If you’ve been thinking about writing a book (or maybe you’ve made a good amount of progress already!), you’re bound to wonder about the best Book Publishing Platforms for getting your book out into the world.
The short answer is: it depends on your goals with the book. But, to try to be more helpful than that general statement, we’ve compiled—and listed clearly below—the Top 10 best Book Publishing Platforms for your book, including a short description, a link to learn more, and any pricing information (if relevant).[Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links below are affiliate links that reward us for sending you their way, at no additional cost to you — if you prefer not to click them, just Google the name of the site]. : )
Why care about Book Publishing Platforms in 2023?
Writing your own book is not only a great way to express yourself, but it can help you advertise your business, services, and experience. The Internet has made it possible to create eBooks that you can share online, as well as produce and circulate your own printed books all over the world!
Book publishing used to be an intensive, expensive, and exclusive business—requiring lots of cash and manpower to set type and produce even a single volume. Luckily, times have changed, and now it’s easier than ever to share your own work with a wide audience and at little to no cost for you.
The number of self-published books in the US increased from 85,000 in 2008 to 1,677,000 in 2018. So, there’s no doubt that self-publishing is a growing industry. Not only are there more books, but there are more book publishers to choose from.
Okay, let’s get into it!…
BookBaby Quick Overview:
BookBaby is a one-stop provider for all of your publishing needs, including editing, designing, printing, and distribution. They have guaranteed turnaround for edits (8-10 days for a full line edit, 6-8 days for a proofread), ensuring that you won’t be stuck in the dark waiting to hear back about your manuscript. In addition, their packages cover most of the major distributors. BookBaby is pricier than some other options, with fewer templates and formatting options, but its editing services and streamlined interface stand out.
The Express Package, for authors who already have read-to-print files, offers 25 softcover books and eBook distribution for $990. Authors who want cover design and interior formatting options can get the Complete Package for $1,990. Editing starts at $10 a page.
SmashWords Quick Overview:
SmashWords is one of the original online publishing services and remains a popular aggregator service to help you sell your book through as many distributors as possible. This platform can help others find your book on Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, Apple Books, Scribd, and much more without breaking the bank. However, SmashWords does not distribute through Amazon and is exclusively an eBook service, so be aware of those limitations before you’re already formatting your book on their website.
You get to set your own price with any materials published through SmashWords, you can even make your book free! Authors receive 85% of the net sales of their work sold on the SmashWords website and 60% of the list price from retail distribution partners.
IngramSpark Quick Overview:
Ingram Group has a legitimate claim to being the largest book distribution network in the world, which tells you that their print-on-demand service IngramSpark has some serious distribution perks. As a formidable Book Publishing Platform, IngramSpark can publish hardcopy, paperback, and eBook titles, and their print copies are of professional quality with sturdy binding.
You can easily sell your titles through online retailers like Amazon, Kobo, and Nook, while also making your title available to indie and local bookstores, libraries, and universities through the Ingram network.
IngramSpark has a $49.00 set up fee for each title you want to publish ($25 if you want to only sell your title as an eBook). You earn 40% of each sale when your title is bought through IngramSpark and up to a quarter of your title price when sold through other retailers.
Blurb Quick Overview:
Another veteran of the online self-publishing scene, Blurb is a trusted resource for self-publishing book authors and is especially well regarded for its visual prints. If you’re hoping to feature high-quality photographs in your book, or want to produce a magazine, Blurb is one of the best options to turn to. In addition, it offers publishing options for paperbacks, hardcovers, and eBooks with a decent selection of formatting options.
Blurb sets a minimum base price depending on your book’s length, dimensions, and paper quality (for example: $3.99 for a 6×9 inch 24-page paperback with economy color printing). Selling at the minimum price is at-cost, but you can choose to set a higher price to receive a share of the sale.
Draft2Digital Quick Overview:
While SmashWords used to be the most popular aggregate book distributor, Draft2Digital has recently taken the lead. D2D has a streamlined book upload, which lets you get your book onto their website as quickly as possible with the formatting done for you.
It can also share your book with Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and more. D2D provides Universal Book Links (UBLs) which can display all of the available retailers for readers to choose from! The only limitation is that D2D is eBook-only, so you’ll have to look elsewhere to sell print editions.
As an eBook-only retailer, there are no fees for using D2D. If you put a price on your title, then D2D takes a flat 10% of all sales.
Lulu Quick Overview:
Another experienced book publishing platform, Lulu has been assisting self-publishing authors since 2009 and is still going strong. Lulu offers a wide range of print dimensions for paperback and hardcover books, and a variety of paper options for text and image printing.
Lulu also stands out for its wide variety of resources and services, including author support, tutorials, editing packages, and a formidable cover customizer.
Much like Blurb, Lulu’s pricing depends on your book’s length, format, binding, and page quality: a 100-page trade paperback in standard black-and white comes down to $3.25, for instance. You get to adjust the selling price at any level above the printing cost to determine how much you hope to make on each copy sold via the Lulu Bookstore and other Retailers.
#4: Apple Books
Apple Books Quick Overview:
The well-known creator of the iPhone and Macintosh branched into self-publishing services in 2010 and is still a popular distributor for digital books. The main limitation of using Apple Books is that it is really only available to Mac users, but if you have the right OS, it’s affordable, viewable from one of the largest eBook marketplaces, and offers one of the most streamlined uploading services.
Apple Books Pricing:
It’s completely free to use Apple Books, and it has a flat 70% royalty on any titles sold, regardless of length or price.
#3: Kobo Writing Life
Kobo Writing Life Quick Overview:
A Toronto-based publisher, Kobo makes up an estimated 25% of all eBook sales in Canada, which says a lot about their marketing capabilities! As an international retailer operating in 16 countries outside of the U.S., Kobo offers an expansive market for your eBook.
Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, lets you upload your book, set your price, and start selling on their website within 72 hours. Kobo also offers some of the best analytics tools to help you track your book sales and revenue.
Kobo Writing Life Pricing:
It costs nothing to upload a title to Kobo Writing Life. The platform takes 70% in royalties on titles sold above $2.99, or 45% royalties for books priced below $2.99.
#2: Barnes & Noble Press
Barnes & Noble Quick Overview:
Barnes & Noble is one of the most well-known bookstore chains around, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that they offer one of the best self-publishing and distribution services for independent authors.
B&P Press is easy to use for print and eBook titles, is non-exclusive (you can distribute through other platforms as well), and comes with marketing tools so you can create advertisements on the B&N website!
Barnes & Noble Pricing:
It costs nothing to upload a title to B&N Press, though it does take a distributor’s royalty that depends on the price of your book: 65% for books between $2.99 and $9.99, or 40% on books below $2.99.
#1: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
KDP Quick Overview:
Who else could it be here at the end of our list of top Book Publishing Platforms? Amazon is pretty much the #1 online distributor for, well, everything, and books are certainly no exception. Amazon started out shipping books after all!
Amazon’s website is the first stop for millions of shoppers every day, and it offers some of the most competitive rates for a major retailer (especially in the United States). What’s more, any eBooks you create will be available for download on the Amazon Kindle Store. Authors can also take advantage of programs through KDP Select, Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon Ads to create promotions and get wider distribution.
It’s free to set up and publish with Amazon. Then, as you make sales, KDP pays out a 35% royalty on titles priced under $2.99 and a 70% royalty on titles priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Choosing the Right Book Publishing Platform
Finding the platform to publish your book comes down to the details and making sure that the platform’s unique features give you exactly what your book needs. Here are the two mai concerns you should pay attention to when choosing a publishing platform:
eBook publishing is always cheaper than print publishing, but there can still be a big difference in eBook royalties depending on which publisher you choose. It can take time to build a steady revenue stream through self-publishing, so make sure that you feel comfortable with the total profit that you will actually be making after print costs, distribution costs, and royalties are all subtracted from the sale.
When you publish with Amazon, you know you’ll have your book on the biggest web retailer and on the Kindle store, but your book won’t be on any other website.
On the other hand, if you publish with an aggregator like Draft2Digital, you can distribute your book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books, but you’ll have fewer marketing resources (i.e. you can’t participate in KDP Select) and may have higher distribution costs taking a cut of your sales.
Consider who your audience is, whether you are hoping to emphasize eBook or print distribution, and if you want to reach an international audience when choosing your publisher.
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