Lulu is one of the oldest online self-publishing companies and a popular distributor of digital and print books. They retail books through their own bookstore as well as distribute to other online stores (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.) and book distributors (Barnes & Noble and Ingram). Lulu offers both hardcover and paperback formats for print books. Their ebook conversion, publishing, and distribution services are free, but they sell an array of support services including editing, cover design, and book marketing. For books sold through their marketplace, Lulu charges a 20% commission after deducting any book production costs applicable to print copies. Sales generated through partner retailers would additionally attract their own commission.

Streetlib self-publishing company

Top 10 Self-Publishing Companies:
A 2018 Guide for First-Time Authors

Self-published books now account for 30% to 40% of ebook sales. Ebooks themselves make up close to 40% of all books sold, and in 2018 they are set to outsell print books in the US. All this bodes well for self-publishing authors, for whom ebooks are the preferred format. They will continue to see a healthy growth in sales as more and more people adopt e-reading. Self-publishers are also benefiting as customers switch over from brick-and-mortar bookstores to online ones like Amazon, which put self-publishers on a level footing with traditional publishers.

If you are still wondering whether to self-publish or take the traditional route, you may read through the pros and cons of each option. In case you decide to self-publish, we have put together a list of publishing service companies that are popular among independent authors. The basic services that these companies provide are manuscript conversion into publishing-ready formats and access to one or more retail platforms. Some companies even offer a range of author solutions such as professional book editing and cover design, enhanced distribution, and marketing and promotional assistance.

This is Amazon’s publishing platform for print books and uses print-on-demand publishing, where no stocks are held—a book is printed only when a customer places an order.
Books published with CreateSpace retail exclusively on Amazon, unless the author has opted into their Expanded Distribution program. Under this program, authors can make their books available to online and offline retailers such as Barnes & Noble, and to distributors such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. On being added to the distributors’ catalogs, the appear in the ordering systems of the distrubutors’ network of retailers, libraries, and academic institutions, and can be ordered whenever a customer places a request at any of these places.
Amazon gives customers a better browsing and purchase experience by linking a book’s paperback and digital versions during the publishing process, provided the details of both versions match exactly.
Amazon takes a 40% cut from every regular sale, and 60% from sales made through their Expanded Distribution program. Royalty is paid after deducting Amazon’s commission (40% or 60%), a fixed charge, and a per-page charge from the book’s list price. Note that CreateSpace does not at present offer the hardcover format.

Apple’s iBooks is the second-biggest ebook retailer after Amazon, accounting for 10% of sales in the top 5 countries. Its more than 40 country-specific ebook stores give unique benefits to authors: They can price their books differently in each country depending on the prices of comparable books, and even set prices in the local currency. Moreover, authors can schedule free book and discount offers anytime, and there is no exclusive distribution contract.
To publish directly on iBooks, you must have a Mac device; else you will have to go through an ebook aggregator.
Apple offers a flat 70% royalty rate.

Formerly known as NOOK Press, this is a self-publishing portal from Barnes & Noble. It accounts for 3% of ebook sales, almost all of it from the US. It also offers print-on-demand publishing. Books published with Barnes & Noble Press retail only at their online and physical bookstores.
Royalty rates range from 40% to 65%, depending on the price of the book.

An anagram of “book,” Kobo accounts for about 2% of total ebook sales in the top 5 English-language markets combined. It is a significant player in Canada, though, where it accounts for as much as 25% of ebook sales.
Like the Kindle, Kobo offers an e-reading device as well as an app for reading on other devices. Ebooks published with Kobo are available to readers in over 190 countries. It also runs the Kobo eReading Program with the American Booksellers Association, and member bookstores can give their customers access to Kobo’s 5 million+ titles. Kobo also has partnerships with e-book retailers around the world.
LRoyalty rates are either 45% or 70%, depending on the ebook’s price.

This is a self-publishing service established by Ingram, the world’s leading distributor of print books connected to 39,000 bookstores, libraries, and online retailers in more than 150 countries. IngramSpark also distributes ebooks to all the top online retailers, including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
They publish hardcover books, and even offer a premium level of printing—this is useful for books containing many pictures. They also offer authors a book returns option; authors who opt in stand a better chance of being stocked by brick-and-mortar booksellers, who are otherwise reluctant to carry self-published titles.
IngramSpark charges a 53% commission for sales to bookstores and 30% to online retailers, after deducting book production costs. They also charge a $49 set-up fee and $12 annual fee.

Author Services for Self-Publishing Authors

Now, if you haven’t gotten as far in the publishing process as the actual publishing bit, and you’re still concerned with the editing, design, and formatting of your book, then perhaps the companies above don’t quite match what you’re looking for. Thankfully, there’s one place where you can access world-class talent to take care of all three — and you’re already there 😉.

10. Reedsy

A marketplace for freelance publishing professionals, Reedsy is where authors can connect with editors and designers with years of relevant experience in traditional publishing. Each professional sets their own rate — you can get quotes from up to five of them a time and find the ones that best suit your needs and budget.

Give your book the professional edge.

Maximizing Your Sales

  • If you check the ebook bestseller lists, you’ll see that independent novelists charge very little for their work, often somewhere between 99 cents and 5000.99. Some argue this devalues the work, while others say that it’s appropriate for an ebook from an unknown author. Whatever your perspective, just understand that, if you’re an unknown author, your competition will probably be priced at 5000.99 or less to encourage readers to take a chance. Typically, the more well known or trusted you are, the more you can charge. Note: Nonfiction authors should price according to the competition and what the market can bear. Sometimes prices are just as high for digital editions as print editions in nonfiction categories.
  • Your Amazon page may be the first and only page a reader looks at when deciding whether to purchase your book. Optimization of this page—the marketing description, the book cover, your author bio, the reviews, and more—is critical for driving sales.
  • Giveaways are an important part of ebook marketing and sales strategy for indie authors. I comment more on that here.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.



If you self-publish your book, you are not going to be writing for a living. You are going to be marketing for a living. Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing. The self-published author who came to my blog to preach the virtues of his path, claiming to make five figures a month from Kindle sales of his 11 novels, puts his writing time percentage in single figures. If that sounds like fun to you, be my guest. But if your passion is creating worlds and characters, telling great stories, and/or revelling in language, you might want to aim for traditional publication.


Benefits of Self-Publishing

No Gatekeepers

Higher Margins

Not only are the barriers to entry lower, but the margins are higher. When you work with a traditional publisher, they have to take their cut. By self-publishing your own book, you can earn more for each book that you sell.

More Control

When you self-publish, you own your work and have complete control over the publishing process. For a lot of authors who have poured their hearts and souls into writing a book, it’s very important for them to have power to make decisions throughout the publishing process.

Equal Quality

As technology has improved, self-published authors now have access to high-quality printing and book distribution networks similar to traditionally published authors. Your self-published book will look like the other books on the shelves.

So what are you waiting for?
Let’s learn more about how to publish a book yourself.

8 Steps to
Self-Publishing a Book

Join IngramSpark

Different types of editing

Manuscript Critique
This is a high-level examination of your manuscript. It looks at things like narrative voice, plot, and character development. With this type of critique, editors give feedback on items that will help improve your overall story.

Comprehensive Edit / Line Edit
A comprehensive edit addresses structural issues (similar to a manuscript critique), but it also involves a line edit, which looks closely at writing style and language. With a line edit, an editor focuses on the use of language to communicate your story to a reader.

A copyedit is often confused with a line edit, but they’re very different steps in the editing process. A copyedit reviews technical flaws—issues with spelling, grammar, and punctuation—and looks for internal inconsistencies throughout the text.

This is the final step in the editing process. A proofreader examines the final copy of the manuscript (usually after typesetting) for any awkward page breaks, and he or she might perform some light copyediting.


One-on-One SPS Action Calls

Group SPS Coaching Calls

Available 5 Days Every Week with Our SPS Team of “Bestselling Author Coaches” in an intimate setting to ask your burning questions, connect with other authors, and get solutions to questions that you didn’t even know you had.

Live Weekly Q&A Action Calls With Chandler Bolt

Comprehensive Online Training Program

Done For You | Professional Formatting

Done For You | Professional Cover Design

Publishing & Worldwide Distribution

Amazon Optimization Package for SEO

1 Year Exclusive Access to Our SPS Mastermind Community

Over 800,000 in Exclusive SPS Author Discounts

Lifetime Program Access

Advanced Inner Circle Mastermind

Sell More Books Bootcamp

SPS Global Book Promotion Package

Social Media Marketing Mastery for Authors Mini-Course

Done For You | High Converting Professional Author Website

Done For You | Professionally Designed Lead Magnet

Done For You | Email Made Easy



“I’m not usually big on promoting people’s programs, but Chandler Bolt is the one exception, because I believe so strongly in what he does for people. I recommend checking out Self-Publishing School if writing a book to become a bestselling author is something you really want to do.”


“At least 100 people followed through and wrote me a review, shared it on social media, and that was the biggest thing—that strategy came from you and that was what sold 10,000 copies of my book in the first couple months.


“I started to write a book six or seven years ago and it just sat in my drawer. I didn’t know what to do with it or how to publish it, and then I discovered Self-Publishing School. I published in September of 2017 and as of September 2019, I have hit 10,000 units sold.


“I have done more for my book, marketing and brand as an Author in the last 3 weeks with SPS, than I did in the last 5 years by myself. I love the honesty and integrity of all the staff I’ve encountered. SPS is changing my life!!”


“When I first started, I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of writing a book. Now, not only am I a bestselling author, but I added an additional $30,000 in income in my first month alone from royalties and leads.”



You can forget Hay festival and the Booker

Traditional publishing is the only way to go for someone who writes literary fiction. With genre fiction, self-publishing can turn you into a successful author (if you can build a platform, if you enjoy marketing and are good at it, if you are lucky). But an author who writes literary fiction is dependent on critical acclaim and literary prizes to build their reputation and following. If genre fiction is chart music, literary fiction is opera: the audience is small, and there are limited ways to reach it. Self-published books are not eligible for major prizes like the Baileys, the Costa and the Man Booker, and getting shortlisted for major prizes is the only way a literary novel will become a bestseller. The chance of a self-published novelist getting their book reviewed in the mainstream press is the same as the chance of my dog not eating a sausage. The chance of an indie author being booked for a major literature festival? Donald Trump apologising to Mexico.

Good writers need even better editors. They need brilliant cover designers. They need imaginative marketers and well-connected publicists. All these things are provided by a traditional publisher, and what’s more, it doesn’t cost you a penny. They pay you! If a self-published author wants to avoid looking like an amateur, they’d better be prepared to shell out some serious dosh to get professional help in all the areas where they don’t excel. And I mean serious. Paying some poor bugger in the Philippines a fiver, or bunging £50 to your PhotoShopping nephew will not result in a distinctive, professional-looking cover. And don’t get me started on the value of good editors, copy-editors and proof-readers, and how many times they have saved me from looking like a twonk. Providing these services to indie authors is a lucrative business. Indeed, many indie authors keep themselves afloat financially by offering these services to other indie authors: the new “authorpreneur” pyramid scheme. Which is all very well if what you’ve always wanted to do is start your own writing-related business. But if you’d rather be an author, why not practice your skill until you’ve written something a publisher will pay for? And enjoy the fact they’ll also foot the bill for everything else.

70% of nothing is nothing

I do not earn much as a traditionally published author but I earn more than I did as a self-publisher. I published 7 books in 4 years and in that time only one of them went into profit – and that less than £100. And before anyone says it’s because I didn’t work hard enough, my friends and family who barely saw me for 4 years will tell you that I worked my butt off. So hard in fact that I attracted the attention of two separate traditional publishers who took me on (one for my adult books, one for my children’s books).

I could no longer take the feeling of inadequacy every time I read an article by a self-publishing success story telling me if only I worked harder and smarter, did all the right social media promotions, spent 90% of my time marketing and only 10% writing – oh and subscribed to their blog or downloaded their latest how-to manual – I too could earn at least 5 figures a month. But the reality is, of dozens of self-publishers I knew, I was probably the most successful.”

She has just sold Korean translation rights to her children’s books, which illustrates another benefit of traditional publishing. Publishers and agents have reach. With access to proper distribution networks, they can get physical books into real bookshops. They can represent you at the major book fairs and sell your books to international markets.

Self-publishing? It generates a lot of noise on social media. It results in many flashy-looking websites from authorpreneurs keen to sell success secrets to other aspiring authorpreneurs. With Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace as the major outlets, it continues to put money in the coffers of the company largely responsible for destroying author incomes in the first place. But it isn’t a route to financial security. For those who prefer orchestrated backing to blowing their own trumpet, who’d privilege running a narrative scenario over running a small business, who’d rather write adventures than adverts, self-publishing is not the answer.



Both types of companies differ from traditional publishers in that the writer, not a company, is the publisher of the book. The writer invests in his or her own work, absorbing all losses, enjoying all benefits, and retaining the ownership and distribution rights of the book. The writer is responsible for marketing and distribution. Typically, distributors, bookstores, and libraries won’t carry self-published books. Furthermore, some book reviewers won’t review them. Slowly this is changing (visit our Book Review Outlets database) and self-publishing has been receiving more attention in the national media.

KDP Select Enrollment box


Self-publishing is an option pursued by poets and writers who feel that traditional publishing—for whatever reason—isn’t for them. Though the option does allow for greater independence and creative freedom, it also requires self-discipline, professional diligence, and a realistic understanding of the literary landscape.

Before deciding to self-publish, writers should understand the colorful and complicated history of self-publishing. The past two decades in particular have brought massive changes to traditional and self-publishing, largely because advances in technology have transformed the way consumers shop for, purchase, and read books—and e-books.

Traditional publishing once owned nearly every facet of the book making and book marketing business models, from agents vetting manuscripts to sales strategists determining which books land coveted spaces in the glowing windows of major bookstores. Thanks to the digital revolution, however, today’s writers—regardless of their publishing history, sales potential, or skill level—can write, publish, and market books on their own.

While many readers and writers celebrate the limitless possibilities that self-publishing offers underappreciated and overlooked writers, others view self-publishing as a chaotic, lawless realm overrun with unskilled, unprofessional writers. A convincing case can be made from either perspective. The truth—as is often the case in such disputes—is in the middle: Self-publishing is for literary heroes and literary hacks alike, and probably always will be. Where you as a writer fall in that spectrum is entirely up to you.

Other Frequently Asked Questions about Self-Publishing on Amazon

Can You Use a Traditional Publisher after Being on Amazon

Yes, so long as you retained the rights to your book. However, it can be difficult for a few reasons. If your book hasn’t produced the kinds of sales a traditional publisher wants to see (usually because you haven’t marketed and promoted your book well), they’re far less likely to be interested unless something unique convinces them it still has great commercial potential.

Amazon Book Publishing Software

Amazon recommends Kindle Create, their free interior formatting tool available for desktop on both Mac and PC. Kindle Create can be used to create novels, essays, memoirs (Reflowable); textbooks, travel books, and cookbooks (Interactive Print Replica); and Comics (Comics with Guided View).

How to Publish a Book in 2022

#1 – Decide Why You Want to Learn How to Publish a Book

Action Plan:

#2 – Write Your Book

#3 – Get Feedback on Your Book Before Publishing

As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.

Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear, like in the example below.

publishing a book feedback

Action Plan:

#4 – Choose a Book Title

This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” because you’re trying so hard to align your story to the title of the book instead of writing what needs to be written.

book title checklist

Action Plan:

Once you’ve narrowed down your book titles, send out an email to your friends and family or put a poll up to your audience asking what title they’d prefer. You could also ask a community of other authors what they think.

#5 – Hire a Great Book Editor

how to publish a book choosing editor

Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you.

Action Plan:

#6 – Design a Book Cover that Converts

book cover ideas

So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category. With our new done-for-you cover design services, we can actually handle your book’s design in-house. You can click here to book a call with our team and find out more about these done-for-you services.

Action Plan:

#7 – Create Your Kindle Direct Self-Publishing Account

self publish with kdp

Action Plan:

#8 – Format Your Self-Published Book

We can also handle the formatting of your book in-house. If that’s something that interests you, book a call to find out more. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of resources online that can tell you how to format your book yourself for free.

how to publish a book fiction vs nonfiction

Action Plan:

#9 – Self-Publish Your Book

To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose. We can also help you with this in some of our core offer programs.

build an author profile

Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.

Is it free to publish a book on Amazon?

#10 – Price Your Book

Then I would set the price to 2.99, and I would moderately increase the price by 800 every week and measure how well the new price performs. Once you see a sales dip, that will determine the exact price of your book that will guarantee book sales.



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