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      September 19, 2017

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Best

Self Publishers

  1. Virtual Bookworm
  2. Books Just Books
  3. iUniverse
  4. Trafford Publishing
  5. Xlibris
  6. Breezeway Books

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Best Self Publishing Companies

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.

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2017

Self Publishing Reviews

5 stars
Outskirts Press

OUTSKIRTS PRESS Visit Site

Cost:

From $199 to $1,099

Royalties:

100%

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 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.
  • Paperback format
  • 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.

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4 stars
Virtual Bookworm

VIRTUAL BOOKWORM Visit Site

Cost:

From $360 to $2,350

Royalties:

50%

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.

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3.5 stars
Books Just Books

BOOKS JUST BOOKS Visit Site

Cost:

From $350 to $695 plus initial book order

Royalties:

100%

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.

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3 stars
iUniverse

IUNIVERSE Visit Site

Cost:

From $599 to $2,099

Royalties:

20%

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.

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2.5 stars
Trafford Publishing

TRAFFORD PUBLISHING Visit Site

Cost:

From $47 to $6,497

Royalties:

16.5%

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

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2 stars
Xlibris

XLIBRIS Visit Site

Cost:

From $899 to $15,299

Royalties:

10% to 50%

For two decades, Xlibris has helped more than 40,000 authors publish their work. According to the company, their promise is "to create and deliver a first-class quality book, to deliver to your timetable, and to suit your budget."

If you choose Xlibris as your self-publishing service, you'll definitely need a big budget! They offer six general packages, starting with the Basic at $899 and going all the way up to Platinum at $15,299. What's included in Xlibris' packages? The easiest way to determine which package you need is by looking at the Pricing Chart under the Services tab at the top of the page. In general, however, every package includes the following services:

  • Paperback and E-book editions
  • Interior templates
  • Author photo and cover art
  • Cover templates
  • Electronic galleys
  • 1 paperback author copy
  • At least 5 paperback package books
  • ISBN and Books in Print registration
  • Worldwide distribution and online listing
  • Author homepage and book page (online)
  • Google Books Preview, Amazon Look Inside, Barnes and Noble Read Instantly
  • Online sales and royalty accounting
  • At least 50 business cards, bookmarks, and postcards
  • At least 5 posters

From there, depending on your needs, you can access additional services - either for an extra fee or as part of a higher-tier package. Some of these services include Library of Congress registration, web design services, and press release campaigns.

You can also choose a Specialty Publishing Package, depending on the genre of your book and/or your goals for your book. These can be found under the Services tab as well and include Christian, Sci-Fi, Poetry, Romance, and Children's Book Publishing packages and Title Pitch Publishing (i.e. getting your book displayed at bookstores and libraries).

Keep an eye out for special offers that can give you extra savings. For example, at the time of our review, we found a promotion for saving 10% on publishing packages and a free upgrade for ALC subscribers. What is an ALC subscriber? ALC stands for "Author Learning Center", but unfortunately all of the links on the Xlibris site that referenced the ALC provided no information: the pages were blank or didn't go anywhere. This was disappointing.

We also found that, Xlibris' royalties structure is not only confusing but also leaves you, the author, without getting much in return. How much will you be paid? That depends on how your book is purchased: 50% in royalties for e-books, 25% for printed copies or audiobooks purchased directly through the Xlibris bookstore, and a mere 10% for printed or audiobook copies purchased through a distribution channel like Amazon. Xlibris does offer a 100% royalty program for 3 years, but only as part of the higher-end Executive and Platinum packages.

And, of course, you will probably want to buy copies of your book to sell at author signings and other events. You will get an author discount ranging from 30-60%, but if your book is more than 165 pages long, you'll have to get a custom price quote - their pricing chart only goes up to 145 (we have no idea what happens for books between 145 and 165 pages long, as the disclaimer only mentioned custom quotes for books over 165 pages).

We were pleased to see that Xlibris' parent company, Author Solutions LLC, maintains a solid "A+" rating as an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau. On the BBB site, we did find out that Author Solutions LLC owns two of the other self-publishing businesses in our review, iUniverse and Trafford Publishing. This could be useful to know if you're comparing the three services.

On the other hand, we found more than 200 complaints on the BBB site alone from Author Solutions' customers, with many specifically criticizing the services received from Xlibris - or lack thereof. Authors described frustration with the quality of promotion and marketing services purchased, poor editing, and challenges with copyright issues.

Overall, Xlibris is the most expensive of all of the self-publishing services in our review, charging the most for packages and offering the lowest royalties. If their results were astronomically better than their competition, it might be worth the higher expenses - but lackluster author/customer reviews left us believing that most writers will get more bang for the buck with another self-publishing business.

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1.5 stars
Breezeway Books

BREEZEWAY BOOKS Visit Site

Cost:

From $599 to $1,599

Royalties:

10% to 30%

Based in Florida, Breezeway Books is a smaller self-publishing service. Approximately 2,000 authors have published their books with Breezeway in the past.

How much will it cost to use this service for your book? The website does not make it easy to figure that out. Rather than providing an easy-to-use comparison chart, listing each of their services and packages, you will have to click on each individual item to see the price.

Let's start with editing. Editing services are packaged separately from publishing; Breezeway Books does offer a "free edit assessment" to let you know how much work, if any, your book will need. You can also access services ranging from Critique and Analysis to Heavy Content Editing. If you'd like a "Developmental Edit", which includes the Critique/Analysis, Content Edit, and Copy Edit, you'll pay $0.056 per word in your original manuscript. On the lower end, if all you want is a final proofread, you'll pay $0.01 per word. All of Breezeway's other editing services fall between those two price ranges.

In terms of publishing, this business offers three main packages, available either in Black-and-White or Full Color: eWorldwide, Classic, and Page Turner. Prices range from $599 to $1,599, respectively. Once again, there's no handy chart you can consult to see what is offered in each package and determine which one will best meet your needs.

What about royalties? Breezeway Books doesn't seem to know: on their main page, they proudly proclaim that authors keep all of their royalties, while in the FAQ it explains that they receive 10-30% of the list price, depending on what channel is used to purchase the book (e.g. Amazon vs. the Breezeway site). This is misleading at best.

We also found out that Breezeway Books is owned by Deborah Greenspan, formerly of Llumina Press. According to several customers, Greenspan shut down Llumina and left them hanging without transferring them over to her new services at Breezeway Books. The Llumina Press website is still live, but it looks almost exactly like the site for Breezeway Books.

Whether looking at authors' experiences with Llumina or Breezeway, the results are not good. One author, in particular, described how he or she is dyslexic and was relying heavily on the editing services promised by the publisher to make the book flawless; to his or her dismay, the book was printed with numerous errors throughout, including on the very visible back cover. Numerous other reviews describe hassles in dealing with the publisher, receiving zero in royalties, and battles over copyright.

Because of the conflicting information regarding royalties, the difficult-to-use-website, and the numerous author complaints we discovered, we strongly suggest that you use a more reputable service for self-publishing your work.

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Continued from above

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!

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