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Last updated on Feb 07, 2023
The 17 BEST Self-Publishing Companies of 2023
Deciding to self-publish your book is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Once your book has been edited , designed , and you have a marketing plan in place, you still have to figure out how you'll publish and distribute your work — the number of options available is so large that it can be a bit overwhelming.
There are a lot of companies out there advertising their services to self-publishing authors. Some of them are reputable but many of them are vanity presses looking to take advantage of aspiring authors .
In this article, we’ll guide you through the 17 best self-publishing companies in the industry to see which ones you might want to work with — depending on the book you’ve written. And don't forget to grab a free book launch checklist while you're at it to make sure that you're checking off all of the boxes before the big day!
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The beauty of ebook publishing is that any author can upload and launch their books without any outside help. Broadly speaking you can take two approaches to this process:
- Sell directly through book retailers , such as Amazon and B&N Press. These are online bookstores where your book can be discovered and sold. Big book retailers generally provide a branded ebook publishing platform for you to individually upload your book.
- Use an aggregator , such as Draft2Digital and Smashwords, to distribute to a bunch of book retailers all at once . This will probably save you time and energy, though you’ll need to pay an extra fee for their services.
When you’re publishing an ebook, regardless of the approach, you’ll get to keep the lion’s share of the profits. Most retailers and aggregators will only take a cut of the royalties once a copy of your book is sold.
But what’s best for your book will depend on your personal situation. So, first, we recommend taking this quick 1-minute quiz that will help point you towards the best self-publishing company for you.
Which self-publishing company is right for you?
Find out here! Takes one minute.
That said, if you want to get an overview of the ebook publishing landscape then read on!
Let's start with the four most prominent book retailers . Book retailers are the stores through which you’ll actually sell your book to the public — which means that they’re pretty important as far as your self-publishing ambitions are concerned! Like we mentioned before, each retailer offers its own ebook publishing platform for authors to upload their books. Where they differ is in the cut that they take of your royalties and their exclusivity programs.
1. Amazon KDP
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 OR 35% if priced below $2.99
Amazon is the titan of online bookstores — accounting for 74% of U.S. ebook sales in 2015 — it is the world's biggest seller of digital volumes. It's no wonder Amazon is often the first retailer authors consider to sell their titles.
Kindle Direct Publishing ( KDP ) is Amazon’s self-publishing platform (not to be confused with " Amazon Publishing " — their division that operates like a traditional publisher). Any author can self-publish using KDP, though you’ll need to do it manually yourself.
Note that Amazon KDP is not the same as Amazon KDP Select. KDP Select is Amazon’s exclusivity program — meaning that, if you choose to enroll in it, you can only sell your book on Amazon. In exchange for this, Amazon will give you:
- Access to Kindle Countdown Deals and free promotions. You can discount your book — and even set it to free on the Kindle store — for a certain period every 90 days. Learn more about the power of discounting (and the smart way to go about it) in this Reedsy Live .
- Enrollment in Kindle Unlimited . KU is Amazon’s subscription service for readers, which allows members to read as much as they want. It’s very popular and a good portion of Amazon customers only read titles from KU these days.
If you’ve researched these perks and decided that KDP Select is the route for you, then there’s no need to read the rest of this post, as you’ve essentially agreed not to use any other self-publishing company 🙂 Instead, you can familiarize yourself with the KDP Select program with these resources:
- KDP Select vs. “Going Wide” — Which Option is Right For You?
- How to Self-Publish with Amazon
- The Complete Guide to Ebook Distribution
2. Apple Books
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on most books
Another big name that everyone should know, Apple founded its self-publishing arm in 2010. In 2012, Apple announced that 400 million books were downloaded on Apple Books (though it’s important to note that the number of downloads differs from the number of books sold , as The Digital Reader clarifies in this post ). Though Amazon has far eclipsed it as the foremost ebook reading platform since then, Apple Books still gets a fair amount of eyes.
While figuring out ways to monetize a book on Apple Books might be a challenge, it’s much easier to actually publish one. Using iBooks Author, self-publishing authors can quite easily upload their titles onto Apple Books, all without having to pay a fee!
How to Self-Publish a Book
Learn to set yourself up for success as an indie author.
3. Barnes & Noble Press
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on ebooks priced above $0.99
As you might expect, Barnes & Noble Press (formerly known as NOOK Press) is the self-publishing platform belonging to the big box bookseller. It has pretty infamously struggled for market share against Amazon. However, as far as interfaces are concerned, B&N Press is easy to use — and, similar to the other big retailers, it’s free to upload your book. Exclusivity is not required to publish with B&N Press.
It’s important to note that you can set your book for free on this platform. What’s more, Barnes & Noble is still working on innovating and adding new features for self-published writers. In January 2021, B&N Press introduced an ad portal to help new authors to create marketing campaigns on the Barnes & Noble website for their books. Check out this page for more information on self-publishing on B&N Press.
4. Rakuten Kobo
💰 Pricing: Free to upload 💸 Royalties: 70% on ebooks priced more than $2.99 in the U.S. OR 45% for books priced below $2.99
Rakuten Kobo is the last big retailer that you should know. It’s a Canadian company (that’s a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten) — as such, it’s got a strong reach in the international ebook market. Kobo is only the #5 store in terms of market share in the U.S., though it’s growing year by year.
If you're hoping to reach readers outside of the U.S., Kobo is a strong candidate. Kobo's self-publishing arm, Kobo Writing Life, is simple and free to use. It also comes with several perks, including exclusive promotion opportunities, if you choose to distribute through Kobo and not an aggregator.
Speaking of aggregators… if you’re getting a migraine just thinking about uploading your book onto all of these different book retailers by yourself, then perhaps aggregators are what you’re looking for.
Aggregators collect and manage all of these markets: pushing your book to each retailer and centralizing it all into one sales report. With a single upload to, say, Draft2Digital, your book would be on sale on Amazon, B&N Press, Apple Books, Kobo — and even smaller retailers.
Then you’ll be able to track your sales across all of these retailers through the aggregator’s interface, receiving monthly royalty checks. In exchange for this service, an aggregator will take an additional cut of your royalties — which means that this route is for anyone who wants to quickly save on time and doesn’t mind paying extra.
How much will it cost you to self-publish?
Find out here! Takes 30 seconds.
💰 Pricing: 10% of the book’s retail price per copy sold 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books , Kobo, Playster, Tolino, OverDrive, Scribd, Bibliotheca — more info here
If you decide to use an aggregator, Draft2Digital is the one that we recommend at Reedsy. Why’s that? Lots of factors, including excellent customer support, a user-friendly dashboard, and a sleek website design. Not to mention the extra perks that D2D packs into the deal: they do the formatting for you . D2D also:
- Gives authors Universal Book Links (UBL) . As its name suggests, these UBLs make books discoverable by allowing authors to generate a link to each of their books, which goes straight to the customer’s preferred book retailer.
- Touts an “automated back matter” tool. This nifty service automatically adds your newly published ebook to the “Also by this author” section of any other book you’ve distributed via D2D.
Add the fact that it distributes to all of the major ebook stores, and you’ve pretty much got the whole package in Draft2Digital.
💰 Pricing: 15% of the retail price on Smashwords and 10% on other platforms per copy sold 📇 Distributes to: Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Kobo, Blio, the Smashwords store — more info here
The original aggregator, Smashwords was the undisputed king in town until Draft2Digial entered the picture. However, Smashwords is still very popular today.
On a simple side-by-side comparison, Smashwords and Draft2Digital offer similar pricing structures and royalties. Where Smashwords falls short is in terms of its user experience — you need to do the formatting yourself on Smashwords, which definitely isn’t a piece of cake. Smashwords also does not distribute books to Amazon . That said, outside of Amazon, it’s got a slightly more extensive distribution network than Draft2Digital, so if you want to sell your book to smaller retailers, this might work. Kindlepreneur's Dave Chesson wrote an in-depth take on the differences between Smashwords and Draft2Digital, which you can read here .
💰 Pricing: 10% of the retail price per copy sold OR subscription pricing 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, OverDrive, Playster, Odilo, Bookmate — more info here
PublishDrive might be the new kid on the block, but it’s definitely made the most of its time. Founded in 2015, it works with over 4,500 publishers and can now connect you to over 400 stores. It’s got all the workings of the other aggregators: a modern interface and regular sales reports to keep you up-to-date on your profits. What sets PublishDrive apart from the pack are:
- PublishDrive’s subscription pricing options. If you just agree to pay $100 per month, you can keep all of your royalties, which might be a good fit for established authors.
- Its distribution options. Along with all of the major Western retailers, PublishDrive also specializes in international distribution, giving indie authors access to foreign markets that were previously out of reach.
💰 Pricing: 10% of the retail price per copy sold 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Indigo, Baker & Taylor — more info here
Another international distributor, StreetLib gives you even more options if you’re aiming to reach an international audience. It’s got a strong presence in Latin America and Europe, to the extent that its dashboard can be configured in English, Italian, Spanish, Hindi — and more! One other case in point for its international strength: in January 2019, it began offering its services for authors in Egypt.
Originally founded in Europe, StreetLib is certainly great for international distribution, but if your plan is to include the U.S. and U.K. as well, it's also got your back. As of April 2019, it distributes books to all major Western stores.
💰 Pricing: 30% of net sales for books priced more than $2.49 OR 60% for works between below $2.48 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Hugendubel, Angus & Robertson, Thalia, Buecher, Whitcoulls, Indigo, Kobo, Livraria Cultura, Kobo, Scribd — more info here
XinXii isn’t actually Chinese — it’s based in Berlin. (Surprise!) As such, it offers authors foreign distribution channels that might not be readily available elsewhere. Note that it’s got a particularly strong presence in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. However, its customer support could be found wanting, and its user interface is a bit on the clunky side: trade-offs that the author will need to make to conduct business with XinXii.
Author Services for Self-Publishing Authors
Now, if you haven’t gotten as far in the publishing process as the actual publishing bit, and you’re still concerned with the editing, design, and formatting of your book, then perhaps the companies above don’t quite match what you’re looking for. Thankfully, there’s one place where you can access world-class talent to take care of all three — and you’re already there 😉.
💰 Pricing: Average costs here 🖋️Services: Editing, interior design, cover design, illustrations, and more.
A marketplace for freelance publishing professionals, Reedsy is where authors can connect with editors and designers with years of relevant experience in traditional publishing. Each professional sets their own rate — you can get quotes from up to five of them a time and find the ones that best suit your needs and budget.
In addition to the marketplace, Reedsy has a book formatting tool that allows any author to quickly create a professional-grade ebook and print book file — at no cost whatsoever.
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Print-on-Demand Services for Self-Publishing Authors
While most self-publishing authors will rely on the ebook market for most of their sales, that doesn’t mean they should overlook the printed book. After all, there’s nothing quite like holding a beautifully designed paperback in your hand! And with print-on-demand technology that allows for copies to be produced only when they’re purchased, almost any indie author can put a paperback up for sale — without breaking the bank.
If that sounds good to you, then here’s a quick look at some of the major players in POD.
11. KDP Print
💰 Pricing: Learn more here 📇 Distributes to: Amazon (naturally), others through Expanded Distribution .
Formerly known as CreateSpace , Amazon’s own print-on-demand service has the benefit of sharing Kindle Direct Publishing’s platform. Authors already selling ebooks on KDP can easily launch a print edition by uploading a formatted PDF and cover design with a spine and a back. With KDP’s Expanded Distribution option, authors can sell to shops and libraries across the globe — though it’s important to note many booksellers are inclined to order through Amazon.
💰 Pricing: Learn more here 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Follett, EBSCO, Booktopia, Kobo, Zola Books, 24Symbols, Bookmate
IngramSpark, owned by Ingram, the biggest book wholesaler in the world. If your focus is on getting your book into brick-and-mortar stores, it’s worth setting your book up with this company (perhaps in addition to KDP Print, which you can use to sell your book on Amazon). For more info, read our IngramSpark review .
Book Marketing 101
Learn seven tried-and-true strategies for boosting book sales.
💰 Pricing: Learn more here
📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Apple Books, the Blurb bookstore
Blurb is one of the most well-known and trusted print-on-demand services out there. We particularly recommend it for visual works — such as magazines and photo books. For an in-depth evaluation of its user-friendliness and pictures of the quality of its printed books, go to this review .
💰 Pricing: Learn more here 📇 Distributes to: Amazon, Google Play, Vearsa, Apple Books, Kobo, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, Books-A-Million
Boasting an easy-to-use interface and reliable customer service, BookBaby is an option for many first-time self-publishing authors. To learn more about BookBaby, go to this review .
Marketing Services for Self-Publishing Authors
Getting your book published is only half the battle, of course. You’ve created a wonderful book and launched it on the world’s biggest retailer platforms — but you still need to find a way to make people buy it. To help your book reach its potential, there are few companies you can turn to for assistance.
15. Reedsy Discovery
💰 Pricing: $50
Reedsy Discovery helps thousands of self-publishing authors get the boost they need every month. When you submit your book, you get an editorial review in time for your launch date — as well as a chance to be featured in our weekly newsletter, sent out to over 200,000 eager readers.
In addition to reviews, Reedsy’s marketplace has dozens of experienced book marketers who can help you optimize your book’s product page, plan an ad campaign, and perfect your email marketing strategy.
💰 Pricing: Varies among genres
Perhaps the single biggest promotional platform in publishing, BookBub offers self-publishing authors a powerful way to publicize their discount deals. Through BookBub’s Featured Deals and self-serve ads , an author can tap into their subscriber-base and access devoted fans of almost any genre.
However, these days, it’s incredibly hard for self-publishing authors to secure one of their featured deals. Thankfully, BookBub has more than a little competition.
17. Written Word Media
💰 Pricing: Varies between platforms
With a range of platforms catering to free and discounted books (the most prominent of which is their newsletters), Written Word Media provides authors with another way to connect with thousands of readers. Together with FreeBooksy and BargainBooksy (which promote free and bargain books, naturally), WMM has other sites devoted to steamy romances, new releases, and even audiobooks .
And if that isn’t enough, you can find more services over on Reedsy’s directory of book promotion sites .
Whichever options you choose, understand that it may take a bit of trial and error until you realize your perfect self-publishing system. There's no right or wrong way to go about it — which is all a part of learning how to self-publish a book in the first place.
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Best Book Publishing Companies [2023 Update]
POSTED ON Nov 6, 2023
Written by Scott Allan
Know the best publishing companies of 2023 to stay ahead of the curve as an aspiring author.
No two companies are the same, so don't rely on trial and error when it comes to working with publishing companies as an author.
In a world of scammy vanity companies eager to take an author's money, you have every reason to be cautious.
It's more important to do your research and understand which traditional and self-publishing companies can actually help you publish a book that's high quality (without running your investment dry and selling you empty promises).
You’ve worked hard learning how to write your book . You want to make sure you choose wisely when it comes to setting up your book for publication.
So, at this stage, you’re asking, “What are the best self-publishing companies?”
Whether you want to publish a nonfiction book , fiction novel , or even if you're writing children's books , the path to becoming an author lies in researching which publishing companies are worth focusing on in your journey.
Want to skip the article and go straight to the assessment that will show you which self-publishing company is right for you?
Take The Self Publishing Companies Quiz!
This Blog on the Top Publishing Companies Will Cover:
In today’s publishing marketplace, self-published authors are leading the pack. Now, as an authorpreneur , you have total control over the cover design, content, and distribution of your book. You get to choose when to publish and who to publish with.
You probably have lots of questions regarding self-publishing companies, such as…
- What are the pros and cons of each publishing company?
- Who is the easiest to work with when it comes to book formatting, distribution, royalty payments, or tech support?
- Do you just go with the biggest platform, like Amazon KDP , and call it a day?
- Is it worth it to publish with several other very reputable retailers and distributors to maximize your reach?
In this article, we'll introduce you to the best self-publishing companies for author, as well as the top traditional publishing companies if you choose to go that route.
By the time you are done, you will be clear on the direction your book needs to take and have greater confidence in yourself as an author , knowing your book is in the best marketplace for maximum results.
What do publishing companies do?
In the book industry, book publishing companies serve a wide variety of purposes, all related to the book's production process. Depending on the publishing route, a book publishing company's purpose can vary as well.
In a traditional publishing company , the author is given a book contract that basically sells their rights to the book to the publisher, who then oversees the production process.
In publishing companies that cater primarily to self-published authors , the purposes can vary as well, according to the company type. Learning how to self-publish can be daunting when you're first starting out, and each company has something slightly different to offer. We'll cover the main types of self-publishing companies in the next section.
What are self-publishing companies?
Self-publishing companies offer book publishing and production services to independent authors.
These companies work differently depending on the type of service provided, but ultimately each operates within the space of producing and publishing a book .
Here are the main types of self-publishing companies you can work with.
Types of Self-Publishing Companies:
Aggregator – Self-publishing company aggregators are platforms that distribute your book to several online retailers . With aggregators, the bonus here is it saves you time, energy, and money. You upload your book and aggregators distribute it to 30+ retail channels such as Apple Books or Google Play Books. An aggregator is your first step to publishing internationally.
Retailer – A self-publishing retailer company is a retailer platform that sells books exclusively through its own retail store. This includes Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. Authors can upload books to these platforms and make book sales through these platforms. Retailers pay authors directly and some offer exclusive programs such as Amazon’s KDP Select program .
Publishing Educator – These companies provide author education programs, such as through self-publishing courses and coaching. Their mission is to help authors navigate the self-publishing process and build an author career. Some are free, but most are paid. Instead of paying college tuition, you're paying for an online course to teach you how to publish and market a book. An example of a publishing educator would be Self-Publishing School .
Author Services – These are self-publishing companies that are mainly in the business to provide self-publishing services to authors such as ghostwriting, book editing, formatting, cover design, illustration, and more. There are some reputable companies to work with, of which, we are one.
Self-Publishing Companies vs Traditional Publishing Companies
Self-publishing companies are different from traditional publishing companies, although both typically work by transforming an author's written manuscript into an actual book.
The difference lies in the publishing model that distinguishes self-publishing vs traditional publishing .
Traditional publishing companies are more concerned with choosing which books to publish, buying the rights to the book, handling book production, and keeping some of the author's book royalties . In traditional publishing, the publishing company is listed as the publisher of the author's book.
Self-publishing companies help the author oversee the entire book production and publishing process, and aren't selective in the type of book being published. These companies usually charge a one-time fee rather than continuous book royalties. In self-publishing, it depends on which company you use whether they are listed as the publisher, or whether you are as the author.
What are the best options for self-publishing?
If you've decided to self-publish, there are now hundreds of publishing companies, from mega-retailers such as Amazon that sell everything, to smaller private publishers focused on specific genres.
In terms of knowing which is the best option for self-published authors, you'll need to consider what type of self-publishing company can best meet the needs of your specific book and the services you need to get it published in the market you want.
For example, we know that Amazon has over 80% of the book market share. But if you set up your book for wide distribution through an aggregator, you can tap into a huge international market. This could lead to other publishing opportunities such as having your book sold to foreign publishers.
Other companies sell and distribute books directly through their website. They have a long reach for international distribution so your book gets pushed into the pipeline for maximum selling power.
It isn’t a question anymore of “Will I get published?” But these days the big question is, “Who do I publish with first?”
This is a very good problem to have.
Our best advice : Do your research before publishing anything, and please, don’t sign that dotted line until after you’ve read this post!
There are plenty of scammy companies that are simply vanity publishers , meaning they like to call themselves publishing companies, but they do not deliver quality services and overcharge the authors who work with them.
Criteria for the Best Self-Publishing Companies
There are lots of companies out there to offer their services for publishing your book. Not all these companies are playing on the same level.
To make this list I have put together six points. Just because a self-publishing company didn’t make it here isn’t an indication you should avoid it.
Here's the criteria we used to rate the best self-publishing companies:
Book Publishing Volume: The amount of book sales volume this company has shipped is huge. They have proven themselves in the marketplace with high shipping volume and a business model you can trust.
Reputation and Trustworthiness: These companies are legit and come recommended. Cross-check with this detailed list put together by the Alliance of Independent Authors . These companies are NOT on the blacklist of publishing companies that have been red-flagged as dangerous.
Customer Reliability: A proven track record with authors as easy to work with and trustworthy staff and communication.
Helpful Resources: These self-publishing companies have a plethora of publishing resources for authors to get the job done. Some of these services and materials are free and some are not. But what matters is they are offering what you need to get published.
Affordable: You can publish your book within your budget. While there are expenses to self-publishing , it won’t break the bank.
Subscribers List: These companies have large email lists of thousands of subscribers to their newsletters or services.
You are about to embark on an incredible journey into self-publishing. You are your own boss, you make all the creative decisions, and how fast you get your book out there into the world is really up to you and how much time you can invest in your book project.
Still feeling it? Good! Let’s move ahead.
The 11 best self-publishing companies for authors
1. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
When people think about self-publishing a book, Amazon is one of the first companies they consider. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing is a self-publishing platform where authors can publish their print and eBooks.
In the United States alone, Amazon makes up 40% of self-published digital books. So as an author, you can’t afford to ignore the power of Amazon in the book publishing space.
What makes Amazon so critical in the publishing arena? First, Amazon has a widespread reach that puts books in front of millions of browsers per day. They also offer competitive royalty rates.
For eBooks: 35% for books priced under $2.99, or 70%, for all books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
For paperbacks and hardcovers: 60% royalties from the list price.
KDP Select Exclusivity
KDP has an exclusive program that sets it apart from the other retailers: the KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited programs for authors. There are perks to each one of these programs, such as special promotion programs, and Kindle Owners Lending Library enrollment.
The downside to joining KDP Select is that you are enrolled for 90 days in an exclusive partnership with KDP. This means you are tied to Amazon exclusively and cannot make your books available on other platforms.
So the big question is, will Amazon meet all of your self-publishing needs if you choose to do business with them exclusively?
The answer: It depends on your publishing goals.
Amazon has a big slice of the pie, but it doesn’t have the whole thing. For example, Joanna Penn mentions in this post that her book sales on the German platforms almost match Amazon sales.
As we will see in the rest of this post, there are other publishing companies that focus on pushing your book into a wider market and that means increased sales and subscribers to your platform.
Now, having said that, we know KDP is a “big deal” in the self-publishing business. But, publishing exclusively on Amazon and ignoring the other self-publishing companies could put you at certain risk as well.
What happens when Amazon decides to change something, and you suddenly lose half your income overnight?
As a first-time author, you might consider staying with Kindle Select for at least the first 90 days to build momentum for your eBook . But if you push forward and write a series of books, go wide and expand your global reach.
That is why the rest of this post introduces you to the other self-publishing companies.
2. Barnes & Noble Press
Barnes & Noble Press [Nook Press] is, according to their website, “a free, fast, and easy-to-use self-publishing service that enables you to publish and sell directly to our millions of readers.” Barnes and Noble has been a leader in the book industry for many years.
The name implies the brick-and-mortar retailer for books, but in the age of digital publication, B&N now has a premium eBook platform that can compete with the rest of the growing eBook market.
While getting your book onto the physical shelves of Barnes & Noble proves to be a challenging task, you can set up your eBook and print book through Barnes & Noble Press.
Important things to consider with Barnes & Noble Press:
- Books published with Barnes & Noble Press retail only at their online and physical bookstores.
- Royalty rates range from 55% to 70%, depending on the price of the book.
- Resources. Barnes and Noble has many resources for authors to help with the publishing process, and they have strong affiliations with some of the best service providers in the industry.
- Partnered programs. Barnes & Noble Press has partnered with Reedsy for editorial, 99 designs for cover design, Inkubate for marketing solutions, and Girl Friday Productions for publishing resources.
- Free to upload. You can take advantage of the cheaper printing costs with Barnes & Noble when you publish directly to their site instead of going through 3rd party.
To get started with Barnes & Noble Press, simply set up a free NOOK account, register as a vendor, and work through the steps to create your book for publication on NOOK. Your book will then be live within 72 hours of hitting publish.
Note: The B&N Press platform is available for use by authors and publishers only in the following countries: United States, U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium.
I have a confession to make: I am Canadian.
I publish primarily in the U.S. store and, if it weren’t for Kobo, I would have very few sales in the Canadian store. Why?
Founded in 2009, Kobo is a Canadian-based company out of Toronto and a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, the world’s 14th largest Internet company.
Kobo is an open platform that supports the most popular formats, including EPUB, EPUB3, and PDF, and allows readers to buy and read digital content from various sources.
Kobo’s marketing power makes up an estimated 25% of all eBook sales in Canada. That’s huge!
Important things to consider with Kobo:
- Cost. It's free to upload your book to Kobo.
- The royalty rate is 70% on books priced more than $2.99 in the U.S. OR 45% for books priced below $2.99.
- International power. As an international book retailer and one of the largest eBook stores, Kobo should definitely be on your list for publishing. It operates in 16 countries outside the U.S. and has over 5 million titles available in 77 languages.
- Kobo Writing Life . A great feature of Kobo is the self-publishing platform called Kobo Writing Life [KWL]. This site features an easy-to-publish platform for your books, as well as a detailed sales analytics tool to allow authors to track sales in real-time.
For more information on getting started with Kobo, check out the Kobo FAQs here.
4. Apple Books
Apple launched its self-publishing platform in 2010. The self-publishing platform for authors is Books and is relatively easy to upload your book.
Publishing on iBooks Authors is free and the royalty is a flat 70%.
Although Amazon has the longest arm of retail sales, Apple fares very well with its direct marketing approach to Mac users, making it the 2nd largest online retailer of eBooks. Why? It targets Mac users, and according to Apple Insider, there are now 100 million Mac users worldwide, making up a significant slice of the 1.8 billion active Apple devices in 2023 .
Important things to consider with Apple Books:
- You have to be a Mac user to publish directly to the Apple Store. If not, use an aggregator such as Smashwords or PublishDrive
- Free to upload and publish your book.
- The royalty rate is 70% for most books sold through Apple only.
- No browser reading . With Kindle you can read the books in the browser. Not with Mac.
- Format. iBooks authors use the ePub format that is not compatible with most other platforms.
- Availability. iBooks Authors is available in select countries only.
- Contracts. Authors can discount books for free at anytime, and there are no exclusive distribution contracts to weave through.
You can visit Apple Support here to get the steps for formatting and uploading your book to Apple Author. But one unique feature is that you can publish your book using Pages.
I would recommend you visit the Apple Books Publisher User Guide and download the checklist to make the publishing process as easy as possible.
5. selfpublishing.com (Yes, that's us!)
When it comes to online learning for self-publishing, we have a whole gamut of resources available for you. Our CEO, Chandler Bolt , a seven-time bestselling author, has made it his mission to change the publishing industry and tilt the tables in favor of the author. Our site provides tools, author education, author services, and coaching that help you navigate the entire self-publishing process. In our online curriculum, we also offer templates, checklists, and guides, as well as open office hours and group coaching sessions every day of the week so you get questions answered fast.
Since late 2014, our company has helped over 7,000 authors become published.
For more advanced authors who have already published and are looking to scale up book revenue, we have other programs on advanced book marketing and building an online course from your book.
Reedsy is a company that provides authors with a number of self-publishing services. It has a powerful outsourcing platform that connects authors with editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers , marketing strategists, and ghostwriters.
Authors need lots of help getting a book ready for publication, and Reedsy makes this process simple with one-stop outsourcing. You can get an editorial assessment of your work, or a query letter review for authors looking to publish the traditional route.
The freelancers outsourced through Reedsy have profiles easily visible and this builds instant trust with authors.
Reedsy is not an aggregator or book retailer but focuses on providing educational materials and services for authors.
They do this by hosting a platform that provides reliable resources for authors to write better and prepare a book for publication.
This saves a lot of time and banging your head against the wall because you just hired another outsourcer that totally messed up your book formatting.
Lulu has been around for a very long time, and is one of the oldest publishing platforms, when they began publishing and distributing eBooks in 2009. By 2014, the publishing giant had produced 2 million books.
The process for working with Lulu is relatively straightforward. As an author, you upload your book to Lulu, and authors can purchase their own books through Lulu.
By acquiring an ISBN, your books can be distributed to online retail outlets such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Apple’s Bookstore.
Important things to consider with Lulu:
- Royalties . The author receives an 80% royalty for print books and a 90% royalty for eBooks after sale.
- Cost . Lulu’s eBook conversion, publishing, and distribution services are free, but they sell a variety of author services including editing, cover design, formatting, promotional services, and book marketing.
- Resources. Lulu has a plethora of education and information and houses a large platform to help authors with every step of the publishing process. Lulu has its own bookstore to sell and distribute books.
Lulu is a one-stop-shop for everything and, with the services they have, you can feel confident you’ll get your book published after using their services.
When it comes to wide distribution for print-on-demand, this is where IngramSpark comes sliding into home base.
Before Createspace was acquired completely by Amazon , it was the main storefront for authors setting up print books. But now, KDP and IngramSpark work closely together to print and distribute hard copies through print-on-demand.
IngramSpark has made huge strides in the last couple of years. As part of the Ingram Group, they boast to be the industry’s largest global book distribution network to over 39,000 libraries, bookstores, online retailers, and schools and universities. Ingram also distributes to the top online retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, and Nook.
Important things to consider with IngramSpark:
- Formats and Quality Print . Ingram “prints everything” from novels and graphic novels to children’s books and business textbooks. Ingram offers hardcovers as well as paperbacks and high-quality print jobs, an option that KDP doesn’t have.
- Pricing. $49 for print & eBook together. Or, $49 for each if you do it separately.
- Royalties. For distribution orders, Ingram Book Company takes 15-25% from the wholesale discount, and the rest goes to the retailer. You receive a 40% royalty when selling through IngramSpark only. But, opt out of Amazon, and you will receive a 45% royalty of the list price.
- ISBN required. Learn how to get an ISBN for your book if you plan to publish with IngramSpark.
Should I go with IngramSpark or KDP?
Suggestion: Both KDP and IngramSpark are recommended. Here are 3 reasons why…
- KDP charges less for print books and it is free to upload and publish.
- KDP has expanded distribution but it is through Ingramspark . The distribution services of Ingram are definitely above and beyond the rest.
- IngramSpark has far better quality and offers superior book bindings and hardcover printing.
A relatively new company, PublishDrive is making big strides as a core aggregator. Created by Kinga Jentetics when she was looking for a way to publish her master's thesis, PublishDrive was created to help other authors launch their dreams. Kinga Jentetics was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top female entrepreneurs under 30 and one of the top 100 female founders.
“ With PublishDrive you can focus on the most important job: creating beautiful content, meanwhile the rest of the operational work is handled by PublishDrive.”
PublishDrive is an Apple-approved aggregator and Google partner, making it a powerhouse for global distribution.
Important things to consider with PublishDrive :
- Cost. Most retailers or distributors charge a royalty rate for sales. PublishDrive charges a monthly subscription rate and you keep 100% of sales. If you choose not to go with the monthly subscription PublishDrive charges a flat rate of 10% on all sales.
- Distribution Power. It has over 400 stores worldwide with direct distribution to Apple Books, Kobo, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Press, and Google Books.
- Support Team. PublishDrive has a core team of specialists with 24/7 support.
For more information about PublishDrive, check out the PublishDrive FAQs .
Draft2Digital (D2D) is a self-publishing aggregator company.
The website states: “As a writer, you want to write. So when it comes to publishing, you could use a little support. We make it easy. Keep writing. Keep your rights. We'll help with the rest.”
D2D provides a very easy method to upload your book within minutes and have it live on the site within 24 hours.
When it comes to aggregators, whereas Smashwords was once the King of the Hill, D2D has since acquired Smashwords and taken over the top spot. Draft2Digital is the preferred platform for many self-publishers now.
Important things to consider with Draft2Digital :
- Cost. On Draft2Digital, there are no fees for using their service.
- Royalties. As an author, you keep approximately 60% of royalties. D2D keeps 10% of all sales and the stores keep 30%.
- Formatting. D2D handles the formatting for free and that makes this a huge selling point when compared to Smashwords.
- Distribution. D2D distributes to Amazon, whereas Smashwords doesn't. If being published on Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, is important to you this feature is huge.
- Universal Book Links. One major feature of Draft2Digital is they provide authors with access to International Book Links . This can be a major advantage for readers not shopping on Amazon for their favorite books. As an author, instead of having to create links for all the sites, D2D provides you with one link for the book.
For more information on Draft2Digital check out the FAQ page.
StreetLib is an Italian-based distributor with a strong presence in Europe, mainly Latin America and Europe.
With its expanding international reach, in February 2019 StreetLib launched digital portals for authors and publishers in 20 countries across 6 continents, with 5 in Africa.
Similar to the other aggregators on this list, StreetLib is aiming to distribute books wide to all international markets but the site does have a unique feature: The dashboard is configured for multiple languages such as Italian, Hindi, English, and Spanish , and they are adding more as they grow.
In my opinion, this is a site to watch because it is showing exponential growth as Streetlib now moves into the African continent and is building out a distribution channel across all of Europe as well as the Western countries.
StreetLib distributes to all of the major retailers: Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Indigo, Kobo, Tolino, and Google Play Books.
You can check out the StreetLib pricing here but basically, they take 10% of each eBook sale and you get 60%.
If you are looking to break into the European market [and beyond] StreetLib is definitely worth investing in.
Other Book Publishing Companies
While this article covers the best self-publishing companies to work with, it can be helpful to know what other publishing companies are out there, so that you can know the book publishing industry well.
Top Audiobook Publishing Companies
The two primary places to publish audiobooks are ACX (which publishes audiobooks to Amazon's Audible platform) and Findaway Voices (publishing audiobooks wide to multiple platforms).
There are also up-and-coming audio companies like Soundwise and Lantern Audio , which allow you to make audiobooks for their platform.
Authors Republic also allows you to fully and independently publish your audiobook so you can decide where you want to distribute it.
As audiobooks become more popular with each passing year, it is important to give these companies a look. As always, you'll want to make sure you retain the rights, earn as high of royalties as possible, and have control over pricing and such.
Top Traditional Publishing Companies
The traditional publishing space is dominated by five publishing companies , which hold the majority of the market share, commonly known as The Big 5 . These companies hold a lot of power and prestige in the traditional book industry, but they are also extremely difficult to land a book deal with. These companies typically only publish authors who already have a strong social brand and following.
- Penguin Random House . This American publishing company was merged in 2013 from Random House and Penguin Group (part of Pearson). It has published over 15,000 titles annually under its 250 different divisions and trade names.
- Harper Collins . This publishing company is part of NewsCorp, and is headquartered in New York. It has many other trade names, or imprints.
- Simon & Schuster . This American publishing company is part of the CBS Corporation, and was founded in 1924. This company publishes over 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints.
- Hachette . This traditional publishing company is owned by the largest publishing company in France, which is Hachette Livre. It is also the 3rd largest publishing company for trade and educational books.
- MacMillan . This global publishing company has offices in 41 countries worldwide, and operates in 30 others. It is widely known for its education textbook publishing, but it has various divisions and imprints.
How to Best Leverage Book Publishing Companies
Publishing wide means getting your book out into as many stores, platforms, and online retail shops as you can.
And the most effective way to publish wide and scale up your book's success means leveraging different self-publishing companies for different purposes.
That's why we recommend using a combination of self-publishing companies to scale up and maximize your book sales and success.
Here's an example of how to use the best self-publishing companies:
- Enroll in an author education program to work with a proven plan that walks you through the steps to launching a bestseller.
- Sign up for our program, get the author services you need , and work with a personal coach to walk you through the steps to launching a bestseller.
- For first-time authors, enroll in KDP Select for the first 90 days to gain traction on your book. But then, building out your platform, look at setting your book up for long-term success in deeper international markets.
- On IngramSpark , reaching a global audience with Ingram’s wide distribution network.
- On Kobo , you are tapped into the Canadian market and taking advantage of big book sales there.
- PublishDrive is distributing your book to Amazon, Apple Books, Google, Barnes & Noble, and local distributors.
- With StreetLib you are branching out further into the European markets and the African continent.
Ready to Start Your Self-Publishing Journey Today?
I know this looks like a lot of work, and you could expend tons of effort without seeing much result at first. But I promise it will be worth it if you put in the work and follow a proven process.
Now that you have a solid list of the best self-publishing companies there are today, what is holding you back?
The decision to publish and make a living as a bestselling international author is now up to you. If you're ready to take the next step with your book, click the button below.
What are the best self-publishing companies you've found?
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Book Marketing for Self-Publishing Authors
Home / Book Publishing / 29 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents
29 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents
Ten years ago, you never would have dreamed of getting your book traditionally published without an agent. But these days, the sky's the limit for authors.
The pros and cons of traditional vs. self-publishing have been hashed out a number of times.
So you know even though there are plenty of pros to self-publishing a book , there’s something validating about writing a book that’s so good a publishing company wants to claim and sell it as one of their own. Maybe you’re one of the many writers who'd like to have a book published through the traditional route, or you're looking to branch out and try it alongside independent publishing.
You’re not alone.
If you’ve ever considered seeking publishing companies to take a look at one of your books, you could find a literary agent, or there are plenty of legitimate publishing companies that accept proposals from authors without agents too!
- What the deal is with literary agents and why you might not need one
- 30 of the best book publishing companies we found that accept proposals directly from new authors–no agent needed
- How you can get noticed by publishers and editors
- How to spot “vanity presses” and make smart publishing decisions
Table of contents
Traditional publishing & literary agents–what’s the deal.
- The Cons of Using an Agent
- Publishers To Consider (Even If You're a New Author)
- 28. Graywolf Press
- Follow the Guidelines
- Be Professional and Polite
- Build Connections
- Make It Your Best Work
- Be Open to Feedback
- Build Your Author Platform
Caveat : As you all know, I've never traditionally published. So I want to be upfront and let you know that the below is purely research-based and does not imply that I have used the below publishers. You can search for publishers and agents on websites like QueryTracker.net , WritersMarket.com , or PublishersArchive.com .
When you think of traditional publishers, the Big 5 might be your first thought:
- Hachette Book Group
- Macmillan Publishers
- Penguin Random House
- Simon and Schuster
These are the big dogs — the Holy Grail of publishing accolades and prestige.
These companies are extremely selective and will only accept proposals through an agent. In order for the slightest hope that big publishing houses will show interest, fiction authors must have impressive writing skills and their work must fit the commercial mold of genre fiction, while nonfiction authors must have a compelling hook, a marketable idea, and a substantial author platform.
If you think your work is Big 5 material, you have to find an agent who’s interested in your book. They (if they’re any good) will help you make your book even better, then work their tail off to find you a great deal. They’re a lot like a business manager, and they can contact otherwise unreachable editors and negotiate all the important contract details on your behalf–but it's not all roses.
First, you have to do a ton of research on each agent before you contact them. The internet is full of scammers looking to prey on someone desperate for a book deal, or amateurs who will be a waste of your time (and possibly money) because they call themselves “agents” but don't really know what they're doing.
Then, after you do careful research to find a legitimate agent, the next step is finding one who thinks you have an amazing book. Even then, there's no guarantee of a publishing contract. Just like authors, agents typically get a number of rejections before they find a publisher who shows interest in your book.
If they do get your book accepted by a publisher and get you an advance for your book sales, it comes at a cost–15% of all your earnings.
So if you aren't set on getting published by a company that REQUIRES an agent, a better option might be getting published without an agent. There are tons of reputable medium and small publishing companies out there, and more and more publishers are loosening their grip on the reins to allow un-agented authors to contact them directly–cutting out the middleman. Even big companies dabble with submission periods of bypassing literary agents to find talented writers .
Although small publishing houses don't have the same clout with retailers or the same resources for marketing and publicity , most still have talented editors , designers, and passionate professionals for publishing great books.
One of the book publishing companies on our list is even an imprint of Penguin Random House, and yes, they accept contacts from authors directly. Plus, here's an example of a brand new author who got a contract with Baen Books, another publisher on our list, and his novel has great reviews on Amazon.
Below is a list of 30 book publishing companies that authors can contact directly. For each publishing house, you'll find:
- A link to their website
- What they publish
- Any significant notes about their publishing history
- A link to their submissions guidelines for authors
- Whether they accept proposals via snail mail, electronically, or both
- The estimated response time (if it was given on their site)
- A link to their catalog of previously published books, and
- Location of the publisher
When you find one that sounds interesting or like it might be a fit for your goals as an author, bookmark it. This could bring you one step closer to becoming a (traditionally) published author.
Note: Be sure to check each of the publishing companies' websites and submission requirements carefully. You'll make a great first impression by applying only to those publishing houses that carry books like yours.
How to Find Other Publishing Companies
One of the best ways to find successful publishing companies is to analyze the genre for your book and see what other companies are publishing books in that genre.
If you're doing this manually, this can take a very long time, and you'll end up finding a lot of other companies that aren't really great.
Thankfully, there's a tool that makes it easy to see all of the major publishers for the bestsellers of any genre.
That tool is Publisher Rocket .
With Rocket's category analysis tool, you can easily find a list of publishers for any genre by doing the following:
- Finding your desired category/genre through the Category Search
- Clicking on the “Insights” link
- Hover over the “i” icon under the Large Publisher tile
- Find a list of large publishers in that genre
A lot of these publishing companies will be traditional publishers, so you can reach out to them if you want a traditional publishing deal. Or you might find some hidden gems, like lesser known but successful small publishers.
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30 Book Publishing Companies That Accept Proposals Directly From Authors
1. self-publishing school.
- They publish a massive variety of nonfiction, fiction, and children’s books
- They have helped over 7,000 authors in just 7 years, so there’s proof their system works
- They pride themselves on not just helping authors publish, but actually sell their books (and they don’t take a royalty cut from your sales)
- They have additional training, support systems, community, and coaching for authors, which is included if you are accepted
- Submission guidelines – NOTE: YOU MUST SCHEDULE A STRATEGY CALL so they can hear about your book idea and see if you’ll be a good fit with their organization
- They can usually hop on the phone with you within 48 hours of applying
- They will assign a 1-1 coach to you after you’re accepted and give you access to a lot of supplemental course and training materials
- See Successful Students Here.
- See Their Library Here.
- Virtual, based mostly in US
- Publish science fiction and fantasy
- A respected and popular publishing company, and an imprint of Penguin.
- Submission guidelines
- They only accept snail mail submissions and full-length novels of at least 80,000 words . They do not accept short stories or novellas.
- They require submissions to be exclusive to them, however, if they take longer than three months to review your manuscript, then you can submit elsewhere
- New York, New York
3. Chronicle Books
- Children’s books and Adult trade (not adult fiction)
- Their books are everywhere as they even have international retail stores
- Different guidelines if you’re submitting children’s or adult trade, so follow carefully
- Will only respond if interested in publishing
- Browse their books here
- San Francisco, California
- Science fiction and fantasy only
- One of the most respected publishers of Science Fiction and Fantasy books, they are one of the few established publishers that will accept full-length manuscripts from authors without an agent
- Submission guidelines here
- Strongly prefer electronic submission through their submission form
- Take longer than typical to hear back (9-12 months)
- Wake Forest, North Carolina
5. Flashlight Press
- Publish children’s fiction picture books targeted to 4-8-year-olds
- Their books are beautifully illustrated and they only publish 2-4 each year. Their company and individual books have won many awards. They distribute internationally.
- Please follow the guidelines exactly
- Books should be less than 1,000 words with a universal theme dealing with family or social situations and fit within their catalog of books
- If interested, they will contact you within 3 months.
- Brooklyn, New York
6. Skyhorse Publishing
- One of the fastest-growing independent publishers in the U.S. with 15 imprints and a backlist of over 6,000 titles.
- They publish pretty much everything, both fiction and nonfiction, adult, young adult, and children’s books.
- They’ve had 43 titles on the New York Times bestseller list in the 10 years they’ve been publishing.
- You’ll hear from them within 4-6 weeks if they are interested in seeing more of your manuscript.
- You can browse their titles here
7. Free Spirit Publishing
- Publish nonfiction books and learning materials for children, teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who interact with young people
- They produce 20-25 new titles per year and have a strong distribution through major trade and library distributors, in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, on Amazon.com, and their widely distributed mail order catalog.
- They are looking for nonfiction proposals in these categories: Teaching Strategies & Professional Development, Early Childhood, Gifted & Special Education, Bullying Prevention & Conflict Resolution, Character Education, Leadership & Service Learning, Educational Games, Posters, & Jars, and Counseling & Social-Emotional Learning (at the time of this writing)
- They only accept proposals through mail.
- Their response time is usually 2-6 months
- Minneapolis, MN
8. Five Star
- Open to Mystery and Western fiction submissions
- Connected to large academic companies Gale and Cengage Learning
- Without an agent or previous book published, will need to query a general editor ( [email protected]) to get full submission guidelines. You should include your name, contact information, and genre. Submissions are accepted electronically only.
- They will respond, but it may take some time
- Their website was more difficult than most for authors seeking publishing companies, but they also have a Facebook page for more information
- Waterville, Maine
9. Kensington Publishing Corp.
- Known as “America’s Independent Publisher,” they have a bunch of imprints
- Publish over 600 fiction and nonfiction titles each year, including a range of popular genres such as romance, women’s fiction, African American, young adult and nonfiction, true-crime, western, and mystery titles
- Published some New York Times bestselling authors
- You should review their editors’ interests and submit to the one you think is the best fit for your book
- They will only respond if they are interested.
- You can browse their book categories and titles here
10. Beacon Press
- Publish serious nonfiction of deep fundamental issues, such as respect for diversity, religious pluralism, anti-racism, justice, equity, and compassion for all humans
- At the time of this writing, they are not accepting self-help, new poetry, or fiction books
- They only accept electronic submissions.
- They will contact you within 3 weeks if interested in seeing a full proposal after considering your query
- Boston, Massachusetts
11. Black Inc.
- Publish a variety of fiction and nonfiction, but not poetry or children’s books
- Open to submissions from Australian writers only and via email only
- If they are interested in your manuscript, they will contact you within 8 weeks.
- Explore their website
- Carlton, Victoria, Australia
12. Persea Books
- Fiction and nonfiction.
- They accept literary novels, creative nonfiction, memoirs, essays, biographies, books on contemporary issues, anthologies, and limited poetry and young adult titles.
- They do not publish genre fiction, self-help, textbooks, or children’s books
- You should submit your submissions package through the mail
13. BelleBooks/Bell Bridge
- BelleBooks originated to publish Southern fiction before creating the substantial imprint Bell Bridge, which publishes a wide variety of genres
- Publish everything from anthology to young adult, including children’s books, fantasy, nonfiction, romance, mystery, and women’s fiction.
- Submission guidelines – CURRENTLY CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS
- This page includes to-the-point answers to questions like What do editors want? Why was your book rejected? And specific submission instructions, editor to contact, and word count by genre.
- They do not accept simultaneous submissions unless you’re agented.
- Typical response is 3-6 months
- Browse their books
- Memphis, Tennessee
14. Seven Stories Press
- Publish fiction and nonfiction, and the occasional book of poetry
- Books are distributed by Random House
- You should submit the requested materials through mail only.
- Check out their titles . You’ll notice their subjects include feminism, LGBTQ, environmentalism, human rights, and journalism.
15. Jollyfish Press
- Publish a variety of commercial and literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, young adult, humor, romance, and women’s fiction.
- A newer publisher started in 2012, was acquired by North Star Editions, Inc. in October 2016
- Should submit through email only
- Their About Us page tells what their editors are looking for , which can be helpful for authors seeking publication
- Book titles
- Provo, Utah
16. Oneworld Publishing
- Nonfiction and literary fiction. Categories include self-help, biographies, religion, history, business, and more.
- Approximately 100 books per year internationally.
- They have a submission form for authors to download and complete
- Make sure your book fits in with their previously published titles
- London, United Kingdom
17. Black & White Publishing
- Fiction and nonfiction, including women’s fiction (chick lit, saga, and romance), crime and psychological thrillers, contemporary YA and new adult crossovers, children’s fiction … and nonfiction: memoirs, sport (the UK and Ireland especially), humor, food and drink, and activity books
- A leading independent Scottish publisher open to work by authors from UK, Ireland, and beyond
- They prefer you use their online submission form, but they will accept mail
- You should hear back within 3 months if they are interested
- United Kingdom
18. Angry Robot
- A respected adult science fiction and fantasy publisher, who occasionally publishes horror too
- British-based but has great distribution in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Part of Watkins Media Ltd
- They have “open door” periods periodically (like every 18 months or so) when they accept manuscripts from authors without agents. Check their website to find out if it’s currently an open door period
- You can submit to them anytime if you have a literary agent or if you’ve been recommended to them by an author already on their list
- Submissions are only accepted electronically
- They prefer books targeted to adults rather than junior or young adults. You can browse their books here
19. Evernight Publishing
- They seek complete manuscripts between 10,000-100,000 words in sub-genres of romance and erotic romance.
- Your submission should be exclusive to this publishing house
- They will make a decision on your proposal within 12 weeks
- Browse their website to see if yours fits
20. Felony & Mayhem
- A print and digital literary mystery fiction book publisher
- They only accept electronic submissions, preferably in Word docs
- Word count must be at least 80,000 words. 85,000 is preferred.
- They prefer mysteries with plots related to literature, philosophy, religion, academia, history, music, art, politics, food and wine, theatre, magic, anthropology, and settings outside the U.S.
- Their book titles are here
21. Chicago Review Press
- A variety of both fiction and nonfiction. They have several imprints, including an award-winning line of children’s and young adult nonfiction books
- Carefully review submission guidelines relevant for you
- You can even learn more about the acquisition editors you’ll be contacting
- Here are their book titles
- Chicago, Illinois
22. Albert Whitman & Company
- Children’s books from 0-15, from board books to young adult
- Picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult fiction each have their own submission details to follow
- You should hear from them within 6 months if they are interested
- Browse their catalog
- Park Ridge, Illinois
- Publishes primarily books for children , but also adult nonfiction and puzzle books. Their submission guidelines also state they are accepting young-adult novels.
- Submit through mail
- They will respond if they are interested only.
- Here are their children’s books
- Watertown, Massachusetts
- Specialize in children’s books, from board books to picture books to young adult fiction and nonfiction. They also maintain a line of adult backlist titles covering consumer references in health, education, and parenting; regional guide books about Southern US; adult fiction, biography, and memoirs with a focus on Southern authors.
- Send through mail
- Their review process typically takes 6-9 months
- Check out their books
- Atlanta, Georgia
25. Turner Publishing
- Little bit of everything – children’s, health & fitness, cookbooks, literary fiction, thriller/suspense, family & relationships/religion, juvenile fiction, history, humor, science, sports, romance, and nonfiction
- Their submissions don’t provide a lot of guidelines except where to email your materials
- They will contact if interested
- Nashville, Tennessee
26. Koehler Books
- Two publishing models : 1) Traditional model for experienced and agented authors with good sales. 2) Hybrid/co-publishing for new and emerging authors who need help and coaching.
- A wide array of genres, including memoirs, military, Business, Fiction, self-help mystery, thriller young adult and women
- They do not accept previously published books
- Fill out their submissions form and expect to hear back within 1-2 weeks
- View their home page
- Virginia Beach, VA
27. TCK Publishing
- They publish a wide range of nonfiction and fiction (but not poetry or children's picture books)
- They only accept digital submissions of completed manuscripts or book proposals on their website or via email
- Different guidelines if you're submitting fiction or nonfiction, so read carefully
- They respond to all submissions with a yes or no within 21 days
- Browse their titles here
- Granger, Indiana
- They publish poetry, memoirs, essays, fiction, and nonfiction
- Submissions are opened and closed at different times
- Publishes only about 30 books annually
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
29. Union Square & Co. (Formerly Sterling Publishing)
- They publish a massive variety of adult, young adult, and children’s books
- They have over 60 years in business and over 5,000 titles in print
- They have several imprints, including one for food, wine, and spirits; another for body, mind & spirit; another for crafting, decorating, and outdoor living; yet another for puzzles and games.
- For children’s books, they publish both fiction and nonfiction. They even have an imprint that publishes workbooks and flashcards for students in preschool through middle school.
- Submission guidelines – NOTE: THIS PUBLISHER NOW REQUIRES AN AGENT FOR SUBMISSION
- They accept submissions from authors through mail.
- It sounds like they respond to all submissions via mail or phone within several months.
- Browse their catalogs here
How To Get Noticed by Publishers
Once you've decided you want one of your books published, it's time to put in the work to get noticed and stay out of the slush pile.
Here are the strategies we'll take a look at:
- Follow the guidelines
- Be polite and professional
- Build connections at conferences
- Make it your best work
- Be open to feedback
- Build your author platform
Read and follow the stinkin’ guidelines.
Then read and follow them again.
Provide the publisher with exactly what they request in the method requested. If they say strongly prefer electronic submissions, give yourself a bonus point and submit your materials electronically.
Do not send your full manuscript unless they explicitly ask for it in their submission guidelines, or after they’ve expressed interested in your query letter.
Write an amazing query letter. This is like the cover letter you write when you’re applying for job, hoping for an interview. You need to write your best pitch to sell your book in a one-page letter, hoping the editor or agent picks your book to “interview” further.
Many publishers also request a synopsis or a brief summary of your entire story. Sample chapters are another common request for publishing companies. Most guidelines specify if they want one, two, or your first five. Give them what they ask for.
Nonfiction authors need to write a killer book proposal to show your book idea will sell, and that you have the credibility to give the advice. Among other things, your book proposal will include a detailed analysis of similar books already on the market, how your book is different, who will buy the book (your target audience), and why they need it, your author bio, a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, and sample chapters. You’ll want to spend a fair amount of time researching and preparing your book proposal, which will probably end up being between 10 and 25 pages long.
Ultimately, send them quality work of what they ask for — nothing more, nothing less.
In all of your interactions as an author, you’ll be noticed for being polite and professional. In your letters, emails, social media, phone calls, and in-person conversations, show courtesy and professionalism and people will be more likely to want to do business with you.
If you come across as rude and unprofessional, people are not going to want to work with you. Editors receive an unbelievable number of submissions every month, so be patient and humble as you’re pursuing a publisher.
Good old fashioned one-on-one networking with people who work at publishing companies is another way to increase your chances of getting your foot in the door.
Publishers are more likely to at least carefully consider queries from someone they recognize, so bust out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to people at conferences and summits. You never know where a connection may lead.
This is another “should go without saying,” but before you start pitching editors or agents, make sure your work is your best work. This goes for your manuscript as well as all of your submission materials. Read them out loud. Have someone else edit them. This is part of being professional. Don’t waste the publisher's time or yours by submitting sloppy materials.
Another tough one for some authors is being open to feedback. If your editor, your agent, and your beta readers give you feedback, have an open mind to it. Consider their point of view and seek more opinions or information if you’re unsure.
You probably won’t follow every piece of advice given (sometimes they're contradictory), but as authors, we are so blind to our passionate work that we miss the flashing red lights only outsiders can see. Tweak what’s necessary to create a more compelling book.
Finally, and this is especially important for nonfiction authors but doesn’t hurt for fiction authors either, build your author platform.
Design a professional author website that showcases your previous work if you have any and have your social media author accounts ready to go.
Showing the publishing companies that you have established a place in the world as an author by building a big email list will certainly help. This sends the message that you’ll be more like a partner to them in marketing your book — something they’ll love to see.
An Important Note About Vanity Presses
Apart from the 30 publishing companies on this list, not every company out there has your best interests at heart. Much like in the indie world, there are people out there who are more than happy to use you as a means of earning themselves money. Vanity presses are publishing companies that charge you a fee to publish your book, and do nothing to market it or professionally edit it. Be wary of any company that wants you to pay them to publish your story. If this happens, run for the hills.
If you're unsure of the difference between legitimate publishing houses and these ‘vanity presses,' check out this helpful guide that will clear things up for you.
Get After It
If the prestige, validation, greater potential of having your very own book on bookstore shelves, and the potential for literary awards is exciting to you, then researching and contacting publishing houses that seem the best fit for your writing may now be on your to-do list.
If reading about these publishing companies is exciting to you, or you've always known getting a publishing contract would mean the world to you, then why not go after it?
One thing I do know is if you never try, you’ll never know.
Side note: if you're interested, I also have an article to help you find the best self-publishing company here .
And as you’ve learned, you don’t even have to have an agent. You'll probably get a rejection or five, but don't get discouraged. There are plenty of legitimate book publishing companies out there just waiting to find the next talented author.
Why not you?
When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.
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5 thoughts on “ 29 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents ”
I found your site terribly informative. As a rank amateur, many of my questions were answered. Permit me one dumb question – is it considered improper to submit a work to more than one publisher at a time? Told you i was an amateur.
Glad you’re liking it. As for your question, no, no it isn’t.
What about Bookouture, they accept manuscripts without an agent. They do not pay advances but pay higher royalties
Excellent, informative article. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you liked it.
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16 Best Self-Publishing Companies For Your Writing Business [Updated 2023]
You’ve spent weeks writing, rewriting, and polishing your manuscript.
Now, you have it in book form — thoroughly edited, artfully formatted, and wrapped in a gorgeous cover.
Because you’ve chosen to self-publish.
And while thousands of self-published authors sell 300 or fewer copies of their books, you know hundreds sell them in the thousands, because they’ve learned how to market them.
You intend to be one of those authors, and you’re doing your homework.
Because we’re all about successful self-publishing , we’ve created this detailed list of the 19 best self-publishing companies. Read on to learn what you need to know — including why you should self-publish in the first place.
8. Upgrade Your CV without Relying on Gatekeepers
16. aia publishing, caveat: vanity publishers, the eight best reasons you should self-publish, 1. you control your time..
The last thing any writer needs is pumping out what seems like an endless flow of query letters to snag an agent.
The agent will look for a publisher and suddenly you’re on a time clock. You took the bait. Those suits are going to reel you in and expect stuff from you on a time schedule that you may or may not like.
2. You’re In The Driver’s Seat.
You choose the cover and the price. And you don’t have to change stuff like that title that you came up with while you were dreaming of that old high school flame.
You have complete control. You can continue to write your book when you want.
3. The Royalties Are Bigger!
You’ll get money for each book that leaves the distribution center or when Amazon lets you know your eBook is selling, and you get all the profit. Traditional publishing companies can take up to 85 percent.
You might have enough left to pay the rent, but Forbes won’t be calling to put you on their richest people in the world list.
4. Now’s The Time to Become a Self-Published Author
The stigma and the stench of self-publishing are in the wind now. Thanks to the brave writers who wrote great books and self-published, and thanks to the Internet, all writers can self-publish with the click of a mouse.
5. You Can Market The Book, Dude!
Sure. Becoming a book marketer may not be that sexy. But with all the useful online tools available a six-year-old writer could do it. But you have to give it your best shot, by doing the research and by spending some of that grade school lunch money you hide under your bed.
6. This Is The Age Of Self-Empowerment And Enlightenment
Guess what? 50 Shades of Grey is self-published, and if that work can hit the writer’s jackpot, so can you.
7. No Need to Collect Rejection Letters
There’s nothing wrong with saving rejection letters as proof you’re getting your work out there. But if you’d rather skip that headache and go right to the editing process, self-publishing gives you a way to do just that.
Which would you rather see — a growing stack of rejection letters or a growing collection of carefully edited self-published books on your bookshelf?
Level up your portfolio with self-published books that you market yourself. Each one can serve as a testimonial to your writing skills, to the knowledge and experience behind each title, and to your marketing ability.
Why let a traditional publisher slow down the growth of your CV and potentially hold you back from opportunities this book could lead to?
16 of the Best Self-Publishing Companies For Your Writing Business
1. kindle direct publishing (retailer).
Amazon’s Kindle store makes it easy for authors looking to find new readers by self-publishing on the Kindle platform. You can upload and submit your book to Amazon for review in under 10 minutes and can be live on the world’s largest online marketplace within 24-48 hours. It’s free to publish your book with KDP and you can earn up to 70% on your book royalties.
2. Smashwords ( Aggregator)
If you think of yourself as an “Indie Author,” this site is for you. Smashwords is not a traditional book publishing company. Non-conformity is the flavor of the day at this well-designed self-publishing business. Smashwords will support and distribute your eBook using all the right channels.
Smashwords may look like a quirky self-publishing resource, but there’s a method to their madness. And that madness is all about selling books. Smashwords is not afraid to take risks, and if you have a touch of risk-taking in your DNA, then this site might be your next best friend.
3. Lulu (Full Service)
Lulu has a high profile as one of the best self-publishing companies in the market. One of the reasons Lulu is so popular is, the company pays attention to details. Lulu publishes over a 1,000 new titles every day so the company has expert status when it comes to formatting, packaging, and pushing books.
The variety that Lulu offers makes this site the only game in town for some writers, especially if you want to add proofreading , editorial help, and promotion to your self-publishing mix. Lulu has it all in terms of getting your book out there in an appealing and professional way.
The clear, sharp and clean interface of Blurb inspires confidence in the writers who choose to throw their writing hats in the ring with this UK company. Blurb’s design and marketing skills are top-notch. The variety they offer in terms of blog books, magazines, leaflets, and planners, as well as eBooks and paperbacks, put this site in rare company.
Blurb is a multi-faceted self-publisher with a respectable amount of traffic, and an affiliate program where writers can earn a commission every time another writer publishes a book.
Here’s a novel idea. Authors and independent publishers have the right to maintain ownership of their files after conversion. If you pay for a self-publishing service like a conversion, then the files should belong to you.
Not all self-publishing houses offer that important feature but Kobo does, and that makes this one of the best self-publishing companies that is popular with writers.
Kobo Writing Life lets writers keep their downloaded ePub file after conversion, and that’s a big plus because family and friends are able to share in the good fortune without coughing up money they would rather spend for something that has more personal worth to them. Kobo likes to offer perks that keep writers happy, and the company does a decent job in that regard.
If you are a newbie writer in India, NotionPress may be the site for you. NotionPress offers a plethora of professional tools that give writers a chance to take their work to the next level. This site helps writers print, publish, and distribute their book.
New authors get expert promotion guidance. And with a decent network of distributors and readers around the world, this self-publishing company makes it a little easier for new authors to get the recognition they deserve for sticking with the self-publishing process.
Book Baby likes to greet potential clients with the phrase, “Ready, Set, Publish,” when writers log onto the site. Book Baby is all about making the self-publishing thing easy. And according to writers who swear by them, Book Baby packages are a real value.
If you need a no-frills $99 package, then Book Baby is for you. But the site offers other packages with more bells and whistles for writers who want to cover all the self-publishing bases. And the good news is, Book Baby doesn’t take a commission on your sales. That’s a deal maker, according to the writers who want to keep the money they worked hard to get.
Ingram Book Company is the largest distributors of books and one of the best self-publishing companies in the United States. And Ingram is the largest book wholesaler in the country.
Ingram is a 44-year-old publishing company, so it’s no surprise that IngramSpark will follow in the footsteps of big brother Lightning Source. Lightning Source is a fulfillment company with locations around the world, and IngramSpark has access to those distribution locations.
In 2013, Ingram wanted to add an easy-to-use publishing platform for writers who want to publish a book, but have limited resources. So IngramSpark came on the self-publishing scene with all the tools that Lightning Source has in its self-publishing tool shed.
The writers who want to get their book in the marketplace fast, but don’t want to deal with the complexities of mass distribution should take a look at IngramSpark.
IngramSpark has the tech know-how and the manufacturing, logistics, and distribution tools of Ingram in their publishing genes, and that makes a world of difference to some writers.
9. Grammar Factory
Based in Canada, Grammar Factory is a full-service publishing company for business leaders. Focusing exclusively on nonfiction books, they work with executives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to establish them as authorities in their fields.
Their experts work with clients around the world to guide them through the book-writing process and turn their knowledge and experience into bestselling books.
Their “Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Best Book” includes a variety of free booklets, interviews, webinars, and more to help you avoid common mistakes and write an authoritative and engaging page-turner for your industry.
You pay only for the services you choose. Grammar Factory leaves 100% of your book’s royalties to you.
10. Barnes & Noble / Nook Press (Retailer)
Pay less in retail and distribution costs and earn more in royalties when you publish directly with Barnes & Noble.
While it can be challenging to get your paperback book onto a Barnes & Noble bookstore shelf, publishing your eBook and paperback with them is a simple, straightforward process. And the end result is seeing your published book available for sale through BN.com, all Nook reading devices, and reading apps for Android and iOS devices.
Their print-on-demand (POD) option provides a suite of user-friendly tools and even gives you the choice of either paperback or hardcover for your book.
Barnes & Noble offers a 70% royalty rate for ebooks at any price point and 30% royalties for print editions (retail and distribution).
11. Apple Books (Retailer)
Considering there are 100 million brand-loyal Mac users worldwide, it makes sense to ensure your title is available to them. As the second-largest online book retailer, Apple Books should definitely be a part of your book marketing plan.
Good thing they make the process simple for Mac users, who can use Pages to prepare their manuscript for publication as an EPUB file. If you don’t own a Mac, you can still reach iOS users by publishing through an aggregator or distributor like Draft2Digital.
Publishing with Apple Books is free, and the royalty rate is a flat 70%.
12. Draft2Digital (Aggregator)
As the original self-publishing aggregator, Smashwords made it easier for indie authors to get more exposure for their books when they decide to go beyond Amazon’s KDP.
Draft2Digital (D2D) is poised to take the #1 aggregator spot by distributing to Amazon, along with a slew of other retailers, including Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. D2D also sets itself apart by formatting your book for you — at no cost.
You can ensure your book is available to all the major book retailers worldwide. And you can even check one book preparation task off your list (as long as your book doesn’t require complicated formatting or next-level interior book design).
Draft2Digital takes a 15% cut of your sales regardless of its price.
13. PublishDrive (Aggregator)
As an Apple-approved aggregator and a Google partner, PublishDrive (PD) has grown quickly since its founding in 2015 and now operates in 75 countries in 75 different languages.
With over 400 stores worldwide, PublishDrive offers direct distribution to Apple Books, Kobo, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Press, and Google Press. Indie authors can choose from two different payment options:
- Pay $100 a month and keep 100% of your royalties from book sales, or
- Let PD collect 10% of every sale and keep 90% of your net sales.
While their website is light on content (and minimalist in design), they do provide a library of helpful resources for new authors.
14. StreetLib (Aggregator)
StreetLib is an Italian-based distributor with a strong presence in Latin America and Europe.
Their dashboard is configured for multiple languages, including Hindi, Italian, English, and Spanish (adding more as they grow), and they’re making inroads in the African market.
They distribute to all major retailers, including Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Overdrive, Indigo, and Tolino.
StreetLib takes 10% of all eBook sales and 20% of all audiobook sales. For print books, they charge an up-front activation cost of 49 Euros and take 10% of each sale.
15. Reedsy (Author Services)
Reedsy offers assistance to authors at every stage of their book-writing and self-publishing journey. With their community of professional editors, cover designers, formatters, etc., they can help you create a book you’ll be proud to publish and share.
Check out their free apps and tools — including their courses on book publishing — to learn more about the process. You can even use the ReedsyBookEditor (instead of Microsoft Word) to write your book, make it available to one of their editors, and easily format it for ePUB or PDF. They even have marketers on their team to help you maximize your reach.
Reedsy doesn’t charge anything upfront. You decide whether to pay one of their editors, designers, or marketers to help you with your book.
Based in Australia, AIA Publishing and its imprint, Escarpment Publishing, together provide a full suite of author services including editing, book cover, and interior design, and assistance with the publishing and marketing of your book.
Both companies identify as “hybrid” publishers; they’re selective like a traditional publisher, but their goal is to help each client self-publish their books and make them as widely available as possible.
AIA Publishing focuses on fiction and narrative memoirs, while Escarpment Publishing accepts submissions for other genres, including children’s books and general nonfiction.
Authors who work with AIA and Escarpment retain 90 to 100% of their book royalties. You pay only for the services you choose for your book.
Four Types of Self-Publishing Companies
To help you get a better handle on the self-publishing company you should choose, here’s some useful information on the various types:
The most popular examples of book retailers are Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Each has its own marketplace for books, and while Amazon is the largest in the U.S., (with 85% of the U.S. book market share), it’s not the only one worth considering.
Apple, for example, markets its books directly to Mac/iOS users, which is an important subset of the global market. And Kobo has a 25% share of the Canadian book market.
The most popular examples of book aggregators are Smashwords, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, and BookBaby — the last of which provides valuable author services including editing, formatting, and book cover design.
The main advantage of aggregators is the time they save you by distributing your book to multiple retailers on your behalf. So, unless you’re content with an exclusive Amazon presence, an aggregator will save you time and headaches by giving you one place to monitor your book’s presence in multiple markets.
If you’re an Authority Pub Academy member, you already know how a self-publishing educator can help you go from an idea to a published book. That’s the main purpose of these companies, though each has its own way of doing things.
The best of these update their content on a regular basis to help members stay on top of self-publishing trends and the most effective book marketing practices.
Self-Publishing Author Services
These outfits offer the services your book might need to prepare it for publication: ghostwriting, editing, formatting, illustrating, cover design , and even book marketing (pre- and post-launch).
Some specialize in specific services (like 100Covers.com for cover design) while others (like Archangel Ink) provide all the services you might need.
Unless they also distribute your book to reputable retailers, they’re not considered “publishing companies.” But the best of these can help you give your book its best chance on the market.
Beware of vanity publishers that offer the same services and charge for your book’s publication. It shouldn’t cost you to put your book on the market. You can publish it for free to any of the abovementioned retailers and aggregators.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of shady outfits promising you all the perks of traditional publication, while doing substandard work on the services they provide and overcharging authors for them.
You and your book deserve better. If you’re not sure whether a self-described publishing company is legitimate, you can ask around on social media author groups, do a Google search for reviews on the company.
How to Choose the Best Self-Publishing Company
Keep the following criteria in mind when checking out your options and choosing the best self-publishing company for your book:
How to Get the Best Results from Self-Publishing Companies
The first step for most authors is to learn all they can about how to write a marketable book and how to navigate the world of self-publishing.
This is where a self-publishing educator (like Authority Pub Academy) comes in.
The other steps you take will depend on whether you want to work directly with retailers (to maximize your royalty income) or optimize your reach with an aggregator or two. With that in mind, consider the following steps:
- Sign up with a Self-Publishing Educator and learn all you can about writing and polishing your book, publishing it, and getting your readers’ attention.
- Take advantage of KDP Select services for the first 90 days to maximize your visibility on Amazon and use the free promotional periods to attract new readers.
- Publish with Ingram Spark to get maximum exposure and top quality for your print edition.
- Publish with Draft2Digital, Smashwords, or PublishDrive to reach other eBook markets after those first 90 days.
- Ensure your book is published on Kobo , which makes up about 25% of eBook sales in Canada.
- Publish with Apple Books to reach the millions of Mac, iPod, and iPhone users worldwide.
- Publish with StreetLib to take advantage of growing network in Latin America, Europe, and Africa.
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What are the best self-publishing companies for your goals?
The best self-publishing company for you depends on your priorities as the author. Only you know exactly how you want your self-publishing experience to go. But until you’ve gone through it, you might not know, yet, what to focus on. And that’s okay.
The more books you write and publish and the more you learn about book marketing, the more you’ll know which services and other features matter most to you. And that’ll make it easier to spot the companies that will deliver exactly what you’re looking for.
In the meantime, learn from more experienced self-publishing authors, look over each company and make lists of the features of each that stand out for you. Then ask yourself which one you’d like to try first. If two of them are tied, ask around or go with your gut.
Just know you can’t go wrong with any of the self-publishing companies listed above.
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The Best Self Publishing Services
The 12 best self publishing services.
- Outskirts Press
- Publish Drive
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Draft 2 Digital
- Virtual Bookworm
- Kindle Direct Publishing
What's the Best Place to Self Publish?
Congratulations! You're an author, and now you want to share your writing genius with the world. But working with a traditional publisher can be hard. With the extra step of finding an agent and the back-and-forth with editors, there's a lot going on in the publishing industry just to get your book on the publisher's desk. Lucky for you, there's a host of self-publishing options out there to support brand-new and established authors.
Self-publishing has become an increasingly popular option for writers who want to get their work out into the world without the assistance of traditional publishing companies. One of the biggest advantages of self-publishing is the control it gives the author over their work. Instead of having to conform to the demands of a publisher, authors can use self-publishing to retain complete creative control over their work.
Wednesday, November 22nd
2023 Self Publishing Service Reviews
- Prices start at $999
- $25 annual fee to keep books in stock
- Options for custom books
- Varying price tiers for affordability
Copyediting included in prices
- Accredited by the BBB with "A+" rating
- Black and white, color, and multi options
- Publishing for multiple genres
Outskirts Press is a self-publishing website that's been in business for over 20 years. They promise to help authors develop, publish, and market books that are high-quality and win awards. They offer a full range of services including four main types of books: black and white, full color, publishing and marketing bundles, and eBooks and audiobooks.
Amazing options for distribution
While Outskirts Press may not be the most affordable self-publishing option available, the company offers an extensive range of services that make it a comprehensive one-stop shop for authors. These services include print and eBook distribution, as well as various marketing tools to help promote your book. Outskirts Press' strong network of distribution channels means that your novel will be automatically listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram, and you have access to even more retailers like Walmart, Follett, Target, and more. They also let you keep 100% of the net profits and you retain 100% of the rights to your creative work.
Full-package options for publication
Outskirts Press' packages are designed to provide authors with the full range of services to get their work published and distributed like an established author. The best Outskirts service for this is called the One-Click Publishing option, which covers titles within non-fiction, fiction, spiritual books, children's literature with and without illustrations, Christian books, cookbooks, and memoirs. With non-fiction, fiction, spiritual, and Christian books you get a 6 x 9 paperback, 20 free copies of your novel, professional copy editing up to 75,000 words, and an option to upgrade (for $399) to a hardcover design along with many more benefits. The children's lit options, cookbooks, and memoirs are limited to 8.5 x 8.5 size, 10 free copies, and professional copyediting up to 15,000 words. Memoirs, however, do allow for editing up to 75,000 words like the other long-form options.
Publishing package pricing
The pricing for these complete package publishing options is as follows:
- Spiritual: $6,500
- Christian: $6,500
- Memoirs: $6,500
- Cookbooks $7,000
- Fiction: $7,000
- Non-fiction: $8,000
- Children's literature (no illustrations): $8,000
- Children's literature (illustrated): $9,000
We like the support options with Outskirts
You get a full package of support from Outskirts when you pay, so the cost includes all of the heavy lifting that you might worry about with self-publishing. The benefits included in the listed price are:
- Full-color cover
- Standard black/white interior (most popular)
- ISBN number
- Standard press release with distribution
- PDF download option from your own author website
- Unlimited wholesale printing/fulfillment/distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bertram, and others
- Editing and cover design
- Unlimited email and limited phone support with your designated publishing consultant/author representative
Budget-friendly options for publication
Outskirts also offers three options for black-and-white and full-color publication. These are Ultimate, Basic, and Economy. They are priced differently from the "full packages" section. Here's what you can expect with these more budget-friendly options:
- Ultimate: Priced at $1,999. In this package you receive:
- Paperback & eBook publishing with worldwide distribution
- Book customization with a professional cover and interior
- Up to 20 image insertions
- 58 B&W formats available (7 book sizes, 2 paper colors, 2 cover finish)
- 80 Color formats available (9 book sizes, 1 paper color, 2 print qualities, 2 cover finish)
- Digital online proof of your book
- One-on-one author support
- ISBN assignment
- 10 paperback copies (free shipping-continental US)
- Book order volume discounts
- Professional marketing assistance
- Basic: Priced at $1,499. This package offers:
- Paperback & Apple eBook publishing with worldwide distribution
- Up to 15 image insertions
- 8 B&W formats available (4 book sizes, 2 paper colors, 1 cover finish)
- 6 paperback copies (free shipping-continental US)
- More limited marketing assistance
- Economy: Priced at $999. In this package you receive:
- Paperback publishing & worldwide distribution
- Book customization with professionally designed book cover and interior book layout
- Up to 5 image insertions
- 6x9 book size (white or creme paper & glossy cover only); additional formats are available with the Basic and Ultimate packages
- 1 paperback copy (free shipping-continental US)
Complete with eBooks and distribution
If you want to publish with eBooks in mind, there is a fee for listing your next great novel on popular eBook sites like Amazon or Nook. If you select these individually, the cost for Amazon and Nook is $449 each. However, you can select a package deal that offers formatting and distribution on Amazon Kindle, Apple Books through iTunes and the Apple Books bookstore, and a Barnes & Noble NOOK Edition. This combo package costs $1,399.
No hidden fees, but a few maintenance costs
Regardless of which package you choose, there is a $35 starting fee per book. This is a fee that can be waived if you call, but it allows them to evaluate your manuscript before paying for the full service. You can also pay $35 if you want to use a payment plan instead of paying upfront in full. On top of this, there is an annual $25 distribution fee that authors need to pay to keep their books in rotation.
One of the things we like best about Outskirts is that, despite the high expenses for their services, each suite comes with free copyediting - which can get extremely expensive if you go outside of your publisher to edit. At Outskirts everything is included in the listing price and you get to keep all the profits. It's a win-win.
Great reputation and resolution-focused
Outskirts has a good customer reputation. With accreditation by the BBB and an "A+" rating, it's clear that Outskirts is doing right by its customers. The service also has a 3.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot. Reviewers who rated the service 5 stars noted that they were extremely happy with the way that the customer service at Outskirts helped them through the process. They also loved the final products, saying that their work was beautiful in print. Multiple 5-star reviews highlighted how Outskirts focuses on author satisfaction. Some of the lower reviews complained about being frustrated by the $25 stocking fee, and some felt as though they didn't receive enough support from Outskirts for what they paid. However, many of the 1-star reviews wind up being resolved by the company and later retracted by the customer.
Top option for value and stress-free publication
Outskirts Press is a top-rated self-publishing service that provides everything you could need to get your book published and distributed. Despite the high prices to start with, you get what you pay for: an easy all-inclusive method to get your first, or even third, book published with 100% of the profits returned to you. With its excellent reputation, extensive range of packages and a la carte services, and transparent pricing, Outskirts Press remains our top pick among self-publishing services.
- Prices start at $1,090 for publication
- 0% royalties taken for eBooks
- 15% charged for sales made through BookShop
- 70-90% charged for sales through other distribution channels
- Editing is a separate cost
- Works with top distributors
BookBaby is a self-publishing company founded in 2011 and run by authors, poets, artists, and bloggers. The company aims to help writers across all genres to publish successfully.
Simple publishing guide
BookBaby offers a free guide that breaks down the publishing process into five simple steps, which include finishing your book, preparing it for publishing, choosing your products, selecting your book distribution options, and planning your promotion and marketing. The company also offers access to marketing professionals who can help with every step of the process, from cleaning up your copy to strategizing your marketing approach and publishing your book.
Pricing in three different tiers
Pricing for self-publishing depends on the services you choose, and BookBaby offers several different fee structures when it comes to royalties. The publication options are separated into 3 categories: Express, Complete, and Deluxe.
- $1,090 starting fee
- eBook conversion & distribution
- Print-on-demand distribution
- Two ISBN barcodes
- $2,190 starting fee
- The same benefits as Express
- Professional cover design
- Printed book and eBook interior formatting
- $2,890 starting fee
- The same benefits as Complete
- Ad campaigns for Facebook & Instagram, LinkedIn, and others
- Bookshop promo bundle
- Metadata optimization
Royalties and fees only apply to printed books
If you self-publish your work as an eBook, you won't pay any royalties to BookBaby, but if you sell your printed book through the company's BookShop, they will take 15% of your sales. For books sold at other retailers, BookBaby takes 70-90% of the proceeds. However, BookBaby also offers "the strongest guarantee in the eBook and publishing business," which means that if there are any quality or craftsmanship issues with your project, the company will work with you to make it right or issue you a full refund.
Editing isn't included
While we like the design and packages with BookBaby, we aren't so impressed that editing is not included in their price for how much they charge. Adding on editing for $3-$10 per page is fairly reasonable and falls within industry standards for copy editing. However, if you have a 150-page novel, you are looking at an extra $1,500 for a full stylized line edit.
Excellent reputation with reviewers
BookBaby has a strong reputation, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars across 1500+ reviews from authors who have used the service to publish their works. The company dropped to a "C" grade at the Better Business Bureau but still has 4 out of 5 stars in reviews on that site. Happy reviewers noted that they felt the sales reps and publication guides at BookBaby were knowledgeable and helped the authors easily through the process. Comments with the words "professional service" and "responsive" appeared repeatedly across review sites. Some of the lower reviews complained that BookBaby didn't do enough for them with off-site distribution at places like Amazon. However, this makes up a very small portion of the total reviews.
Top service with reasonable prices
BookBaby is a great option for self-publishing. Although it doesn't include editing in the price, you can get editing from their professionals at a reasonable rate. With their helpful guide and professionals who can assist with every step of the process, the company offers many options for getting published and has a terrific track record. Considering its reputation and high ranking among self-publishing services, BookBaby is an excellent choice for writers looking to self-publish their work.
- Costs start at $14.19/month
- Royalties range from 25%-70%
- Global distribution network
- Management tools
- Finance tools
- Easy user interface
PublishDrive is a self-publishing platform that offers tiered subscription plans for global eBook distribution. This platform allows you to keep 100% of your royalties in exchange for a flat monthly fee. There are four service levels to choose from: Starter Plan, Standard Plan, Plus Plan, and Pro Plan, with pricing starting at $14.19 per month if you sign up for a year or $16.99 per month if you only want a month-to-month subscription.
Four subscription options for all authors
The four main plans offer you not only publication services, but also options for upgraded distribution networks, promotions, and book and money management. The tiers offer the following benefits:
- Starter Plan
- $14.19/month on a yearly plan or $16.99/month on a monthly plan
- 1 eBook publication
- 35 distribution channels
- Access to all tools
- Access to Amazon advertising
- Access to email, sales, royalties, and categorization management tools
- Standard Plan
- $20.99/month on an annual plan and $24.99/month on a monthly plan
- 6 books including e-books, audiobooks, and print-on-demand
- 51 distribution channels
- Access to all promotional assistance
- Access to the same management tools as Starter
- $41.99/month with an annual plan and $49.99/month for a monthly plan
- 18 books including eBook, audiobook, or print-on-demand
- Same tools as Standard
- Same Promo features as Standard
- Same Management tools + Shared account options
- $83.99/month with an annual plan and $99.99/month for a monthly plan
- 48 books including eBook, audiobook, or print-on-demand
- Same tools as Plus
- Same Promo features as Plus
- Imprint management
- Bulk import books
- Priority support
Distribution is easy and tailored
To use PublishDrive's distribution feature, you need to spend a few minutes answering questions about your goals, experience, and the book(s) you're publishing. You'll also need to select a category for your book, such as Romance, Fantasy, Health and Fitness, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Self-Help, YA Fiction, or Other. Once you've chosen your pricing plan, you'll see your Distribution dashboard. After you upload and publish your first book, you'll have access to your sales statistics and analytics on that page.
On-demand can get you out there faster
One unique feature offered by PublishDrive is its access to print-on-demand publishers. You can choose to make your books available in thousands of physical stores by submitting them to the PublishDrive print-on-demand publishers on their website. This way, you can easily have your books distributed and earn more money for your writing genius.
Global distribution network, but high royalties
We love the wide distribution network available with PublishDrive. All of their network partners are listed on one page with easily visible updates to the royalty costs. The costs do change depending on where your book is sold. The range starts at a minimum of 25% of the cost and up to 70%, so you might be paying a bit more royalties with PublishDrive than our top options, but you're still getting a great deal on distribution.
In terms of customer satisfaction, PublishDrive has a solid 4 stars out of 5 when you average the reviews across sites. There's a lot of professional buzz about the site, and it appears to be well-deserved. Users who loved PublishDrive noted that the site was user-friendly and that they liked how the publisher got them access to distributors that they wouldn't have otherwise found. Multiple 5-star reviews also talked about the stellar customer service at PublishDrive. However, unhappy customers complained that they were charged more than the plan they signed up for, or didn't get their work published after paying, so there you may need to check in with customer service if you have issues.
Great option if you're open to subscriptions
PublishDrive is a great self-publishing platform that offers a wide range of services and benefits for authors at reasonable subscription prices. With a solid 4-star customer satisfaction rating, the platform's user-friendly interface, global distribution network, and excellent customer service make it a great option for anyone looking to self-publish their work. Plus, the access to a variety of print-on-demand publishers sets PublishDrive apart from other self-publishing platforms. While the royalty costs may be slightly higher, the benefits and opportunities for distribution and promotion make it well worth it. For these reasons PublishDrive gets a high rating for self-publishing companies.
- Free to use
- Authors make 70% of eBook sales
- Authors make 55% of print-book sales
- Resources for preferred editing and marketing partners
- Price calculator and transparent costs
- Listing on B&N website and US distribution
Barnes & Noble Press is one of the top 3 publishing houses right now for self-publishing. Starting as a competitor for Amazon's publishing house, Barnes & Noble offers the opportunity to be listed by one of the major names in bookselling today. The best part? It's completely free. B&N gets paid from the purchase instead of you having to pay anything upfront. With B&N you'll earn 70% of the royalties for eBook sales and 55% for print sales, minus printing costs.
Pricing is transparent and author-friendly
The pricing is super easy with B&N Press. From the get-go, everything is free. B&N lets you list books without paying a dime. They get paid when books sell. Their profit margins for authors are better than many other options in our review, too. The only thing you have to watch out for is the cost of printing is deducted from your total sales before you get your cut when you print on demand.
See for yourself
If you want to see what that looks like in practice, there's a calculator right on the front page of the ebsite. With this tool, you can enter different prices for your book and see exactly how much you'll make after B&N's cut and the printing fees are taken out. For example, with a 150-200 page book with the standard features, you'll earn $4.65 for a book listed for $15.
Featuring best-selling authors
One thing we liked about Barnes and Noble Press is that they have a "featured" authors section right on their front page. So, if you're wondering what kind of novels your book will be sitting next to on the shelf, you can sift through a variety of "bestsellers" and award-winning authors. There's no question about the quality of writing when you go with Barnes and Noble Press.
External resources with preferred partners
If you're looking for extra help with your novel, Barnes & Noble Press offers a resources page to connect you with their preferred partners. They offer partnerships with editors, audiobook creators, publicity assistance, and marketing help. While we know some authors might prefer this to be handled in-house by B&N, it's important to remember this is a free service, so they're only distributing and publishing for you.
We wish it had a wider reach
Barnes and Noble's major drawback is its limited reach. By exclusively selling on BN.com, the company restricts the distribution of your book to the United States only. If you're an independent author who wants to reach a global audience, it's crucial to self-publish internationally. While Barnes and Noble can help you sell your book in the US market, you'll have to explore other options to connect with readers beyond the US borders. However, since B&N Press doesn't require exclusivity, you have the option to publish at multiple venues to get the widest reach possible.
Great free option for easy publishing
Barnes & Noble Press is a great option for self-publishing authors who want to be listed by one of the major names in bookselling today. With no upfront fees and better profit margins than many other options, it's a cost-effective choice. Plus, their resources page can help connect authors with preferred partners for editing, audiobook creation, publicity, and marketing assistance. Although the company's limited distribution may be a drawback for those looking to reach a global audience, B&N Press doesn't require exclusivity, so authors can publish at multiple venues to get the widest reach possible. Overall, Barnes & Noble Press is a valuable tool for independent authors looking to publish their work.
- FREE to use the service
- Royalties: 10% charged from net royalties on every sale
- eBook specialization
- Provides formatting for print books to take to an outside printer
Draft2Digital is a self-publishing company that specializes in eBook distribution. Although they are a newer company in the industry, they have quickly established themselves as a popular choice among writers.
One of the main reasons they've become so popular is their pricing. Draft2Digital offers a remarkable service that includes formatting, conversion, distribution, and sales tracking of your eBook for absolutely no charge. Their motto is that they make money only when you make money, so they're as motivated as you are to sell books. Their cut from sales is 10% of the proceeds, but the rest is yours to keep.
eBooks for everyone
What sets Draft2Digital apart from other eBook-only self-publishing companies is their user-friendly approach. Instead of providing extensive style guides for writers to follow, Draft2Digital's automated tools detect the necessary formatting elements from your .doc or .docx file, including chapter breaks, headings, and other necessary elements. The result is a perfectly-formatted eBook that's ready for distribution in .epub, .mobi, and PDF formats.
You'll have to edit somewhere else
While the automated system is convenient, it may not be perfect for everyone. To address this, Draft2Digital has support staff available during regular business hours, as well as via email, to help authors with any tweaks they need to make to their eBook. However, Draft2Digital doesn't include editing, so when you upload your document to their formatting tool, you'll want it to be ready to go. Or, you'll have to find an editor somewhere else.
Wide network including top eBook distributors
At the time of our review, Draft2Digital had a distribution network of over a dozen partner stores, including popular eBook retailers such as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Scribd, and OverDrive as well as Barnes & Noble and Baker & Taylor. This makes it easy for authors to reach a wide audience without having to manage multiple accounts across different platforms. And with distribution and marketing help from Draft2Digital's toolkits, you'll be able to reach a wide audience even if you don't have an author website to direct sales.
No hard copies
One thing to note about Draft2Digital is that they specialize in eBook services and they don't print for you, though they do offer free paperback-ready PDF files that authors can take to any Print-on-Demand service of their choice. However, if you're looking for a place that will publish and distribute hard copies for you, Draft2Digital isn't the right one.
"A" rating but too few reviews
In terms of customer feedback, Draft2Digital has an "A" rating from the BBB and authors love that this option is free. Reviewers noted that while there is limited distribution for non-English-speaking countries, Draft2Digital is one of the easiest places to put together a published book with the right formatting. We wish there were more reviews for this service, but there's not much feedback from authors on the BBB or other popular review sites.
Super easy to use
Draft2Digital offers a user-friendly, convenient, and affordable service for authors who want to self-publish their eBooks. The company's unique pricing model, where they charge nothing for formatting, conversion, distribution, and sales tracking of eBooks, is impressive. With over a dozen partner stores, including popular eBook retailers such as Amazon, Apple Books, and Kobo, authors can easily reach a wide audience without managing multiple accounts across different platforms.
Fantastic option for free eBooks
While Draft2Digital specializes in eBook services and doesn't print hard copies, they offer free paperback-ready PDF files that authors can take to any Print-on-Demand service of their choice. While we wish they offered hard-copy books, Draft2Digital is a great overall choice for authors looking for an easy and cost-effective way to self-publish their eBooks.
- Publishing packages start at $430
- eBooks start at $199 for black and white
- Additions and upgrades available
- Marketing starts at $400 or added to a package
- 50% taken from royalties
Virtual Bookworm, also known as VBW, is a self-publishing service that provides authors with a range of options for publishing their work. This service was created by a writer who wanted to offer an alternative to big publishing houses and vanity presses. VBW does not accept every manuscript for publication but instead reviews each submission for quality and content. This ensures that your book will not be sold alongside books with numerous errors just because the other author had enough money to pay for publication.
Website hard to navigate, but prices are fair
It's a little hard to find the prices on VBW, but with a little searching, we found their publication options. There are 7 tiers which start at $430 and go up to $2,100 for black-and-white publishing in hardcover. The top 3 tiers include marketing services. For color publishing, the 7 tiers start at $700 and go up to $2,160, with the top 3 tiers including marketing services. If you're looking for eBooks, the starting price is much lower at $199 for a black-and-white interior or $299 for a color interior or books with a high number of images.
Lots of publishing benefits
With the print and publication packages, you receive the following benefits:
- Electronic proof
- Page counts as low as 18 and as high as 1200 pages
- ISBN assignment (author can provide own ISBN and imprint at no additional charge)
- Copyright application instructions
- Book page in our online store
- 15 free internal graphics/images (must be submitted to specs)
- Data backup
- Full distribution
- Drop shipment
- Book registration through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books in Print, and many others
- 50% royalties of net receipts
Requires exclusive publication rights
One thing we didn't love about VBW is that unlike some of its competitors, you have to commit to an exclusive agreement. You can't publish anywhere else for 2 years. However, you can terminate the agreement with 90 days' notice if the publisher isn't working for you. If you opt for their eBook packages, you will also have to sign an exclusive agreement for electronic distribution.
Costs add up with VBW
We also didn't love that Virtual Bookworm takes 50% of the royalties. And, since none of their packages offer editing services, you'll have to add that cost on top of the money you'll lose to their royalties and the cost of working with this publisher in the first place. Their editing service is part of their additional options and costs $0.01 per word. An average manuscript is about 80,000 words, so you're looking at an additional $800 for editing.
Marketing is separate except in top-tier packages
If you're looking for marketing, you'll also have to buy that separately at Virtual Bookworm, unless you choose levels 5, 6, or 7 for your publication. Then, the marketing is included in the price. The three marketing tiers include:
- Bronze Marketing Package: $40. Includes professional press release, 100 four-color business cards, and a personal storefront for two years.
- Silver Marketing Package: $700. With this package, VBW will write a press release and send it to over 200 media outlets, and copies of your book will be sent to at least 10 major reviewers. The same personal storefront as bronze and 100 four-color business cards.
- Gold Marketing Package: $1,300. This package includes the same press release as Silver, copies of your book sent to at least 15 major reviewers, the same personal storefront as Silver, placement in Ingram's Advance Magazine, 500 four-color postcards, 500 business cards, and 500 2x6 bookmarks.
Good ratings, but not a lot of feedback
In terms of author satisfaction, Virtual Bookworm has an "A+" rating at the BBB and has not had any complaints filed over the 19+ years it has been in operation. However, there are also few reviews of the service and absolutely no reviews from customers on the BBB, so we're a little worried about the lack of feedback from the authors.
Middle ground option, with good vetting system
Virtual Bookworm offers a mid-tier self-publishing service that provides authors with a range of options for publishing their work. While it may not be the ideal service for everyone, its commitment to reviewing each manuscript for quality and content ensures that authors are not published next to lower-quality titles. The exclusive agreement and higher pricing for some services may be a drawback, but the benefits of full distribution and the option to terminate the agreement provide some flexibility. While there is a lack of feedback from authors, Virtual Bookworm has maintained an "A+" rating at the BBB for over 19 years. It might be worth looking into, but there are better publishers out there to consider first.
- Global distribution options
- Authors keep 45-85% of net sales proceeds
- Marketing tutorials
- "A-" rating from the BBB
Smashwords is an eBook distributor with a global reach, boasting a distribution network that includes major retailers such as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. They have been helping authors publish and distribute their eBooks for over a decade
More than 130,000 published authors
Smashwords has helped more than 130,000 authors distribute nearly 500,000 eBooks. However, their website is slightly outdated and their process relies on the author doing most of the marketing work. On the bright side, their service is completely free except for royalties. Authors get 45-85% of proceeds depending on where the book is sold.
Free services and distribution
Smashwords offers a variety of free services, such as providing ISBNs, author profile pages on the Smashwords bookstore, anytime updates to books and metadata, exclusive marketing and selling tools, and much more. Moreover, they have an extensive distribution network where you can list your book for free. However, you will still have to pay royalties, and your profit margin will depend on the channel where your eBook is sold.
Formatting is required for Smashwords
While you can publish any genre, Smashwords does require you to format your writing to fit their specifications. To ensure proper formatting of your manuscript, you can download the Smashwords Style Guide, which is available in several languages including Spanish, German, Italian, French, Dutch, and Bengali. Alternatively, you can create a free account and begin publishing your eBooks directly on their platform.
Website could use an update
If you're looking for a polished and modern website, Smashwords isn't the right option. Their "How to Publish on Smashwords" page, for instance, is made up of block text in small fonts and bullet-point lists. Since one of their benefits is offering you guidance for strong marketing approaches, it's a little worrying that users have to sift through information that's hard to read.
Mixed reviews for Smashwords
In terms of customer satisfaction, Smashwords has an "A-" rating with the BBB and has 5 out of 5 stars on that platform. However, on other review sites like Sitejabber and Trustpilot, the reviews average 2.5 stars out of 5. With the higher-rated reviews, customers noted that working with Smashwords feels like working with real people. They enjoyed interacting with customer service and felt that their needs were met. Reviewers called Smashwords "honest" and "helpful." In the lower-rated reviews, customers griped that uploading their work to Smashwords was the most difficult out of the various self-publishers. Authors felt that the system is "clunky" and not user-friendly.
Variety of free services
Smashwords is an eBook distributor that offers a range of services to help authors publish and distribute their work. While the website may not be as polished as some of its competitors, Smashwords does provide a variety of free services, including author profile pages, marketing tools, and access to its extensive distribution network - though the authors are expected to do the marketing legwork themselves. The platform requires authors to format their work to specific specifications, but the Smashwords Style Guide is available in several languages to help with this process.
Good free option, but there are better sites out there
For a free site, Smashwords is a decent option. However because of its poor usability, you might want to check out other self-publishing options first.
- FREE to self-publish eBooks and paperbacks
- 30-70% charged on each sale
- Sells strictly on Amazon
- Options for unique genres of books like comics
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a self-publishing platform that has gained worldwide recognition and popularity as the go-to service for publishing eBooks. KDP is owned by Amazon, and the publishing branch started out as an online bookseller that has since expanded to become a dominant player in the online publishing industry. KDP allows you to publish your book for free, but you'll need to pay royalties which are different for paperbacks and eBooks.
Wide variety of genres
We love the full range of publication options at Kindle Direct. Not only can you publish traditional novels for fiction and non-fiction, but there are also built-in options for business books, comics and graphic novels, kids' books, and teen fiction. They offer additional options for a range of genres including romance, sci-fi, and mystery.
Easy to use publishing system
One of the advantages of KDP is the easy-to-use tools that guide you through the self-publishing process. KDP Jumpstart offers step-by-step directions, while KDP University provides a comprehensive suite of resources to assist you at every stage. However, it's worth noting that KDP doesn't offer professional editing or formatting services. If you need these services, KDP provides a list of recommended companies that specialize in those areas. However, an average editor costs $10 per page, so you may be looking at a significant increase in price if your manuscript isn't ready to go.
Complicated royalties, and not the best cut
The royalties with Kindle are a little complicated. For eBooks, you can choose between two royalty options: 35% or 70%. However, to be eligible for the higher-paying option, your book must meet certain requirements such as a list price that meets certain criteria, and your eBook must be sold for at least 20% below the printed book price. The royalty calculation for paperbacks is different, with a fixed rate of 60%, minus printing costs at a fixed rate of $4.45 per unit. In order to list, you simply have to meet the "minimum list price" requirement. This means you can list a book for anything over $7.45. The higher the price, the more you make, but it's a lot of math at the get-go.
Limited distribution for Amazon only
One thing that we don't love about Kindle Direct is that the distribution is limited to Amazon. Most other self-publishing services offer distribution to a broader range of channels, including Google, Apple, and OverDrive. While KDP is an affordable option, it may not be the best choice if you want your book to reach a wider audience. Since Kindle does require an exclusive contract, you can't publish in multiple places and widen this distribution, unfortunately.
Customer feelings are mixed on value
In terms of customer satisfaction, Kindle Direct has an "A-" rating from the BBB. With varying reviews across user feedback and different sites, KDP has earned an average of 3.3 stars out of 5. Happy reviewers noted that they felt that the customer service at KDP was top-notch and helped them with issues during the book creation and formatting process. Others were disappointed in the low profile of an Amazon-only distribution.
No editing or formatting
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) provides a variety of options, from traditional novels to business books and comics, with easy-to-use tools and resources to guide you through the self-publishing process. However, it's worth noting that KDP doesn't offer professional editing or formatting services, which can increase your costs significantly. Additionally, the royalties can be complicated, with different requirements for eBooks and paperbacks.
A big-name option, but a little limited
While KDP is an affordable option, the biggest limitation is that your book will only appear on the Amazon platform. Overall, KDP is a great and reliable option for self-publishing, but it's important to consider your distribution needs before making a final decision.
- $49 to get started with any book
- $25 revision fees
- Editing done outside Ingram
- Price calculator
- "A+" rating from the BBB
IngramSpark is a self-publishing distributor owned by Ingram, who is widely considered one of the top book distributors in the US. However, fees and printing costs can add up quickly.
Inexpensive to start
Simply publishing a book with Ingram is fairly inexpensive compared to some options in our review, with each book type only costing $49 to get started. However, there are extra fees for revisions, as well as for setup and printing, so it does start to add up. The royalties are variable with Ingram: you can set them at your preference up to 65-70% depending on the market, so you get a higher profit.
Obvious and slightly hidden fees
For every book you set up on IngramSpark, whether it's just an eBook or both print and eBook, you will be charged a setup fee of $49. However, keep in mind that if you need to make revisions to your book, it will cost an additional $25 per revision, which is a significant drawback compared to competitors who let you edit for free. In addition to the setup fee, you will also have to pay for the printing and distribution costs of your copies, which will be deducted from your royalties. The cost of printing will depend on the print options you choose and the number of units in your order.
Calculator tool needs an update
If you want to see what the cost will be to print each book, IngramSpark offers a calculator tool. However, it's much less intuitive than competitors. You have to fill out a full-page questionnaire, and if you don't know some of the answers for your particular book yet, you'll have to make them up to get a general price. The worst part is that some of the book sizes won't allow particular page counts - but nothing on the calculator tool tells you that. Instead, you have to fiddle with the options until the little red error message goes away, which is super frustrating.
Steep learning curves for non-techies
In general, the interface for IngramSpark is somewhat less intuitive than many competitor platforms. While we had trouble with their calculator tool, many other users also had trouble with the actual manuscript upload and editing tools. The process isn't intuitive and the website feels a bit outdated. Some authors quit the process at this point even after paying the $49 to publish.
Users don't love the interface
Mixed user reviews
IngramSpark offers a relatively inexpensive self-publishing option for authors with set-up fees of $49 per book. However, the additional fees for revisions and printing/distribution costs can add up fast. While IngramSpark allows authors to set their royalties up to 65-70%, their calculator tool and interface may be difficult for non-techies to navigate. Mixed user reviews also highlight the need for a more intuitive and user-friendly upload process.
Big name, but not the best option
Ultimately, authors should consider their individual needs and preferences before choosing a self-publishing platform. If stress-free is what you're looking for, you might want to look higher up on our review list.
- Starting at $5.03 for a single standard paperback
- Full range of distribution options
- "A+" rating and accreditation by the BBB
- 10-20% charged on most sales, plus any applicable retailer fees/markups
Lulu has been in the self-publishing industry since 2002 and has published over two million books across 225 countries and territories. The company offers its services in six different languages and has sub-brands like Glasstree Academic Publishing and Lulu Jr.
The website has had an update since it was last reviewed and comes across as a modern workspace. However, it was still hard to find the pricing details. Regarding royalties, Lulu takes 10% of net sales for eBooks and 20% for print books. They also charge "hosting fees" for eBooks listed on their bookstore.
Pay by copy
Lulu is a print-as-needed publisher. So you decide how many books you want and you order them as needed. Since this is how they print, the prices are per-book also. In order to get a ballpark idea for how much you'll spend with Lulu, you'll need to know the number of pages your book will be (in the size that you want) as well as answer questions about the quality of paper, black and white vs. color options, and cream or white paper. Once you've put in all the information, Lulu's calculator will give you a price per book. For example, a standard 6x9 paperback novel of 140 pages in black and white ink and white paper would cost $5.03 per copy to print through Lulu.
Design process is lengthy
To use Lulu's services most effectively, it is recommended that users start with the Create section. You have to choose your book type from the available options which include print books, photo books, notebooks, calendars, children's books, comic books, magazines, cookbooks, yearbooks, education books, and eBooks. The most frustrating thing about Lulu is that you can't create a print and eBook simultaneously. Instead, users must follow Lulu's downloadable Creator Guide carefully and format their manuscript to ensure their submission is approved. It's at this point you get to publishing services, and Lulu provides links to options for editing, cover design/illustration, and all-inclusive packages.
Sales options are competitive
After completing the manuscript, users can head to the Sell tab. It is vital to pay attention to formatting to ensure that your submission is approved for retail distribution. Lulu currently offers limited distribution channels, including their own, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram for print, iBooks, Nook, Amazon Kindle, and Kobo for eBooks.
BBB accreditation, but low reviews
Lulu is accredited by the BBB and has an "A+" rating. However, Lulu only has an average of 2.4 stars out of five across different review sites. The 5-star reviews offer feedback from some users who have been publishing with Lulu since 2008. Many happy customers say the site is easy to use and that they love the quality of the books. However, the lower reviews note that customer service with Lulu isn't top-notch. Many reviewers complain about being refused by Lulu after paying or having older versions of their manuscript distributed instead of the final.
Disappointing customer feedback
Despite Lulu's long history in the self-publishing industry, we're a little disappointed in their customer feedback. However, Lulu's print-on-demand model allows for customized orders, provided that users enter specific details to get an accurate price per book. It is recommended to start with the Create section and follow Lulu's downloadable Creator Guide carefully to ensure manuscript approval. Customer feedback is mostly positive, citing ease of use and book quality, but some reviewers have had issues with customer service and distribution.
Worth checking out for the price
Overall, Lulu can be a viable option for self-publishing. Still, users should carefully look at the higher rated options before making a final decision.
- Publishing packages range from $999 to $16,999
- 50%-90% paid to Xlibris before author gets anything
- Distribute with Ingram
- Accredited by the BBB and "A+" rating
Xlibris has been in the business of helping authors get their works published for more than two decades. As a self-publishing service, it enables authors to retain full control over their books, from design to distribution.
High initial investment
Xlibris is one of two self-publishing companies owned by Author Solutions, a parent company that has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). One downside is that Xlibris is expensive unless customers have a budget of at least $999, and that price doesn't cover much. Unfortunately, the royalty price minimum of 50% means you aren't making more than half of the profits to make up for the high initial payment.
Expensive for not enough bonuses
The most basic package at Xlibris for $999 includes a limited number of image, text, and design treatments, one round of alterations and corrections, and only 17 of the 47+ add-ons and benefits offered by the higher tiers. While most of their print packages include eBook formatting, there is no option for authors who only want to self-publish their work digitally and not in print. As a comparison, the most expensive tier (Platinum) which includes all of the add-ons costs $16,999, making Xlibris one of the most expensive options in our review.
Authors aren't making money after royalties
In terms of royalties, Xlibris will keep 50% of the retail price on eBooks and as much as 90% when sold through partners like Amazon. Furthermore, Xlibris sets the retail price for the book unless the author purchases the right to set their own price. So, you're not looking to make much on book sales here.
Limited but heavy-hitting network
Xlibris' distribution network is somewhat limited. They use Ingram Distribution as well as Baker and Taylor; however, Ingram is one of the largest book distributors in the US. Additionally, if customers are publishing a black-and-white or full-color paperback, their book will be listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book retailers. However, their distribution list for eBooks is vague, and authors won't know upfront which channels Xlibris will use to distribute their books. Compared to other options in our review with extensive distribution networks, Xlibris' is pretty slim.
Accredited, but mixed reviews
In terms of author feedback and user ratings, Xlibris is accredited by the BBB and has an "A+" rating. However, it only has 1.4 stars out of 5 from the Better Business Bureau and averages 3.4 stars out of 5 across other review sites. Happy authors at Xlibris note that they have published multiple books with this publisher and liked the expertise that was offered throughout the publication process. Many reviews note a sense of "tailored" assistance or "personalized" help that made users particularly happy with Xlibris. On the other hand, the 1-star reviews included frustrations about waiting for refunds, and many authors were frustrated with how little they were paid after royalties were taken out of their sales.
Doesn't stack up against competitors
When compared to other self-publishing services on the market, it becomes clear that Xlibris cannot compete. Other companies offer much more for less money and provide authors with a much broader reach for their self-published books. Despite mixed reviews with some very happy authors, it's clear that there are better options that offer a better overall deal to support authors' income.
- Cost: From $1,999 to $14,999
- 75-90% charged on each sale
- Benefits like author website for up to 3 years
- Editing included on all but the cheapest package
iUniverse is a self-publishing service that is owned by Author Solutions, which is an accredited and highly rated company by the Better Business Bureau. However, there are some potential negatives associated with using iUniverse.
High royalty fees
The royalty fees that iUniverse charges are among the highest we've seen - between 75-90% in royalties, which is much higher than other self-publishing services. This pricing model is not competitive with other self-publishing services that let authors keep most of their profits. The only book type that you receive 100% of the profits from is audiobook publishing at iUniverse.
Expensive packages without many benefits
If iUniverse offered an exceptional publishing experience, it might justify the high royalties. However, the company's publishing packages are expensive and start at $1,999. For this price, you only get two format options: softcover and eBook. The designs are also standardized and you don't have any say in them, but they do help you market the book and set up an author website. And yet, the base price doesn't include editing. If you want the full package, you'll have to shell out $14,999. This allows for full customizability and editing, but the cost is much higher than many competitors who offer similar features.
Some options are nice while others just charge you extra
While we liked that iUniverse offers in-house editing, it's not available as part of every package. You can only start getting editing included if you pay for the $4,999 Voyager package. Further, some of the bonuses you get - like an author website - have time limits. For the lowest two tiers of payment, you only get your author website for a year. With the $9,999 Explorer package you get 2 years, and with the most expensive $14,999 Navigator tier, you get 3 years before you have to pay fees for the website.
Decent ratings, but not enough reviews
While there are several testimonials on the iUniverse website, the company does not have as many reviews as its rivals despite having been in business for two decades. Although the service has 4 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot, there are just over 300 reviews for iUniverse, which is very low engagement overall. At the BBB where the parent company Author Solutions is accredited, the iUniverse brand is only rated 1.4 stars out of 5.
Good customer service, but really high fees
The happy users noted that they were impressed with the customer service with multiple individual reviews saying that iUniverse was patient and thorough in assisting authors. Those who weren't as happy with iUniverse complained that paying over $2,000 for publication and only getting 10% of the royalties was unfair, and not worth the benefits of using the publication house.
Too expensive for what it offers
While iUniverse is a self-publishing service owned by a reputable parent company, the high royalty fees and expensive publishing packages may not make it the best choice for authors. The company's pricing model is not competitive with other self-publishing services that allow authors to keep most of their profits. Additionally, the limited availability of editing and the time-limited bonuses may not justify the high cost of the service.
Better choices available
While iUniverse has received positive feedback from some users, the low engagement and negative reviews on the BBB listing suggest that the service may not be worth the investment for some authors. Ultimately, authors should consider all their options and choose a self-publishing service that meets their needs and budget - knowing that iUniverse is likely not going to measure up.
Continued from above...
There are several advantages to self-publishing a book. For example, an author can make decisions about everything from the book cover to the formatting of the text. This control can lead to a more authentic representation of the author's vision, which can be appealing to readers.
Another advantage of self-publishing is that it allows authors to reach a broader audience. Traditional publishers are often selective about the types of books they choose to publish, and many authors may struggle to find a publisher who is willing to take a chance on their work. Self-publishing, on the other hand, allows authors to bypass the traditional gatekeepers and get their work in front of readers who may be interested in their particular niche.
And the best part? Self-publishing can be more lucrative for authors than traditional publishing. Traditional publishing deals often involve the publisher taking a significant percentage of the book's profits, leaving the author with a smaller cut. With self-publishing, authors keep a larger share of their book's profits, which can add up over time. Additionally, self-publishing often allows authors to set their own prices, which can help them maximize their revenue.
Writing is a lot of work, but publishing doesn't have to be. To make sure you have the easiest path to getting your bestseller out to the public, we've researched the most popular self-publishing options so you don't have to.
If you're not sure where to start, here are several factors to keep in mind to find the best fit for you and your writing:
- Cost. What is the cost to work with this publisher and how much will you make as the author? Costs include fees and royalties, so it's important to check both.
- Specialty. Are you a poet or a playwright? Or maybe you prefer to write short stories or long sci-fi trilogies? You want to make sure the publisher you choose specializes in the kind of writing that's important to you. You want to be able to reach your ideal audience.
- User-friendly tools. Are you looking for complete control over the final publication, or do you want a publisher that helps you along the way with technology tools?
- Sales. Where does this self-publishing platform promote your work? Are sales integrated into the process or do you have to do all of the marketing yourself?
To help you make the jump from writer to published author smoother than ever, Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked the best self-publishing companies out there today. We hope this information helps you get the book of your dreams in print and in the reader's hands ASAP!
Self Publishing Service FAQ
Can i really publish my own book, can i only self-publish in print or can i go digital too, why would i use a self-publishing service if i can do it on my own, are self-publishing services expensive, do i need to have a place to store my printed books, what are some of the extra services i should consider, what if i have questions can i speak with an actual person, are self-publishing services legitimate, compare self publishing services.
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Largest Publishing Companies Research Summary
The largest publishing company in the U.S. is Pearson Education , with a revenue of $4.751 billion and a market share of 40% among all U.S. academic publishers.
As of 2023, the global book publishing industry has a market size of $114.9 billion.
At least 1.7 million books are published each year.
The global publishing industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.1% through 2027.
The traditional definition of commercial publishers is organizations that purchase manuscripts through agents or from authors. This type of business makes all editorial decisions moving forward as it pertains to content and style, funding production and distribution, and ultimately owning the copyright.
Sales proceeds from the books typically go to the publisher who will then pay the author or authors royalties, depending on their contractual agreement.
With that in mind, publishers are far-reaching and can handle manuscripts of many genres from different industries. In turn, publishers sell copies of their books through book stores, schools and colleges, libraries, special-interest groups, online, and through book clubs. They may also own the right to translate texts and publish books overseas. So what are the largest publishing companies currently in operation?
The 15 largest publishing companies in the world are:
A Deeper Look at The Top 15 Largest Publishing Companies
2022 Annual Revenue: $4.751 billion
This British-owned education publishing and assessment services company owned a variety of educational media brands including Addison-Wesley, Peachpit, Prentice-Hall, eCollege, Longman, Scott Foresman, among others. The business is global, although 60% of their sales come from the United States.
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Penguin Random House
2021 Annual Revenue: $4.09 billion
Formed in 2013, Penguin Random House is less than a decade old. Formed by the merging of Random House, owned by German media company Bertelsmann, and Penguin Group, owned by Pearson plc, Penguin Random House publishes 15,000 titles annually under its 250 divisions.
The company signed a first-look production deal with Universal Pictures in 2014 where Random House would be the producer of films based on Penguin Random House books.
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Hachette Book Group
2022 Annual Revenue: $2.748 billion
Hachette is a French publisher that was founded in 1826, initially as a bookshop and publishing company. The organization acquired a number of different companies to expand its global presence and now includes Hachette Australia, Hachette UK, Hachette Book Group USA, among others.
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2022 Annual Revenue: $2.19 billion
Founded in 1989, HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the world’s largest publishing houses and considered one of the “Big Five” publishing companies in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, HarperCollins is a subsidiary of News Corp, an American mass media and publishing company.
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John Wiley & Sons
2022 Annual Revenue: $2.08 billion
John Wiley Sons, Inc., more commonly known as Wiley, is an American-owned publishing organization founded in 1807. The business’ main focus is on academic publishing and instructional materials for educational purposes.
Wiley produces books as well as journals and encyclopedias that are available to purchase in print and in digital versions, as well as additional online products and services.
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2021 Annual Revenue: $1.86 billion
Springer Nature is an English-German academic publishing company created when Springer Science + Business Media and Holtzbrinck Publishing Grou’s Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, and Macmillan Education merged together to form one company in 2015.
2022 Annual Revenue: $1.64 billion
This American publishing, education, and media company is a business that publishes and distributes comic books, books, and educational materials. Scholastic is best known for its reading clubs and fairs but also distributes its products through retail and online sales .
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2021 Annual Revenue: $1.54 billion
McGraw-Hill is an American learning math company and considered one of the “big three” educational publishers in the world.
This organization provides educational content that can be customized, software, and services for students from pre-kindergarten through postgraduate education.
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2022 Annual Revenue: $1.48 billion
This Japanese publishing company is a privately owned business and the largest Japanese publishing company. This organization produces popular manga magazines for their audience including Nakayoshi, Afternoon Evening, Weekly Shōnen Magazine, and Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine.
2021 Annual Revenue: $1.4 billion
Macmillan Publishers is a British-based publishing company also considered to be one of the “Big Five” publishers. Founded in 1843 in London, Macmillan is a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and has been since 1999.
Macmillan is said to have laid a great literary foundation in their early days by publishing notable authors such as Charles Kingsley, Thomas Hughes, Francis Turner Palgrave, and Lewis Carroll, among others.
2022 Annual Revenue: $1.37 billion
Another American business on our list, Cengage is a business that focuses on educational content, technology, and services for higher education, K-12, professional, and library markets. This company is truly global, operating in over 20 countries worldwide.
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2022 Annual Revenue: $1.2 billion
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a publisher focused on textbooks, instructional technology manuals and materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction books for all ages.
Based in Boston, this organization was formerly known as Houghton Mifflin Company, but changed its name following its acquisition of Harcourt Publishing in 2007.
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This American publishing company is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. First formed in 1924, Simon and Max Schuster wanted to start a company that published crossword puzzles. In 1939, they backed Robert Fair de Graff who founded the first paperback publisher.
Oxford University Press
2022 Annual Revenue: $97.17 million
Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press at the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world and the second oldest. The university became involved in print trade in 1480 as a major publisher of bibles, prayer books, and scholarly works.
In the late 19th century, the organization took on the task of creating the Oxford English Dictionary and from that project significantly expanded into other areas.
Governed by a group of 15 academics, Oxford University Press has published an incredible amount of notable titles including the Oxford dictionaries, bibliographies, world classic compilations, history books, English language teaching books, bibles, atlases, and even music books.
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2021 Annual Revenue: $400 million
This Japanese company was first established in 1925 as an entertainment-related publishing division of a Japanese publisher called Shogakukan. In 1926, Shueisha became an independent company.
Largest Publishing Company FAQ
Are books a dying industry?
No, books are not a dying industry. In fact, the book industry is far from dying, even with the rise of technology. Book sales have only increased in value by 1.4%, but at best, print sales have seen 8.2% growth, and eBook and audiobook sales have seen over 12% growth.
In 2021, there were around 2.3 million self published books, which is 93% more than years prior .
How many books are sold in the U.S. each year?
Between 700 and 900 million books are sold in the U.S. per year. In 2020, a record was set with 942 million units sold in the U.S., across both eBook and print editions. In 2022, only 788.7 million books were sold.
Is Amazon becoming a monopoly in the publishing world?
Yes, experts believe that Amazon is approaching de facto monopoly status in the publishing world. Amazon controls up to 80% of all book distribution in the US, and many worry that the company has engaged in anti-competitive and even predatory practices that has left publishers “racing to the bottom.”
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Caitlin Mazur is a freelance writer at Zippia. Caitlin is passionate about helping Zippia’s readers land the jobs of their dreams by offering content that discusses job-seeking advice based on experience and extensive research. Caitlin holds a degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.
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List of Publishing Companies
List of the top publishing companies in the world, listed by their prominence with corporate logos when available. This list of major publishing companies includes the largest and most profitable publishing houses, corporations, agencies, vendors and firms in the world. If you are wondering what the biggest publishing companies are, then this list has you covered. This list includes the most famous publishing houses in the industry, so if you're thinking of working in the publishing industry you might want to look to these company names for jobs. This list includes names of both small and big publishing businesses.
A list made up of companies like Microsoft Corporation and Google.
A. H. Wheeler
A-r editions, a. a. wyn's magazine publishers.
A. S. Barnes
Academic learning company, llc.
Advanstar communications, inc., aegean park press, air age media.
Alfred A. Knopf
Allen & Unwin
Alliance Israélite Universelle
Andrews mcmeel publishing.
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Amazon reveals the best books of 2023
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Every year the Amazon Editors read more than 1,000 books, sharing our favorites so that customers can find their next great read. Along the way, we search for the one special title that will emerge as the Best Book of the Year. This year, the Amazon Editors chose James McBride’s The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store . In a world that is sometimes so divisive and isolating, stories can connect us and create community. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store not only captures that sentiment, it celebrates the power of goodness and looking out for one another—even people who are (seemingly) different from us.
McBride’s novel joins prior Best Book of the Year selections from the Amazon Editors, including Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow ; Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway ; Brittany K. Barnett’s A Knock at Midnight ; Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments ; Tara Westover’s Educated ; and David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon .
Besides featuring formidable casts of female protagonists, many of our favorites this year share a common theme—they highlight the importance of found family and community. And these books also accomplish what the best ones do: Put us in other people’s shoes and expand our empathy.
Learn more about our Top 10 picks below. To view the full list, visit the Best Books of 2023 . There you’ll find the titles that round-out our overall top 20, along with picks in popular categories, like debut authors, biographies, literary fiction, history, mystery, romance, sci-fi, and everything in between.
by James McBride
"Featuring a cacophonous cast of characters you will adore and a story chock full of the social, racial, and ethnic politics of the small town in which they live, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is an irresistible novel—profound as it is ingeniously entertaining, making it one of the great American novels of our time, and why we named it the best book of 2023." —Al Woodworth, Amazon senior editor
by Amanda Peters
"Debut novelist Amanda Peters explores the lengths we go to for love, the cancerous impact of lies, and the unbreakable bonds of family. For fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett , this quietly beautiful book will break, then mend, your heart." —Sarah Gelman, Amazon editorial director
by Michael Finkel
"What a romp! You’ll fly through this true story of an idealistic maniac on a mission to filch priceless treasures —upping the ante with each outrageous crime. A blast to read—but also horrifying when you consider what happened to $2 billion worth of invaluable art." —Lindsay Powers, Amazon senior editor
by Rebecca Yarros
"An epic of world-building, this tale of a kingdom under duress, a deadly competition to become an elite dragon rider, and the young woman who bucks the odds to become powerful in her own right, is a thrilling, not-to-be-missed romantic fantasy." —Seira Wilson, Amazon senior editor
by Jonathan Eig
"Eig’s definitive and engrossing portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. is a remarkable feat of writing and research, revealing the gutting hardships and heroics of a man who changed the world. This is biography at its absolute finest." —Al Woodworth, Amazon senior editor
by Nathan Hill
"With the vibes of Jonathan Franzen novels mixed with the panache of (500) Days of Summer — Wellness is a love story, a marriage story, and a contemporary critique on our world that’s captivated (and maybe even controlled) by social media and the pursuit of domestic bliss. Utterly absorbing, funny, and familiar, Hill captures how life can be hopeful and hurtful, idiosyncratic and robotic, fated and chaotic." —Al Woodworth, Amazon senior editor
by Abraham Verghese
"We didn’t want this book to end—told over the course of three generations, Abraham Verghese weaves a magnetic story of how cultural, social, and racial politics play out in the lives of wives, doctors, and artists who strive to find a home and purpose in a world that is ever-shifting and ever-dangerous. Filled with characters who love deeply and dream big, this novel will sweep you off your feet." —Al Woodworth, Amazon senior editor
by Stephen King
"Holly is retro-King horror at its best in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse between an unassuming couple committing unspeakable crimes and Private Investigator Holly Gibney. With tension that coils tighter with every chapter, this unforgettable novel will thrill longtime King fans and newcomers alike." —Seira Wilson, Amazon senior editor
by Walter Isaacson
"You probably have strong opinions about Elon Musk. Walter Isaacson’s page-turning biography perfectly captures the troubled, brilliant, pugnacious billionaire—and how his growing power circles the globe. Packed with oh-my-God moments big and small, I couldn’t put this book down." —Lindsay Powers, Amazon senior editor
by Dennis Lehane
"Unflinching, unsparing, and unsentimental, Lehane's incendiary story is a freeway pileup of racism, mob rule, and a desperate mother pushed beyond her last limit. This moving and darkly hilarious vengeance novel was the mystery we kept returning to this year." —Vannessa Cronin, Amazon senior editor
To read more reviews and author interviews, check out Amazon Book Review .
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Bloody Disgusting Launches Audio and Publishing Imprint With ‘Terrifier’ and ‘Dead Space’ Projects (EXCLUSIVE)
By Valerie Wu
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Cineverse’s Bloody Disgusting multimedia horror brand has announced its expansion with the creation of a publishing imprint, Bloody Press, and new forays into audio.
Bloody Press will act as the publishing arm of the company, which will create audiobooks, ebooks and print books. Its first title will be an adaptation of the 2022 hit horror film “ Terrifier 2″ starring David Howard Thornton as iconic villain Art the Clown. Tim Waggoner, who wrote the novelization for Universal Pictures’s “Halloween Ends,” will write the book. The novelized “ Terrifier 2 ” will be available in print, audio and digital formats in February 2024.
Following the success of the “Terrifier” brand, the Cineverse Podcast Network, known for its “Bloody FM” podcast banner, has announced a new podcast dedicated to “Terrifier.” It will also produce a new scripted audio series, “Dead Space: Deep Cover,” which will follow a journalist searching for her missing sister who joined a Unitologist church. “Dead Space: Deep Cover” is produced in collaboration with Electronic Arts.
Bloody Disgusting podcasts have seen great success, with podcast revenue rising up to 214% in September 2023 compared to September 2022, according to the company. Additionally, zombie scripted audio series “The Dead” entered the top 10 in Apple’s podcasts categories after debuting on Oct. 31. To help spearhead the expansion of the Cineverse Podcast Network, the company has appointed Tom Owen, co-founder of Bloody Disgusting, to the newly-created role of managing director of audio, as well as Pacific Obadiah to head of programming.
“From the theatrical success of independent films such as ‘Terrifier 2,’ to the triple-digit growth at Screambox as we approach two years since acquiring the streamer, we have amassed a strong track record in horror,” said Cineverse president and chief strategy officer Erick Opeka. “Tom Owen, Brad Miska and the entire Bloody Disgusting team have not only shown the ability to identify and develop great horror content, but also to drive new revenue for the company overall, across every medium, including audio, consumer products, and now publishing.”
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$100M Leads: How to Get Strangers To Want To Buy Your Stuff (Acquisition.com $100M Series Book 2) Kindle Edition
- Hardcover $26.99 6 Used from $29.94 13 New from $25.29
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This book contains the playbooks that took me from sleeping on my gym floor to owning a portfolio of companies that generate $200,000,000 per year in under a decade. Wanna know the biggest difference between those two time periods? How many leads I was getting.
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- Book 2 of 2 Acquisition.com $100M Series
- Print length 438 pages
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- Publication date : August 20, 2023
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About the author
Alex Hormozi is an American entrepreneur. He started as a management consultant in the public sector then left that career to pursue a career in fitness starting his first gym at age 23. He scaled his small gym chain from 0 to 6 locations in three years. Over the next two years, he and his wife started flying around the country turning gyms around.
Their large success, however, came from packaging and licensing his boutique gym model to 5000+ gyms around the world. They then started a supplement and software company to support that base of gyms. They sold a 66% stake in the company in 2021 at $46.2M to American Pacific Group. They then started Acquisition.com as a holding company for their private investments. The private equity firm focuses on making minority investments into cash flow positive growing founder owned businesses. They then scale those businesses. As of 2023, their portfolio of 16 companies generates $200,000,000 per year and growing.
The couple now has shifted their mission to making real business education available to everyone. They fulfill on this by making content across social media and publishing books and free courses for entrepreneurs.
Alex’s most recent book $100M Offers: How to make offers so good people feel stupid saying no, has sold 300,000 copies from word of mouth alone. In their spare time, Alex and his wife still enjoy training at hardcore gyms and fending off death one workout at a time.
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Canadian writers ask Giller prize to drop charges against pro-Palestinian protesters
More than 1,800 writers and publishers have signed an open letter in support of the pro-Palestinian protest at the prestigious literary award last week
More than 1,800 writers and publishers have signed an open letter in support of the pro-Palestine protesters who disrupted the ceremony of a prestigious Canadian literary award last week.
Among the signatories is Canadian author Sarah Bernstein, the winner of the C$100,000 (£58,000) Scotiabank Giller prize.
The Giller prize event was first interrupted when protesters jumped onstage with signs that read “Scotiabank funds genocide”, while another protester shouted that Scotiabank “currently has a $500m [£398.7m] stake in Elbit Systems” and that “Elbit Systems is supplying the Israeli military’s genocide against the Palestinian people”.
The event was interrupted a second time when the winner’s announcement was being made. As Bernstein’s name was called, a protester posing as a photographer began shouting, so the organisers repeated the announcement.
The letter states that protesters were booed by the audience, forcibly removed, detained by police for three hours after the event ended and are now facing charges, which it says should be dropped.
Bernstein said she “was only made aware what had happened at the Giller ceremony after the event”, which she attended via a one-way video link. “I support the right to protest, and I hope the charges against the protesters will be dropped,” she added. “I’m proud to join fellow Canadian writers in also calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.” She won the prize for her novel Study for Obedience , which is also shortlisted for this year’s Booker prize , announced on Sunday.
“We ask all of our literary institutions to be loud where our governments and news outlets have been silent,” reads the letter. “To call for a ceasefire; to express condemnation for the collective punishment of Palestinians and the war crimes being enacted by the Israeli government; to exert pressure on the Canadian government to stop its military funding to, and diplomatic support for, the Israeli government; to call for a release of all hostages: Israeli hostages and the 5,000 Palestinian civilians (including 170 children) who are illegally incarcerated in Israeli prisons ; and to urge Israel to end the 75-year occupation of Palestine.”
Along with Bernstein, other signatories include Noor Naga, co-winner of this year’s Arab American book award for her novel If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English. “Activists do not disrupt peace; they disrupt the silence of complicity,” Naga wrote in a post on X . “They do not disrupt order; they identify the disorder. We owe these activists our awareness, our aliveness. They did what we celebrate literature for doing: wake us up”.
Elbit Systems is an Israel-based arms manufacturer that has long been criticised by activists for supplying the Israeli military. In April, American investigative news outlet the Intercept reported that Scotiabank’s stake in the company was estimated to be $500m, making it the largest foreign shareholder.
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Openai announces leadership transition.
Chief technology officer Mira Murati appointed interim CEO to lead OpenAI; Sam Altman departs the company.
Search process underway to identify permanent successor.
The board of directors of OpenAI, Inc., the 501(c)(3) that acts as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities, today announced that Sam Altman will depart as CEO and leave the board of directors. Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, will serve as interim CEO, effective immediately.
A member of OpenAI’s leadership team for five years, Mira has played a critical role in OpenAI’s evolution into a global AI leader. She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business, and already leads the company’s research, product, and safety functions. Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO.
Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.
In a statement, the board of directors said: “OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”
OpenAI’s board of directors consists of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner.
As a part of this transition, Greg Brockman will be stepping down as chairman of the board and will remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO.
OpenAI was founded as a non-profit in 2015 with the core mission of ensuring that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. In 2019, OpenAI restructured to ensure that the company could raise capital in pursuit of this mission, while preserving the nonprofit's mission, governance, and oversight. The majority of the board is independent, and the independent directors do not hold equity in OpenAI. While the company has experienced dramatic growth, it remains the fundamental governance responsibility of the board to advance OpenAI’s mission and preserve the principles of its Charter.