If you are going through a traditional publisher, you give them your book baby and they work with you to make it into something they believe will sell. Then they take care of the details, making sure it hits the stores. But what if you are self-publishing? You hear of so many companies in the industry who can ‘help’ but it can feel overwhelming. Let’s look at some of the big players and how they can help you if you want to self-publish your book.
Founded 2013, Ingram Spark is a self-publishing company. Really, they print and distribute your book for you. They use a print on demand model so once you have completed your book and uploaded it to their site, they hold on to the files. When you or someone else wants a copy of your book, they print and send it. No need to have 50,000 copies in your garage, which thankfully is an old model for self-publishing. Ingram Spark is connected to many online and physical stores around the world. If you want the widest reach, consider Ingram Spark as your distributor. Do note though that if you are not a designer, this service might be hard to use. You will probably need to hire someone to format and upload your book though.
The biggest rival to Ingram Spark, they print and distribute books and posters and magazines and other products. They also use a print on demand model and have a global reach. They will also print beautiful photo books and have templates ready for you to use. So they offer a bit more than Ingram Spark if you are looking to offer a visually appealing book, and charge more than Ingram Spark. Ingram Spark still has a larger global network.
Lulu is competitor number 2 to Ingram Spark. They do all the same things as Ingram Spark and Blurb plus they have their own bookstore. Not sure how successful the bookstore is, but it is an extra service they offer their authors. I also like their option to sell your book on your site which is a prominent choice, and they have their own Luluapi to integrate into your website. Neither Ingram Spark nor Blurb offer this at the time of this writing.
Smashwords tout themselves the largest distributors of indie eBooks. They only deal with eBooks, not print books. If all you want is an eBook, consider them as an option, as this is what they specialize in. Like Lulu they have their own store from which you can sell your book, offering several free marketing tools to go along with that.
BookBaby is more of a complete package deal, offering editing, book design, as well as printing and distribution options. Since they use Ingram Sparks, you will pay more for their distribution services. If you want a one stop shop for editing, design, printing, and distribution, and will pay for the convenience, this might be the right option for you.
Kindle Direct Publishing
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which no doubt you have heard of is part of Amazon. Like all the above they are a Print on Demand service. If you want your book on Amazon, this is the place for you. They have Amazon specific promotion tools for you as well. That said, you can also distribute your book through KDP to other non-Amazon book sellers but beware of the fees. Depending on your goals and your budget, one company might be best for you, while another might be best for someone else. Decide based on your needs. Don’t do what your friend did or what someone on social media swears is the best option. If you aren’t sure, ask for a consult with an independent publishing consultant who can help you make the best choice for you.
– Keep writing
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