You’ve written thousands of words. Spent hours chained to your laptop, guzzled gallons of coffee, and sliced and diced your story until you feel like Gordon Ramsey himself. Now it’s here. The moment to publish.
As a new author who has never published, you may be overwhelmed with your options to self-publish your ebook. Which one is the best? Which one lets you keep the most royalties? How do you distribute your book? So many questions.
Below is a list of some of the best online publishing companies for new authors to help take the stress out of finding the best publisher for you. All of the publishers listed pay you royalties through direct deposit (either to your bank or through a third party like PayPal), making your dream of being paid for your work that much closer. Some on the list also have data trackers to make it easy to keep up with your sales.
The biggest online publisher in the biz, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is probably the most popular on this list. Writers keep up to 70% of their profits, and you can submit your manuscript for review in less than 10 minutes. That means your book can be published and live online within 48 hours. They also offer KDP Select, a marketing program to help you market your book and promote sales
As the second-largest online book retailer (after Amazon, of course), Apple Books is another way to publish and distribute your ebook for free. You don’t have to be a Mac user either; you can write your book using other editors like Word or Scrivener and import it to Apple Books, as it is also optimized for Windows. This site has a clean and simple interface that guides you step-by-step through the writing process, publishing, marketing, audiobooks, and keeping up with your sales.
Like Amazon, Kobo is a publisher and distributor of ebooks. Authors get to keep the rights to their files even after conversion, which some publishers don’t allow. This means you can share free ePubs with friends and family and so you can avoid those awkward “can you buy my book please?” conversations. Publishing is free, and you can promote to your readers through Kobo. Kobo has a reach of millions of readers, making this a solid choice to get your novel out to the masses.
This online publishing house is the world’s largest publisher of indie ebooks, and its mission is to make it fast, easy, and free to publish and distribute your masterpiece to thousands of online retailers and libraries. Their style guide is made especially for writers with no experience formatting manuscripts, making your job even easier. Smashwords is also an aggregator, meaning they distribute to all the major book retailers like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Walmart, etc., on your behalf.
Royalties: up to 85%
Looking to earn while you’re still working on your WIP? While most online publishing houses only publish completed manuscripts, Fictionate.Me allows you to publish chapter by chapter, earning royalties as you go. Self-publishing is truly in your hands on this indie press, as you control every aspect of your publishing, from the formatting, book cover, and even the price model for your readers. Other great features of this site are you can get feedback from your readers to help guide your writing, and an audio format of your book will be generated automatically for your readers once you’re ready to publish.
Royalties: All payments received go to you, except for a 2.9% fee charged by Stripe. Fictionate.Me does not charge any fees or receive any commissions, making this a great deal to make even more money on your ebooks.
This press is an offshoot of one of the best self-publishing companies in the U.S, Ingram Book Company. Its mission is to make self-publishing accessible to everyone, regardless of resources. You can publish both print and digital books here, and they distribute to all the major retailers on your behalf, including Amazon. However, this publisher charges $25 to publish and distribute an ebook, but it’s not a bad price considering you get global built-in book distribution.
Barnes & Noble prides themselves on their free, simple, and straightforward publishing process. You can upload your book in less than 20 minutes and have it up for sale within 72 hours. They have a reach of millions of readers, and you’ll have access to their online promotional opportunities. Barnes & Noble also publishes print books as well, if you’re looking to go the traditional route.
Royalties: 70% (flat, meaning no tiered royalties)
Touted as the “easiest way to publish your book”, Bookbaby is a popular choice among authors who want to self-publish. This publisher also doesn’t take a commission of your ebook sales, so where royalties are concerned, it’s a slam dunk. Once submitted for approval, your book will be ready to sell within 48 hours. Bookbaby also allows you to set up your own page to sell your books yourself with Bookshop, but they do take a 15% commission for this service. There is a $99 fee to convert your manuscript, so you’ll have to decide if the fee is worth it. You can also purchase book publishing packages starting at $99 which include professional services like editing and book cover design.
Heather R. Parker is a freelance writer, editor, and published poet from Georgia. She works as a writer and editor for the self-publishing platform Fictionate.me. Her work has been published by Nightingale & Sparrow Magazine, Analog Submissions Press, Friday Flash Fiction, Medium, and others. Her upcoming chapbook will be published by Between Shadows Press.