Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “if, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing . . . then you are a writer.” But once you are done putting your thoughts on the paper, the next important step is to publish your work. When we think about publishing a book, we can get stuck between self and traditional publishing. Going with the traditional, big publishing houses such as Random House, HarperCollins, and Penguin might look like an easy bet, but making the cut is fairly difficult. According to Forbes, around a million new books get published every year in the United States alone, which makes the task of getting your book published in the traditional manner even more daunting. Most publishers will also tell that they receive 1,000 to 2,000 query letters every month. This shows that only a small percentage of the submissions make it to the publishing stage. Also, only because you’ve been contacted by a publishing house does not mean that your book would garner maximum revenue. So, unless you’re destined to become the best-selling book of the year, you should be either content with selling a handful of your book copies or start marketing your book on your own. So, if you are an author and want to have your book published and get noticed, why not have it self-published?
Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing
Self-publishing allows the author to be in control of the literary content as well as the book selling process. As a self-publishing author, you are on your own and responsible for marketing and distribution, as well as for the capital investment required; however, the best part is that the maximum amount of your profit is yours. On the contrary, traditional publishing is where the publishing house prints, and sells the books through various retailers and booksellers. Here, the publishing house bags the maximum amount of the revenue generated from the sale of the book, also because the entire invested capital comes from the publishers in traditional publishing.
With more and more writers choosing their own ways of marketing and promoting their work, the concept of self-publishing is becoming the buzzword in the book’s world. Here are the top 7 self-publishing companies in the world for you to choose from:
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Amazon accounts for 80% of the eBook sales in English-speaking countries. Without a doubt, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) remains one of the top self-publishing platforms among authors for eBooks. The platform allows authors in converting and selling their books to a wide range of reader base. A striking feature of KDP is the 90-day exclusive deal on digital distribution wherein the books are available in the Kindle Lending Library. This lets the Amazon Prime members in checking out the books free of cost and with no due dates. Also, the author receives the royalties for every borrowed book.
Comparatively a new kid on the block, Draft2Digital is an aggregator that has already been making news with its services and market reach. Draft2Digital helps in converting your book and distributing it across various retailers such as Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. If you are looking to publish your book and make it available on a wider scale within a short time period, then this is a great choice. The easy-to-use interface of Draft2Digital has made it a preferred choice among authors.
One of the most popular sites known for self-publishing books, Lulu is best known for its attention to detail. The company comes up with more than 1000 book titles every day, which speaks for the volume they work with and the market reach. With a wide range of services offered at Lulu, you can simply consider them for everything – right from proofreading to marketing.
Although Kobo only has 2% of the current eBook market, one of the reasons why it made to the list of top self-publishing companies is its international sales. Once you upload your book to Boko, the platform makes your book available in 190 countries. They have a wider reach in Asia as compared to the United States and the United Kingdom. The royalty rates at Kobo are at 70% if the selling price of the book is anywhere between $1.99 to 12.99, and 45% if the price is outside this range.
- Book Baby
If you’re looking for value for money, then Book Baby is the self-publishing company for you. The simple process helps those who are not quite familiar with the digital self-publishing platforms. The packages start from as low as $99 and the site takes 0% commission from the book sales, which is an absolute treat. Moreover, if you are looking for an all-inclusive package – from proofreading and design services to eBook conversion and distribution, you can make the most of it, Book Baby helps you find it all.
Initiated in 2008, Smashwords is the oldest aggregator website and lets you distribute your book title to library networks such as Gardeners and numerous small-scale eBook retailers such as Baker and Taylor. As far as the pricing goes, Smashwords charges you 15% of the book sales you receive. Fairly speaking, some of the authors are loyal to this self-publishing company, whereas other authors prefer a more modern site such as Draft2Digital.
- Apple’s iBook’s Author
Accounting for 10% of the eBook market sales, Apple’s iBook’s Author is particularly an enticing self-publishing platform due to the popularity of the Apple products. iBooks offers a royalty rate of flat 70% across all territories and selling prices. The platform requires iTunes Producer program to run, which is exclusively available for a Mac. To get your book published on this platform, you either need to have a software to run Mac programs on your PC, borrow a Mac to publish your book or visit a third-party publisher such as Smashwords, Kobo, and Draft2Digital to help get through the publishing process.
Why is self-publishing gaining momentum?
As it becomes difficult to get your book published through traditional, popular publishing houses, authors across the globe have found self-publishing as something to look up to. Moreover, the penetration of the Internet in all walks of life, including book publishing, has helped authors explore opportunities with self-publishing. From Kindle Direct Publishing to online retailers and aggregators, self-publishing or “indie publishing” is becoming the talk of the town.
- A silver lining for aspiring authors
Due to the rising popularity of self-publishing and e-commerce platforms, authors need not wait for half a year to get their manuscript read by a publishing house. Online self-publishing platforms have made self-publishing a reliable and lucrative medium. With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, authors can upload their books, send it across to readers, and even make money out of it. The site that took the e-commerce world by a storm has also paved the way for reshaping how books are published and read. It is due to these mediums that aspiring and new authors can find self-publishing a great way to kickstart their writing careers.
- A boon for specific genres
Some of the genres work great through self-publishing. For instance, if you are a fiction writer, self-publishing is the way to go. This is because you can keep the maximum share of your profits with you as opposed to the 20% share under traditional publishing. Moreover, a cookbook would need aggressive marketing tactics to garner maximum sales, which is the specialty of traditional publishers and therefore would not be a great choice for self-publishing.
- Great prospects for author-preneurship
The present and future of self-publishing look bright thanks to the changing role of authors. In today’s hypercompetitive market, writers are constantly taking up the skills and responsibilities of a traditional publisher. This helps the writers to understand various stages of publishing along with learning different ways to use their books as a building block for multiple ways of income. Moreover, it is also due to the fragmentation of the media that led to the changing role of authors from being just the writers of the book to marketing and promoting it through various social media platforms. As authors now can meet and interact with their readers at literary fests and fairs, run their social media pages, and write blogs, they know their target audience well and no longer depend on the publishing houses alone to build the author-reader relationship. So, the prospects of authors in becoming entrepreneurs are continuing to grow.
- International sales have become a possibility
Initially, selling a book internationally would only be a dream for most of the authors as they wouldn’t find the way to get through the publishers to make this dream a reality. But today, due to the strong foothold and reach of international sales platforms such as Amazon that international sales through digital platforms have become possible. Moreover, the territorial rights of publishers are no longer seen as an important factor for authors. On the contrary, the traditional rights of the publishers such as not distributing a book in certain countries, are seen as a hindrance in the current marketplace.
What makes self-publishing a hit among authors?
- Quicker exposure
One of the notable advantages of self-publishing is the faster exposure that a book receives as opposed to traditional publishing that takes anywhere between 6 to 18 months to publish a book. Self-published books can enter the market in several months or less, whereas traditional publishing of books can take up to 1 to 2 years. Interestingly, with the Internet and various eBook platforms, you can publish your digital book within a few days, including all the completed processes. This means faster market reach and faster cash in your bank account.
- Higher creative control
Wouldn’t you like to have the creative control over your book’s content and appearance? Self-publishing is all about higher creative control over your book, which also means you need to spend extra hours making your book a must pick. Publishing houses need you the writers to comply with the requirements set by multiple parties involved in the book publishing, editors, promoters, as well as designers. This hampers the creative control of the writer over the content of the book. On the other hand, self-publishing lets the writer have complete control over the book throughout the stages of publishing. So, when you decide to self-publish, you can write the book, design the cover, and decide the marketing strategy.
- Greater networking opportunities
During the self-publishing process, a book goes through a number of stages. It is during this time that you would meet various people from research advertising and marketing fields, consider meeting up a few people for writing a press release or discuss your book with others. This entire journey would help you discover new avenues, which will offer you great networking opportunities. Not to forget, social media does come handy here, but your rigorous marketing and promotional activities would play a key role to network with the best.
- A longer shelf life
As compared to traditional publishing, self-published books have a longer shelf life. It is one of the biggest advantages of self-published books as they will find a longer period for its audience to find about the book’s release and market presence. Thanks to the online publishing platform that allows digital books to remain on the platform indefinitely, helping respective target audiences to find the books at the click of a mouse. On the contrary, when you have your book published through a popular publishing company, the book will only have a couple of months of shelf life. This is because the bookstores are constantly revamping their book inventory and bringing in newly published books. Moreover, the longer shelf life of self-publishing books helps newer writers who are yet to find their right target audience.
- Better royalties
One of the pros of having your book published is the royalty that you receive. Did you know that when a book gets published through a publishing house, maximum profit of the book sale goes to the publishing house? This leaves the author with a maximum of 10% to 15% of the selling price of the book sold, whereas an author can receive a maximum of 70% of the list price when it comes to self-publishing mediums. An interesting highlight – self-publishing through digital forums helps in retaining the rights for adaptations such as TV shows or films. Also, if at any point, the writer needs to revise the digital book, he or she can freely do so without any constraints by the platform where the book is published. When it comes to publishing houses and print-on-demand services, a writer may face constraints set by the publishing house, making revisions or other adaptation rights difficult.