The best self-publishing companies

➡️  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 without much hassle. The gate-keepers of traditional publishing houses don’t exist when going at it on your own.

Although publishing your book is very exciting, it can also be a bit 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 through it with ease. This is their core offering, but many may offer additional services, or helpful tools, to make publishing more streamlined.

Self-publishing VS traditional publishing companies

There isn’t necessarily one “best” way, as each option has its 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. Such big, well-known publishing companies include Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan and others.
  • The publisher will help you distribute your book very widely, thanks to their connections with bookstores (e.g. Waterstones), online platforms (e.g. Amazon Kindle) and retailers/supermarkets.
  • Your book is quite 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 at being reviewed by big-name newspapers or magazines.
  • You’ll be paid royalties for every book sale, and the publishing house will take a large cut from it.
  • You no longer have control over your book because it will belong to the publisher. You may have your say in marketing, for example, but the published 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 on your own:

  • Doing it on your own, even when using a self-publishing company, you call the shots! You’re not happy with the company and their service? You can just 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, which means you’ll be have to have money saved up and be ready to invest. We’ve covered the cost of self-publishing quite extensively in our guide.
  • This ultimately means you’ll be responsible for the editing, book cover design, formatting, publishing, marketing, promotions, outreach, and sometimes getting copies printed.
  • You may not have a very good chance at getting featured in popular newspapers or magazines, but you still may 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!).

When it comes to earnings, traditionally published authors would normally get an advance, while self-published author have to use their own money and time towards every step of the publishing process. You 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
You're the sole owner of the book
Control over your marketing
Flexbility to choose when and how you publish
Receive a cash advance
Receive 100%* of royalties
Help with editing and proofreading
Help with the design of the book cover
Help secure 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.

Types of self-publishing companies

When choosing a self-publishing companies, 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 – They 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 boost 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.

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% for book priced at $2.99 - $9.99 | 35%for books priced below $2.99 (more here)
  • Rating: 1.8 rating from 39 reviews (TrustPilot)
  • Type: Retailer

2. Bookbaby

BookBaby publishing logo
  • Pricing: Self-publishing packages start from $990 (more here)
  • Royalties: 10% - 30% depending on the book (more here)
  • Rating: 4.4 rating from 2,748 reviews (TrustPilot)
  • Type: Author services / Aggregator

3. IngramSpark 

IngramSpark logo
  • Pricing: eBook publishing starts from $25 per title (more here)
  • Royalties: Depends on multiple factors, so use their calculator.
  • Rating: 3.5 rating from 473 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: 65% for book priced at $2.99 - $9.99 | 40% for books priced below $2.99 (more here)
  • Rating: 1.8 rating from 192 reviews (TrustPilot)
  • Type: Retailer

6. Smashwords

Smashwords logo
  • Pricing: Free to get started, charges royalties
  • Royalties: 15% of the retail price per copy when sold on their own marketplace | 10% per copy sold on other platforms (more here)
  • Rating: 2.5 rating from 5 reviews (TrustPilot)
  • Type: Aggregator / Retailer

7. PublishDrive

Publishdrive logo
  • Pricing: From $9.99/month
  • Royalties: 10% of your book’s list price (more here)
  • Rating: We couldn’t find customer reviews.
  • Type: Author services / Aggregator

8. Blurb

Blurb logo
  • Pricing: Depends on your requirements (more here)
  • Royalties: 70% for book priced at $2.99 - $9.99 | 35% for books priced outside of this range (more here)
  • Rating: 4.1 rating from 977 reviews (TrustPilot)
  • Type: Author services / Aggregator

Can I self-publish on multiple platforms at once?

Yes, but it depends. If you decide to self-publish on Amazon KDP and other websites like Barnes & Noble and Apple Books, then there's absolutely 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!

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

For things to go all tip-top and to avoid disappointment, there are a few key things to keep in mind when picking a service:

  • Some companies pay out royalties much 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.
  • Make sure you always order proof copies before printing many copies. Print and ink quality, paper, finishing touches… all vary from company to company.
Advice from a published writer
This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact checked and verified.
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