With self-publishing being your best option to publish your book, it’s more important to do your research and understand which self-publishing companies can help you.
You have spent the past 3-6 months writing your book and, after weeks of self-editing and several rewrites, it is time to release your book into the world.
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.
You know there is a long process to this and you aren’t sure where to begin. 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.
Here are the 12 best self-publishing companies for authors:
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Apple Books
- Self-Publishing School
- Publish Drive
In today’s publishing marketplace, self-published authors are leading the race. Now, as an authorpreneur, 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.
This post is introducing you to the 12 best self-publishing companies for authors looking to self publish their books—fiction, nonfiction, or memoirs—and get it into the hands of readers as quickly and easily as possible.
You probably have lots of questions before you decide to publish with one company or go with several.
As most authors know, even if you are new to the self-publishing arena, Amazon’s KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing] is the one publisher that seems to be everywhere. So, a lot of authors may think this is the only path to publishing a book.
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, which is obviously Amazon, and call it a day? Or is it worth it to publish with several other very reputable retailers and distributors to maximize your reach?
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 are the Best Options for Self-Publishing?
If you’ve decided to go with self-publishing over traditional publishing, there are now hundreds of publishing companies, from mega-retailers such as Amazon that sell everything, to smaller private publishers focused on specific genres.
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.
With the help of the best book publishing companies in the business, self publishers are turning their dreams of writing and publishing into a reality.
Self-publishing your self-help book, memoir or action novel is easier than you think it is. But you still need to know the options available as a self-published author.
Our best advice: Do your research before publishing anything, and please, don’t sign that dotted line until after you’ve read this post!
In the past decade, the combination of technology and innovation has brought something to new authors that had never existed before: Publishing opportunity on a massive scale.
The time to get published is NOW, and that book burning a hole in your imagination doesn’t have to wait for someone else to decide if it is publishable
No matter where you are at now with your book, you’re going to publish it, right? Of course you are. For that, you need to think about your options and the grand plan for publishing your “baby.”
Self-Publishing Companies: Terms to Know
- Aggregator—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.
- Retailer— A company 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 Education Company— These sites generally don’t sell books through their platform. Instead, an educator will offer free or paid courses, or paid services to help authors prepare for self-publishing. Examples of publishing educators would be Self Publishing School, Lulu or Bookbaby.
The differences between retailers and aggregators is, retailers can make you more book sales by marketing directly to their market. But most aggregators can place your book into wider channels and a larger audience.
An aggregator is your first step to publishing with an international self-publishing company.
How We Chose 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 level. You need to be realistic and not sign up with the first publisher that promises to get you onto Oprah for your book launch.
To make this list I have put together 6 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 make our decision for 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.
What are the best Self-Publishing Companies for Aspiring Authors?
Now, here are 12 of the best self-publishing companies to get your work out into the world. In order to bring you this list, I have personally worked with most of these companies, some more than others, and will break down the pros and cons of each.
I will also cover how to use these companies together and the benefits of one over the other.
Here’s a list of the best self-publishing companies for aspiring writers:
- Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
- Barnes and Noble Press
- Apple Books
- Self-Publishing School
These are the companies that 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.
#1- Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Kindle Direct Publishing [KDP] is how you publish on Amazon. In the US alone, Amazon makes up close to 40% in self-published digital books. So as an author, you can’t afford to ignore the “big Guerilla” of book publishing.
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 of 35% for books prices under $2.99, or 70%, for all books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
KDP Select Exclusivity
KDP has an exclusive program that sets it apart from the other retailers: the KDP select program.
When you join KDP select 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. Instead, you have access to discount promotions:
1. Free Book Giveaway: To give your book away for free up to 5 days during the 90 day enrollment in KDP select. In addition, your book is placed in Kindle Unlimited [KU] and the Kindle Owners Lending Library [KOLL] where prime members can borrow your book for free and you, as the author, get paid per number of pages read.
Depending on the number of books borrowed or how many you have published, this could be very lucrative each month.
2. The Kindle Countdown Deal is another promotion allows authors to run limited time discount promotions in which authors continue to earn selected royalty rates per sale during the promotion. If tied in with BookBub ads, this deal can work very well.
But the big question is, do I go exclusive with Kindle Direct Publishing? 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 the 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, take into consideration that, 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
“Publishing with B&N Press is as easy as 1, 2, 3. You can easily create different formats of your book, publish, and get sales reporting—
all in one place.”
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 Brick and Mortar retail 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.
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.
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.
To get started with Barnes & Noble Press, simply setting 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.
It is free to upload to B&N. 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.
Books priced over $2.99 get 65% royalty, a competitive rate when compared to other print companies.
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 [a Rakuten Company]
I have a confession to make: I am Canadian.
I publish primarily in the US store and, if it weren’t for Kobo, I would have very few sales in the Canadian store. Why?
Kobo. 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. Whoever thought the world’s 2nd largest country with a population density of 4 people per square kilometers would have so much marketing power for self-publishing.
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 US and has over 5 million titles available in 77 languages.
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.
Launched in 2017, Kobo Plus is Kobo’s subscription service that’s available to customers in Belgium and the Netherlands, in collaboration with Kobo’s Dutch retail partner Bol.
Kobo Global Partnerships
Kobo has expanded its global reach to include a growing number of international ebook retailers.
Kobo Publishing Details:
- Cost of Service: Free to Upload
- Royalty Rate: 70% on books priced more than $2.99 in the U.S. OR 45% for books priced below $2.99
- Book formats: epub
- Competitive Edge: 25% of all ebook sales in Canada, 16 countries worldwide, 77 languages
- How to Publish: How To Publish An eBook on Kobo
- You can download 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 appleinsider, there are now 100 million Mac users worldwide. That is no small cookie. Apple targets Mac users and derives traffic from Mac users already plugged into the brand.
How to Publish Your Book on the Apple Store
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.
Everything you need to make your book available in the Apple Store is right here. You can also update a previously published book.
I would recommend you visit the Apple Books Publisher User Guide and download the checklist to make the publishing process as easy as possible.
A few things to know about publishing to 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
- No browser reading. With Kindle you can read the books in the browser. Not with Mac.
- iBooks Authors uses the ePub format that is not compatible with most other platforms.
- iBooks Authors is available in select countries only.
- Authors can discount books for free at anytime, and there are no exclusive distribution contracts to weave through.
Publishing on Apple
It is free to publish on the Apple Store. The royalty rate is 70% for most books sold through Apple only. If you go through an aggregator, that drops to 60%. The preferred format is Pages of ePub.
#5 – Self-Publishing School
When it comes to online learning for self-publishing, the Self-Publishing School 6-time bestselling author and company Founder Chandler Bolt provides a premium course that takes first-time authors from blank page to bestselling author in 90 days.
Yes, you really can write, develop and publish a book within this timeframe if you follow this formula.
Self-Publishing School launched its way onto the scene back in late 2014 and has since then grown into a multimillion dollar company that has helped close to 5,000 authors become published. That is impressive considering Chandler himself is a college dropout and started the business after publishing his bestselling book The Productive Person.
Although technically Self-Publishing School is listed as a course, it provides a “publishing education service” for first-time authors through their VIP publishing program.
For more advanced authors who have already published and looking to scale up book revenue, the Sell More Books course is definitely recommended. And, if you are looking to turn your book into a course, the Course Building for Authors is the path to take.
The online self-publishing educator has been featured by INC 5000 as one of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in America.
With this comprehensive blueprint, the school has created a system to take you from first time author through to professional entrepreneur.
In addition to the courses, the Self-Publishing School Blog is now one of the top-rated blogs on book publishing. You can find a wealth of information here to help you write a book step-by-step, including helpful tools like the Book Profit Calculator.
We have a full review of Self-Publishing School you can check out.
#6 – Reedsy
Reedsy is an online publishing educator that gives access to free courses for authors and provides a number of self-publishing services. In addition, Reedsy has a powerful outsourcing platform that connects authors with editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers, marketing strategist, 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.
Trust in the pros you can find in the Reedsy Marketplace. Then, when your book is ready, you can set it up for publishing success with the online ebook distribution and print-on-demand retailers.
#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
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.
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—check out Bowker.com for US citizens—your books can be distributed to online retail outlets such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Apple’s Bookstore.
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.
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.
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.
#8 – IngramSpark
When it comes to wide distribution for print-on-demand, this is where IngramSpark comes sliding into home base.
Before Createspace was absolved 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 39000 libraries, bookstores, online retailers, and schools and universities. Ingram also distributes to the top online retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books and Nook.
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, an option that KDP doesn’t have.
IngramSpark also specialize in high-quality print books requiring color and offer matte, gloss or cloth for the cover. As for binding, Ingram can do perfect bound, saddle stitch or case laminate.
When you consider all of these book options, in addition to the distribution network and high quality printing, Ingram is the leader in print on demand.
$49.00 set up fee per title. / $25 for ebook only.
ISBN Required: $125.00 through Bowker.com
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.
The question is, do 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, in reality, 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
“With PublishDrive you can focus on the most important job: creating beautiful content, meanwhile the rest of the operational work is handled by 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
Publish Drive has a core team of specialists with 24/7 support, and has over 400 stores worldwide with direct distribution to Apple Books, Kobo, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Press, and Google Books.
This makes PD one of the best distributors on our list. PublishDrive is an expert in international distribution so that authors can tap into those foreign markets they would otherwise struggle to reach.
PublishDrive is an Apple-approved aggregator and Google partner, making it a powerhouse for global distribution.
Here is how you can publish on Author iBooks with PublishDrive.
Here is how you can publish on Google Books via PublishDrive
A Unique Feature
Most retailers or distributors charge a royalty rate for sales. PublishDrive charges a monthly subscription rate and you keep 100%—Yes, that’s right—of sales. If you choose not to go with the monthly subscription PublishDrive charges a flat rate of 10% on all sales.
Check this out…
#10 – Draft2Digital
“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.”
On D2D there are no fees for using their service. D2D keeps 10% of all sales and you can set the price as you like, or even offer your book for free. D2D handles the formatting for free and that makes this a huge selling point when compared to Smashwords.
And…D2D distributes to Amazon, whereas Smashwords doesn’t. If being published on Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, is important to you this feature is huge.
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 is taking over the top spot and, if it comes down to Smashwords or Draft2Digital, D2D is the preferred platform for many self publishers now.
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
Learn more about Draft2Digital:
- How to Publish With Draft2Digital
- Self-Publishing with Draft2Digital
- Introducing Universal Book Links – Next-level Discoverability for Authors
#11 – SmashWords
If you are looking to get your books into the bigger markets and maximize on distribution, Smashwords is the aggregator you should be using.
But before you make a decision, let’s take a look at the platform.
Smashwords was one of the original aggregators to appear but since then, has seen big competition through Draft2Digital and now PublishDrive, two platforms that are easier to navigate and set up books for authors.
Smashwords has 5 PR points that still make it a good choice:
- Monthly payments made and one penny payment threshold with PayPal
- Earn up to 80% royalty if your book is listed in the Smashwords store.
- Daily sales reporting from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords store
- Publish pre-order books to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo
- Smashwords is the world’s largest ebook distributor for self-published authors
Why should you NOT use Smashwords:
- Smashwords doesn’t distribute to Amazon.
- Formatting for Smashwords is complex and time consuming.
- The FAQs page is disorganized with too much information.
- The web design is archaic and difficult to sort through
So yes, Smashwords has incredible reach with distribution, but they have strict interior guidelines and do not support authors for formatting.
When compared to D2D, there are more cons than pros, and Draft2Digital can handle anything that Smashwords does.
Since PublishDrive has arrived on the scene Smashwords doesn’t make sense for a lot of authors to go through the trouble of formatting for Smashwords.
#12 – 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.
My 2 Cents Worth: 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.
If you are looking to break into the European market [and beyond] Streetlib is definitely worth investing in.
Use Self-Publishing Companies to Scale Up Your Book Success
Publishing wide matters. What do I mean by “publishing wide”?
Glad you asked.
Getting your book out into as many stores, platforms and online retail shops as you can. Remember that if you are enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program, you have to remain enrolled for 90 days.
For first time authors, this makes sense to 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.
Imagine this: Your book on the Apple Store, the 2nd largest retailer, hitting 100 million Mac users.
On IngramSpark, reaching a global audience with Ingram’s wide distribution network.
With Self-Publishing School, signing up for their VIP program and working with a personal coach to walk you through the steps to launching a bestseller.
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.
I know this looks like a lot of work, and you could expend tons of effort without seeing much result at first.
Start with Amazon at first of course and you build out your platform from there. You don’t have to use all of these sites at once. Get started with Draft2Digital and move into IngramSpark for expanded distribution with print books.
Now that you have a solid list of best self-publishing companies there are today, what is holding you back?
You need an author business plan! Brainstorm the plan for your book business and start publishing with these sites. Start local and go global if you want.
The power of distribution and making a living as a bestselling international author is now up to you.
Ready to Start Your Self-Publishing Journey Today?
Want to jumpstart your book writing process?
Join Chandler Bolt from self-publishingschool.com at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row.
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