Self-publishing services have come a long way since the early days of Lulu and CreateSpace. There are so many options available to authors now that it’s sometimes hard to determine which service to use. We still recommend using a few different services in order to achieve the best results (depending on your author goals) and picking and choosing individual services to meet your needs. When you utilize an all-in-one service something inevitably gives. For example:
- Will you get the full rights to your cover design?
- Will you get the source files so that it can be manipulated to make attractive ad images, Facebook banner photos, etc.?
- If they offer an author web page will it be at your domain or will they display it on their own site?
- Will you get eBooks in numerous formats that you can edit (or have edited) without starting from scratch again?
- Is there a sign up fee, and if so, how many books will you need to sell to recoup that fee?
The list could go on and these are all things to consider. Still, some authors may opt for convenience, and an all-in-one service makes the most for them. Below you’ll find a variety of sites that can help get your book in front of potential customers. Do your homework before selecting one or more. Check their fees, royalty rates, who they distribute to, etc.
BookBaby – BookBaby is like a cross between IngramSpark and a hybrid publisher. They will distribute your print on demand book through a variety of outlets and they’ll do the same with your eBook. Where they differ is through their service offerings to get your book published. IngramSpark, for example, expects you to upload finished files. BookBaby will help you with cover design, formatting, etc., and distribute the book like IngramSpark would. A cost-conscious author could find more competitive pricing on services than with BookBaby, however.
CreateSpace – CreateSpace is the self-publishing arm of Amazon for paperback. It’s typically the go-to site for self-published authors looking to turn a profit. Their site is easy to navigate and free to use. CreateSpace takes their cut when a book is sold. It’s the fastest way to get your self-published book listed on Amazon.
Google Play – While Google Play is most often associated with apps on Android phones, they also have an eBook publishing service. The system is a bit… clunky, and lacks the eBook power of Kindle, but for those looking to sell their eBook through as many distributors as possible, Google Play is a player.
IngramSpark – IngramSpark is Ingram’s print on demand self-publishing and distribution service. They will distribute your paperback and eBook to major online retailers much like CreateSpace will. What IngramSpark offers that CreateSpace does not is the ability to set discounts and return policies for your books when sold to brick and mortar stores.
iBooks – iBooks is Apple’s site for distributing ebooks to Apple products and customers. Self-published authors should not overlook this market. If you are not using iBooks to get your book listed on Apple products, consider using another distributor here that will do it for you (and take their own cut for doing so).
Lulu – Lulu is one of the original print on demand distributors for self-published authors. We got started using Lulu in the early days. They offer a variety of services to help authors finish their manuscript and get it listed on major retail sites.
NOOK Press – NOOK Press is the self-publishing arm of Barnes and Noble. There you can self-publish your eBook and paperback book to sell through BN.com. They have no upfront costs and only take a cut when your book sells.
Pronoun – Prounoun is a bit like BookBaby, a self-publishing site offering both distribution and design services. They are a newer company compared to others, but they seem intent on growing.
Smashwords – Smashwords has been around since 2008, and it’s the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. Authors retain full control over how their works are published, sampled, priced and sold. If an author wants to price a book at free, they have that freedom. Smashwords distributes books to most of the major retailers, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and smaller retailers.