Talk About Self-Publishing Companies—The Good, Bad, and the Ugly!

Becoming a publisher by Deborah S. Nelson

Self-Publishing Companies–The Best & Worst

So you think you might want to publish a book? Are you shopping for a company to print your book? Thinking of getting your book published on your own? This article will cover the beginning basics—self-publishing companies to avoid, the best self-publishing companies, and other types of self-publishing companies will be covered.

Before we delve into self-publishing companies and their reviews, let’s first understand exactly what self-publishing is about. With the advent of digital publishing, self-publishing is a growing trend. How books are published, distributed and marketed has changed with digital printing presses, digital art files, and print on demand(POD). Before we go into which self-publishing company would be the best fit for your book project, let’s look at a few definitions.

Traditional Publishing Companies

Traditional publishing is a vanishing model which has served a privileged few. To get your manuscript accepted by a traditional publishing company truly has a lot more to do with marketability than quality of writing. When I worked inside of a publishing company, I saw how books were selected and at first, the selections made seemed random to me. As it turned out it the decisions of whom or what to publish was mostly a financial decision. And you really can’t blame them for this. It is very expensive to print a book using the traditional book publishing model. With offset printing, it is necessary to run 25,000 books (depending on the project) at one time—to make the cost per book affordable in the retail market. A book publishing company must be assured that those 25,000 will sell just to break even.

Vanity Publishing Companies

Vanity Publishing was a label, I suspect, coined by someone working in one of the big publishing houses. This form of publishing was actually the original “self-publishing.” When authors who wanted and needed to publish could not find a publishing company to back their book, the other publishing option was to hire a vanity press to print their book. This cost a fair amount of money; and vanity publishers were adept at all the different parts of printing a book, including the cover, collating, and book binding. Printing companies specializing in printing books came into business to serve this market. Having a book published this way historically was very much frowned upon by the academic world; and the established publishing authority—an attitude which spread and prevailed though out the entire culture of readers even to this day. To use a vanity publisher to get your book published was almost an embarrassment. Only the most determined, brazen, wealthy and egocentric authors went this route.

Self-Publishing and Short Run Printing

Publishing involves a lot of steps and processes, much like that of building a home. Most often, a general contractor is hired to oversee the entire project. With a traditional publishing company, and vanity press, someone inside oversees the different stages and phases of publishing a book. With self-publishing, the author puts on the hat of the general contractor. Often, when self-publishing, an author will choose to print a short run of books. There are many new short run printing companies who specialize in printing books for individual authors now. Using digital printing for four-color covers had made the option to print a smaller number of books at reasonable cost per book possible. This is a great option for speaker/authors with a circle of influence such as pastors, motivational speakers, (and others) who have found self-publishing using short run digital printing an easy and quick way to offer books to their following. Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers

Print on Demand Publishing Companies

Print on demand is the most amazing, and I think, a miraculous option for self-publishing available. I personally equate the print on demand publishing breakthrough at the same level of the invention of the printing press! Ironically, the print on demand method makes the old-fashioned printing press obsolete!

Print on demand means that you prepare the digital book file, (no simple task, mind you), upload to the digital publishing company; and when a book is purchased, it is printed right then and there with a daily batch of other POD books, and shipped out within 3-5 days. This is what I recommend to anyone who wants their book on for sale. However, if you want to publish the next great American novel, or want to see your books in all the bookstores, print on demand or self-publishing is not the publishing model for you. But if you want to get your book out quickly, and make it available to those who buy books online (73% of physical books are being bought online now); then print on demand is the most inexpensive, most efficient way to go!

Publishing Solo

After all is said and done, I look at self-publishing in the highest light. We are creative beings, all with a story to tell. The opportunity to write and publish your story, or your inspiration, wisdom, craft, profession, experience, advice, calling, or legacy is here and now! We can now share with our circle of influence whatever we bring to this planet in a very personal and powerful way. This has nothing to do with spelling, being able to craft the words correctly, and everything to do with what you have to share. A friend of mine once said: “The Internet is the writer’s revenge.” We all have a chance to speak our truth now. There are no barriers, anymore.

To be a published author, you no longer need to be of a certain educational level, have an established celebrity status, or a connection inside a publishing company. What you have to say is valuable. Many people may be listening, or maybe just a few. No matter—as a published author you have impacted your world with your truth. This is what I call Publishing Solo! It is the highest calling of all writers, authors, and publishers. Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers

Talking about Self-Publishing Companies

What are the self-publishing companies to avoid? Which ones are the best? Understand the answer to that question all depends on the type of book project you are doing–a children’s book, 4-color photography book, or a novel. Selecting a printer is not just about reviews, rankings and ratings! I can tell you that the most trustworthy and established self-publishing companies include Lulu, Createspace, Amazon, Outskirts Press, Lightening Press and Authorhouse. The arm for self-publishing on Amazon is Createspace. All these companies are well-established and have a system down pat that makes self-publishing doable.

However, I offer a warning with any and all of these publishing companies, highly reviewed or not, good reputation or not. These companies offer a very low entry point, some even advertise “self publish for free!” However, if you do not know what you are doing, you could easily spend a fortune getting your book self-published, much more than you originally intended—kind of like a house remodel gone bad!

In your impatience and excitement to complete your book project, you may be tempted to use the “extra services.” Avoid using the “extra” services without careful research and shopping. The services that offer to create a custom designed book cover, editing, proofreading, marketing, are marked up quite high. If you use these services, unless your book is a runaway best seller, you will have a difficult time recovering your investment. In my Publishing Solo Guide, I recommend other resources and ways to get your cover, interior design and marketing services done at 50% or less of what these self publishing companies charge.

On the front end, they give you these self-publishing services for free, but when it comes to preparing your digital file, including your book cover, back cover synopsis, interior design, content and copy editing, author bio and synopsis, and proofreading the fees are quite high. They also offer business cards, marketing posters and a whole host of the marketing materials that may not be necessary until some books have been sold. After you are hooked on seeing your book in print, the “piper” is there with hand out for your money. Buyer beware!

Self-Publishing Companies Compared

Self Publish WIth Amazon

Self Publish WIth Amazon

It is hard to say which is the best self-publishing company for your book project. If you are doing a four-color book project, it can be quite expensive do self-publishing with Amazon (or Createspace). You might want to consider a short run company like Outskirts Press, Lightening Source or Authorhouse for a four-color book project. If you do not want to do a short run, but want to see what just one full color book would be like first, try

Use their proprietary software to work out the bugs, and see what your book might look like. Work out the look of the book, the cover, the layout, the writing, and the bugs. Tweak it to near perfection. Then, once you have your initial book in hand, you can move to a short run company like Lightening Source, Outskirts Press, or Authorhouse. If you are doing a black and white interior with a four-color cover, print on Demand such as Createspace or Lulu might be your best bet, especially if you do not want to carry inventory, as they specialize in on demand printing services.

Their front shopping cart and online distribution charges the buyer shipping and does the shipping for you. These sales arms, however, will take about 40% for sales commission which is industry standard. If you use a short run printing company, and market and ship the books yourself, you become the sales and distribution arm, and are able to keep that 40% sales commission for yourself.

Publish Your Book Blueprint

Publishing Solo Coach Deborah S. Nelson offers a course and book entitled: Publish Your Book Blueprint in 3 Days. She teaches you how to get your book concept published in 3 days. You will learn how to decide on the best book publishing methods and companies for your book project. When complete you will have a published book with your personalized book cover; as well as the interior which will be a journal-style layout of the front matter, the body, and the back matter of the book; all in the correct order and placement.

Deborah S. Nelson is the author and publisher of 11 books, including The Newest Secret, Vacation Rental Owner’s Manual, Do-it-Yourself Vacation Rental Branding, The Vacation Rental Travel Guide Series, and the Author Your Reality series. As a publishing coach, she has guided over 100 authors in publishing their works.

With two decades of experience in the publishing, printing, and advertising industries, Ms. Nelson’s passion is getting your book to the finish line. This powerful new workbook and course familiarizes both seasoned and aspiring authors with every step of the digital publishing process. By the course end, each author will produce a published proof of their book concept which prepares them for final publication on

This system not only circumvents countless hours of learning time and frustration, but participants will be well positioned to publish again and again.
Publish your Book Blueprint by Deborah S Nelson

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