Self-Publishing Sites: Five of the Best compared

413 books-pile thumb.jpgTen years ago, self-publishing was a bit embarassing, it was like you couldn’t get a traditional publisher interested so you just lumped along to somewhere you knew they’d have you. But with a bit of perspective on the phenomenon, and a pile of sucess stories, self-publishing through a website makes a lot of sense. You go through fewer hoops, the book is definitely published, you retain the rights and you get a bigger share of the royalties.

Perhaps you’ve just got something really niche and only want to publish a 1000 odd copies, (too small for a big publisher) or you just want to have a book as supplement to your business. You can lose money as well as making it and there’s a great article on the pitfalls of self-publishing here (there seem to be a lot), but whatever the reason, self-publishing is definitely a viable option.

We do a quick run-down of five of the best self-publishing sites
nb: it seems if you pay for a publishing package, covering the initial costs, you get a greater share of the royalties.

1. Lulu
One of the earliest and best-regarded self-publishing sites, it has published some of the most successful self-published books.
Ease of use: 4/5 good website, simple to understand
Presentation of the book: 3/5 you choose and make your own cover, or, you can pay them to do it for you.
Money: 2/5 buy a publishing package ranging from £299 to £999 which includes publishing and some support, you can bolt on extra services like copy-editing, a promo campaign for extra.
Distribution: 3/5 They say: “Lulu gives you access to the fastest and most extensive distribution system available anywhere.” It’s sold on Amazon and other online retailers and in Lulu’s own nicely designed book store. It can also be made into an eBook readable on iPhone or elsewhere. Bricks and mortar book shops will be able to order a hard copy in if requested.

2. Amazon’s Digital Text Platform
Yes everyone’s heard of that little site called Amazon and lots of people go there to buy books, consequently it’s a good brand name. They have launched a self-publishing platform for the Kindle (their eReader) which lets you upload text in ebook form to the Kindle shop, from where people can buy it.
Ease of use: 2/5 looks pretty straightforward, though making sure it ends up in a usable form on Kindle is more complicated than just sending off a word document and there are lots of how-to documents to read about publishing.
Presentation of the book: 3/5 it’s a eBook so comes in standard Kindle format.
Money: 1/5 set your own price between $0.99 and $200, you get a slightly measly 35% royalties
Distribution: 1/5 well this is the catch, it’s only available for Kindle, so your readers are restricted to people with those devices.

3. Zoe’s Books
A small British self-publishing site that comes with editorial advice from its founder Zoe. Good for non-fiction, societies, small buisnesses or gurus who want a book behind them. Sounds like a small publishers might be a little more helpful than some of the off-the-peg juggernauts on offer.
Ease of use: 3/5 phone and email support and they take care of the publishing.
Presentation of the book: 3/5 looks fine, can do this yourself or ask them to arrange it.
Money: 3/5 Zoe’s quote you a price depending on what services you require.
Distribution: 2/5 Either do this yourself: she suggests self-promoting it through groups or workshops, or they have a marketing arm which can do promotion for a price.

4. Writersworld
I am not impressed by the user interface for this site, but the editors seem to know what they’re talking about when it comes to book publishing.
Ease of use: 2/5 not great. The site is not well designed and it’s hard to find out information. It may be easier when you start writing. They provide qualified freelance sub-contractors to edit your work.
Presentation of the book: 3/5 They say “Our book covers are all custom-designed in full colour and at no time do we use templates.” Judging from the covers on show, I give them a decent 3 stars.
Money: 3/5 You pay a fixed price up front for the copy-edit, design and publishing and then you get 100% of royalties
Distribution: 3/5 Your book will be made available through every major internet bookshop, including Amazon, Waterstone’s, WHSmith, Blackwell etc. Not as a physical copy in actual bookshops. They ship worldwide.

5. IUniverse
An American site that might be worth a look if you don’t mind selling liasing remotely and doing the money side in dollars.
Ease of use: 4/5 looks pretty straightforward
Presentation of the book: 3/5 custom-designed cover included in the upfront price. They claim they don’t use templates.
Money: 2/5 quite pricey: buy a package ranging from $599 to $4200
Distribution: 3/5 Offers editor’s awards which hilight strong books and give them some extra publicity. Otherwise sold through Amazon and other online stores. Publicity packages available.

Anna Leach


  • Custom term Paper uk at very good Prices with assured high quality, proof read by experts. We have more than 45 writers

  • Best Essay Writing Service Available at Reasonable Prices. Send us your requirements via Email and let our Writers help you. Any topic, Any Deadline.

  • NEVER NEVER NEVER use Author house, they are RUBBISH and their PR service is a joke i paid out £2,000+ and didn't get a reply, i checked with my local papers TV and i phoned afar, none of them ever been contacted by Author house or their pr company read review or type Author house scam and read through i am nearing my 7th book i want to know as well the best, because i don't want to be ripped off again. Yes vanity puiblishers are disguising themselves as self publisher. thats why you must do your work and don't pay to much. vanity publisher are scams as well and they are known buy the real publishers thats why vanity pub change their name.

  • Bricks and mortar book shops will be able to order a hard copy in if requested.

  • if you really want to show your annoyance, you need to vote, not voting helps nobody and nothing. Spoil your paper by writing on it, vote for a minority party- just no voting makes you seem apathetic, and gets no point across whatsoever. Also, less than 100 years, women died in order to give you, and the rest of the fairer sex, suffrage. Do her proud, and vote

  • I have a question for you, and I hope you can possibly give me an answer. What would you say the best self-publishing company is? What is the fastest self-publishing company, but with high quality? I know that if I truly want quality I should be patient, but, alas, I want it as soon as possible. Do you have any suggestions?Go Ped

  • hi there, thank you for going over these self-publish companies, it really helps on deciding which one I should use. I know its going to be a long and difficult process, if I try to publish my novel traditionally, and being stubborn, I don’t want to wait 5 to 10 years before I can physically hold the story in my hand. So I’m trying to find the best self-publishing company to use. I’ve looked at LuLu, but I’m not sure if it was good or not and your advice on what it’s really like, truly helped!

    I have a question for you, and I hope you can possibly give me an answer. What would you say the best self-publishing company is? What is the fastest self-publishing company, but with high quality? I know that if I truly want quality I should be patient, but, alas, I want it as soon as possible. Do you have any suggestions?

    thank you for your time and patience, I would really appreciate it if you can get back to me as soon as you can!

  • Love this article thanks for sharing and shedding the light of self publishing. I may say you forgot to add my favorite… Bookpal Publishing! I self-published my first book with them and planning to get their services again on my second book at the end of the year. They are nice and very accommodating. They answer all my questions even the silliest one!!! And the most important thing? Their service is really affordable and well-within my budget.


  • Have you checked out
    Their writing and publishing service enables authors to create books online, collaborate, publish and distribute from one simple solution.

  • @Loveday – thanks for the tip
    @Dan – weell… maybe this all a bit 21stcentury but I think printing is publishing. Call them book printing sitees if you prefer

  • You missed out one of my favourites! I’m not a writer, but, the bookish social networking site I use is tailored around writers as well as readers.
    I’ve never used their self-publishing, but I know they offer free and paid and they have loads of advice for newbie authors on cover and text design, promotion, stuff like that. Plus you can actually interact with your readers and find out what they think of your work.

Comments are closed.