You’ve spent weeks writing, rewriting, and polishing your manuscript.
Now, you have it in book form — thoroughly edited, artfully formatted, and wrapped in a gorgeous cover.
Because you’ve chosen to self-publish.
And while thousands of self-published authors sell 300 or fewer copies of their books, you know hundreds sell them in the thousands, because they’ve learned how to market them.
You intend to be one of those authors, and you’re doing your homework.
Because we’re all about successful self-publishing, we’ve created this detailed list of the 19 best self-publishing companies. Read on to learn what you need to know — including why you should self-publish in the first place.
- The Six Best Reasons You Should Self-Publish
- 19 of the Best Self-Publishing Companies For Your Writing Business
- Four Types of Self-Publishing Companies
- How to Choose the Best Self-Publishing Company
- How to Get the Best Results from Self-Publishing Companies
The Six Best Reasons You Should Self-Publish
1. You Control Your Time.
The last thing any writer needs is pumping out what seems like an endless flow of query letters to snag an agent.
The agent will look for a publisher and suddenly you’re on a time clock. You took the bait. Those suits are going to reel you in and expect stuff from you on a time schedule that you may or may not like.
2. You’re In The Driver’s Seat.
You choose the cover and the price. And you don’t have to change stuff like that title that you came up with while you were dreaming of that old high school flame.
You have complete control. You can continue to write your book when you want.
3. The Royalties Are Bigger!
You’ll get money for each book that leaves the distribution center or when Amazon lets you know your eBook is selling, and you get all the profit. Traditional publishing companies can take up to 85 percent.
You might have enough left to pay the rent, but Forbes won’t be calling to put you on their richest people in the world list.
4. Now’s The Time To Become a Self-Published Author
The stigma and the stench of self-publishing are in the wind now. Thanks to the brave writers who wrote great books and self-published, and thanks to the Internet, all writers can self-publish with the click of a mouse.
5. You Can Market The Book, Dude!
Sure. Becoming a book marketer may not be that sexy. But with all the useful online tools available a six-year-old writer could do it. But you have to give it your best shot, by doing the research and by spending some of that grade school lunch money you hide under your bed.
6. This Is The Age Of Self-Empowerment And Enlightenment
Guess what? 50 Shades of Grey is self-published, and if that work can hit the writer’s jackpot, so can you.
19 of the Best Self-Publishing Companies For Your Writing Business
Amazon’s Kindle store makes it easy for authors looking to find new readers by self-publishing on the Kindle platform. You can upload and submit your book to Amazon for review in under 10 minutes and can be live on the worlds largest online marketplace within 24-48 hours. It’s free to publish your book with KDP and you can earn up to 70% on your book royalties.
If you think of yourself as an “Indie Author,” this site is for you. Smash Words is not a traditional book publishing company. Non-conformity is the flavor of the day at this well-designed self-publishing business. Smash Words will support and distribute your eBook using all the right channels.
Smash Words may look like a quirky self-publishing resource, but there’s a method to their madness. And that madness is all about selling books. Smash Words is not afraid to take risks, and if you have a touch of risk-taking in your DNA, then this site might be your next best friend.
Lulu has a high-profile as one of the best self-publishing companies in the market. One of the reasons Lulu is so popular is, the company pays attention to details. Lulu publishes over a 1,000 new titles every day so the company has expert status when it comes to formatting, packaging, and pushing books.
The variety that Lulu offers makes this site the only game in town for some writers, especially if you want to add proofreading, editorial help, and promotion to your self-publishing mix. Lulu has it all in terms of getting your book out there in an appealing and professional way.
The clear, sharp and clean interface of Blurb inspires confidence in the writers who choose to throw their writing hats in the ring with this UK company. Blurb’s design and marketing skills are top-notch. The variety they offer in terms of blog books, magazines, leaflets, and planners, as well as eBooks and paperbacks, put this site in rare company.
Blurb is a multi-faceted self-publisher with a respectable amount of traffic, and an affiliate program where writers can earn a commission every time another writer publishes a book.
Colorado-based Outskirts is in the popular-price self-publishing market. You might say they are the Payless Shoes of the self-publishing industry. If you want a site that offers what other self-publishing companies offer at bargain basement prices, then Outskirts is worth a look.
Some authors say Outskirts isn’t as cheap as they say, but the proof is in the pudding with this self-publishing company. In other words, you’ll have to check out the packages they offer and compare them to other publishing companies to get a feel for the actual cost savings you’ll get from using Outskirts.
Xlibris likes to empower their writers. The slick interface is elegant and appealing and it inspires confidence. The testimonials, advice, and awards that are part of the Xlibris stick are a nice bonus, according to some writers. But make no mistake when you’re looking to do business with this site. Xlibris has core values. And professionalism is front and center in their presentation and their packages.
Author events are also part of the marketing plan, so there are features on this site that are hard to ignore, especially if you want to get the biggest bang for your Internet greenbacks. This site has a lot of good features, and good features mean more exposure to some writers.
Here’s a novel idea. Authors and independent publishers have the right to maintain ownership of their files after conversion. If you pay for a self-publishing service like a conversion, then the files should belong to you. Not all self-publishing houses offer that important feature but Kobo does, and that makes this one of the best self-publishing companies that is popular with writers.
Kobo Writing Life lets writers keep their downloaded ePub file after conversion, and that’s a big plus because family and friends are able to share in the good fortune without coughing up money they would rather spend for something that has more personal worth to them. Kobo likes to offer perks that keep writers happy, and the company does a decent job in that regard.
If you are a newbie writer in India, NotionPress may be the site for you. NotionPress offers a plethora of professional tools that give writers a chance to take their work to the next level. This site helps writers print, publish, and distribute their book.
New authors get expert promotion guidance. And with a decent network of distributors and readers around the world, this self-publishing company makes it a little easier for new authors to get the recognition they deserve for sticking with the self-publishing process.
Book Baby likes to greet potential clients with the phrase, “Ready, Set, Publish,” when writers log onto the site. Book Baby is all about making the self-publishing thing easy. And according to writers who swear by them, Book Baby packages are a real value.
If you need a no-frills $99 package, then Book Baby is for you. But the site offers other packages with more bells and whistles for writers who want to cover all the self-publishing bases. And the good news is, Book Baby doesn’t take a commission on your sales. That’s a deal maker, according to the writers who want to keep the money they worked hard to get.
iUniverse likes to offer publishing deals that wet the appetite of some writers. There’s a 20 percent off deal going on in January and it’s worth a look. The live chat feature on this site removes some trepidations that new writers have when it comes to publishing their own book.
Interviewing an author before the deal becomes a marriage helps relieve the stress of becoming a self-published author for some writers. But other writers are price conscious, and iUniverse is not the cheapest self-publishing house in town. But the authors who stand by the site say they got a lot more value for the uptick in price.
You might want to develop every aspect of your new book with a self-publishing house, or you may need professional help. If you pick Fast Pencil, you can develop your book’s essential parts, but this site also has editors and graphic designers who have a boatload of experience helping writers develop appealing material.
Fast Pencil has the expertise behind it to make your book the professional work of art you dreamed it would be. The site has great tools that get you to the end of the publishing process with open eyes and a more than excited attitude.
Ingram Book Company is the largest distributors of books and one of the best self-publishing companies in the United States. And Ingram is the largest book wholesaler in the country.
Ingram is a 44-year-old publishing company, so it’s no surprise that IngramSpark will follow in the footsteps of big brother Lightning Source. Lightning Source is a fulfillment company with locations around the world, and IngramSpark has access to those distribution locations.
In 2013, Ingram wanted to add an easy-to-use publishing platform for writers who want to publish a book, but have limited resources. So IngramSpark came on the self-publishing scene with all the tools that Lightning Source has in its self-publishing tool shed.
The writers who want to get their book in the marketplace fast, but don’t want to deal with the complexities of mass distribution should take a look at IngramSpark.
IngramSpark has the tech know-how and the manufacturing, logistics, and distribution tools of Ingram in their publishing genes, and that makes a world of difference to some writers.
Pay less in retail and distribution costs and earn more in royalties when you publish directly with Barnes & Noble.
While it can be challenging to get your paperback book onto a Barnes & Noble bookstore shelf, publishing your eBook and paperback with them is a simple, straightforward process. And the end result is seeing your published book available for sale through BN.com, all Nook reading devices, and reading apps for Android and iOS devices.
Their print-on-demand (POD) option provides a suite of user-friendly tools and even gives you the choice of either paperback or hardcover for your book.
Barnes & Noble offers a 65% royalty rate for books priced over $2.99.
Considering there are 100 million brand-loyal Mac users worldwide, it makes sense to ensure your title is available to them. As the second-largest online book retailer, Apple Books should definitely be a part of your book marketing plan.
Good thing they make the process simple for Mac users, who can use Pages to prepare their manuscript for publication as an EPUB file. If you don’t own a Mac, you can still reach iOS users by publishing through an aggregator or distributor like Draft2Digital.
Publishing with Apple Books is free, and the royalty rate is a flat 70%.
As the original self-publishing aggregator, Smashwords made it easier for indie authors to get more exposure for their books when they decide to go beyond Amazon’s KDP.
Draft2Digital (D2D) is poised to take the #1 aggregator spot by distributing to Amazon, along with a slew of other retailers, including Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. D2D also sets itself apart by formatting your book for you — at no cost.
You can ensure your book is available to all the major book retailers worldwide. And you can even check one book preparation task off your list (as long as your book doesn’t require complicated formatting or next-level interior book design).
Draft2Digital takes a 15% cut of your sales regardless of its price.
As an Apple-approved aggregator and a Google partner, PublishDrive (PD) has grown quickly since its founding in 2015 and now operates in 75 countries in 75 different languages.
With over 400 stores worldwide, PublishDrive offers direct distribution to Apple Books, Kobo, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Press, and Google Press. Indie authors can choose from two different payment options:
- Pay $100 a month and keep 100% of your royalties from book sales, or
- Let PD collect 10% of every sale and keep 90% of your net sales.
While their website is light on content (and minimalist in design), they do provide a library of helpful resources for new authors.
StreetLib is an Italian-based distributor with a strong presence in Latin America and Europe.
Their dashboard is configured for multiple languages, including Hindi, Italian, English, and Spanish (adding more as they grow), and they’re making inroads in the African market.
They distribute to all major retailers, including Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Overdrive, Indigo, and Tolino.
StreetLib takes 10% of all eBook sales and 20% of all audiobook sales. For print books, they charge an up-front activation cost of 49 Euros and take 10% of each sale.
Based in Berlin, XinXii describes itself as “Europe’s leading indie eBook self-publishing and distribution platform.” They distribute both eBooks and audiobooks and have a particularly strong presence in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
When you sell your eBook directly from your own XinXii author page, you earn 70% of any sales on books priced over 2.94 Euros (about $3.49) and 40% of sales for books priced at or below that number.
Expanded distribution is free for fiction eBooks; for nonfiction, you’ll pay a fee of 9.99 Euros (about $11.86) per title. XinXii generally passes 85% of those net sales to you.
Reedsy offers assistance to authors at every stage of their book-writing and self-publishing journey. With their community of professional editors, cover designers, formatters, etc., they can help you create a book you’ll be proud to publish and share.
Check out their free apps and tools — including their courses on book publishing — to learn more about the process. You can even use the ReedsyBookEditor (instead of Microsoft Word) to write your book, make it available to one of their editors, and easily format it for ePUB or PDF. They even have marketers on their team to help you maximize your reach.
Reedsy doesn’t charge anything upfront. You decide whether to pay one of their editors, designers, or marketers to help you with your book.
Four Types of Self-Publishing Companies
To help you get a better handle on the self-publishing company you should choose, here’s some useful information on the various types:
The most popular examples of book retailers are Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Each has its own marketplace for books, and while Amazon is the largest in the U.S., (with 85% of the U.S. book market share), it’s not the only one worth considering.
Apple, for example, markets their books directly to Mac/iOS users, which is an important subset of the global market. And Kobo has a 25% share of the Canadian book market.
The most popular examples of book aggregators are Smashwords, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, and BookBaby — the last of which provides valuable author services including editing, formatting, and book cover design.
The main advantage of aggregators is the time they save you by distributing your book to multiple retailers on your behalf. So, unless you’re content with an exclusive Amazon presence, an aggregator will save you time and headaches by giving you one place to monitor your book’s presence in multiple markets.
If you’re an Authority Pub Academy member, you already know how a self-publishing educator can help you go from an idea to a published book. That’s the main purpose of these companies, though each has its own way of doing things.
The best of these update their content on a regular basis to help members stay on top of self-publishing trends and the most effective book marketing practices.
Self-Publishing Author Services
These outfits offer the services your book might need to prepare it for publication: ghostwriting, editing, formatting, illustrating, cover design, and even book marketing (pre- and post-launch).
Some specialize in specific services (like 100Covers.com for cover design) while others (like Archangel Ink) provide all the services you might need.
Unless they also distribute your book to reputable retailers, they’re not considered “publishing companies.” But the best of these can help you give your book its best chance on the market.
Caveat: Vanity Publishers
Beware of vanity publishers that offer the same services and charge for your book’s publication. It shouldn’t cost you to put your book on the market. You can publish it for free to any of the abovementioned retailers and aggregators.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of shady outfits promising you all the perks of traditional publication, while doing substandard work on the services they provide and overcharging authors for them.
You and your book deserve better. If you’re not sure whether a self-described publishing company is legitimate, you can ask around on social media author groups, do a Google search for reviews on the company, or check out this list of best- and worst-rated self-publishing services.
How to Choose the Best Self-Publishing Company
Keep the following criteria in mind when checking out your options and choosing the best self-publishing company for your book:
How to Get the Best Results from Self-Publishing Companies
The first step for most authors is to learn all they can about how to write a marketable book and how to navigate the world of self-publishing.
This is where a self-publishing educator (like Authority Pub Academy) comes in.
The other steps you take will depend on whether you want to work directly with retailers (to maximize your royalty income) or optimize your reach with an aggregator or two. With that in mind, consider the following steps:
- Sign up with a Self-Publishing Educator and learn all you can about writing and polishing your book, publishing it, and getting your readers’ attention.
- Take advantage of KDP Select services for the first 90 days to maximize your visibility on Amazon and use the free promotional periods to attract new readers.
- Publish with Ingram Spark to get maximum exposure and top quality for your print edition.
- Publish with Draft2Digital, Smashwords, or PublishDrive to reach other eBook markets after those first 90 days.
- Ensure your book is published on Kobo, which makes up about 25% of eBook sales in Canada.
- Publish with Apple Books to reach the millions of Mac, iPod, and iPhone users worldwide.
- Publish with StreetLib and/or XinXii to take advantage of growing network in Latin America, Europe, and Africa.
What are the best self-publishing companies for your goals?
The best self-publishing company for you depends on your priorities as the author. Only you know exactly how you want your self-publishing experience to go. But until you’ve gone through it, you might not know, yet, what to focus on. And that’s okay.
The more books you write and publish and the more you learn about book marketing, the more you’ll know which services and other features matter most to you. And that’ll make it easier to spot the companies that will deliver exactly what you’re looking for.
In the meantime, learn from more experienced self-publishing authors, look over each company and make lists of the features of each that stand out for you. Then ask yourself which one you’d like to try first. If two of them are tied, ask around or go with your gut.
Just know you can’t go wrong with any of the self-publishing companies listed above.