The best self-publishing companies

ON THIS PAGE
ARTICLE INSIGHTS
  • Self-publishing companies help independent authors produce and publish their books. Some also provide additional services and tools to help you create a highly saleable book.
  • There are four main types of self-publishing businesses. These are aggregators, book retailers, coaching companies, and author services.
  • The best self-publishing companies include Amazon KDP and Book Baby. Other notable companies to work with are IngramSpark, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books.

The great thing about self-publishing is that anyone can write a book and launch it to the public. The gatekeepers of traditional publishing houses don’t exist when you take the self-publishing route.

Although publishing your book is very exciting, it can also be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re just starting out and not sure how to get started.

This guide will cover the best self-publishing companies you can pick for your book(s) today! We delve into each one and explain their royalties, pricing, reputation and more.

What do self-publishing companies do?

In short, self-publishing companies help independent authors produce and publish their books on different platforms and retailers.

The process can sometimes be convoluted, so such companies can help you navigate it with ease. This is their core offering, but many also offer additional services and helpful tools to make self-publishing more straightforward.

Types of self-publishing companies

When choosing a self-publishing company, keep an eye out for what exactly is included in their services. Generally speaking, there are four main types and what you go for will depend on your needs and how much help you want:

  1. Aggregators – Companies like BookBaby and IngramSpark help you publish and distribute your book to multiple online retailers. This can save you a lot of time, but usually costs a bit more.
  2. Book retailers – A self-publishing retailer company is a platform which sells books exclusively through its own online book store. This includes Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple Books.
  3. Education and coaching – These companies, and sometimes individuals, provide education courses and programmes to help authors build a successful self-publishing career.
  4. Author services – They usually offer new authors book editing services, formatting, book cover design, marketing, publishing and other services.

What are the best self-publishing companies?

Here’s a list of the best self-publishing companies UK authors can use.

1. Amazon KDP

Kindle KDP logo
  • Pricing: Free to get started‍
  • Royalties: 70% or 35% (depending on the country your book is sold in)(more here)‍
  • Rating: 1.4 rating from 282 reviews (Trustpilot)‍
  • Type: Retailer

2. Bookbaby

BookBaby publishing logo
  • Pricing: Self-publishing packages start from $1,090 (more here)‍
  • Royalties: 10% - 50% depending on how/where your book is sold (more here)‍
  • Rating: 4.6 rating from 4,489 reviews (Trustpilot)‍
  • Type: Author services / Aggregator

3. IngramSpark 

IngramSpark logo
  • ‍Pricing: Setup is free, but you may need to pay for additional services. eBook publishing starts from $25 per title (more here)‍
  • Royalties: Depends on multiple factors, so use their calculator. ‍
  • Rating: 3.1 rating from 1,340 reviews (Trustpilot)‍
  • Type: Author services

4. Apple Books

  • Pricing: Free to get started
  • Royalties: 70% on every book (more here)
  • Rating: We couldn’t find customer reviews.
  • Type: Retailer

5. Barnes & Noble

Barnes Noble Logo
  • Pricing: Free to get started
  • Royalties: 70% regardless of book pricing (more here)
  • Rating: 4.0 rating from 1,778 reviews (Trustpilot)
  • Type: Retailer

6. PublishDrive

Publishdrive logo
  • Pricing: From $14.19/month‍
  • Royalties: ‍ Depends on the store where your book is sold (more here)
  • Rating: 2.8 rating from 4 reviews (Trustpilot).‍
  • Type: Author services / Aggregator

7. Blurb

Blurb logo

8. Flipsnack

Flipsnack logo

Flipsnack is an online ebook maker that allows users to effortlessly create or customise their marketing materials to obtain engaging digital publications.

  • Pricing: 14 days free trial to get started, pricing plans from $14/month
  • Royalties: N/A
  • Rating: 3.8 rating from 152 reviews (Trustpilot)
  • Type: Retailer

9. Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital logo
  • Pricing: No upfront charges for formatting, conversion, distribution, or sales tracking
  • Royalties: Up to 90% (usually closer to 60% when all fees are paid)
  • Rating: 2.3 rating from 48 reviews (Trustpilot)
  • Type: Author services / Aggregator

Can I self-publish on multiple platforms at once?

It depends on the terms of the self-publishing company you use. If you decide to self-publish on Amazon KDP and other websites like Barnes & Noble and Apple Books, then there's no limit. You can use one of the aggregator self-publishing platforms mentioned in this article to publish your book on multiple platforms at once.

The free ISBN you receive from Amazon when publishing on Kindle, cannot be used on other platforms. You'll have to buy a new ISBN if you wish to distribute your book elsewhere.

Also, if you enroll for KDP Select (which includes inclusion in Kindle Unlimited), your e-book will have to be made exclusive to the Kindle Store. The good news is that you can distribute the paperback version (or any other format) anywhere else you like!

Self-publishing VS traditional publishing companies

Self-publishing and traditional publishing (i.e. signing up with a literary agent who can sell your book to an established publisher) both have distinct  advantages and disadvantages. Some writers will find one specific route more appealing than the other.

Here are the key differences:

Traditional publishing companies:

  • The intellectual property rights of your manuscript are purchased outright by the publishing company. The transaction usually takes place via a literary agent. Well-known publishing companies include Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan.
  • The publisher will help you distribute your book widely, thanks to their connections with bookstores (e.g. Waterstones), online platforms (e.g. Amazon Kindle) and retailers/supermarkets.
  • Your book is likely to have four separate editions  - hardback, paperback, e-book, and audiobook.
  • Having big publishing names behind you means you will have a better chance of being reviewed by big-name newspapers or magazines.
  • You’ll be paid royalties for every book sale, but the publishing house will take a large cut from it. You’ll often receive an advance payment as well.
  • You no longer have full control over your book because many of the rights will belong to the publisher. You might offer some marketing ideas, for example, but the publisher will always have the final say. This also applies to the editing process.
  • You could buy the rights back but that may be costly.

Self-publishing:

  • When you use a self-publishing company, you call the shots. If you’re not happy with the company and their service, you can pull your files and choose a different one.
  • You don’t have to sell the rights to anyone, ever!
  • That also means you won’t get a payment advance, so you’ll have to have money saved up and be ready to invest. We’ve covered the cost of self-publishing extensively in our guide.
  • Self-publishing means you’ll be responsible for editing, book cover design, formatting, publishing, marketing, promotions, outreach, and sometimes getting copies printed.
  • You may not have a huge chance of getting featured in popular newspapers or magazines, but you can still find influencers/bloggers in your niche who can help get your name out there.
  • Some self-publishing retailers can help with getting physical copies in bookstores, but that isn’t very common.
  • What’s more common is POD (print-on-demand), where a physical copy is printed as soon as an order has been placed. The good thing is you won’t have to hold any stock and dispatch them on your own (although you could if you wanted to!).
  • If you’re selling your book through Amazon, you will have to carry out your own Amazon KDP keyword research to find how people search for books from your genre and use this in your Amazon KDP listing.

When it comes to earnings, traditionally published authors would normally get an advance, while self-published authors have to put their own money and time into every step of the publishing process. Authors can still make quite a lot of money self-publishing, although breaking through may be a bit more difficult!

Here’s a summary table showing the key points:

  Self-publishing Traditional publishing
You're the sole owner of the book
Control over your marketing
Flexibility to choose when and how you publish
Receive a cash advance
Receive up to 100%* of royalties
Help with editing and proofreading
Help with book cover design
Help securing interviews and reviews
Easy access to bookstores and retailers

* Royalties depend on your approach and how you decide to self-publish. If you do all of the printing and distribution on your own, you could keep all the profits to yourself essentially.

5 steps to choosing a self-publishing company for your book

Decided to go down the self-publishing route? Here are the 5 major steps for choosing a company to help you self-publish your book in the UK.

  1. Decide which services you need

If you already have a sizeable social media following, you might feel you can take care of the marketing without too much investment or hassle. But book cover design, distribution, and other services are trickier to do yourself if you don’t have the necessary skills or connections.
Decide which services are worth paying for, then whittle down your self-publishing company shortlist accordingly.

  1. Define your budget

Decide how much you have to spend on self-publishing your work, and consider how this might be allocated to the key expenses required:

  • Marketing
  • Distribution
  • Book cover design
  • Printing
  • Site fees

You can then look at the services provided by each company and match it to the one that best meets your needs.

  1. Check reviews

Reviews vary significantly between self-publishing companies, so check out what other authors are saying about each one. This can help you weigh up the experience they offer against the cost and potential returns.

  1. Compare royalty rates

There are often terms and conditions you need to check out before signing up with a company that promises up to 100% royalty rates.

For example, Draft2Digital takes a 10% fee when you sell a book — but this is on top of the fee taken by the bookstore. So you’re unlikely to be earning a 90% royalty rate, as most book buyers won’t purchase direct from Draft2Digital.

  1. Check the content policy

Not all self-publishing companies will list or sell every type of book. Check your book adheres to the company’s content guidelines before investing in their services. 

Things to keep in mind when choosing a self-publishing company

To get the most from your self-publishing experience, there are a few key things to keep in mind when picking a service:

  • Some companies pay out royalties more slowly than others.
  • Retailers and aggregators may have strict content policies which means not every book will be accepted.
  • The publishing process may be a little convoluted and you may run into issues, so be prepared to reach out to their help teams.
  • Always order proof copies before printing your book in bulk. Print and ink quality, paper, finishing touches… These all vary from company to company.

Author services from Book Beaver

Book Beaver specialises in providing high-quality book cover design for self-publishing authors. A professional book cover can add serious value and saleability to your book, so it’s a really important part of self-publishing.

Check out the psychology behind book cover design for more information, then take a look at some of our premade book covers for an idea of what we offer.

Advice from a published writer

Alex Fisher, "Seadogs and Criminals"

It’s hard to say what the best self-publishing companies are as there are many, but there are a few important things to look out for when it comes to looking for the right one. Look for a professional website with plenty of reviews and testimonials from previous authors and see what they said about their experience working with the company.

Make sure their services are fair, varied and what you require; check that their prices are fair too. Additionally, check that they have good links with book distributors such as Amazon or Waterstones; you need your book to be readily available to potential readers.

Also, a good self-publishing company will always ask for an enquiry first and will always ask for material - a few chapters, usually - of your work to check that you and your book are ready for the next step. It is a daunting process trying to find the right one, it can be a minefield, but keep looking – there will be a self-publishing company out there perfect for you.

This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
More resources

Related articles

Marketing
How to promote your book with video
Read More
Design
Does redesigning a book cover after a few years help sales?
Read More
Writing
How to know if you are a good writer
Read More
Are You Ready?

Order your book cover

If you have any questions or if you're ready to go ahead, please fill out our short design enquiry form.

GET STARTED