Publishing a book used to be an expensive chore both in terms of time and money. You had to submit your work to a major publishing house, hope that it was accepted by their editors and review boards, and pay exorbitant publishing fees. After all that, there were extensive marketing and distribution methods and fees - all of which conspired to force many would-be authors to abandon their craft.
Thankfully, times have changed. Today, anyone can have their work professionally printed, marketed, and distributed through a variety of self-publishing services.
Self publishing companies create books for thousands of authors every year thanks to advancements in computer technology and a concept called Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing. This concept allows for books to be quickly printed and shipped as they are ordered, which eliminates the need for large upfront costs and storage.
However, not all self publishing companies are created equal. There are a wide range of services that are (or are not) offered by these companies, including professional editing services, custom graphic work, book cover options, personalized photos, marketing methods, distribution services, fees, and perhaps most importantly, royalties paid to you, the author.
There are a number of self publishing companies that exist today. They all have different fee structures and specific services that they can provide. You should consider important aspects of each self publishing company before you decide to choose one. Some of these aspects include:
Cost and Fees. What is the cost to self-publish your book? Will they keep a percentage of each future sale?
Included services. Does the company provide a wide range of self-publishing services for one set fee, or do they provide a list of services that you can choose from?
Turn-around time. How fast can the self-publishing company produce your book?
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best self publishing companies available today. We hope this information helps you start your publishing career right away!
Disclosure: We pay our reviewers and we are compensated for our reviews. Click here for details.
Outskirts Press is a self publishing company built for authors. With superior services, upfront pricing, and honest business practices, they are dedicated to ensuring the success of their authors.
Outskirts Press offers a number of affordable programs while still giving you a high level of service. Ranging from only $199 all the way up to $1,099, these levels let you choose which services can fit into your budget, while still letting you keep 100% of your royalties.
Outskirts Press offers a choice of 5 self-publishing programs ranging in cost from $199 for the most basic "Emerald" package to $1,099 for the most feature-rich "Pearl" package. These packages are clearly presented and allow for an easy side-by-side comparison of features.
All five packages provide a good set of basic services, including:
Customizable covers. Depending on the package you choose, you can select from between 2 and 25 customizable covers. For additional fees you can have their graphic artists design a completely unique custom cover - or, you can upload your own.
Standard interior formatting
Author marketing toolkit
Free author webpage
Depending on the self-publishing package you select, you also have a range of additional services available. Some of these include:
A choice of trim sizes and paper color
One-on-one assistance from a dedicated author representative
Document evaluation, including a marketability analysis of your book and suggestions for increasing its success
ISBN and Bar Code
Wholesale distribution to Ingram and Baker & Taylor
Distribution to several retail locations including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million
Online Marketing Coach toolkit
Additional manuscript discounts
In addition to all these features, Outskirts Press offers dozens of additional services for additional fees. These include such things as copy editing, illustrations, content indexing, bookmarks, business cards, posters, press releases, and more. This is a convenient place to supplement your basic book publishing needs.
Outskirts Press allows authors to keep 100% of the royalties from the sale of their books. This incredible feature sets this program above the rest of the self-publishing services.
Outskirts Press is an excellent self-publishing service. They offer a range of resources tailored for the budget-minded author, and allow you the flexibility to pick and choose those features that you're most interested in. Their focus is to provide you with the services you need while allowing you to maximize your profit without any hidden fees. Outskirts Press sets the standard by which all self
publishing companies should be judged and clearly earns our highest rating.
Virtual Bookworm provides full service publishing services at a reasonable price. This comprehensive company excels at providing fast publishing services. On average, Virtual Bookworm can turn around an order in 4 to 6 weeks. This makes Virtual Bookworm one of the fastest services available
Virtual Bookworm has a number of publishing packages they offer to meet individual needs. They provide manuscript formatting, the assignment of a Library of Congress Control number, original cover design, author discounts, web domain registration, web design, the printing of bookmarks and more. They also provide information for authors related to writing and marketing.
As the author, your royalty is set at 50% of the sales price of the book. While Virtual Bookworm has flexible publishing options and quick turnaround they have room for improvement with their ability to sell books. Virtual Bookworm uses the wholesalers Baker & Taylor, Inc. and Ingram Book Group for distribution. Virtual Bookworm does not yet have experience printing thousands of titles.
Customer service and support at Virtual Bookworm is impressive to say the least. The representatives we talked to were well informed and very willing to answer all of our questions. We didn't sit on hold waiting to be served - this company is very responsive and exceeded our expectations.
Overall, we were impressed with the personal responsiveness quick turnaround offered by Virtual Bookworm. They offer a good list of publishing services that will meet the needs of most authors. However, we would have liked a longer track record in selling and marketing books, and a more attractive royalty program.
Books Just Books approaches publishing differently than many companies on this list. Books Just Books is not a Print On Demand publisher; instead, they are a book printer, first and foremost. While their publishing services will be useful to most authors, they don't have a long list of extra services available
Books Just Books acknowledges that on demand is better if the author can sell only a few dozen or a couple of hundred books. Print On Demand can reduce an author's upfront publishing costs to just a few hundred dollars, and they don't have to stock inventory. However, if sales start to number in the hundreds, on demand publishing can actually decrease the author's profits.
With Books Just Books, the author has to order and pay for all the books he or she will sell with the initial order. This upfront fee can easily be $10,000-$20,000. This further emphasizes the author as both the book distributor and primary salesman. While this can be a negative for most aspiring authors, the profit potential of this option can be much more attractive if large numbers of books will be sold.
Books Just Books offers a surprising amount of marketing help for a company that is only a book printer. They assist their authors with getting listed in Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Books Just Books also has an online bookstore. They help each author with a website to promote and sell his book.
Books Just Books offers fewer services but allows the novice author to choose only want they want and need. We would have liked to have seen an on-demand option with Books Just Books to meet even more customer needs.
iUniverse provides an easy to navigate website and clearly laid out publishing package information. iUniverse provides on-demand printing and therefore does not require the author to purchase a specific number of books with the initial order. The only disadvantage to print on demand is the cost per book is slightly higher, but that is offset by not requiring a minimum upfront order size and paying for extra storage.
All packages offer a basic set of features, including volume book discounts, custom covers, ISBN assignment, and book distribution to leading bookstores.
With the two top packages the author can choose the best book trim size, from 5 by 8 to an 8 1/4 by 11-inch book. The book is available in both hardcover and paperback formats. They also include one round of author proof corrections and an editorial evaluation.
The Bookstore Premier Pro package also makes your book more attractive to bookstores by allowing them to return unsold copies. This encourages bookstores to stock your book and can improve your chances of scheduling book signings and appearances.
With all programs, you receive a number of free soft cover books for distribution to friends and family. With all of the programs, you can also buy copies at a discounted rate. The amount of the discount depends on volume.
Unfortunately, the author royalty provided by iUniverse is only 20%. This compares to 100% offered by our top-rated selections. That means for every $5 you earn from selling a book through them, you'll only earn $1 for selling through iUniverse.
Overall, iUniverse provides a good self-publishing site. They offer a range of services that should appeal to most book authors. Having said that, the author royalties at our higher rated sites are more, and the cost-per-book for printing copies is less. For these reasons, we suggest you first check out those companies for your self-publishing needs.
The Trafford Publishing website could use a redesign. The top-rated self-publishing services provide a variety of publishing packages to choose from and list detailed information for each one. In comparison, Trafford presents long pages of text which yo must read through to find the information you're looking for.
After navigating through the various web pages we found that Trafford is an on demand publishing company. Trafford requires the author to buy a publishing package when they submit a manuscript. When the book is ready to go to print, the process stops until Trafford receives orders for the book. The author can order books at a discounted rate, but it is not required.
Trafford Publishing sells their books in their own online bookstore as well as other major online bookstores. Packages range from the "Press Ready" option at $547, all the way up to the "Signature" package for $6,497. With these packages, you get a basic list of services that include cover templates, an author support representative, and complimentary books.
The entry-level "Press Ready" package is extremely basic. Services such as revisions, templates, basic copy editing, and even distribution are all add-on services. Without these, the value of the "Press Ready" package becomes questionable. Unfortunately, the next service level provided by Trafford Publishing is the "Standard" package, priced at $1,297 - and even then, some services that we
consider basic are still not included.
Poor web design, steep prices, low author royalties, and missing services conspire to make Trafford Publishing a less-than-attractive option when it comes to self-publishing
Llumina Press offers a middle of the road self-publishing service. Turnaround is slower than others at approximately 12 weeks. Services available are less lengthy than our higher ranked providers. They offer average royalties on the cover price.
You can anticipate 30 percent royalty on cover price of books sold direct through this publisher and only 10% if sold through a third party provider. Llumina offers the basic publishing services including Library of Congress Control Numbers and cover design service. One nice feature is that they are one of the few publishers to provide free editorial evaluations
For additional fees, Llumina will establish a web domain registration, as well as a bookseller return program. Marketing and promotional services are limited. They offer the facilitation of author interviews. While they do use Baker & Taylor and Ingram Book Group, there books are currently only sold at four major on-line retailers and this brings some concern. Llumina is far from the marketing powerhouse needed for
those looking to make their first million.
Customer service was generally responsive and able to answer most questions. Overall, Llumina Press doesn't stand out in any areas of self publishing providers. For the same amount of money and perhaps better returns we recommend a higher ranked provider.
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