and manage all of these markets: pushing your book to each retailer and centralizing it all into one sales report. With a single upload to, say, Draft2Digital, your book would be on sale on Amazon, B&N Press, Apple Books, Kobo — and even smaller retailers.
Then you’ll be able to track your sales across all of these retailers through the aggregator’s interface, receiving monthly royalty checks. In exchange for this service, an aggregator will take an additional cut of your royalties — which means that this route is for anyone who wants to quickly save on time and doesn’t mind paying extra.
How much will it cost you to self-publish?
Find out here! Takes 30 seconds.
💰 Pricing: 10% of the book’s retail price per copy sold 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books , Kobo, Playster, Tolino, OverDrive, Scribd, Bibliotheca — more info here
If you decide to use an aggregator, Draft2Digital is the one that we recommend at Reedsy. Why’s that? Lots of factors, including excellent customer support, a user-friendly dashboard, and a sleek website design. Not to mention the extra perks that D2D packs into the deal: they do the formatting for you . D2D also:
- Gives authors Universal Book Links (UBL) . As its name suggests, these UBLs make books discoverable by allowing authors to generate a link to each of their books, which goes straight to the customer’s preferred book retailer.
- Touts an “automated back matter” tool. This nifty service automatically adds your newly published ebook to the “Also by this author” section of any other book you’ve distributed via D2D.
Add the fact that it distributes to all of the major ebook stores, and you’ve pretty much got the whole package in Draft2Digital.
💰 Pricing: 15% of the retail price on Smashwords and 10% on other platforms per copy sold 📇 Distributes to: Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Kobo, Blio, the Smashwords store — more info here
The original aggregator, Smashwords was the undisputed king in town until Draft2Digial entered the picture. However, Smashwords is still very popular today.
On a simple side-by-side comparison, Smashwords and Draft2Digital offer similar pricing structures and royalties. Where Smashwords falls short is in terms of its user experience — you need to do the formatting yourself on Smashwords, which definitely isn’t a piece of cake. Smashwords also does not distribute books to Amazon . That said, outside of Amazon, it’s got a slightly more extensive distribution network than Draft2Digital, so if you want to sell your book to smaller retailers, this might work. Kindlepreneur's Dave Chesson wrote an in-depth take on the differences between Smashwords and Draft2Digital, which you can read here .
💰 Pricing: 10% of the retail price per copy sold OR subscription pricing 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, OverDrive, Playster, Odilo, Bookmate — more info here
PublishDrive might be the new kid on the block, but it’s definitely made the most of its time. Founded in 2015, it works with over 4,500 publishers and can now connect you to over 400 stores. It’s got all the workings of the other aggregators: a modern interface and regular sales reports to keep you up-to-date on your profits. What sets PublishDrive apart from the pack are:
- PublishDrive’s subscription pricing options. If you just agree to pay $100 per month, you can keep all of your royalties, which might be a good fit for established authors.
- Its distribution options. Along with all of the major Western retailers, PublishDrive also specializes in international distribution, giving indie authors access to foreign markets that were previously out of reach.
💰 Pricing: 10% of the retail price per copy sold 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Indigo, Baker & Taylor — more info here
Another international distributor, StreetLib gives you even more options if you’re aiming to reach an international audience. It’s got a strong presence in Latin America and Europe, to the extent that its dashboard can be configured in English, Italian, Spanish, Hindi — and more! One other case in point for its international strength: in January 2019, it began offering its services for authors in Egypt.
Originally founded in Europe, StreetLib is certainly great for international distribution, but if your plan is to include the U.S. and U.K. as well, it's also got your back. As of April 2019, it distributes books to all major Western stores.
💰 Pricing: 30% of net sales for books priced more than $2.49 OR 60% for works between below $2.48 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Hugendubel, Angus & Robertson, Thalia, Buecher, Whitcoulls, Indigo, Kobo, Livraria Cultura, Kobo, Scribd — more info here
XinXii isn’t actually Chinese — it’s based in Berlin. (Surprise!) As such, it offers authors foreign distribution channels that might not be readily available elsewhere. Note that it’s got a particularly strong presence in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. However, its customer support could be found wanting, and its user interface is a bit on the clunky side: trade-offs that the author will need to make to conduct business with XinXii.
Author Services for Self-Publishing Authors
Now, if you haven’t gotten as far in the publishing process as the actual publishing bit, and you’re still concerned with the editing, design, and formatting of your book, then perhaps the companies above don’t quite match what you’re looking for. Thankfully, there’s one place where you can access world-class talent to take care of all three — and you’re already there 😉.
💰 Pricing: Average costs here 🖋️Services: Editing, interior design, cover design, illustrations, and more.
A marketplace for freelance publishing professionals, Reedsy is where authors can connect with editors and designers with years of relevant experience in traditional publishing. Each professional sets their own rate — you can get quotes from up to five of them a time and find the ones that best suit your needs and budget.
In addition to the marketplace, Reedsy has a book formatting tool that allows any author to quickly create a professional-grade ebook and print book file — at no cost whatsoever.
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The Reedsy Book Editor
Format your manuscript for print or EPUB with a single click.
Print-on-Demand Services for Self-Publishing Authors
While most self-publishing authors will rely on the ebook market for most of their sales, that doesn’t mean they should overlook the printed book. After all, there’s nothing quite like holding a beautifully designed paperback in your hand! And with print-on-demand technology that allows for copies to be produced only when they’re purchased, almost any indie author can put a paperback up for sale — without breaking the bank.
If that sounds good to you, then here’s a quick look at some of the major players in POD.
11. KDP Print
💰 Pricing: Learn more here 📇 Distributes to: Amazon (naturally), others through Expanded Distribution .
Formerly known as CreateSpace , Amazon’s own print-on-demand service has the benefit of sharing Kindle Direct Publishing’s platform. Authors already selling ebooks on KDP can easily launch a print edition by uploading a formatted PDF and cover design with a spine and a back. With KDP’s Expanded Distribution option, authors can sell to shops and libraries across the globe — though it’s important to note many booksellers are inclined to order through Amazon.
💰 Pricing: Learn more here 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Follett, EBSCO, Booktopia, Kobo, Zola Books, 24Symbols, Bookmate
IngramSpark, owned by Ingram, the biggest book wholesaler in the world. If your focus is on getting your book into brick-and-mortar stores, it’s worth setting your book up with this company (perhaps in addition to KDP Print, which you can use to sell your book on Amazon). For more info, read our IngramSpark review .
Book Marketing 101
Learn seven tried-and-true strategies for boosting book sales.
💰 Pricing: Learn more here
📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, the Blurb bookstore
Blurb is one of the most well-known and trusted print-on-demand services out there. We particularly recommend it for visual works — such as magazines and photo books. For an in-depth evaluation of its user-friendliness and pictures of the quality of its printed books, go to this review .
💰 Pricing: Learn more here 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Google Play, Vearsa, Apple Books, Kobo, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, Books-A-Million
Boasting an easy-to-use interface and reliable customer service, BookBaby is an option for many first-time self-publishing authors. To learn more about BookBaby, go to this review .
Marketing Services for Self-Publishing Authors
Getting your book published is only half the battle, of course. You’ve created a wonderful book and launched it on the world’s biggest retailer platforms — but you still need to find a way to make people buy it. To help your book reach its potential, there are few companies you can turn to for assistance.
15. Reedsy Discovery
💰 Pricing: $50
Reedsy Discovery helps thousands of self-publishing authors get the boost they need every month. When you submit your book, you get an editorial review in time for your launch date — as well as a chance to be featured in our weekly newsletter, sent out to over 200,000 eager readers.
In addition to reviews, Reedsy’s marketplace has dozens of experienced book marketers who can help you optimize your book’s product page, plan an ad campaign, and perfect your email marketing strategy.
💰 Pricing: Varies among genres
Perhaps the single biggest promotional platform in publishing, BookBub offers self-publishing authors a powerful way to publicize their discount deals. Through BookBub’s Featured Deals and self-serve ads , an author can tap into their subscriber-base and access devoted fans of almost any genre.
However, these days, it’s incredibly hard for self-publishing authors to secure one of their featured deals. Thankfully, BookBub has more than a little competition.
17. Written Word Media
💰 Pricing: Varies between platforms
With a range of platforms catering to free and discounted books (the most prominent of which is their newsletters), Written Word Media provides authors with another way to connect with thousands of readers. Together with FreeBooksy and BargainBooksy (which promote free and bargain books, naturally), WMM has other sites devoted to steamy romances, new releases, and even audiobooks .
And if that isn’t enough, you can find more services over on Reedsy’s directory of book promotion sites .
Whichever options you choose, understand that it may take a bit of trial and error until you realize your perfect self-publishing system. There's no right or wrong way to go about it — which is all a part of learning how to self-publish a book in the first place.
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Children's book, non-fiction, best self-publishing companies [2023 update].
POSTED ON Mar 15, 2023
Written by Scott Allan
Know the best self-publishing companies of 2023 to stay ahead of the curve as an aspiring author.
No two self-publishing companies are the same, so don't rely on trial and error when it comes to working with publishing companies as an author.
In a world of scammy vanity companies eager to take an author's money, you have every reason to be cautious.
It's more important to do your research and understand which self-publishing companies can actually help you publish a book that's high quality, without running your investment dry and selling you empty promises.
You’ve worked hard learning how to write your book . You want to make sure you choose wisely when it comes to setting up your book for publication.
So, at this stage, you’re asking, “What are the best self-publishing companies?”
Whether you want to publish a nonfiction book , fiction novel , or even if you're writing children's books , the path to becoming an author lies in researching which self-publishing companies are worth focusing on in your journey.
Want to skip the article and go straight to the assessment that will show you which self-publishing company is right for you?
Take the self publishing companies quiz.
Here are the 11 best self-publishing companies for authors:
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Apple Books
- Publish Drive
In today’s publishing marketplace, self-published authors are leading the pack. Now, as an author-preneur, you have total control over the cover design , content, and distribution of your book. You get to choose when to publish and who to publish with.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the best self-publishing companies to roll with, but the difficulty is, you can’t tell one publishing company from the other sometimes.
You probably have lots of questions regarding self-publishing companies, such as…
- What are the pros and cons of each publishing company?
- Who is the easiest to work when it comes to book formatting, distribution, royalty payments or tech support?
- Do you just go with the biggest platform, like Amazon KDP , and call it a day?
- Is it worth it to publish with several other very reputable retailers and distributors to maximize your reach?
In this article, we'll introduce you to the 11 best self-publishing companies for authors looking to self publish their books and get it into the hands of readers as quickly and easily as possible.
By the time you are done, you will be clear on the direction your book needs to take and have greater confidence in yourself as an indie author , knowing your book is in the best marketplace for maximum results.
What do publishing companies do?
In the book industry, book publishing companies serve a wide variety of purposes, all related to the book's production process. Depending on the publishing route, a book publishing company's purpose can vary as well.
In a traditional publishing company , the author is given a book contract that basically sells their rights to the book to the publisher, who then oversees the production process.
In publishing companies that cater primarily to self-published authors , the purposes can vary as well, according to the company type. Learning how to self-publish can be daunting when you're first starting out, and each company has something slightly different to offer. We'll cover the main types of self-publishing companies in the next section.
What are self-publishing companies?
Self-publishing companies offer book publishing and production services to independent authors.
These companies all work differently depending on the type of service provided, but ultimately each operates within the space of producing and publishing a book .
We'll cover in-depth the different types of self-publishing companies and which types are best to work with, but let's quickly summarize.
4 Types of Self-Publishing Companies:
- Aggregator – Self-publishing company aggregators are platforms that distribute your book to several online retailers . With aggregators, the bonus here is it saves you time, energy and money. You upload your book and aggregators distribute to 30+ retail channels such as Apple Books or Google Play Books. An aggregator is your first step to publishing internationally.
- Retailer – A self-publishing retailer company is a retailer platform that sells books exclusively through its own retail store. This includes Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. Authors can upload books to these platforms and make book sales through these platforms. Retailers pay authors directly and some offer exclusive programs such as Amazon’s KDP Select program .
- Publishing Educator – These companies provide author education programs, such as through self-publishing courses and coaching. Their mission is to help authors navigate the self-publishing process and build an author career. Some are free, but most are paid. Instead of paying college tuition, you're paying for an online course to teach you how to publish and market a book. An example of a publishing educator would be Self-Publishing School .
- Author Services – These are self-publishing companies that are mainly in the business to provide self-publishing services to authors such as ghostwriting, book editing, formatting, cover design, illustration, and more. There are some reputable companies to work with, of which, we are one.
Self-Publishing Companies VS Publishing Companies
Self-publishing companies are different from publishing companies, although both typically work by transforming an author's written manuscript into an actual book.
The difference lies in the publishing model that distinguishes traditional publishing from self-publishing.
Traditional publishing companies are more concerned with choosing which books to publish, buying the rights to the book, handling book production, and keeping some of the author's book royalties . In traditional publishing, the publishing company is listed as the publisher of the author's book.
Self-publishing companies mainly help the author oversee the entire book production and publishing process, and aren't selective in the type of book being published. These companies usually charge a one-time fee rather than continuous book royalties. In self-publishing, it depends on which company you use whether they are listed as the publisher, or whether you are as the author.
What are the best options for self-publishing?
If you've decided to self-publish, there are now hundreds of publishing companies, from mega-retailers such as Amazon that sell everything, to smaller private publishers focused on specific genres.
In terms of knowing which is the best option for self-published authors, you'll need to consider what type of self-publishing company can best meet the needs of your specific book and the services you need done to get it published in the market you want.
For example, we know that Amazon has over 80% of the book market share. But if you set up your book for wide distribution through an aggregator, you can tap into a huge international market. This could lead to other publishing opportunities such as having your book sold to foreign publishers.
Other companies sell and distribute books directly through their website. They have a long reach for international distribution so your book gets pushed into the pipeline for maximum selling power.
It isn’t a question anymore of “Will I get published?” But these days the big question is, “Who do I publish with first?”
This is a very good problem to have.
Our best advice : Do your research before publishing anything, and please, don’t sign that dotted line until after you’ve read this post!
There are plenty of scammy companies that are simply vanity publishers , meaning they like to call themselves publishing companies, but they do not deliver quality services and overcharge the authors that work with them.
Criteria for the Best Self-Publishing Companies
There are lots of companies out there to offer their services for publishing your book. Not all these companies are playing on the same level.
To make this list I have put together six points. Just because a self-publishing company didn’t make it here isn’t an indication you should avoid it.
Here's the criteria we used to rate the best self-publishing companies:
- Book Publishing Volume: The amount of book sales volume this company has shipped is huge. They have proven themselves in the marketplace with high shipping volume and a business model you can trust.
- Reputation and Trustworthy: These companies are legit and come recommended. Cross check with this detailed list put together by the Alliance of Independent Authors . These companies are NOT on the blacklist of publishing companies that have been red flagged as dangerous.
- Customer Reliability: A proven track record with authors as easy to work with and trustworthy staff and communication.
- Helpful Resources: These self-publishing companies have a plethora of publishing resources for authors to get the job done. Some of these services and materials are free and some are not. But what matters is they are offering what you need to get published.
- Affordable: You can publish your book within your budget. While there are expenses to self-publishing , it won’t break your bank.
- Subscribers List: These companies have large email lists of thousands of subscribers to their newsletter or services.
You are about to embark on an incredible journey into self-publishing. You are your own boss, you make all the creative decisions, and how fast you get your book out there into the world is really up to you and how much time you can invest in your book project.
Still feeling it? Good! Let’s move ahead.
Here's a list of the best self-publishing companies for authors:
- Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
- Barnes and Noble Press
#1 – Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
When people think about self-publishing a book, Amazon is one of the first companies they consider. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing [KDP] is a self-publishing platform where authors can publish their print and eBooks.
In the United States alone, Amazon makes up 40% in self-published digital books. So as an author, you can’t afford to ignore the power of Amazon in the book publishing space.
What makes Amazon so critical in the publishing arena? First, Amazon has a widespread reach that puts books in front of millions of browsers per day. They also offer competitive royalty rates.
For ebooks: 35% for books priced under $2.99, or 70%, for all books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
For paperbacks and hardcovers: 60% royalties from list price.
KDP Select Exclusivity
KDP has an exclusive program that sets it apart from the other retailers: the KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited programs for authors. There are perks to each one of these programs, such as special promotion programs, and Kindle Owners Lending Library enrollment.
The downside to joining KDP Select is that you are enrolled for 90 days in an exclusive partnership with KDP. This means you are tied to Amazon exclusively and cannot make your books available on other platforms.
So the big question is, will Amazon meet all of your self-publishing needs if you choose to do business with them exclusively?
The answer: It depends on your publishing goals.
Amazon has a big slice of the pie, but it doesn’t have the whole thing. For example, Joanna Penn mentions in this post that her book sales on the German platforms almost match Amazon sales.
As we will see in the rest of this post, there are other publishing companies that focus on pushing your book into a wider market and that means increased sales and subscribers to your platform.
Now, having said that, we know KDP is a “big deal” in the self-publishing business. But, publishing exclusively on Amazon and ignoring the other self-publishing companies could put you at certain risk as well.
What happens when Amazon decides to change something, and you suddenly lose half your income overnight?
As a first time author, you might consider staying with KDP select for at least the first 90 days to build momentum for your eBook . But if you push forward and write a series of books, go wide and expand your global reach.
That is why the rest of this post introduces you to the other self-publishing companies.
#2 – Barnes & Noble Press
Barnes & Noble Press [Nook Press] is, according to their website, “a free, fast, and easy-to-use self-publishing service that enables you to publish and sell directly to our millions of readers.” Barnes and Noble has been a leader in the book industry for many years.
The name implies the brick and mortar retailer for books, but in the age of digital publication, B&N now has a premium eBook platform that can compete with the rest of the growing ebook market.
While getting your book onto the physical shelves of Barnes & Noble proves to be a challenging task, you can set up your ebook and print book through Barnes & Noble Press.
Important things to consider with Barnes & Noble Press:
- Books published with Barnes & Noble Press retail only at their online and physical bookstores.
- Royalty rates range from 55% to 70%, depending on the price of the book.
- Resources. Barnes and Noble has many resources for authors to help with the publishing process, and they have strong affiliations with some of the best service providers in the industry.
- Partnered programs. Barnes & Noble Press has partnered with Reedsy for editorial, 99 designs for cover design, Inkubate for marketing solutions, and Girl Friday Productions for publishing resources.
- Free to upload. You can take advantage of the cheaper printing costs with Barnes & Noble when you publish directly to their site instead of going through 3rd party.
To get started with Barnes & Noble Press, simply set up a free NOOK account, register as a vendor, and work through the steps to create your book for publication on NOOK. Your book will then be live within 72 hours of hitting publish.
Note: The B&N Press platform is available for use by authors and publishers only in the following countries: United States, U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium.
#3 – Kobo
I have a confession to make: I am Canadian.
I publish primarily in the U.S. store and, if it weren’t for Kobo, I would have very few sales in the Canadian store. Why?
Founded in 2009, Kobo is a Canadian-based company out of Toronto and a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, the world’s 14th largest Internet company.
Kobo is an open platform, which supports the most popular formats, including EPUB, EPUB3 and PDF, allows readers to buy and read digital content from various sources.
Kobo’s marketing power makes up an estimated 25% of all eBook sales in Canada. That’s huge!
Important things to consider with Kobo:
- Cost. It's free to upload your book to Kobo.
- Royalty rate is 70% on books priced more than $2.99 in the U.S. OR 45% for books priced below $2.99
- International power. As an international book retailer and one of the largest ebook stores, Kobo should definitely be on your list for publishing. It operates in 16 countries outside the U.S. and has over 5 million titles available in 77 languages.
- Kobo Writing Life . A great feature of Kobo is the self-publishing platform called Kobo Writing Life [KWL]. This site features an easy-to-publish platform for your books, as well as a detailed sales analytics tool to allow authors to track sales in real time.
For more information on getting started with Kobo, check out the Kobo FAQs here.
#4 – Apple Books
Apple launched its self-publishing platform in 2010. The self-publishing platform for authors is Books and is relatively easy to upload your book.
Publishing on iBooks Authors is free and the royalty is a flat 70%.
Although Amazon has the longest arm of retail sales, Apple fares very well with its direct marketing approach to Mac users, making it the 2nd largest online retailer of eBooks. Why? It targets Mac users, and according to Apple Insider, there are now 100 million Mac users worldwide, making up a significant slice of the 1.8 billion active Apple devices in 2023 .
Important things to consider with Apple Books:
- You have to be a Mac user to publish directly to the Apple Store. If not, use an aggregator such as Smashwords or PublishDrive
- Free to upload and publish your book.
- Royalty rate is 70% for most books sold through Apple only.
- No browser reading . With Kindle you can read the books in the browser. Not with Mac.
- Format. iBooks authors uses the ePub format that is not compatible with most other platforms.
- Availability. iBooks Authors is available in select countries only.
- Contracts. Authors can discount books for free at anytime, and there are no exclusive distribution contracts to weave through.
You can visit Apple Support here to get the steps for formatting and uploading your book to Apple Author. But one unique feature is, you can publish your book using Pages.
I would recommend you visit the Apple Books Publisher User Guide and download the checklist to make the publishing process as easy as possible.
#5 – selfpublishing.com (Yes, that's us!)
When it comes to online learning for self-publishing, we have a whole gamut of resources available for you. Our CEO, Chandler Bolt , 7-time bestselling author, has made it his mission to change the publishing industry and tilt the tables in favor of the author. Our site provides tools, author education, author services, and coaching that help you navigate the entire self-publishing process. In our online curriculum, we also offer templates, checklists, and guides, as well as open office hours and group coaching sessions every day of the week so you get questions answered fast.
Since late 2014, our company has helped over 7,000 authors become published.
For more advanced authors who have already published and are looking to scale up book revenue, we have other programs on advanced book marketing and building an online course from your book.
#6 – Reedsy
Reedsy is a company that provides authors with a number of self-publishing services. It has a powerful outsourcing platform that connects authors with editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers , marketing strategists, and ghostwriters.
Authors need lots of help getting a book ready for publication, and Reedsy makes this process simple with one-stop outsourcing. You can get an editorial assessment of your work, or a query letter review for authors looking to publish the traditional route.
The freelancers outsourced through Reedsy have profiles easily visible and this builds instant trust with authors.
Reedsy is not an aggregator or book retailer but focuses on providing educational materials and services for authors.
They do this by hosting a platform that provides reliable resources for authors to write better and prepare a book for publication.
This saves a lot of time and banging your head against the wall because you just hired another outsourcer that totally messed up your book formatting.
#7 – Lulu
Lulu has been around for a very long time, and is one of the oldest publishing platforms, when they began publishing and distributing ebooks from 2009. By 2014, the publishing giant had produced 2 million books.
The process for working with Lulu is relatively straightforward. As an author, you upload your book to Lulu, and authors can purchase their own books through Lulu.
By acquiring an ISBN, your books can be distributed to online retail outlets such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Apple’s Bookstore.
Important things to consider with Lulu:
- Royalties . The author receives an 80% royalty for print books and a 90% royalty for eBooks after sale.
- Cost . Lulu’s ebook conversion, publishing, and distribution services are free, but they sell a variety of author services including editing, cover design, formatting, promotional services and book marketing.
- Resources. Lulu is a plethora of education, information and houses a large platform to help authors with every step of the publishing process. Lulu has its own bookstore to sell and distribute books.
Lulu is a one-stop-shop for everything and, with the services they have, you can feel confident you’ll get your book published after using their services.
#8 – IngramSpark
When it comes to wide distribution for print-on-demand, this is where IngramSpark comes sliding into home base.
Before Createspace was acquired completely by Amazon , it was the main storefront for authors setting up print books. But now, KDP and IngramSpark work closely together to print and distribute hard copies through print on demand.
IngramSpark has made huge strides in the last couple of years. As part of the Ingram Group, they boast to be the industry’s largest global book distribution network to over 39,000 libraries, bookstores, online retailers, and schools and universities. Ingram also distributes to the top online retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books and Nook.
Important things to consider with IngramSpark:
- Formats and Quality Print . Ingram “prints everything” from novels, graphic novels to children’s books and business textbooks. Ingram offers hardcovers as well as paperbacks and high quality print jobs, an option that KDP doesn’t have.
- Pricing. $49 for print & ebook together. Or, $49 for each if you do it separately.
- Royalties. For distribution orders, Ingram Book Company takes 15-25% from the wholesale discount and the rest goes to the retailer. You receive a 40% royalty when selling through IngramSpark only. But, opt out of Amazon, and you will receive a 45% royalty of the list price.
- ISBN required. Learn how to get an ISBN for your book if you plan to publish with IngramSpark.
Should I go with IngramSpark or KDP?
Suggestion: Both KDP and IngramSpark is recommended. Here are 3 reasons why…
- KDP charges less for print books and it is free to upload and publish.
- KDP has expanded distribution but it is through Ingramspark . The distribution services of Ingram are definitely above and beyond the rest.
- IngramSpark has far better quality and offers superior book bindings and hardcover printing.
#9 – PublishDrive
A relatively new company, PublishDrive is making big strides as a core aggregator. Created by Kinga Jentetics when she was looking for a way to publish her master thesis, PublishDrive was created to help other authors launch their dreams. Kinga Jentetics was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top female entrepreneurs under 30 and top 100 female founders.
“ With PublishDrive you can focus on the most important job: creating beautiful content, meanwhile the rest of the operational work is handled by PublishDrive.”
PublishDrive is an Apple-approved aggregator and Google partner, making it a powerhouse for global distribution.
Important things to consider with PublishDrive :
- Cost. Most retailers or distributors charge a royalty rate for sales. PublishDrive charges a monthly subscription rate and you keep 100% of sales. If you choose not to go with the monthly subscription PublishDrive charges a flat rate of 10% on all sales.
- Distribution Power. It has over 400 stores worldwide with direct distribution to Apple Books, Kobo, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Press, and Google Books.
- Support Team. PublishDrive has a core team of specialists with 24/7 support.
For more information about PublishDrive, check out the PublishDrive FAQs .
#10 – Draft2Digital
Draft2Digital (D2D) is a self-publishing aggregator company.
The website states: “As a writer, you want to write. So when it comes to publishing, you could use a little support. We make it easy. Keep writing. Keep your rights. We'll help with the rest.”
D2D provides a very easy method to upload your book within minutes and have it live on the site within 24 hours.
When it comes to aggregators, whereas Smashwords was once the King of the Hill, D2D has since acquired Smashwords and taken over the top spot. Draft2Digital is the preferred platform for many self-publishers now.
Important things to consider with Draft2Digital :
- Cost. On Draft2Digital, there are no fees for using their service.
- Royalties. As an author, you keep approximately 60% of royalties. D2D keeps 10% of all sales and the stores keep 30%.
- Formatting. D2D handles the formatting for free and that makes this a huge selling point when compared to Smashwords.
- Distribution. D2D distributes to Amazon, whereas Smashwords didn’t. If being published on Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, is important to you this feature is huge.
- Universal Book Links. One major feature of Draft2Digital is they provide authors with access to International Book Links . This can be a major advantage for readers not shopping on Amazon for their favorite books. As an author, instead of having to create links for all the sites, D2D provides you with one link for the book.
For more information on Draft2Digital check out the FAQ page.
#11 – StreetLib
StreetLib is an Italian-based distributor with a strong presence in Europe, mainly Latin America and Europe.
With its expanding international reach, in February 2019 StreetLib launched digital portals for authors and publishers in 20 countries across 6 continents, with 5 in Africa.
Similar to the other aggregators on this list, StreetLib is aiming to distribute books wide to all international markets but the site does have a unique feature: The dashboard is configured for multiple languages such as Italian, Hindi, English and Spanish , and they are adding more as they grow.
In my opinion, this is a site to watch because it is showing exponential growth as Streetlib now moves into the African continent and is building out a distribution channel across all of Europe as well as the Western countries.
StreetLib distributes to all of the major retailers: Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Indigo, Kobo, Tolino, and Google Play Books.
You can check out the StreetLib pricing here but basically, they take 10% of each eBook sale and you get 60%.
If you are looking to break into the European market [and beyond] StreetLib is definitely worth investing in.
Other Book Publishing Companies
While this article covers the best self-publishing companies to work with, it can be helpful to know what other publishing companies are out there, so that you can know the book publishing industry well.
Top Audiobook Publishing Companies
The two primary places to publish audiobooks are ACX (which publishes audiobooks to Amazon's Audible platform) or Findaway Voices (publishing audiobooks wide to multiple platforms).
There are also up-and-coming audio companies like Soundwise and Lantern Audio , which allow you to make audiobooks for their platform.
Authors Republic also allows you to fully, independently publish your audiobook so you can decide where you want to distribute it.
As audiobooks become more popular with each passing year, it is important to give these companies a look. As always, you'll want to make sure you retain the rights, earn as high of royalties as possible, and have control over pricing and such.
Top Traditional Publishing Companies
The traditional publishing space is dominated by five publishing companies , which hold the majority of the market share, commonly known as The Big 5 . These companies hold a lot of power and prestige in the traditional book industry, but they are also extremely difficult to land a book deal with. These companies typically only publish authors that already have a strong social brand and following.
- Penguin Random House . This American publishing company was merged in 2013 from Random House and Penguin Group (part of Pearson). It has published over 15,000 titles annually under its 250 different divisions and trade names.
- Harper Collins . This publishing company is part of NewsCorp, and is headquarted in New York. It has many other trade names, or imprints.
- Simon & Schuster . This American publishing company is part of the CBS Corporation, and was founded in 1924. This company publishes over 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints.
- Hachette . This traditional publishing company is owned by the largest publishing company in France, which is Hachette Livre. It is also the 3rd largest publishing company for trade and educational books.
- MacMillan . This global publishing company has offices in 41 countries worldwide, and operates in 30 others. It is widely known for its education textbook publishing, but it has various divisions and imprints.
Plan For Using the Best Self-Publishing Companies
Publishing Wide means getting your book out into as many stores, platforms and online retail shops as you can.
And the most effective way to publish wide and scale up your book's success means leveraging different self-publishing companies for different purposes.
That's why we recommend using a combination of self-publishing companies to scale up and maximize your book sales and success.
Here's an example of how to use the best self-publishing companies:
- Enroll in an author education program to work with a proven plan that walks you through the steps to launching a bestseller.
- Sign up for our program, get the author services you need , and work with a personal coach to walk you through the steps to launching a bestseller.
- For first time authors, enroll in KDP Select for the first 90 days to gain traction on your book. But then, building out your platform, look at setting your book up for long term success in deeper international markets.
- On IngramSpark , reaching a global audience with Ingram’s wide distribution network.
- On Kobo , you are tapped into the Canadian market and taking advantage of big book sales there.
- PublishDrive is distributing your book to Amazon, Apple Books, Google, Barnes & Noble, and local distributors.
- With StreetLib you are branching out further into the European markets and the African continent.
Ready to Start Your Self-Publishing Journey Today?
I know this looks like a lot of work, and you could expend tons of effort without seeing much result at first. But I promise it will be worth it if you put in the work and follow a proven process.
Now that you have a solid list of the best self-publishing companies there are today, what is holding you back?
The decision to publish and make a living as a bestselling international author is now up to you. If you're ready to take the next step with your book, click the button below.
What are the best self-publishing companies you've found?
Skyhorse publishing review – the right path for your book.
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A Guide to the Top 6 Self-Publishing Companies: Tools for Writers Series
Hooray! You've written a book, which is a goal that most people want to achieve but few actually do. Now, it's time to publish your work.
You have options.
The first option is to go with a traditional publisher. If you choose this option, you'll need to find a literary agent and then attract a traditional publisher. This is the standard way of getting your book published and it has its pros and cons. We've discussed the ins and outs of traditional publishing before, which you can check out here .
Here's the bottom line: traditional publishing gives you a lot of support when it comes to editing, packaging, and marketing your book, but it's extremely competitive. You may not get an agent. You may not get a publisher. And, despite everyone's best efforts, your book may not sell. But you won't have to pay for publishing and going with a traditional publisher is your best bet for getting your book into a brick-and-mortar bookstore.
Your other option is to self-publish. Self-publishing isn't what it used to be. Back in the day, self-publishing meant that you paid a print shop to print X copies of your book. Then, the entire burden was on you to promote and distribute your book.
That's no longer the case.
Modern desktop publishing means that authors can create and design an entire manuscript with the help of free software like Google Docs.
Self-published books rarely make it to bookstores. But that's not a big deal because self-published authors can use the internet as a direct-to-consumer distribution channel. Who doesn't shop for books on Amazon these days?
But when it comes to self-publishing, you don't have to do all of the heavy lifting. You can work with a self-publishing company to turn your manuscript into a published book. This is known as “assisted self-publishing” and is a relief for writers who want to self-publish but don't have the time or inclination to do every single thing. It can be overwhelming to edit your drafts, format the manuscript, design a book cover, market your book, and get it in front of buyers, especially when you don't know where to start.
If you're looking for help, consider working with a one-stop-shop self-publishing company. These companies offer a variety of services to assist authors, from registering your book to creating a promotional video trailer.
With assisted publishing, you will pay for publishing. Despite the company's marketing promises, it's unlikely that your book will make it into a brick-and-mortar bookstore. The biggest benefit of working with a one-stop-shop self-publishing company is that you don't have to do everything by yourself. You can rely on the professionals at the self-publishing company to do the production.
(Assisted publishing is different from true DIY self-publishing where you oversee the entire process from writing to designing to distributing. DIY self-publishing is more involved and complicated but gives you the most control.)
Looking for a one-stop-shop self-publishing company? Don't sign up with the first one you see. Be careful of unscrupulous companies looking to scam you out of your money.
In this post, we'll help you compare one-stop-shop self-publishers. Let’s get started.
Why should you work with an assisted self-publishing company instead of doing it alone?
These are three main benefits of working with an assisted self-publishing company:
It saves time. Publishing a book requires a huge investment of time. If you don’t have any time to spare, it makes sense to hire a company that can do it for you.
It saves sanity. Book publishing is also complicated. If you aren’t interested in learning an entirely new skillset (e.g. book publishing), pay someone else to do it for you.
It makes sense for the one-time-only author. If you’re not interested in writing more than one book (for example, you may only wish to write a family memoir for posterity ), there’s no need to learn how to self-publish. It’s definitely a good idea to go with an assisted self-publishing company that can take your written manuscript and turn it into a published book.
Here’s a list of 7 warning signs to avoid when choosing a self-publishing company. Subscribe to receive this extra resource.
Download your bonus content:
What should you look for in an assisted self-publishing company?
Now that you’re leaning toward an assisted self-publishing company, look for a self-publishing company that:
Has a transparent fee - Most assisted self-publishing companies charge an upfront fee, and all should be transparent with the prices for their services. Steer clear of companies that ask you to email them for a quote.
Claims no rights to your work - You’re self-publishing which means that you should retain all rights to your work.
Top 6 Assisted Self-Publishing Companies
Here are our top picks for quality self-publishing service providers. All of these companies will help you with print and ebook formatting, design, and distribution.
- Blurb - Blurb offers a one-stop-shop to help you create, sell, and distribute your book. You can opt to self-publish or work with one of their approved experts to develop your book. Services include layout, ghostwriting, cover design, and marketing. You'll have to work with individual service providers, such as book cover designers, ghostwriters, and publicists, to get the exact quote. Learn more here .
- BookBaby - BookBaby stands behind its service with a 100% satisfaction guarantee that includes cover design and book printing. You can choose between three self-publishing packages that range from $890 to $2,290. All packages include 23 softcover books, two ISBN barcodes, ebook conversion and distribution, and print-on-demand distribution. If you need a cover design, interior formatting, and marketing help, you'll need to opt for the more expensive packages. Learn more here .
- Draft2Digital - Draft2Digital does not charge fees for formatting your book. Instead, they collect a distribution fee of 10% of the book's retail price. That said, Draft2Digital does not dictate pricing. You are free to set your book's price to anything you want, including $0. Draft2Digital formats your manuscript and will distribute your book to stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also track sales through Draft2Digital. You choose a design from a premade template, and Draft2Digital provides ISBNs free of charge. Don't worry, Draft2Digital does not acquire any rights to your book. However, because there are no upfront costs or service packages, you may not receive the same robust options as you would from another assisted self-publishing company. Learn more here .
- Gatekeeper Press - Gatekeeper Press has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+ and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. With transparent pricing and easy-to-understand descriptions of services, Gatekeeper Press is a good option for many new authors. In addition to a la carte pricing, you can opt for a package deal, which ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 for a standard 200-page book. (You'll pay $1 per page for every page beyond 200.) Both packages include copyright, eBook, paperback, hardcover, and cover design. You will also receive four free paperback copies. Learn more here .
- Lulu - Lulu is one of the most popular self-publishing companies because it allows users to customize their experience in many ways. For example, it offers a staggering 3,000+ style combinations. You can choose to create many types of products, from standard novels to comic books. While Lulu itself does not provide full-service assistance, it does partner with other services that can help you complete the design of your book. Learn more here .
- StreetLib - Similar to Draft2Digital, StreetLib doesn't ask for upfront costs. Instead, StreetLib earns a distribution fee on print and ebooks. Expect to pay 10% on the cover price for ebooks, 20% for audiobooks, and 10% plus a one-off activation cost of € 49 ($55 USD) for a print book. All StreetLib packages include free ISBN codes and Monday-Friday email support. You can add other services, such as audiobook production and cover design. Learn more here .
Getting assistance in self-publishing your book is a fine idea. There are many great companies to guide you through the process without requiring you to learn an entirely new skillset. However, scams abound and it’s important to go into this process with realistic expectations. One-stop-shop self-publishing companies can help you turn your manuscript into a printed and bound book, but they won’t determine whether your book sells. Only you can do that.
Here are more resources to help! Check out these book marketing posts:
- Marketing Your First Book: Proven Strategies for Getting Book Reviews & Visibility
- How to Use YouTube to Promote Your Writing
- How to Work With a Book Blogger to Boost Your Sales
- Social Media Marketing for Authors
- How to Market Your First Book: 9 Tips You Need to Know
Enter your email for your FREE 7-Day Bootcamp and learn:
- 5 Unconventional Techniques to help you finish your Draft
- The Key to Getting Readers to Care About Your Characters
- How to Master Dialogue, even if you’re a First-Time Writer
- What You Need to Know to Hold Your Reader’s Interest
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The 15 Best Self Publishing Companies to Support Your Writing Career
Understanding the best self publishing companies is a guaranteed way to kickstart your career as an indie author in 2022. When you’re getting started as an author, especially if you’re writing a book for the first time , it helps to have as much knowledge as possible.
With a variety of resources available to you – from aggregators to print-on-demand services – knowing the biggest names in self publishing companies is key to getting your book out.
What is self publishing?
The act of getting your writing (whether that’s a novel, short story collection, comic book, and so forth) into the world by yourself is considered self publishing. The keywords in that last sentence are “by yourself,” so meaning without the assistance of an established publisher. Understanding how and why you should use some of the best self publishing companies is one piece of the ever-changing indie author puzzle.
What is an aggregator?
Throughout the indie world, you may hear the term “aggregator” tossed out. An example of an aggregator is Amazon KDP , where you upload your book manuscript and then allow a service like KDP to distribute your work across many channels.
What is a distribution service?
Another common phrase amongst the best self publishing companies is “distribution service.” Distribution companies – like IngramSpark – take your book directly from printer to retailer. These services cut out middlemen but do require work like cover design to be completed first. If you’re still wondering what distribution service is best for you, head over to our quiz!
Written Word Media’s List of the Best Self-Publishing Companies
- Apple Books for Authors
- Barnes and Noble Press
- Self-Publishing School
Ready to dig in? Let’s do this!
1. Amazon KDP
Their name is synonymous with the best self publishing companies for a reason. Amazon KDP stands for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It holds at least 80% of the eBook market and is easily one of the most popular self publishing companies out there. For an overview of KDP, take a look at our video to see the ins and outs of this service:
2. Apple Books for Authors
Self publishing on Apple Books is yet another incredibly popular – and highly talked about – platform for indie authors. We have a step-by-step list of how to self-publish on Apple Books available, but first, you may be wondering why Apple Books. Our high-level answer? This self publishing option makes your eBook available on Apple Books as well as the “Books” section of iTunes. As Apple themselves said , digital book buying has boomed since 2020… And we all know that Apple claims a major piece of that market!
Yet another big-name self publishing company for all you authors is Kobo or Rakuten Kobo by its full name! One of the most exciting things about this company is that you can self publish on Kobo in as little as six steps. As a bonus, it’s completely free to get started! This means you can tap into the power of one of the biggest and best self publishing companies at no up-front cost to you.
4. Barnes and Noble Press
Barnes and Noble Press, also referred to as Nook Press, is a self publishing option that puts your book out in front of millions of readers. Not only is it relatively simple to get started with, but there are additional tools through the B&N Press site (like a royalties calculator) beneficial to all types of authors. We’ve previously listed all the steps for how to self publish on Nook Press , so be sure to take a look and dive in.
Need an all-in-one platform for your self publishing needs? Then look no further than PublishDrive, which handles both the distribution and promotion of books. With a global reach that distributes print books, eBooks, and audiobooks, PublishDrive is ideal for the author who wants to take more of a hands-off approach to publishing.
If you’re looking for one of the highest-reviewed, best self publishing companies that seems to do it all… Reedsy’s your new friend. With book editing, design, and marketing services in one place, we recommend Reedsy for any indie author – but especially for those looking at how to publish and sell your first book. As we said with PublishDrive, this is a great option for those who want to write their book then put it into someone else’s hands for getting it to readers.
StreetLib is one of several self publishing distribution services that focuses on taking your book files and spreading them to a worldwide network. If you’ve produced an eBook, audiobook, podcast, magazine, or even comic book then Streetlib can distribute it. Their distribution network includes physical and online bookstores, so you can reach readers everywhere they go.
While we’re on the topic of distribution services, we can’t forget about IngramSpark! Their distribution network is one of the biggest in the world , reaching more than 40,000 stores. Like most similar services, IngramSpark is pretty easy to use. Create an account, upload your book details, and let IngramSpark take over. As an added bonus, they have additional services such as marketing assistance and design tools.
Lulu – also known as Lulu publishing, Lulu press, or Lulu.com – can really take the stressors of self publishing off an author’s shoulders. In efforts to house all needs under one roof, they provide print-on-demand , print and eBook distribution, resources, and much more. For those ready to get started, we covered the nitty-gritty details of how to publish with Lulu in this article.
One of the known perks of Draft2Digital is its ease of use. In our guide to the best self publishing companies that offer distribution services, we showed you how to format, publish, and distribute your book all through D2D. They are able to distribute your book across a vast network of retailers – including Amazon, Apple Books, and Scribd – and can even create a promotional homepage for you within their site.
On their website, Smashwords describes themselves as “the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks.” Enough said! Use Smashwords to not only distribute your book to retailers and libraries but publish (for free!) directly through the Smashwords Store. As a note, if you choose to publish through the Smashwords Store you’ll earn up to 80% royalties. This is a big deal, particularly if you remember that Amazon royalties pay out at a maximum of 70%.
You’re likely noticing a common theme amongst many of the names featured on this list of the best self publishing companies: Nearly all of them offer book distribution services. The same is true for XinXii, which is capable of publishing both eBooks and audiobooks. You can register for free on XinXii to get started, create an author page, and have access to services like epub formatting conversion.
13. Self-Publishing School
Self-Publishing School takes the idea of helping writers one step further – and goes to the very beginning of the writing process. From helping you develop your book idea all the way to publishing and promoting your title, they really do it all. While their publishing packages certainly come with a hefty price tag, they all include one-on-one coaching calls that any indie author would benefit from. This is the self publishing company for someone who’s starting from square one.
BookBaby can handle it all! Don’t believe us? Our 2019 guide reported that BookBaby’s many services include book printing, editing, design, and distribution. In 2022, BookBaby has grown to do even more – such as editing and proofreading . With so many best self publishing companies clamoring to serve authors, it doesn’t seem like these all-in-one services are slowing down any time soon.
Blurb’s bread and butter is the design aspect of book publication. Aside from printing photo books and wall art, their design software simplifies the creation of digital and print books. Hey, you can even design magazines if that happens to strike your fancy! Once your book is created, set it up and monitor sales on Blurb’s Bookstore (as well as other retailers). This in-house store reminded us of Smashwords’ platform.
Best Self Publishing Companies: Ok, What Comes Next?
Now that you know how to get your book into the hands of readers, it’s time to consider creating a marketing strategy . Here at Written Word Media, we have a bevy of promotional tools to effectively market your book to new audiences:
- Is your book free? Consider a Freebooksy promotion.
- If your book is priced under $4.99, a Bargain Booksy promotion is right for you.
- Promote Steamy Romance titles through Red Feather Romance.
- New releases under 4 months old can be promoted with NewInBooks.
- Are you promoting an audiobook? Head over to Audio Thicket.
- Promote Romance books in a dedicated newsletter with our latest brand: Limelight.
And if you’re ready to step up your promotional game with the help of Facebook Ads, we’ve got your back. Our Reader Reach Ads are the full-service ad solution for self published authors. Save time, save money, and get back to what you love most… Writing!
As always, authors, we want to hear from you. Have you worked with any of the self publishing companies on our list? What went well? What do you wish could have gone differently? Be sure to let us know – and until next time, happy writing and publishing!
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4 comments on “ the 15 best self publishing companies to support your writing career ”.
This information is fantastic! Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge with authors. As an indie author, I appreciate you tremendously. Self-publishing can be intimidating, but your post lays everything out in an easy-to-understand way. I have my first novel written, but have not yet published it. You have provided me the knowledge and confidence I needed. Thank you!
Really Nice list of self-publishing companies. Thanks for sharing.
Fantastic and very amazing! I have authored and publish some books in Africa but looking for partnership to publish in different forms and different sites.
Fantastic and very amazing! I have authored and published some books in Africa but looking for partnership to publish in different forms and different sites.
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Home / Book Publishing / The 8 Best Self Publishing Companies  (Retailers and Aggregators)
The 8 Best Self Publishing Companies  (Retailers and Aggregators)
Why should you know the best self-publishing companies available? Picture this:
You’re done. No more long nights and sleepless days. No more worrying about potentially gaping plot holes. All that’s left is to publish (and a victory beverage, of course).
Easy enough, right?
Wrong. Publishing–especially self-publishing–can be a very daunting task. There is a lot to consider and one false step can lead to a very poor introduction for your book into the world.
Don’t fret though. There are some great self publishing companies out there to give your book the fighting chance it deserves. But in order to ask “What are the best self publishing companies?”, you must first understand which type is best for you and some key differences between aggregators and marketplaces.
In this article, you will learn what are the best self-publishing companies for writers:
Kindle Direct Publishing (Retailer)
Apple books (retailer).
- KOBO (Retailer)
Barnes and Noble Press (Retailer)
Draft2digital (aggregator), bookbaby (aggregator), publishdrive (aggregator), ingramspark (aggregator).
Let’s go ahead and learn the difference between the two types: retailers and aggregators.
Table of contents
- Book Retailers vs Book Aggregators vs Full Service
- So, Should You Choose a Retailer or an Aggregator or Full Service?
- Best Self Publishing Book Companies of 2023
- Extra Resources for Kindle Direct Publishing
- Extra Resources for Apple Books
- Extra Resources for Kobo
- Extra Resources for Barnes and Noble Press (NOOK)
- Extra Resources for Draft2Digital
- Extra Resources for BookBaby
- Extra Resources for PublishDrive
- Extra Resources for IngramSpark
- Which of These Self-Publishing Companies Should You Use?
- What Do I Personally Do?
Before we get into the list of best self-publishing companies, it's important to understand that there are three types of companies: Retailers, Aggregators, and Full Service.
Book retailers are markets that directly sell books. Through these, as an author, you can upload your book and directly sell on their market. Book retailers consist of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and more.
However, there is another self publishing company called ‘aggregators.' With these, you can submit your book, and they will send it out to all the other 40+ book retailers saving you time and energy. Some of the most popular book aggregators are Draft2Digital and PublishDrive and more.
Finally, there are Full Service publishing companies. These companies help in every facet of book writing , getting an editor , formatting the books , publishing and even book promotion marketing .
Well, all of this depends on how you want to market your book . Just remember… with retailers, you get a bigger slice of the pie. But in theory, aggregators can help you put your work in front of a wider audience.
As you can see, Amazon rules to the roost with over 85% of book market share. However, that other 15% is pretty important. So, how do I self publish my books? Which market or aggregators do I use? Well, scroll down to the bottom to find out. But in the meantime, let's look at the top self publishing companies and see what type of aggregators or retailers are out there.
Owned by Amazon, KDP is the top dog when it comes to the best self-publishing companies. The amount of sales done through Amazon dwarfs the competition. All of it. This comes from their widespread reach to customers and lucrative royalty offers. KDP pays out 35% or 70% of the book’s price, depending on the option you choose.
KDP offers a very unique program with KDP Select as well. This is where you give Amazon 90 days of exclusive rights–meaning you can’t list it anywhere else for that time–in return for discount promotions and countdown deals. Also, if using KDP Select, your book becomes part of the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited. Here you will get paid by the amount of pages your subscribers read. And here’s the best part: If you find success through KDP Select, you can re-enroll your book as many times as you want.
When publishing on Amazon, you must make sure that your eBook is formatted into an Amazon approved file format . This is a MOBI or AZW (or AZW3) format. Many eBooks are written in EPUB, so make sure that you use a program such as Calibre to properly convert your formats .
If you’re looking to put your book in front of the most powerful market out there, KDP is right for you. Now granted, the competition on Amazon can be rather fierce. That’s why it pays off to have a great marketing and release plan . This includes properly choosing your keywords and categories and establishing the best AMS ads you can. Luckily through the help of tools such as Publisher Rocket , you can effectively self-publish and launch your book!
- KDP Tools and Resources
- Digital Pricing and Royalty Rates
- Is KDP Select right for you?
- Pros and Cons of KDP Exclusivity
Apple Books is Apple’s answer to Amazon KDP. Although it does not nearly have the retail power of KDP, it does have one major advantage.
Direct access to Mac users.
This is actually a lot bigger than you would expect. Mac users tend to focus more on brand loyalty. Mac users are more likely to have iPhones and vice versa. Apple tends to create a full user experience through their products and Apple Books is no exception. As a matter of fact, many Mac users start their eBook experience on Apple Books and are happy enough to not need to find anything else.
You must also be a Mac user in order to directly publish on Apple Books. If you are not, then you must go through a book aggregator to make your manuscript available on Apple Books. But if doing so, make sure that your book is formatted properly. This shouldn’t be too difficult however. Apple Books recognizes and accepts both EPUB and PDF formats .
When it comes to royalties, Apple offers a flat 70% rate.
- How to publish your eBooks on Apple Books
- Best things to know about Apple’s iBook store
Better Keywords & Categories Fast
See why over 47,000+ authors and publishing companies use and love Rocket to help them sell more books.
While it’s true that only a very small percentage of books sold in the US come from Kobo, it can still be an awesome platform to utilize. Why’s that?
It’s estimated that Kobo accounts for 25% of all Canadian eBook sales. That’s a sizeable number to compete with Amazon’s KDP. Based out of Toronto, this Canadian company has gone global as well. It is readily available in regions all over the globe.
If you’re interested in a global outreach, Kobo may be the best self- publishing company for you to choose from. It pays out a maximum royalty rate of 70% on all books listed for more than $2.99.
- How to publish a book on Kobo
- Selling more books on Kobo with Joanna Penn and Mark Lefebvre
- How to Set the Price on your Kobo
- Kobo Tips and Tricks
Previously known as NOOK, Barnes and Noble Press is the self-publishing platform of the aforementioned book retailers. This is another exclusive eBook retailer. All books published here are only sold via Barnes and Noble’s online and physical bookstore locations.
Barnes and Noble Press comes with the added benefit of Print-on-Demand services. This means you no longer need to have that stack of unclaimed paperbacks taking up a corner of your living room.
The royalty payout rates for Barnes and Noble Press are definitely competitive as all books priced over $2.99 receiving a 65% royalty.
- Barnes and Noble Press Royalty Rates and Calculator
- Self-Publishing Services for Barnes and Noble Press
- Barnes and Noble Print on Demand Services
- Getting your Self-Published eBook Sold in Barnes and Noble as a Physical Copy
Draft2Digital (D2D) is the undisputed king of ebook aggregators. Ever since they acquired Smashwords in 2022, they've had little to no competition, instead becoming a potential rival of the big retailers themselves.
D2D has a lot of hidden features, in addition to being able to distribute to all major retailers and libraries. They also have universal book links for all of your books, print services, and a partnership with Findaway Voices to distribute audio.
Another advantage to D2D is that they provide formatting services free of charge. This in itself is not necessary but is a very welcome quality of life change. As far as commissions go, D2D takes a 10% piece no matter where your book is sold.
- Draft2Digital vs Publish Drive
If there ever was a fully complete one stop shop for self publishing, BookBaby would be the one.
BookBaby goes above and beyond when it comes to your journey of self-publishing. Their goal is to make everything as simple as possible for you. From formatting, to publishing, to distribution, to social media promotion, and more!
BookBaby distributes to both the eBook and print markets. Their partners include all the major retailers including Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
On top of all this, BookBaby also offers print on demand services and cover design services as well.
You can figure out pricing using their user-friendly calculator to ensure that you stay within your budget. They also offer complete package deals (and I mean COMPLETE) for eBooks starting at just $1699.
- Quote and Pricing Calculator for BookBaby
- Deep Dive into BookBaby
PublishDrive is a relative newcomer to the self-publishing world and is already one of the best self-publishing companies available. Established in 2015, Kinga Jentetics wanted to find a way to reliably publish her master’s thesis. She and her team now operate in over 75 countries in 75 different languages.
Publish Drive works with all major online retailers including Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
Perhaps, the most unique feature about Publish Drive is their pricing options. Whereas most companies offer royalty options, Publish Drive offers another option: Subscription pricing. With their subscription, you get to retain 100% of your royalties. You simply pay $100 per month to maintain this. This is an excellent option for well-established authors.
- Global Publishing with Kinga Jentetics from Publish Drive
- Publish Drive FAQs
With over 15 years of Self-Publishing and Print on Demand experience, I cannot in good faith construct this list without IngramSpark . Their Ingram Content Group is the largest distribution network in Self-Publishing right now with over 39000 separate marketplaces in 195 different countries. If you're looking to extend the long arm when it comes to your self-published titles, IngramSpark may be the company for you.
For those of you considering offering Print on Demand…IngramSpark should definitely be an option. They deliver one of largest selections of print formatting available and with a quality that is second to none. Looking for clear, crisp text? Or more vibrant colors for your illustrations? IngramSpark is the Print on Demand service you need.
One thing to note is that IngramSpark is not the cheapest Print on Demand service available. And they don't claim to be. But their quality is worth the price.
For your ebooks, you can have one of two rates for royalties. You receive a 40% royalty when utilizing the full strength of IngramSpark. However, if you choose to opt out of Amazon, you will receive a 45% royalty of the list price.
- IngramSpark Print and Ship Calculator
- Why you need both KDP and IngramSpark
Format Beautiful Professional Books
Easy to use, and and full of amazing features, you can quickly turn your book into a professional book.
If I had to define one clear-cut winner, I simply couldn't. Each have strengths distinctly unique to them. And nobody said that you couldn’t use more than one.
Let’s say I wanted to release a book in the US market. KDP and Amazon would absolutely be on my list. It is the largest retail market for books on Earth. If I were to forgo the option of enrolling in KDP Select, then I could also take advantage of Draft2Digital.
Let’s say my major market is in Canada or South Africa… Is Amazon going to be the most beneficial for me? At this time, I would probably focus more efforts into Kobo. Once again, I could couple this with a book aggregator to maximize my reach.
What if you just wrote a book and know nothing about self-publishing? What if you would rather just have the joys of self-publishing with some of the benefits of traditional publishing? Then perhaps BookBaby’s complete package deal is right for you.
Here are my sales in the different markets at the time of writing this article:
As you can see, I've made the most of my sales through Amazon, but I've had a significant amount of sales thanks to aggregators as well. Although the information above is lifetime values, here is my current layout of the self publishing companies I use for my books:
I personally upload to the following retailers:
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Barnes & Noble
Then for the rest of the retailers (there's over 40 others) I use the following aggregator:
Why D2D? Well, I spell that out here . However, I've been in contact with PublishDrive and I'm REALLY impressed with what I've heard.
Choosing one of the best self publishing companies is not about selecting the company with the biggest reach for the most niche sales. It is about finding out what is best for your book and your situation.
When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.
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Learn how to rank your Kindle book #1 on Amazon with our collection of time-tested tips and tricks.
4 thoughts on “ The 8 Best Self Publishing Companies  (Retailers and Aggregators) ”
We are complete novices at self publishing so are looking at Book Baby or Archway. We are trying to compare author satisfaction and returns for our self published book. Do you know anything regarding the reputations, author satisfaction, and return comparisons for these two companies?
I’ve heard of Book Baby but not Archway. And it’s hard to say whether they’d be good or not without knowing your specific needs. That said, the best companies will usually be widely known, and we try to keep this article up to date.
Thanks for the info. It’s very helpful. Just a quick question, on this ‘What Do I Personally Do?’ section, you listed Amazon. Was the sales promoted by D2D service or it was from your own KDP? Are you suggesting that we should do both KDP and D2D? Thanks,
I put my book through KDP for Amazon, and then went to Draft2Digital to put it on all the others.
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Top 10 Self-Publishing Companies: A 2018 Guide for First-Time Authors
Self-published books now account for 30% to 40% of ebook sales. Ebooks themselves make up close to 40% of all books sold, and in 2018 they are set to outsell print books in the US. All this bodes well for self-publishing authors, for whom ebooks are the preferred format. They will continue to see a healthy growth in sales as more and more people adopt e-reading. Self-publishers are also benefiting as customers switch over from brick-and-mortar bookstores to online ones like Amazon, which put self-publishers on a level footing with traditional publishers. If you are still wondering whether to self-publish or take the traditional route, you may read through the pros and cons of each option . In case you decide to self-publish, we have put together a list of publishing service companies that are popular among independent authors. The basic services that these companies provide are manuscript conversion into publishing-ready formats and access to one or more retail platforms. Some companies even offer a range of author solutions such as professional book editing and cover design , enhanced distribution, and marketing and promotional assistance. The list of companies below follows no particular order. You can choose to publish with one or more of them.
Owned by Amazon, KDP publishes and retails ebooks that can be read on Kindle devices or on devices that have installed the Kindle app. This is one publisher that an independent author cannot afford to ignore: About 80% of all English-language ebook sales occur via Amazon, and self-published titles alone account for 42% of this figure. If you are willing to grant Amazon exclusive distribution of your ebook for a 90-day period, you can enroll into KDP Select, a marketing program that helps authors promote books largely through discounts and countdown deals. If KDP Select works well for you (and discounting is an effective way to promote sales—as the success of book promotional services like Bookbub shows), you can re-enroll into the program as many times as you want. Participation in KDP Select also makes your book available to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners Lending Library for Amazon Prime members, and you will receive additional payments depending on the number of pages subscribers read. Kindle ebooks use the .MOBI format, unlike most other publishers who use .EPUB. If you have created your ebook in Word, you can convert it to .MOBI using free conversion software like Calibre. KDP pays authors royalties of 35% or 70% on the book’s list price
This is Amazon’s publishing platform for print books and uses print-on-demand publishing, where no stocks are held—a book is printed only when a customer places an order. Books published with CreateSpace retail exclusively on Amazon, unless the author has opted into their Expanded Distribution program. Under this program, authors can make their books available to online and offline retailers such as Barnes & Noble, and to distributors such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. On being added to the distributors’ catalogs, the appear in the ordering systems of the distrubutors' network of retailers, libraries, and academic institutions, and can be ordered whenever a customer places a request at any of these places. Amazon gives customers a better browsing and purchase experience by linking a book’s paperback and digital versions during the publishing process, provided the details of both versions match exactly. Amazon takes a 40% cut from every regular sale, and 60% from sales made through their Expanded Distribution program. Royalty is paid after deducting Amazon’s commission (40% or 60%), a fixed charge, and a per-page charge from the book’s list price. Note that CreateSpace does not at present offer the hardcover format.
Apple’s iBooks is the second-biggest ebook retailer after Amazon, accounting for 10% of sales in the top 5 countries. Its more than 40 country-specific ebook stores give unique benefits to authors: They can price their books differently in each country depending on the prices of comparable books, and even set prices in the local currency. Moreover, authors can schedule free book and discount offers anytime, and there is no exclusive distribution contract. To publish directly on iBooks, you must have a Mac device; else you will have to go through an ebook aggregator. Apple offers a flat 70% royalty rate.
Formerly known as NOOK Press, this is a self-publishing portal from Barnes & Noble. It accounts for 3% of ebook sales, almost all of it from the US. It also offers print-on-demand publishing. Books published with Barnes & Noble Press retail only at their online and physical bookstores. Royalty rates range from 40% to 65%, depending on the price of the book.
An anagram of “book,” Kobo accounts for about 2% of total ebook sales in the top 5 English-language markets combined. It is a significant player in Canada, though, where it accounts for as much as 25% of ebook sales. Like the Kindle, Kobo offers an e-reading device as well as an app for reading on other devices. Ebooks published with Kobo are available to readers in over 190 countries. It also runs the Kobo eReading Program with the American Booksellers Association, and member bookstores can give their customers access to Kobo’s 5 million+ titles. Kobo also has partnerships with e-book retailers around the world . LRoyalty rates are either 45% or 70%, depending on the ebook’s price.
This is a self-publishing service established by Ingram, the world’s leading distributor of print books connected to 39,000 bookstores, libraries, and online retailers in more than 150 countries. IngramSpark also distributes ebooks to all the top online retailers, including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. They publish hardcover books, and even offer a premium level of printing—this is useful for books containing many pictures. They also offer authors a book returns option; authors who opt in stand a better chance of being stocked by brick-and-mortar booksellers, who are otherwise reluctant to carry self-published titles. IngramSpark charges a 53% commission for sales to bookstores and 30% to online retailers, after deducting book production costs. They also charge a $49 set-up fee and $12 annual fee.
Smashwords is a popular ebook aggregator and distributes ebooks to almost all the top retailers, including Kobo, iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble. They have extensive ebook formatting guidelines that enable easy conversion into the formats required by their multiple retail partners. On the flip side, Smashwords does not distribute to Amazon, and offers no support with ebook formatting. If you need help formatting your ebook, and/or if you would rather publish with an aggregator that also distributes to Amazon, you may be better off publishing with Draft2Digital. Smashwords takes a 10% cut on books sold through their own retail channel, and 15% on books sold through other retailers—this is in addition to the retailer’s own fees.
Although Draft2Digital has fewer retail partners than Smashwords, it distributes to Amazon and covers all the major ebook retailers. They have another significant advantage—they will format your ebook, and for free. They charge 10% of the retail price at most retailers.
Lulu is one of the oldest online self-publishing companies and a popular distributor of digital and print books. They retail books through their own bookstore as well as distribute to other online stores (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.) and book distributors (Barnes & Noble and Ingram). Lulu offers both hardcover and paperback formats for print books. Their ebook conversion, publishing, and distribution services are free, but they sell an array of support services including editing, cover design, and book marketing. For books sold through their marketplace, Lulu charges a 20% commission after deducting any book production costs applicable to print copies. Sales generated through partner retailers would additionally attract their own commission.
Bookbaby retails books through their own Bookshop and distributes to other retailers as well. Apart from publishing and distribution, they also sell services such as editing, cover and interior design, and marketing. Services can be purchased individually or as a package. All services are paid. Ebooks earn 100% royalties after deducting the retailer’s commission. Sales made through Bookshop, however, earn 85% royalties. Bookbaby also has a print-on-demand service. Printed books generate royalties between 10% and 30%. There are other ways to publish and sell, too. For example, you can publish and sell directly to your customers from your own Web page by using Gumroad. You can also crowdfund your book using platforms like Unbound and Inkshares: Pitch or directly post your book/book proposal—as required by the platform, set a funding goal, and create a campaign to get support. If the goal is met, the company will edit, design, publish, distribute, and even market your book like a traditional publisher would.
As Amazon dominates 80% of the ebook market, you should publish directly with KDP rather than go through an aggregator. You could choose an aggregator/distributor for the rest, or even ignore them temporarily if you’re a new author learning the ropes. If you go exclusively with Amazon, you can access their powerful marketing features even as you earn a higher royalty rate. Bear in mind, though, that if the other retailers are excluded indefinitely, your book may never reach its sales potential. After all, Kobo accounts for 25% of the Canadian market, and iBooks for 30% of the Australian and 10% of the overall market. It is best to try out all the major retailers at some point in time, or for some of your books.
If you want to sell print copies, and have signed up with KDP for ebooks, go with CreateSpace for Amazon. Alternatively, you can opt for IngramSpark, Lulu, or Bookbaby because they offer print-on-demand copies as well as distribute to all the major ebook retailers. If you choose the latter, remember to exclude Amazon when you select retailers from your distributor’s list. Print copies cannot be sold without an ISBN, and it is better to get one on your own rather than use the one assigned by your publishing service company.
Some companies may not accept books from authors located outside the US. Royalty payment processes and payment frequency may also differ across companies. Look up the FAQs on the company websites or contact support for specific queries.
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10 Best Self-Publishing Companies
You’ve spent time and effort in getting your manuscript done. You’ve got a great cover ready for it, and now you’re aching to get it published. You're now on your way to become a self-published author.
Self-publishing has taken the world by storm because authors now realize the advantages it brings. Traditional publishing does have its benefits, especially the amount of support when it comes to packaging and getting your book market-ready. But with self-publishing, authors feel more in control of their time, content, and marketing, something which a traditional publisher may not provide.
What is a Self-Publishing Company?
The publishing process for each method is different. In the current digital era, there have been many companies to provide a self-publishing platform to poise writers for a promising career. They expose the author to a wide customer base, and the author earns through royalties made by their book sales.
When you think of using self-publishing companies for your book, your first thought might be that you will be dealing with the sales of e-books, but the truth is that some of them come with an additional print-on-demand service too.
Even though in the modern-day, nearly one in every four books sold in the US is an e-book, there is a distinct feeling of reading while holding a book in your hand, and the smell of fresh pages are exactly what readers yearn for.
Previously, self-publishing meant that you were responsible for everything from printing to marketing your book, but self-publishing companies have made the work of authors much easier. Every company is different, and each has its own pros and cons.
To understand what’s best for your self-publishing journey, these are 10 of the best self-publishing companies for 2021.
1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP):
Amazon is, without a doubt, the best retailer of books in the world. With Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon allows authors to independently publish their book on their platform with a huge customer base of 310 million active users worldwide already present for them.
There are more than 6 million e-books on Amazon (as of April 2021), many of which are self-published books. KDP provides support for content and metadata in multiple languages.
It also offers print-on-demand (POD) for your books, all the while giving you the option to get your e-book converted into a paperback print book version (provided that you have an ISBN for it).
They also offer enrolment for two very advantageous perks for their authors that aren't offered by others, namely, KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited. With KDP Select, you can run promotions for your book and even set it for free for a limited time period. With Kindle Unlimited, you can subscribe to read an unlimited number of books per month.
But for all these KDP advantages, there is a caveat.
If you get yourself enrolled in KDP Select, you are allowed to sell your book only on Amazon. You’re allowed to upload your book for free, and if your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you can make a royalty of 70% for each book sold.
Given the powerhouse Amazon already is, this also makes Amazon KDP clearly the best self-publishing company in the world.
Other players in the market?
Before you consider Amazon solely for your self-publishing career, you should also know that there are other players in the market who're upping their game in unique and strong ways. Even though Amazon may be enough for some authors, but in order to expand your portfolio, it's highly recommended to keep the other players in sight.
Kobo is a Canadian self-publishing company and is a subsidiary of Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce giant. Kobo alone accounts for nearly 25% of all Canadian ebook sales.
With their Kobo Writing Life (KWL) self-publishing service, you can upload your manuscript and have it added to the Kobo catalog within 72 hours. It has been praised for its user-friendliness, and some have even said that it’s the easiest way to self-publish an e-book.
Like KDP, Kobo also provides perks and promotions to its self-publishing authors, as long as you’re not delivering to aggregators. As of 2019, Kobo had a delivery capacity covering more than 150 countries with over 38 million users. This has been made possible with its collaboration with the otherworld’s largest booksellers. One of them was the major ones was the French distribution partner FNAC for their print-on-demand facility.
A worthy competitor?
As of March 2021, Kobo holds the #5 spot in terms of market share in the US. Even though Amazon has a wider worldwide reach, but with Kobo's continual growth, it has been seen as a strong competitor to Amazon in some areas.
With support for over 5 million titles in several languages available and with the ability to make a 70% royalty on books priced $3 or more, if you plan to self-publish your book , Kobo should definitely be a self-publishing company on your list.
3. Apple Books:
Not only is Apple known for its Mac and iOS platforms, but it's also famous for providing e-books for its customers. By 2012, it was reported that more than 400 million books had been downloaded from the Apple Books platform.
Apple launched its self-publishing wing for Apple Books in 2010. Monetizing your book isn't as easy as Amazon KDP or Kobo, but the customer base is huge with its direct marketing to iPhones and Mac users.
For most books, the royalty rate is set at a flat 70%. There are few caveats to consider. You have to be a Mac user to upload to Apple Books, but it's free to upload. On top of that, you have to use the epub format, which isn't compatible everywhere as of now, but the epub format is gaining popularity.
Apple and Kobo collectively sold 15 million ebook sales and have nearly two-thirds of the Canadian ebook buyers. Given that millions of Apple products are sold each year, Apple Books is definitely a self-publishing company that you should look out for.
4. Barnes and Noble Press:
Formerly known as Nook Press, Barnes and Noble Press combines print on demand nicely into a single platform. It's simple to self-publish and easy to use.
The American book retail store has a history of trying to compete with Amazon and having a strong barrier to entry when trying to get print books on its physical stores, unlike other brick and mortar stores. But that doesn't take away the fact that it's a good platform for self-publishing authors.
Getting a book ready for POD may not be a good long-term option with Barnes and Noble Press because they retail only at their online and physical bookstores. However, they do provide helpful resources to their authors. In 2021, they introduced an advertisement portal to provide the facility to create marketing campaigns for their books.
For books priced from $2.99 to $9.99, the royalty rate is 65%, which isn't bad either. Unlike their competition, they have no restrictions regarding exclusivity for self-published books on their platform. They'll even offer you cheaper printing services if you decide not to use any third parties.
Worldwide access for independent authors may be an issue with B&N Press because its author services are only available for use in United States, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Lulu provides a set of author services and its own retail store for your books, so you can be confident that you can see your book published for sure when you use them. By 2014, Lulu had issued nearly two million titles, and by 2016, they had more than 900,000 e-books.
Self-publishing on Lulu is quite simple. Simply upload the book, and later, with their services, you can see your book on their website and also have it distributed to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, and other retail outlets. They will help you through every stage of the self-publishing process.
Not everything on Lulu is free.
Their royalty rate is also lucrative, with 80% for print books and up to 90% for e-books. Self-publishing is free, but other self-publishing services such as cover design, formatting, and marketing are not.
They claim that you should focus on producing content and leave the rest to them. PublishDrive is a relatively newer company, and it provides international ease of access to self-published authors.
It's an Apple-approved and a Google partnered company, so you can see your book published and distributed to more than 400 worldwide stores, including KDP, Kobo, Apple Books, Scribd, Bookmate, and Google Play Books.
The subscription plan:
Their pricing is a little unique, however. If you agree to pay $100 per month, you earn 100% of all sales. This is a good fit for bestsellers and established authors. But if you don't agree with the monthly subscription plan, as you would with other self-publishing companies, PublishDrive will charge 10% on all sales.
Another aggregator on this list, Draft2Digital, provides the same services and ease of access as the big players in the ebook market. They've been recommended by many for their user-friendly interface and customer service.
They provide uploading and ebook formatting both for free (something not provided by many other publishing companies or even traditional publishers) but charge 10% royalties on all sales. However, you do have the option to upload your book for free too.
Their distribution channels include Amazon, Scribd, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Bibliotheca, and more. They're also one of the aggregators that have been recommended by Reedsy, a British author services, and self-publishing services company .
What makes them stand out?
They provide self-published authors with Universal Book Links (UBLs). These links take customers to each of the author's books to their favorite retailer using just one link.
This Italian aggregator provides a very strong international supply chain with a special focus on the market and self-publishing companies in Europe and Latin America. It has even managed to touch some of Africa's major retailers and markets after it targeted Egypt in 2019.
Quick growth for StreetLib:
Their quick growth is attributed to a strong expansion into Europe, Latin America, and Africa in a relatively short period of time, all the while keeping in touch with other online retailers and distributors such as Amazon, Kobo, Indigo, Tolino, Apple Books, Google Play, Scribd, and more. If you want the USA and UK included in your distribution list, StreetLib has your back.
Their website is configured in many languages, and they charge 10% royalties on sales. So if you're targeting worldwide sales for your self-published books, keep an eye out for StreetLib.
As much as you might think that this company may provide better links in China, it's a German self-publishing company with effective presence and distribution links in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
The German market:
They charge 30% of net sales for books priced more than $2.49, but the customer service and the user interface need some improvement. However, if you require book marketing in German-speaking areas, you might not find a better match than XinXii.
If you have a book that you can translate to German, then XinXii might be the publishing company for your needs.
10. Self-publishing School:
Created by the self-published bestseller Chandler Bolt, Self-publishing School provides the best educational resources for you to kickstart your self-publishing career in a matter of 90 days. Maybe the process of experiencing every part of the publishing process is daunting for you. Self-publishing School has your back.
The best self-publishing course in the market?
Self-publishing School has produced more than 5,000 authors with many books published. The courses provided here help students and prospective authors get a grip of the self-publishing services in the market and the tips they need to succeed in the self-publishing industry.
This school has everything for future self-publishing authors to get a head start with great courses and one-on-one consultations and coaching provided.
Other than the self-publishing companies we mentioned above, there are other POD services with a priced barrier to entry as compared to the ones we listed above. Not all self-publishers may want to try this option, but it's there for people who believe that their work primarily deserves a print book.
The most famous print-on-demand publishing companies include BookBaby , Blurb , and IngramSpark . You can check their websites for pricing details, but you can be sure to have your books seen on key distributors such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Apple Books, and Kobo. They also provide other services too, such as book cover design , book editing , and formatting .
The POD service will most likely get your book on their own bookstore as well. However, if you do plan to consider them, you would have to know what makes their print-on-demand services stand out from traditional publishing.
POD may not be for every self-publishing author but is ideal for those who have seen some success with the proof of sales earlier in their books. This is primarily because of the discoverability they receive with POD services.
Self-publishing companies offer their respective services in their own way. Each has their own benefits and carry their own set of conditions and caveats. It's a little more than personal preference and basic marketing.
Choosing the best self-publishing company boils down to how you want to plan your journey out. You might want to avoid expensive or print-on-demand services at the start to reduce costs. You'll also have to discover which distribution channel works best for you, and depending on your channel, which areas are your target market where would you first like to see your self-published book.