Self publishing your work can be fun but also unnerving. While self publishing gives you more control over the publication process, there are so many options when it comes to the best self publishing companies that it can be slightly overwhelming to know which one to choose.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 11 of those top self publishing companies to help you figure out which one fits your publishing needs.
Table of contents
- What is self publishing?
- What are the benefits of self publishing?
- 11 of the best self publishing companies
- Different types of self publishing companies
- Expert tip: Consider working with editors, proofreaders, designers, and other pros to self publish your book
- What is the best company to use for self publishing?
- Are self publishing companies worth it?
- Is self publishing still profitable?
- What is the best self publishing software?
- What is the average cost to self-publish?
- Related articles on publishing
- Find the best self publishers for you!
First, let’s go over how self publishing works!
What is self publishing?
Self publishing is when you publish any type of media, such as a book, novel, illustrated book, or nonfiction book, without using a traditional publishing house or company.
With this approach, you retain the rights to your work and keep more of the profits from sales after your costs to publish, print, and market your work with a self publishing platform are accounted for.
Another main distinction with self publishing is that the work is created by the author or artist themselves, including the editing, designing, and formatting of the book. (We get into all of this in more detail below),
A traditional publisher on the other hand will give you a contract that grants them the right to print, publish and sell your work. You may then be paid in the form of royalties on book sales, for example.
While most think about book publishing, you can also self publish other types of work, such as music and visual artwork.
What are the benefits of self publishing?
There are lots of reasons why an author might decide to go with one of the best self publishers instead of a traditional publisher. Especially when it comes to having more control and keeping more of your earnings.
That said, some of the main benefits include:
Self publishing takes less time
When it comes to publishing your own book, there are fewer decision-makers involved and it’s a much more abbreviated process than working with a traditional publisher.
And this is simply because there are fewer people involved in the process with you being the main decision maker vs multiple people in a traditional publishing house.
An agent is not necessary
A lot of aspiring authors hire agents to help improve their chances of being picked up by a mainstream traditional publisher.
However, this can come at a big cost because you will have to pay the agent. Either as a percentage of your royalties or with an upfront payment.
Retaining creative control
When you self publish you have complete control over the process. That includes the types of photos and creatives used, the editing process, and what goes into the final production.
You won’t have to make compromises on your vision for the project or try to convince a publisher to keep a section or chapter of your book. You get to have the final say on everything.
Higher royalty rates
Self publishing also means you can have higher royalty rates.
Traditional publishing houses usually don’t give very good rates to authors, especially first-time writers. But with some of the best self publishers, you can make up to 60% in royalties.
11 of the best self publishing companies
With 300 million self published books sold each year, it’s no wonder that writers are interested in moving away from traditional publishers.
But where do you start? Here are some of the best self publishers that you can work with to get your project published.
1. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
One of the most famous and best self publishing platforms is Kindle Direct Publishing, the self publishing arm of Amazon.
As a massive retailer, Amazon is often one of the first companies that writers go to when self publishing their titles. Anyone can self publish using Amazon’s KDP.
You can publish ebooks or print books. The self publishing software is simple to use and upload your book or design. You can also get a decent royalty of 35% to 70%, depending on how much your book sells.
2. Book Baby
They partner with many large companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You keep 85% of sales made through their book shop, as well.
3. Barnes & Noble Press
While Barnes & Noble might be better known as a brick-and-mortar store, it also has a large ebook platform called Barnes & Noble Press. Your book might not appear on the shelves of its stores, but its platform can help you get your book in front of new readers.
Royalty rates range from 40% to 65% and it’s free to upload your book and cheaper if you print directly with Barnes & Noble instead of through a third-party site.
One of the best self publishing companies for print-on-demand publishing is Blurb.
It’s especially recommended for printing visual works, such as magazines and photo books thanks to its high-quality printing and magazine formats.
You keep all of your royalties on your book if selling through the Blurb Bookstore.
Another one of the best self publishing platforms is Kobo Writing Life. What’s unique about Kobo is that they cater to the Canadian market and are also present in 16 countries besides the U.S.
If you’re a Canadian writer or want to expand your reach outside of the U.S., then Kobo could be a good option.
It’s an open platform, so it supports many of the popular and free self publishing formats like EPUB, PDF, and EPUB3. It has a royalty rate of 45% to 70% depending on the price of the book.
6. Apple Books
If you’re looking for one of the very best self publishing platforms, check out Apple Books. If you own a Macbook or Apple products, you might already be familiar with the tech giant’s publishing arm.
Self publishing is straightforward and free to upload. Plus the royalty is a flat 70% no matter what you price your book for. Apple Books also has a large reach, as it caters directly to Mac users.
Lulu is one of the oldest publishing platforms and has been around since 2009. Working with Lulu is very straightforward.
You upload your book, and then you can purchase your book through the platform. Lulu then gives you an ISBN so you can distribute your books through online retail outlets like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Apple.
You can also sell directly on the site and earn 80% in royalties after printing costs.
Another one of the top self publishing companies is PublishDrive. The company offers a subscription rate for authors that allows you to keep 100% of all sales.
If you’d rather not pay a monthly rate, then the platform will keep a flat rate of 10% on all sales.
PublishDrive has connections with over 400 stores around the world, including major distributors like Apple, Kobo, Amazon, and Google Books.
If you’re looking to use one of the best self publishing companies, then check out Draft2Digital.
The company makes it easy to upload your draft and promises to have it on the site within 24 hours. There are no fees for the service, but it does keep 10% of all sales.
You can set the price on the site as you want. It also distributes to Amazon.
With Smashwords, you can definitely earn up to 80% in royalties if you list your book on its website.
It’s one of the largest ebook distributors, and you can publish books on Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. It doesn’t distribute to Amazon, and you’ll need to format your book yourself.
Another one of the best self publishers is Streetlib. This platform is great for authors wanting to reach an international audience.
It’s popular in Latin America and Europe and it can be configured in English, Italian, Spanish and many other languages.
It also distributes to major retailers in the U.S. and Canada. And it only charges 10% of the retail price per copy sold.
Different types of self publishing companies
As a new author, when you’re trying to figure out where to self publish your book, scrolling through long lists of some of the top self publishing companies can definitely feel overwhelming.
To help you streamline your choices, first start by determine what kind of self publishing company you want to work with. That’s right—they’re not all the same.
There are two types of self publishing companies: aggregators and retailers.
The first type of self publishing company is called an aggregator. You can also think of an aggregator as a book distributor.
Basically, an aggregator’s job is to distribute your self published book to different online retailers, like Amazon and Apple Books. This can be useful for the author because it means you have a one-stop shop to help you get your book in front of as many people as possible.
Some of the most common self publishing aggregators include Book Baby, Lulu, PublishDrive, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital.
Another type of self publishing company is a retailer. If you self publish with a retailer, then the retailer will sell your book directly on its platform.
For example, some of the most popular retailer self publishing companies are Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble Press, and Apple Books.
Why would you want to publish with a retailer instead of an aggregator?
Retailers will often offer authors certain perks, such as Amazon’s KDP Select, which gives you the opportunity to reach more readers through special Amazon and Kindle promotions. The catch? You must sell your book exclusively on Amazon for 90 days.
Expert tip: Consider working with editors, proofreaders, designers, and other pros to self publish your bookMaybe you’re working on a tight budget or maybe you just want the pride of knowing you self published your book 100% by yourself. But don’t forget to consider working with other creatives to help you bring your book to market.
For example, working with editors, proofreaders, designers, and marketers can help you take your final draft from good to great—and give you the marketing tips you need to sell more copies.
Reedsy, for example, is one resource for authors seeking an editor, designer, publicist, etc.
What is the best company to use for self publishing?
There is no one best company to use for self publishing. Truly, the best self publisher for you will depend on what your needs are as an author, such as your desired royalty rate and your preference for working with an aggregator or a retailer.
That said, some of the best companies to use for self publishing that are worth considering are Barnes & Noble Press, Apple Books, and Kobo.
Are self publishing companies worth it?
If you want to realize your dream of becoming a published author, then working with self publishing companies is definitely worth it.
While you won’t have access to the advertising or brick-and-mortar presence that comes with working with a traditional publishing company, self publishing companies give you more creative control over your work and, often, higher royalty rates.
Is self publishing still profitable?
Yes, self publishing is still profitable. In fact, in some cases, it can even be more profitable than traditional publishing.
This is because most self publishers offer higher royalty rates to their authors than most traditional publishing companies do.
Of course, profitability always comes down to how many copies of your book you can sell.
What is the best self publishing software?
The best self publishing software will depend on how many features you’re looking for, how much you’re willing to spend, and your comfort with technology.
What is the average cost to self-publish?
Self publishing a book can cost anywhere from $0 to $4,000+. The cost of self publishing depends on how much you choose to spend on editing, proofreading, design, formatting, advertising, etc.
Of course, you can choose to do all of this on your own and self publish your book completely for free. Or, you can invest in professional services to polish your final product and help increase your chances of selling more copies of your book.
Related articles on publishing
Want to know more about the publishing process? Check out these related articles.
Find the best self publishers for you!
Whether you’re publishing your first novel or have been in the publishing field for a while, knowing about the best self publishing companies is important for any writer.
Whichever one you choose, make sure to carefully research their offers to ensure it’s a good fit for what you are looking for.
Here’s to your publishing success!