Whether you are a new author looking to publish your first book, a seasoned indie self-publisher or a traditionally published author looking to expand into the world of print on demand, online book publishing services can format, print and publish your books quickly and affordably. Books printed and shipped on demand eliminate the need for traditional large print runs and costly warehouses stacked with books, not to mention the stress of submitting your story to countless editors only to be rejected. Even better, your book can go from manuscript form to an eBook in a matter of hours, while a handsome bound volume can arrive at your doorstep in a matter of days.
For this buying guide, we looked for publishers that provide affordable publishing packages along with quality services and support for new and experienced authors. We also examined the reach of each publisher’s distribution, as well as its pricing and royalty structure, to find out what each publisher does best. If you are wanting to know more, here are articles on online book publishing services.
Best for Distribution
Many authors use CreateSpace because it's part of Amazon, one of the largest book retailers in the world. There is no denying that Amazon has played a major role in the wide-scale adoption of eBooks. The reputation it has built gives authors confidence that it will bring the same level of service to publishing. It makes sense that Amazon would use its book-selling expertise to help authors reach their audience. CreateSpace provides support to authors from start to finish. The company is available to answer questions before you select your services and through the entire process. It helps you choose what you need to get your book into the hands of readers. Some other publishers offer their services as packages. With CreateSpace, you choose only the services you need. There are several distribution options beyond putting your work on Amazon. CreateSpace works with the largest book distributors in the world. A solid reputation, flexible services and expansive distribution options make CreateSpace an attractive online publishing option.
CreateSpace is Amazon's online book publishing service. That alone makes it worth looking into for self-publishing. Like its parent company, CreateSpace has earned a reputation for a continually high standard of service. You can customize how you want to use the service, paying only for what you need.
Best for Author Publicity
It says a lot that AuthorHouse has the largest number of titles in print. This shows its ability to steer authors through the publishing process to a finished product. It has the processes in place to launch new writers and has been doing just that for quite some time. AuthorHouse is well established and has a streamlined operation that results in a shorter publishing time than you see with other publishers. Its representatives are with you every step of the way and can even assist you with aspects of publicizing yourself and your work, such as scheduling personal appearances so your readers can get to know you. The representatives provide guidance, but you retain ultimate control over your work. You choose your cover, interior images and even price. Many authors appreciate the freedom to create their book according to their vision.
One of the many things that make AuthorHouse attractive is the optional Booksellers Return Program. This program gives it an advantage over other publishers. Booksellers are reluctant to carry books from unknown authors, so this gives retailers a risk-free way to stock your book, which is perfect for writers who are trying to get established.
AuthorHouse provides some rare services in the world of print publishing companies. Among these is the ability for you to set the price of your book. The company also has an extraordinary selling reach through popular platforms like Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website, and a comprehensive set of extra paid services to help you make your book just the way you want it. It offers eBook publication in addition to print. Among online publishing companies, AuthorHouse has the largest number of titles in print.
Best for Writer Support
The publishing process can seem daunting to the uninitiated, or even the initiated. Learning all you can about the process allows you to get the most out of your publishing experience. This level of support is where Xlibris excels. It provides a wealth of information to authors. All of its publishing packages come with a one-year membership to its Author Learning Center and its community of authors, agents and other literary professionals. The Author Learning Center offers many valuable resources for writers, including videos, podcasts, articles and webinars.
The Book Launch tool in the Author Learning Center helps you with step-by-step information about publishing and marketing tasks. You customize the tasks to fit your needs and use the tool to track their status. This tool includes a feature that enables you to create a group of writers from the community to provide advice and feedback on your manuscript. The Author Learning Center provides resources that help you keep learning and growing as an author, as well as a way to give back to other authors. Xlibris consultants are also with you throughout the publishing process, but the community it has established provides valuable resources and sets the company apart from other publishers.
Xlibris offers a wide selling reach and provides some useful features in its publishing packages. Some of its packages provide fewer features to authors than the self-publishing packages available from many other print-on-demand companies, but, with 25,000 titles in print, Xlibris clearly knows how to get books published. It typically takes 12 to 17 weeks to get your book from manuscript into published form with this online publishing company.
The best online publishing packages offer pre-publishing consultation, extensive publishing service options and promotional services after publishing. Most publishers have several packages available as well as add-on services for purchase. Publishers' websites have detailed information and free booklets on request. This gives you the tools you need to make informed choices about which package works best for you before you pay a cent. As you weigh your options, decide which features are relevant to your needs and avoid spending unnecessarily on ones that you won't use. If you change your mind, you can upgrade later.
The best publishers have a quick overall publishing time frame and give authors the most for their money. High-quality online publishers also provide promotional services, such as web design and copies of your book to send to reviewers, as part of the prepaid package to help you sell your published book.
What about Book Pricing & Royalties?
This is one of the more complicated aspects of publishing your work. How prices are set and how much royalty you are paid vary by publisher and the retailer selling your book. Some publishers let you set your own prices, but they factor in costs for any price you set. The ability to set your own price may be included in the plan you choose, or you may have the option to purchase that ability. Each company has its own policies.
All publishers have a bookstore online to sell print and digital books. In most cases, direct sales provide you with a higher percentage of royalties than selling through other channels. Royalties may be a percentage of the cover price, the wholesale price or the net profit.
Online publishers help you sell your book through a combination of channels, including their online bookstores, wholesale distribution and major online book retailers. The best online publishers increase your sales potential by making your book available to as many readers as possible.
Publishers partner with major distributors to expand the reach of your content. Your publisher should help you understand your distribution options and give you an idea of how much revenue you can generate through each one. It's important to find out which distribution company your publishing company uses and how far its reach goes. For maximum distribution, look for companies that provide books to libraries, schools, and universities in addition to online and brick-and-mortar stores. Wider distribution comes at a price, but it is a great way to scale up your book's visibility quickly.
Marketing & Sales Tools
These days, publishing is accessible to just about everyone. Writing a book is only half of the equation; you need marketing to let people know about your book and grow your sales. Online book publishing services should offer a wide assortment of marketing services, both in publishing packages and as optional services to make sure you have the level of marketing assistance to meet your needs. Marketing starts with your book cover design, since it's the first thing people see when looking for new reading material. Publishers offer assistance with cover design as well as image choices and placement inside the book.
Publishers also offer website design and hosting, Google ads, printed promotional materials, and videos. Publicity services they provide include press releases and social media promotion. They may even offer full-scale campaigns with coordinated print, web and video promotion.
If you have marketing and design experience, you may not need these services. However, many companies include marketing services in their packages. It's important to know whether you can purchase only the publishing services you need so you are not paying for ones you don't.
Whether you are a first-time author or a previously published novelist, online book publishing companies offer a fast, often affordable way to get your book off your computer screen and into the hands of readers. These companies have many services that help you produce, distribute, market and sell your work.