- Apr 16, 2018
Self-published books are nothing new. Chapbooks, or booklets made from a single piece of folded paper, have been around since the 16th century. More recently, you’ve got books printed via the private press- that is, printing presses that specialize in producing self-published books.
But the internet has blown things wide open. These days, anyone can become an author and self-publish a book without having to invest a large sum of money. With all the available platforms for self-publishing, it’s no surprise that authors are going this route. Self-publishing means they get to keep greater control of their work, as well as all the earnings. The flipside, of course, is that the author will have to promote their work themselves.
Authors don’t seem to be daunted by this. A report published in 2016 shows that self-publishing is fast rising. If you’ve been looking into getting a slice of this pie, I’ve compiled a list of self-publishing companies and platforms for you. Check it out!
Draft2Digital is one of the more popular self-publishing platforms out there. I can see why; they offer free ISBN numbers and distribution to major outlets such as Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, as well as Scribd, Inktera, and Tolino.
Publishing here is as simple as uploading your work, selecting the appropriate market, and naming your price. Draft2Digital makes royalty payments monthly, with a minimum payout of $10.
SmashWords also has a major presence in the self-publishing scene. They also offer free ISBN numbers, but what I really liked about them is the available marketing tools. With these tools, you can do things like create discount coupons. These come in handy for attracting potential readers.
SmashWords also has a wide distribution reach, which even includes libraries.
BookRix is a simple, e-books publishing house. Their services are free, but they still include Amazon , Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Baker & Taylor in their distribution network.
BookRix makes royalty payments monthly, which is just about the usual payment schedule among publishers.
BookBaby is one of those publishers that produce print books. A large number of readers still prefer print, but note that print is pricier, of course.
BookBaby offers a variety of packages you can pick from, with prices depending on the number of books you have printed. For example, just one copy costs $19, while a hundred copies will cost $499 (or $4.99 per book).
They also have in-house editors you can hire to proofread your book and make it more readable. Since you can’t edit mistakes when something goes to print, I strongly suggest getting this option.
These guys print on demand, so you have greater control over your print runs, and can manage it as your readership grows. They distribute royalty payouts every quarter, which is a bit on the long side.
Blurb can produce a wide variety of books: picture books, photography folios, trade books and magazines in print, as well as e-books. As with BookBaby, you can hire an editor to look over your work. Again, I highly recommend that you do.
What sets Blurb apart from the other platforms is their free design tools. As a self-publishing author, you’ll be doing a lot on your own, and that includes actually designing the book. So that tool is a definite advantage.
Kobo produces an e-reader, so it’s not surprising that they have their own self-publishing platform. They only do e-books, though. So keep that in mind if you’re looking to produce a physical product. What I like about Kobo is that they have a built-in readership via their e-reader.
Kobo pays royalties through bank deposit at $50.
8. Kindle Direct Publishing
Kindle is, without a doubt, the most popular e-reader out there. It’s also part of Amazon, which opens you up to a huge online market. Kindle works either on its own or with CreateSpace (which I talk about in the following item).
CreateSpace is also part of Amazon, which shows how serious Amazon is about world domination. But the great thing about CreateSpace is that it doesn’t charge an upfront cost. You book be available on Amazon, Amazon Europe, and Kindle.
Once you meet their Extended Distribution criteria, your work will be made available on CreateSpace Direct, bookstores, and libraries.
Lulu is yet another awesome website for self-publishing. The fact there are so many great options shows how big self-publishing has become. Lulu has been around since 2012, which proves that they’re committed to giving authors great service.
Lulu doesn’t charge you any upfront fees, and you have the option of producing your book in either print or digital versions. You can then make your digital work available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Ingram Content Network.
IngramSpark is awesome. The company’s policies were set with input from independent publishers. Armed with this feedback, IngramSpark has created three different programs for the three different phases of your journey as an author. These include “The Indie Author” for authors with a finished book, but aren’t sure yet how to proceed; “The Professional” for established authors who want to take things to the next level; and “Not Finished with Your Book Yet” which guides budding creators.
IngramSpark has a full suite of tools and resources for authors. The site’s distribution is also top-notch; they have access to almost 40,000 retailers are libraries worldwide. All of this comes at a cost, of course. So be sure to review both their pricing page and Publisher Compensation Calculator.
Self-publishing is an exciting frontier. As mentioned earlier, you get more control over your work and how its sold and presented. This does mean you’ll have to do a lot of stuff on your own, though. A traditional publisher usually handles stuff like editing, promotion, and distribution.
By self-publishing your book, you are committing to taking on the other responsibilities. Here’s a list of things you’ll have to remember when going this route:
Get an ISBN Number
The ISBN number (short for International Standard Book Number) is the unique, numerical identifier for your book. You’ll need this to make your work legit. To create an ISBN number, you can’t just string some random numbers, or your birthday.
Some self-publishing platforms provide free ISBN numbers. Just the same it’s best to check out the site of the International ISBN Agency for more info.
Editing and Formatting
Once you’ve done writing your first draft, it’s time to move on to the difficult part: editing. This is where you revise the draft and make it actually readable by the public. Some platforms offer editing services, which you should take advantage off.
Formatting, on the other hand, refers to anything from how to properly set the fonts, layout, and file format. Most platforms will have this listed, so be sure to study it before you commit to a particular publisher.
Design and Cover Art
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I beg to disagree; while not everyone will read an excerpt or blurb about your book, it’s easier to make an impression with a cool book cover. So invest in a great cover and book design. If you’ve got good design chops, that’s awesome. Otherwise, look into your platform’s design services and tools.
Once you’ve done all the above and finally gotten your book published, you’ll have to promote it. I would suggest using social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to build a following. You can also set up a free Wordpress blog and publish excerpts to entice people to buy the complete work.
The Verdict: Legit or Scam?
All the self-publishing platforms listed here are legit! They treat authors fairly, expose them to a wide network, and most importantly, give them greater control over their books. The self-publishing scene is rapidly growing, but it’s still a new frontier. If you’re adventurous and willing to do all the extra work it entails, give it a try!
This review is based on my own experiences and research. Now it’s your turn to share! Have you given self-publishing a try? How did it go?
Let’s hear your stories!