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A Guide to the Top 6 Self-Publishing Companies: Tools for Writers Series

Guide to top 6 self-publishing companies

Hooray! You've written a book, which is a goal that most people want to achieve but few actually do. Now, it's time to publish your work.

You have options.

The first option is to go with a traditional publisher. If you choose this option, you'll need to find a literary agent and then attract a traditional publisher. This is the standard way of getting your book published and it has its pros and cons. We've discussed the ins and outs of traditional publishing before, which you can check out here.

Here's the bottom line: traditional publishing gives you a lot of support when it comes to editing, packaging, and marketing your book, but it's extremely competitive. You may not get an agent. You may not get a publisher. And, despite everyone's best efforts, your book may not sell. But you won't have to pay for publishing and going with a traditional publisher is your best bet for getting your book into a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Your other option is to self-publish. Self-publishing isn't what it used to be. Back in the day, self-publishing meant that you paid a print shop to print X copies of your book. Then, the entire burden was on you to promote and distribute your book.

That's no longer the case.

Modern desktop publishing means that authors can create and design an entire manuscript with the help of free software like Google Docs.

top self-publishing companies

Self-published books rarely make it to bookstores. But that's not a big deal because self-published authors can use the internet as a direct-to-consumer distribution channel. Who doesn't shop for books on Amazon these days?

But when it comes to self-publishing, you don't have to do all of the heavy lifting. You can work with a self-publishing company to turn your manuscript into a published book. This is known as “assisted self-publishing” and is a relief for writers who want to self-publish but don't have the time or inclination to do every single thing. It can be overwhelming to edit your drafts, format the manuscript, design a book cover, market your book, and get it in front of buyers, especially when you don't know where to start.

If you're looking for help, consider working with a one-stop-shop self-publishing company. These companies offer a variety of services to assist authors, from registering your book to creating a promotional video trailer.

With assisted publishing, you will pay for publishing. Despite the company's marketing promises, it's unlikely that your book will make it into a brick-and-mortar bookstore. The biggest benefit of working with a one-stop-shop self-publishing company is that you don't have to do everything by yourself. You can rely on the professionals at the self-publishing company to do the production.

(Assisted publishing is different from true DIY self-publishing where you oversee the entire process from writing to designing to distributing. DIY self-publishing is more involved and complicated but gives you the most control.)

Looking for a one-stop-shop self-publishing company? Don't sign up with the first one you see. Be careful of unscrupulous companies looking to scam you out of your money.

In this post, we'll help you compare one-stop-shop self-publishers. Let’s get started.

Why should you work with an assisted self-publishing company instead of doing it alone?

These are three main benefits of working with an assisted self-publishing company:

It saves time. Publishing a book requires a huge investment of time. If you don’t have any time to spare, it makes sense to hire a company that can do it for you.

Getting assistance in self-publishing your book is a fine idea. However, scams abound and it’s important to go into this process with realistic expectations.

It saves sanity. Book publishing is also complicated. If you aren’t interested in learning an entirely new skillset (e.g. book publishing), pay someone else to do it for you.

top self-publishing companies


It makes sense for the one-time-only author. If you’re not interested in writing more than one book (for example, you may only wish to write a family memoir for posterity), there’s no need to learn how to self-publish. It’s definitely a good idea to go with an assisted self-publishing company that can take your written manuscript and turn it into a published book.

What should you look for in an assisted self-publishing company?

Now that you’re leaning toward an assisted self-publishing company, look for a self-publishing company that:

Has a transparent fee - Most assisted self-publishing companies charge an upfront fee, and all should be transparent with the prices for their services. Steer clear of companies that ask you to email them for a quote.

Claims no rights to your work - You’re self-publishing which means that you should retain all rights to your work.

Top 6 Assisted Self-Publishing Companies

Here are our top picks for quality self-publishing service providers. All of these companies will help you with print and ebook formatting, design, and distribution.

  1. Blurb - Blurb offers a one-stop-shop to help you create, sell, and distribute your book. You can opt to self-publish or work with one of their approved experts to develop your book. Services include layout, ghostwriting, cover design, and marketing. You'll have to work with individual service providers, such as book cover designers, ghostwriters, and publicists, to get the exact quote. Learn more here.
  2. BookBaby - BookBaby stands behind its service with a 100% satisfaction guarantee that includes cover design and book printing. You can choose between three self-publishing packages that range from $890 to $2,290. All packages include 23 softcover books, two ISBN barcodes, ebook conversion and distribution, and print-on-demand distribution. If you need a cover design, interior formatting, and marketing help, you'll need to opt for the more expensive packages. Learn more here.
  3. Draft2Digital - Draft2Digital does not charge fees for formatting your book. Instead, they collect a distribution fee of 10% of the book's retail price. That said, Draft2Digital does not dictate pricing. You are free to set your book's price to anything you want, including $0. Draft2Digital formats your manuscript and will distribute your book to stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also track sales through Draft2Digital. You choose a design from a premade template, and Draft2Digital provides ISBNs free of charge. Don't worry, Draft2Digital does not acquire any rights to your book. However, because there are no upfront costs or service packages, you may not receive the same robust options as you would from another assisted self-publishing company. Learn more here.
  4. Gatekeeper Press - Gatekeeper Press has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+ and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. With transparent pricing and easy-to-understand descriptions of services, Gatekeeper Press is a good option for many new authors. In addition to a la carte pricing, you can opt for a package deal, which ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 for a standard 200-page book. (You'll pay $1 per page for every page beyond 200.) Both packages include copyright, eBook, paperback, hardcover, and cover design. You will also receive four free paperback copies. Learn more here.
  5. Lulu - Lulu is one of the most popular self-publishing companies because it allows users to customize their experience in many ways. For example, it offers a staggering 3,000+ style combinations. You can choose to create many types of products, from standard novels to comic books. While Lulu itself does not provide full-service assistance, it does partner with other services that can help you complete the design of your book. Learn more here.
  6. StreetLib - Similar to Draft2Digital, StreetLib doesn't ask for upfront costs. Instead, StreetLib earns a distribution fee on print and ebooks. Expect to pay 10% on the cover price for ebooks, 20% for audiobooks, and 10% plus a one-off activation cost of € 49 ($55 USD) for a print book. All StreetLib packages include free ISBN codes and Monday-Friday email support. You can add other services, such as audiobook production and cover design. Learn more here.

Final Thoughts

Getting assistance in self-publishing your book is a fine idea. There are many great companies to guide you through the process without requiring you to learn an entirely new skillset. However, scams abound and it’s important to go into this process with realistic expectations. One-stop-shop self-publishing companies can help you turn your manuscript into a printed and bound book, but they won’t determine whether your book sells. Only you can do that.

Here are more resources to help! Check out these book marketing posts:

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