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12 Top Self-Publishing Companies: Detailed Guide

The Self Publishing business is growing fast and in 2020 it has grown about 44% more. So many self-publishing companies are out there to accept authors in their company.

But, is every self-publishing company the top, safe and worth it? Or are they taking our book and not giving us enough benefits.

When an author is publishing by self-publishing, he/she is completely on their own. And, it is very essential to think before taking any steps. 

Thorough research is necessary to know which self-publishing companies are the top and which ones you should choose and is better for you.

There are a few types of self-publishing companies, you can choose from.

Types Of Self-Publishing Companies:

  1. Aggregator: saves you time, energy and money. Authors upload their books, and the aggregators will distribute to 30+ retail channels. Including Apple Books or Google Play Books. An aggregator company is the first step to publishing with an international self-publishing company.
  2. Retailer: is a company that sells books only through its own retail store. This includes companies like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. Authors upload books to these platforms and make book sales. Retailers pay authors directly.

So, the question arises: 

Where can I Self-Publish? What are the top self-publishing companies?

There are many Self-publishing platforms. In this article, I’ve covered the ones I recommend and are the top.

My list of the top self-publishing companies for authors:

  • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
  • Barnes and Noble Press
  • Kobo
  • Apple Books
  • Lulu
  • GooglePlay Books
  • IngramSpark
  • PublishDrive
  • Draft2Digital
  • Smashwords
  • StreetLib
  • Parestan.com

Retailers:

1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

KDP Amazon is no doubt one of the top self-publishing companies. KDP is one of the world’s largest online retailers.  

They not only sell your Ebook but you can also get your book printed into PaperBack. It’s a print-on-demand service. 

This means, whenever someone buys your book, Amazon prints that single copy on demand.

Amazon has the 70% royalty option on Ebook and prints if your book price is between 2.99$ – 9.99$.

Amazon is spreading out and it’s getting everywhere in the world. It is the first platform, every aspiring author chooses for self-publishing. That is why, it is full of competition, and an ocean full of big fishes. 

Even if you’re a deserving Author, your book might not get the exposure, it needs. Unless you have got a social media fan following or a successful blog with a big email list.

If you like the idea of self-publishing on Amazon, just make sure, you go broad with your book and not enroll it in KDP select. 

KDP Select:

It is a promotional program for authors that allows you to put your book on sale and also give it away for free. 

For enrolling in KDP select you got to make sure that your book is exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, and you can’t publish it anywhere else at that time.

Precious Tip: 

Make sure when you enroll in KDP, and keep your book free for 90 days at the start of your book launch.

While it is free, make sure you spread the word of its being free, let your followers, reviewers and readers know, so they can grab their free copy, and ask them to leave reviews.

(Tough choice, that’s why I don’t recommend the KDP Select program. People might tell you to do it. But think of it like, people don’t value things they get for free unless it’s money or delicious food. But, if you do the perfect promotion of your free book, it can be a great opportunity)

When 90 days of KDP select are over, (MAKE SURE YOU PROMOTE YOUR FREE BOOK FOR THOSE 90 DAYS, SO PEOPLE READ AND REVIEW! PHEW, Calm down Kay!) publish it on other Self Publishing platforms. That way you’ll not go against the exclusivity of KDP select’s policy.

If you choose to publish on KDP, here’s your Publish on Amazon guide.

  • Apple Books

Apple books are the second-top option amongst all the self-publishing companies. They have pretty much the same royalty share as KDP for most books.

A lot of people own Apple products and like to read on Apple Books, so it’s good to put your book on Apple Books. 

Things to KNOW about publishing to Apple Books:

  1. You need to be a Mac user to publish directly to the Apple Store. BUT, If you’re not, use an aggregator such as Smashwords or PublishDrive
  2. There’s no browser reading, meaning you can not read in the browser.
  3. iBooks Authors accepts the ePub format.
  4. iBooks Authors platform is available in select countries only.
  5. Authors discount books for free at any time. There are no exclusive distribution contracts to weave through on Apple Books.
  6. It’s free to publish on Apple Books. The royalty share is 70% for most books sold through Apple only.
  7. If you publish through an aggregator, it drops to 60%. 
  8. The preferred format is Pages of ePub.

How to Publish on the Apple Store

Visit Apple Support to know the steps for formatting and uploading your book to Apple Author.

The unique feature is, you can publish your book using Pages on Apple Books.

You should visit the Apple Books Publisher User Guide and download the checklist to make the publishing process as easy as possible.

This is the step-by-step guide for your book to get published on Apple Store to one of the world’s largest retailers.

3. RakutenKobo

Kobo is massively expanding. In 2019, it also went into a partnership with Walmart. Which means more distribution opportunities. 

It has options like Ebook and Audiobook self-publishing. But, Kobo doesn’t have the Pre-order option available yet.

RakutenKobo was founded in 2009, it is a Canadian-based self-publishing company out of Toronto and a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten. Rakuten is the world’s 14th largest Internet company.

Kobo allows readers to buy and read digital content from various sources.

Kobo with its competitive edge should definitely be on your list for self-publishing. It operates in 16 countries outside the US and has over 5 million titles available in 77 languages.

4. Kobo Publishing Details:

Cost of Service: Free to Upload

Royalty Rate: is about 70% on books priced more than $2.99 in the U.S. 45% royalty share is for books priced below $2.99

Book formats: Epub, EPUB3, PDF

4. Barnes & Noble Press

B&N is a growing ebook market, and they also print your book for you. 

Publishing here is a great achievement for authors because it gets them huge exposure to the readers of more than ten countries.

On B&N, books priced over $2.99 get 65% royalty share. 

This site is one of the top self-publishing companies, but their only drawback is their distribution and who can publish their books.

The B&N Press platform is are only confined to authors and publishers only in the following countries: 

United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany, U.K., Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium.

And, they don’t allow people from other countries to publish their books.

I wish Barnes & Noble could expand their business and give a chance to readers and authors from other countries to take part in a big company like theirs.

I, so, want to see my romance novel When Silver Met Gold in Barnes&Nobles shops.

To Publish on B&N, simply set a free NOOK account and register as a vendor (Because it’s you, who’s selling the book). Work through the basic steps like your book information, cover and payment information and your book will be live for readers to buy and read.

It is beneficial to directly publish on B&N because it’s absolutely free while publishing with them through a third party can cost you some bucks.

5. GooglePlay Books

Well, it’s one of the top options because Google is something everyone uses. Everyone has Google on their phone. Putting your book on GooglePlaybooks gives it exposure to some other level. Obviously, not everyone is on Amazon or Nook Books but, everyone is using Google.

Being on GooglePlay Books makes your Book more searchable. 

6. Parestan.com

This site, Parestan.com is a Pakistani self-publishing company. They sell your e-book and also print Paperbacks of your book. Parestan.com sells your ebook worldwide but their print distribution is confined to Pakistan. 

If you’re a Pakistani author, who is just getting into the Self-Publishing Business, Parestan is your shot!

They have a 70% royalty scheme. They don’t have the Pre-order option.

7. Lulu (A mix of Retailer And Aggregator)

To any self-published author, I have talked about Lulu, they have only GREAT things to say about it. And, well, this site deserves love.

On Lulu, the process is quite straightforward. As an author you upload your book on Lulu and, you can also purchase their own books through Lulu. 

By having an ISBN, your books can be distributed to online retail outlets such as Barnes and Noble Press, Amazon and Apple’s Bookstore.

Lulu Royalties: The author gets an 80% royalty for print books. A 90% royalty share for eBooks after the sale. Which is quite amazing!

Cost To Publish With Lulu: Lulu’s ebook conversion, publishing, and distribution services are absolutely free. 

But, they sell a variety of author services. Which includes editing, cover design, formatting, promotional services, and book marketing. With the services they have, you feel confident you’ll get your book published after using their services.

Aggregators:

 

8. Draft2Digital

  • D2D is absolutely free and there are no fees for using their service.
  • Draft2Digital keeps 10% of book sales.
  • You can set the price for your book as you like, or offer your book for free. 
  • D2D handles the formatting for free which makes this a huge selling point when compared to Smashwords.
  • Draft2Digital distributes to Amazon.
  • D2D has a very easy method to upload your book within minutes. 
  • Your book goes live on the site within 24 hours. 

When it comes to aggregators, whereas Smashwords was once the King of the Hill, D2D is taking over the top spot and, if it comes down to Smashwords or Draft2Digital, D2D is the preferred platform for many self-publishers now.

For more information on Draft2Digital check out the FAQ page

9. PublishDrive

PublishDrive is newer than other aggregators but is making big strides as a core aggregator. 

Publish Drive has over 400 stores worldwide. It does direct distribution to Apple Books, Kobo, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Press, and Google Books.

This makes PD one of the top distributors. 

PublishDrive is an expert in international distribution. That makes it easy for authors to tap into foreign markets they would otherwise struggle to reach.

PublishDrive is an Apple-approved aggregator. And also Google partner, making it a mitochondrion (powerhouse) of global distribution.

Go through PublishDrive FAQS

PD’s Unique Feature

Most retailers or distributors charge a royalty rate for sales. PublishDrive charges a monthly subscription rate which means you keep 100% of sales. If you do not go with the monthly subscription, PublishDrive charges a flat rate of 10% on all sales.

10. Smashwords

This site is an Aggregator and gets your books into the bigger markets and maximizes distribution.

But before you take a step, let’s take a look at the platform.

Smashwords was one of the original aggregators but now it has big competition like Draft2Digital and PublishDrive, two platforms that are easier to navigate than Smashwords.

Smashwords is still a good choice: Why?

  • Monthly payments are made. It has one penny payment threshold with PayPal
  • You earn up to 80% royalty if your book is listed in the Smashwords store.
  • It gives you daily sales reporting from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords store.
  • It has the option of publishing pre-order books to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Why Smashwords is not a good choice:

  • It doesn’t distribute to Amazon.
  • Formatting for Smashwords is difficult and time-consuming.
  • The FAQ page has too much information.
  • The web design is ancient and difficult to sort through.

Smashwords has incredible reach with the distribution. But the strict interior guidelines and no formatting support for authors makes it not my cup of tea for many authors.

In comparison with Draft2Digital, there are more cons than pros. D2D handles anything that Smashwords does.

Since PublishDrive is available, Smashwords doesn’t attract authors anymore to go through the trouble of formatting for Smashwords.

But for that, You have got Fiverr Pro, hire a Professional who will format your book exactly as required by Smashwords on an affordable budget. And, let your book be distributed globally.

11. IngramSpark

IngramSpark is a print on demand company with a wide distribution. It is not free. But, the distribution they provide is worth those dollars.

When Createspace was freed completely by Amazon, InsparkGram was the main storefront for authors setting up print books.

Now, KDP and IngramSpark have a partnership of working together to print and distribute hard copies through print on demand.

IngramSpark has made big strides in the last few years. As part of the Ingram Group, they have the industry’s largest global book distribution network to over 39000 libraries, bookstores, online retailers, schools, universities. 

Ingram also distributes to online retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books and Nook.

IngramSpark’s Formats and Quality Print

Ingram prints everything from novels, graphic novels, children’s books, to business textbooks.

Ingram offers hardcovers as well as paperbacks.

IngramSpark specializes in high-quality print books requiring color. They offer matte, gloss or cloth for the cover. 

For the binding, Ingram can do perfect bound, saddle stitch or case laminate.

When you consider all of this format and quality printing in addition to the distribution network, Ingram is the leader in print on demand.

Pricing

For ebooks, you get to pay 25$ for publishing.

49$, if you’re choosing paperback.

For both, you pay 49$. top Deal.

Royalties

For distribution, Ingram Book Company takes 15-25% from the wholesale discount. The rest goes to the retailer.

You receive a 40% royalty share when selling through IngramSpark only. But, if you don’t go through Amazon, you will receive a 45% royalty of the list price.

YOU NEED TO SELL THROUGH BOTH. recommended.

WHY:

  • KDP charges less for print books. It is free to upload and publish.
  • KDP has expanded distribution but it is through IngramSpark. The distribution services of Ingram are definitely brilliant and worth trying.
  • IngramSpark has better quality. 
  • IngramSpark offers superior book bindings and hardcover printing.

12. StreetLib

StreetLib is an emerging Italian-based distributor. It has a strong presence in Europe, mainly in Latin America and Europe.

StreetLib launched digital portals in about 20 countries across 6 continents, with 5 in Africa for authors and publishers.

StreetLib is also aiming to distribute books to all international markets. 

It has a unique feature, that is: 

The dashboard is configured for multiple languages including Italian, Hindi, Spanish, and English.  They are aiming to add more as they grow.

StreetLib distributes to retailers like Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Indigo, Kobo, Tolino, and Google Play Books.

StreetLib takes 10% of each ebook sale and If you are looking to break into the European market, StreetLib is worth investing in.

Again, WHICH SELF-PUBLISHING COMPANIES SHOULD I GO WITH?

Going wide with your book matters. 

You need to get your book out into as many stores, platforms and online retail shops as you can.

Remember, if you are enrolled in KDP Select, you have to remain enrolled for 90 days. After those 90 days, you can get your book really out there.

For first time authors, to enroll in KDP select for the first 90 days is good to gain traction on your book. 

But after that, focus on setting your book up for long term success in international markets.

  • On IngramSpark, you can reach a global audience with Ingram’s wide distribution network.
  • On Kobo, you get smoothly tapped into the Canadian market and take advantage of big book sales there.
  • PublishDrive distributes your book to Amazon, Apple Books, Google, Barnes & Noble, and other local distributors.
  • With StreetLib, you branch out further into the European markets and Africa.

This looks like a lot of work, (HECK, YES, IT IS!). 

You might get disappointed expending tons of effort without seeing much result at first. But, be hopeful, do promotions and be consistent!

Start with Amazon at first and then, you build out your platform from there. 

You don’t have to use all of these sites in the starting and all at once. 

You can get started with Draft2Digital.

Then move into IngramSpark for expanded distribution with print books.

Now that you have the list of top self-publishing companies today, what is holding you back?

You need an author’s business plan! 

  • Brainstorm the plan for your book business.
  • Start publishing with the sites. 
  • Start local or go global if you want.

The power of distribution and making a living as an international author is now up to you.

You might be interested in: What Is Self Publishing? Self Publishing Checklist.

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