Self-Publishing Companies–Best & Worst
By Deborah S Nelson, Author-Book Coach-Speaker
So, you think you want to publish a book? Are you shopping for a company to print your book? Are you thinking of publishing a book yourself? This article will cover the basics—self-publishing companies to avoid, best self-publishing companies, and other types of self-publishing companies.
Before we explore self-publishing companies with their pros and cons, let’s first learn exactly what self-publishing is. With the advent of digital publishing, self-publishing is a growing trend. Indeed, how books are published, distributed, marketed and sold has changed with the digital printing presses, digital art files, and print on demand (POD). Before we discuss the best fit of self-publishing companies for your project, let’s look at a few definitions.
Traditional Publishing Companies
Traditional publishing is a vanishing model which has served a privileged few. The main criteria for a traditional publishing company to accept your manuscript for publication, is more about marketability than the quality of writing. When I worked at a publishing company, I saw manuscripts selected for publishing. At first, selections seemed random. As it turned out. the decisions of whom or what to publish was merely a financial decision. And, you really can’t blame them for this. Traditional book pubishing is very expensive. With offset printing, a first run of 10-25K books is necessary (depending on the project). These high print runs make the cost per book affordable in the retail market. Obviously, a publisher must be assured that the first run will sell–just to break even.
Vanity Publishing Companies
Vanity publishing was a label, I suspect, coined by snobbish leader working in one of the old giant publishing houses. This form of publishing is the original “self-publishing.” When writers who wanted to publish their books could not readily find a publishing company to back and publish their book–an option was to hire a vanity press–usually a short run book printer, to print their book.
Of course, this costs some money. However, vanity publishers were adept at handling all the parts of printing a book, including the cover, collating, and book binding. Having a book published this way, historically was frowned upon by academica; and the established publishing authority. Consquently, this feeling prevailed thoughout the culture of readers to this day. To use a vanity publisher to publish a book was almost an embarrassment. Only the most determined, brazen, wealthy and egocentric authors went this route.
Self-Publishing with Short Run Printing
Publishing take many steps and processes, much like building a home. Most often, a general contractor is hired to oversee the project. So, too, with a traditional publishing company, and vanity press, someone inside oversees the phases of publishing a book. And, when self-publishing, the author dons the hat of a general contractor.
Often, when self-publishing, an author will choose to print a short run of books. Many new short run printing companies specialize in printing books for individual authors. Using digital printing for four-color covers makes it possible to print a smaller number of books at reasonable cost per book. This is a great option for speaker/authors with a circle of influence. If you are a pastor, teacher, or motivational speaker, you may find self-publishing an easy and quick way to bring books to your fans and following.
Print on Demand Publishing Companies
Print on demand is the most amazing and miraculous option for self-publishing available. I personally equate the print on demand publishing breakthrough with invention of the printing press! Ironically, the print on demand method makes the old-fashioned printing press obsolete!
Print on demand allows you to prepare the digital book file, (no simple task, mind you), upload to the digital publishing company; and when a book is bought, it is printed then and there with a daily batch of other POD books, and shipped within 3-5 days. This is what I suggest to anyone who wants their book on Amazon.com for sale. However, if you want to publish the next great American novel, or want to see your books in all the bookstores, print on demand or self-publishing is not the publishing model for you. But, if you want to get your book out quickly, and make it available to those who buy books online (73% of physical books are being bought online now); then print on demand is the most inexpensive, most efficient way to go!
After all is said and done, I see self-publishing in the highest light. As creative beings, we all have a story to tell. The chance to write and publish your story, or your inspiration, wisdom, craft, professional experience, advice, calling, or legacy is here and now! We can now share with our circle of influence whatever we bring to this planet in a personal and powerful way.
However, this need to share has nothing to do with spelling or crafting the words correctly, and everything to do with what you want to share. A friend of mine once said: “The Internet is the writer’s revenge.” We all have a chance to speak our truth now. There are no barriers, anymore.
To be a published author, you no longer must acheive a certain educational level, or be an established celebrity. Or, you will not need a connection inside a publishing company. What you have to say is valuable. Many people may be listening, or maybe just a few. No matter—as a published author you have impacted your world with your truth. This is what I call Publishing Solo! Inspiration and impact is the highest calling of all writers, authors, and publishers.
Talking About Self-Publishing Companies
Which are the worst self-publishing companies? What ones are best for your book project? Understand that the answer mostly depends on the type of book project you are doing–a children’s book, 4-color photography book, or a novel. Selecting a printer is not just about reviews, rankings and ratings! I can tell you that the most trustworthy and established self-publishing companies include Lulu, Createspace, Amazon, Outskirts Press, Lightening Press and Authorhouse. The arm for self-publishing on Amazon is CreateSpace. All these companies are well-established and use systems that makes self-publishing fast and doable.
Be Aware of Low Entry Point in Self-Publishing
To start off, I offer a warning with any of these publishing companies–highly reviewed and reputable or not! Although the companies offer a low entry point, some advertise “self publish for free,” publishing a book is not free. Notably, printing is only one of a multitude of publishing functions. Therefore, if you are inexperienced, you could be continutously and endlessly upcharged for self-publishing services. Moreover, you are trapped, and could quickly spend a fortune to finish your book–more than intended—like a house remodel gone bad!
Educate Yourself about Self-Publishing First
The best defense again scam self-pubishers, is to educate yourself. Yet, in your haste and excitement to publish your book, you may be pressured to use the “extra services.” Also, avoid using the “extra” services without careful study and shopping. The services who offer to create custom designed book covers, editing, proofreading, marketing, are quite high. If you use these services, unless your book is a run away best seller, you will have a hard time recovering your monies spent.
Self Publishing Services
In this article entitled: What are the Self-Publishing Services and Which is Really Needed? I thoroughly describe the self-publishing services in the market. I also recommend other resources and ways to get your cover, interior design and marketing services done at 50% of what these self publishing companies charge. Free is not really “free,” and these extra services is how they really make their bucks.
On the front end, they give you the initial self-publishing services for free. Yet, to prepare a digital file, book cover, back cover synopsis, interior design, content and copy editing, author bio and synopsis, and proofreading fees are shockingly high. Plus, these companies offer business cards, posters, and a host of marketing options that may not be needed at all. But, once hooked on seeing your book in print, the “piper” puts his hand out for your money. Buyer beware!
Comparing Printing & Publishing Companies
Although clients often ask me, it is hard to say which is the best self-publishing company for their book projects. It really depends. For example, if you are printing a four-color book, it is costly to self-publish with Amazon. In that case, you might consider a short print run company such as Outskirts Press, Lightening Source or Authorhouse for a four-color book project.
Try a Sample Run with Blurb Books
If unsure about printing a short run, but want to see your book in full color, first, try Blurb Books to make a one-off sample. Try their easy software to work out the bugs, then print one, to see the book in four-color. In this way, you may test the look and feel of the book, the cover, the layout, the writing, and the errors–all in person. Tweak it to perfection. Then, once your final book is complete, you may choose to print with a short run company like Lightening Source, Outskirts Press, or Authorhouse. If you need a black and white interior with a four-color cover, print on demand such as Createspace or Lulu are great! Indeed, these are a great choice since print on demand prints only when a book is purchased. You need not carry inventory with POD.
Notably, print on demand online sales systems charge the buyer shipping and printing costs, and then, drop ship the books on your behalf. However, these arms subtract about 40% standard commission. Should you decide to hire a short run printer; and then market and ship the books yourself, you take on the role of sales and distribution. In that case, you will earn a sales commission yourself.
Publish Your Book Blueprint
Book Coach Deborah S. Nelson offers a course and book titled: Publish Your Book Blueprint in a Week. In the workbook, she teaches how to publish your book concept in a week–or at your own pace. Therefore, you learn the best book publishing approaches and companies for your book project. Moreoever, once printed, your book concept includes a first draft book cover. Also, you will develop your book interior in a handy journal-style layout of front matter, the body, and back matter of the book. Plus, you will pick the book interior elements and place them in the correct order. You then, can fill in the pieces (such as preface, index, etc.) as you plan the structure of your book.
To conclude, Ms. Nelson is the author and publisher of 11 books, including The Newest Secret, Vacation Rental Owner’s Manual, Do-it-Yourself Vacation Rental Branding, The Vacation Rental Travel Guide Series, as well as Author Your Reality series. Finally, as a book coach, she has guided over 100 works to publish, by aspiring and established authors.
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