Self-Publishing Services: An Overview

A Round Up of Popular Self-Publishing Services

ereader against stack of books
Self-Publishing Platforms. John Lamb / Getty Images

You’ve done your self-publishing research and read the self-publishing success stories—and now you’d like to know more about your options.

Here’s a handy overview of some of the most popular self-publishing services. Each has their own pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, and proprietary features.

Blurb

High-Quality Designed & Illustrated Self-Published Books
Blurb offers print-on-demand services and seems especially suitable for highly visual, "bookstore quality" books.

As a testament to Blurb's popularity for visual artists, it was the service of choice for photojournalist Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post - he used Blurb to print his Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of photos of Ian Fisher, a young soldier sent to Iraq. Blurb also has a collaboration with Adobe Systems, featuring built-in Blurb bookmaking functionality within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. This feature makes the process of book creation turnkey for those photographers and visual artists already using and/or conversant with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. 

BookBaby

Got Its Start In An Indie Music Company
BookBaby seems friendly and accessible and offers up a number of free marketing resources, along with a friendly blog that dispenses regular advice. 

CreateSpace

Amazon.com’s CreateSpace Paperback Self-Publishing Service
Through CreateSpace, self-publishing authors can set up a basic book with no initial costs and get seamless access to its parent company, Amazon.com's, powerful book distribution and merchandising channel.

CreateSpace claims to offer "some of the highest royalties in the industry," as well as an easy ebook conversion through its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) electronic publishing program (see below). 

iUniverse

iUniverse Guided Self-Publishing from an Author Solutions company
iUniverse uses the term "guided self-publishing" to describe its robust range of DIY publishing services, which are laid out much the same way as in a traditional publisher—at a la carte and package prices.

If you want to see your book available both in print and in ebook formats, represented in stores and maybe even in the media--and are willing to pay for the privilege--consider iUniverse.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Self-Publishing eBooks with Amazon’s KDP
Kindle Direct Publishing offers ebook-only publishing and the advantages of Amazon.com’s online distribution power. 

Kobo Writing Life

Kobo’s "Reading Life" Extends to Self-Published eBook Authors
The Japanese-based cross-platform ereading service Kobo launched the​ Kobo Writing Life ebook publishing service in Beta in June 2012. Offering key reader insights and marketing tools gleaned from their capabilities, the Kobo Writing Life aims to be “Best in Class,” helping self-published authors to “engage with fans on a global scale” through their ereading service, and puts all aspects of publishing (setting prices, advertising, marketing) “in the hands of the writers helping them to maximize sales.”

Lulu.com

Popular Lulu.com a Wide Array of Self-Publishing Print and eBook Options
Lulu.com is a very popular self-publishing service that offers both print-on-demand book and ebook digital development capabilities and a wide array of publishing support options.

The author picks the package and the price, and promotion is available through Lulu.com.

NOOK Press

Barnes & Noble’s eBook Self-Publishing Platform
NOOK Press, from the major book retailer Barnes & Noble, offers the distribution of barnesandnoble.com and some of the useful promotional features of being associated with a major brick-and-mortar store. With NOOK Press, there are no upfront costs and competitive royalty rates.​

Smashwords

A True “Indie” eBook Self-Publishing Experience
With Smashwords, the author is considered to be the publisher of his or her own ebook. Unlike some other ebook self-publishing services, Smashwords allows its authors a great measure of control over pricing, and over access to the work. To exploit the Smashwords’ service to the fullest requires the author to take a good deal of responsibility for the quality of the work uploaded to the service, as well as be fully engaged in other aspects of the process.