If you’re looking for the best self-publishing companies to help get your book the attention it deserves, we first want to congratulate you.
Writing a book is no easy feat, so if you’ve reached the point in the drafting and writing process that you’re ready to publish, you should give yourself a round of applause.
While you’re making it through the hardest part of the book creation journey, an equally important part of that journey is choosing the best self-publishing company for you.
You’ll find plenty of lists of the best self-publishing companies on the internet. Those are great if you want to know every single option. But what they’re not as good for is actually helping you make the final decision so you can get on your way.
We’re here to make the process of choosing your self-publishing company simple. With that, we’ve chosen the five best self-publishing companies based on your needs as an author.
What does that mean, exactly?
With traditional publishing, there is a fairly traditional journey. You write your book (or sell the proposal to write your book), then you hand it off for the editing, design, and marketing steps. Maybe you’ll have some input along the way, but it likely won’t be very significant.
With self-publishing, though, you can have as little or as much say as you want in every part of the development process. You could even skip certain phases. It’s completely up to you.
That means you should choose the self-publishing company that complements your journey. If you’re going to do it all yourself, you might just need distribution help. If you only want to focus on writing, then look for a full-service company that can help design, distribute, and market your book.
To help you find the best self-publishing company for you, we’ll break down how to evaluate a company, then share our favorites for
- the best full-service self-publishing company
- the best retailer self-publishing company
- the best aggregator self-publishing company
- the best self-publishing company for freelance publishing professionals
- and the best a la carte self-publishing company.
Choosing Between Self-Publishing Companies
Before getting onto our list, let’s define how each of the categories work and who they’re a good fit for.
Generally speaking, we can define self-publishing companies as one of three types:
- Full Service
A retailer is a marketplace that directly sells books. In the self-publishing space, these are the big names you’ve heard of, like Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
An aggregator is another genre of self-publishing company that allows you to send your book out to dozens of book retailers at once. These include popular book aggregators like Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, and others.
Finally, a full-service publishing company is one that offers services to help with each stage of the self-publishing process, from the writing, editing and formatting to the publishing, marketing, selling, and more.
Because there is quite a range of full-service companies, we’ve chosen a few that will appeal to different types of authors.
1. The Best Full-Service Self-Publishing Company: MindStir Media
When you’re looking for a company that can take your book idea from whatever stage it’s in to one that gets regular, repeatable national attention, there may be no better self-publishing company than MindStir Media.
As an award-winning self-publishing company, MindStir Media is run by J.J. Hebert, a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and no. 1 Amazon bestselling author. His work in the self-publishing space also recently earned him the “Entrepreneur to Watch in 2021” title by International Business Times.
With over 13 years of helping thousands of authors self-publish, this self-publishing company makes their titles available to 30,000+ wholesalers, booksellers, and retailers in over 100 countries with their Ingram distribution partnership.
What’s more, all MindStir Media authors retain their copyright and publishing rights, with authors working on non-exclusive contracts. Depending on the self-publishing package they’ve chosen, author royalty rates range from 50-100%.
In addition to the award-winning pedigree and author-friendly contracts and rates, what makes MindStir Media a leading choice as the best full-service self-publishing company is the comprehensive range of mentoring and self-publishing packages offered.
Their paperback/ebook services and hardcover services include editing, book cover design, interior layout, ISBN assignment, barcode generation, book printing, marketing, and the potential for endorsements from a range of renowned celebrities and authors, including Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington, Tori Spelling and Mariel Hemingway.
What continues to set MindStir Media apart for new and experienced authors alike is the company’s expertise in book marketing and advertising services. Campaigns which include guaranteed placements on CBS, NBC, and FOX websites, interviews, social media blasts, and more have led to media coverage impacts of 2.97 million views worth $1.1 million.
Is MindStir Media Right For Your Self-Publishing Project?
If your goal is to self-publish a bestseller on Amazon and/or Wall Street Journal/USA Today, MindStir Media is the full-service publishing company most aligned with delivering that.
Through a variety of marketing and promotion packages, along with pro-level book design and editing, they are committed to their authors receiving the attention their books deserve. And while no company can guarantee bestseller status, it always helps to work with professionals who’ve been there before.
2. The Best Retailer Self-Publishing Company: Kindle Direct Publishing
When you’re looking to get your book manuscript out into the world and delivered to Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing remains a solid option.
Though one can quibble about what it means to support Amazon or to commit fully to their self-publishing marketplace, it is hard to deny the reach and the amount of royalties they offer.
With payouts ranging from 35-70% for ebooks (and a fixed 60% minus printing costs for paperbacks) and owning nearly half the market for ebook sales, it’s a compelling advantage for new authors and established authors alike.
Especially for authors who would prefer to spend their time on the actual writing of the book instead of thinking about all of the ins and outs of sales, programs like KDP Select can be very attractive.
In exchange for giving Amazon exclusive sales rights for 90 days, your book is placed in the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited, great resources for attracting new readers and reviews that will ultimately help to broaden your reach through Amazon. However, keep in mind that going exclusive through Amazon means that you will be limiting yourself on other retail outlets.
Because this is a relatively automatic process, publishing on Amazon does require specific, approved file formats to begin. Though eBooks are often written in the EPUB format, you’ll need to convert yours to MOBI or AZW or AZW3 to begin the process.
Once the book is in the system, you’ll also need to effectively choose your categories and keywords to make sure your book is found. In contrast to the full-service self-publishing companies, this comparatively do-it-yourself style can be both rewarding and intimidating for others.
A well-crafted marketing and release plan can see your book shoot up its chart and earn you the title of Amazon bestseller, but the marketing is solely on you. On the other hand, without the experience of launching a book, you may find yourself seeing your Amazon ranking stagnate and feeling frustrated.
Is Kindle Direct Right For Your Self-Publishing Project?
For authors who are eager to get their book out into the world on Amazon, there is no simpler option.
Authors who are interested in well-designed books that rise above the masses, however, may need to look elsewhere for the right kind of editing and marketing support that leads to bestseller status.
3. The Best Aggregator Self-Publishing Company: Draft2Digital
When you’re looking to get your book onto as many platforms as possible in as little time as possible, Draft2Digital makes it simple.
As we discussed early, aggregators are intended to make the distribution process easier for authors. Rather than having you manually upload your manuscript into dozens of different sites, Draft2Digital manages that for you. The pricing is also transparent and simple: 10% of the price of each eBook sold (with print books varying a bit more).
Draft2Digital also sets themselves apart from other self-publishing aggregators by not charging any upfront fees, accepting most book formats (including doc, docx, and epub), offering formatting assistance, providing a free ISBN, and a great distribution system.
They also provide the convenient service of combining all of your royalty checks into one, rather than the headache of handling the accounting of dozens of checks each month.
What’s more, for those of you who’ve been in the self-publishing industry for a while, you’ll also recognize that Smashwords is now a part of Draft2Digital, giving authors access to their publishing tools, like their coupons, deal managers, and author interviews.
Is Draft2Digital Right For Your Self-Publishing Project?
When one considers how many digital platforms are available for distribution, it can be overwhelming. Though it’s still advisable that you upload your book to the big markets yourself (like Amazon or Apple), you may not have the time, energy, or patience to seek out every single possibility.
This makes Draft2Digital a great choice for authors who want exposure to more audiences without having to sacrifice too much of their writing time.
4. The Best Self-Publishing Company For Freelance Publishing Professionals: Reedsy
When you’re looking to polish your book with industry professionals, Reedsy is the ideal option.
In addition to plenty of free tools designed to help authors of all sorts (ranging from a fun plot generator to a comprehensive publishing directory) write books, Reedsy is also a marketplace for freelance publishing professionals. By connecting authors with editors and designers with relevant experience in traditional publishing, Reedsy bridges the traditional and self-publishing worlds.
For a process like self-publishing which can at times be quite independent, Reedsy puts an emphasis on collaboration and communication. With each professional, you’re able to review their work history, their services, reviews from other clients, and other useful information.
That access does come at a price, though. In comparison to the other services, many of which offer free tools, Reedsy’s professionals do charge professional rates. Still, this combination of professional-grade free tools and the ability to interact with and hire industry professionals (including editors, designers, publicists, marketers, translators, ghost writers, and book reviewers) to accompany your self-publishing journey.
Is Reedsy Right For Your Self-Publishing Project?
For beginning and experienced self-published authors alike, Reedsy is a valuable resource for leveling up your manuscript.
The abundance of premium tools and access to professionals across a range of book publishing skills allows authors to pick and choose how to use their budgets in the most effective way possible. With Reedsy you will be able to assemble your own publishing team and run the operations yourself. This is a good option if you are looking to build your own company.
5. The Best A La Carte Self-Publishing Company: Lulu
Whether you’re looking to get your book printed or published, Lulu offers an impressive range of author services, online retail and distribution, and on-demand printing.
Having produced more than two million books since 2014, Lulu Press is truly an industry leader when it comes to self-publishing companies. That experience leads them to their main strength, which is book publishing. Though similar in many senses to Amazon, Lulu excels with their print-on-demand service Lulu Xpress, especially for authors who require hardcover printing.
Instead of the months and months of waiting in the traditional publication system, you can get your hardcopy or paperback book printed and shipped in 3-5 business days.
Though an undeniably satisfying part of being an author is having your book in your hand, Lulu also connects with another equally important part: global book distribution. Their distribution platform connects with retail and book stores, libraries, and more – with books being shipped globally to over 150 countries.
Entrepreneurial authors will also appreciate being able to connect their Shopify websites to have their books ordered, printed, and fulfilled – without any of the overhead or storage.
Similarly, other services include design, marketing, and publicity. Still, many of their services are DIY, and the company as a whole doesn’t offer great customer service. For this reason, Lulu is a great way to pick and choose the pieces you need to complete your self-publishing journey – rather than relying on them to help you throughout the process.
Is Lulu Right For Your Self-Publishing Project?
In terms of quality printing, fast turnarounds, and availability of services, Lulu is among the best self-publishing companies. Where you as an author might feel underserved is in dealing with the marketplace.
It works well when you know what you’re looking for or what you’re doing. If it’s your first time or you’re looking for overall guidance, you may be better served with a full-service self-publishing company.
Ready To Begin Your Self-Publishing Journey?
No matter where you are in the process of writing and releasing your self-published book, it’s helpful to know what the best self-publishing companies can offer you.
Seeing the support and the results that come from an established full-service self-publishing company like MindStir Media may make you reconsider going it alone. Or you may feel confident after years of self-publishing and just be looking for a professional or two from a site like Reedsy to help you fine-tune your final project.
Take your time, review the options, and enjoy. After all, you’re getting closer to getting your book into the hands of readers, so the energy you spend now in making the right decision will have an amazing impact on the success of your book.