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15 Best Self Publishing Platforms

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Hey, so awesome you’re here. Writing is often a very solitary adventure but know—you’re never alone. Perhaps thousands of us have taken this route, and you can learn from our successes.

Perhaps even more daunting than showing someone your wordy creation is the overwhelming notion of which publishing venue to explore: the traditional or self-publishing routes.

One of the often-overlooked benefits of self-publishing is that it’s an excellent vehicle for original voices to shine. Who hasn’t read a bestseller novel and said, hey, I’m tired of this same old same old regurgitated verbiage that publishing houses produce to make money.

So, now, because your manuscript is so polished it gleams in the sunlight, you’re ready to choose. And you already invested in a professional to edit out those minor oversights. You have a grand vision of how to market this story that will surely get you a movie deal and win every literary award on the planet. Now, let’s find this fantastic book of yours a venue that will work for you by heading over to the best self publishing platforms.


A Bit of Background Info About eBook Distribution:

The famous Amazon KDP or Barnes & Noble Press (B&N Press) are like a one-stop shopping experience. You load the machine with your text; they sell it. Next stop: stardom.

But it is cumbersome because it’s a one at a time platform distribution process. But it’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Or there are aggregators, which is a fancy word for middle-man, like popular Smashwords or Draft2Digital. You upload once, and through their dashboard, distribute to multiple platforms in one swoop. The caveat is that there is a fee for this service, but it may be worth it and save you a ton of time you can devote to writing your next bestseller.

The big bonus if you decide to self-publish is that you get the largest chunk of royalties. You control the creative side, the marketing, you set the deadlines. I know you have the drive; it’s how you got here in the first place.

Self-publishing has also survived its low reputation and produced stars like Marcel Proust, Wayner Dryer, Amanda Hocking, and E.L. James. Times have changed.

Let’s Explore Your Options: Book Retailers

Book retailers sell your book. That is your ultimate goal. However, that no longer means brick and mortar. The difference is how much they pay in royalties to the author, what exclusivity offers you sign up for, and ultimately what their client base encompasses.

There’s no point in denying that Amazon is one of the giants on the publishing horizon. But there are other giants in the forest that may not speak as loudly. One such giant is IngramSpark, whose parent company is the world’s biggest bookseller.

At last count, Amazon has a 67% market share in ebooks. The explosive ebook market in the USA alone is somewhere between $5-7 billion and overtaking the paper market.

But whatever those numbers might be, what’s important is that your books deserve a slice of that massive market too.

Author Services Segment

Many of these options are crossovers and have expanded their offerings. Depending on who you listen to, self-published authors spend anywhere from $0 to $10 grand on getting their books to market. An average is between $2,000 – 5,000 grand.

PODS: Print on Demand

What author doesn’t want a photo op holding their creation and showing it off to the world? Besides, you can’t sign an ebook. Although the paper market is shrinking, older generations prefer to hold a book. Library shelves don’t look the same either. Book lovers love to collect their favorite novels and proudly display how well-read they are.

At Last, the List of Potential Options

There are many options. One may work better for you than others.

#1 Apple Books

Apple dipped its toe into the publishing waters back in 2010. Apple branding has produced loyal consumers, and are gaining one million new customers per week. They likely have anywhere from 5% to 8% of the market. These numbers are difficult to extrapolate from reliable sources.

Surprisingly, Apple is very user-friendly and recommends many useful apps, including writing software like Scrivener and Microsoft.

Their website has easy-to-use tabs: Write, Prepare, Publish, Market, Sales, Audio, Resources.

Benefits to you:

  • Easy to upload. You don’t need a Mac. The free system allows upload of word documents
  • $$$ 70% royalties in your pocket
  • It’s Apple and has a great support network
  • Well labeled interface
  • Support apps like Pages, Microsoft, Scrivener, Ulysses, Notes
  • Instructional portals from successful authors on how-to
  • Get it on Apple Books button
  • Easy to create a professional book
  • Provides reward coupons to book clients
  • Pays better than Amazon


  • It may be challenging to get set up to sell your books
  • Author technical integration is lacking
  • Cumbersome for non-Apple users

#2 Barnes & Noble (Formerly known as Nook Press)

B&N is struggling against mega-giant Amazon, making it a less attractive option or the underdog option. They are the grandma on the publishing scene with 135 years in the business, so don’t put them down for the count. Although numbers are unclear, B&N and Apple are fighting it out for second-most productive.

Benefits to you:

  • Super easy to upload your book
  • No cumbersome exclusivity deal
  • Free to list your book
  • Generous free book option without limits
  • Have invested in a new marketing campaign to help authors
  • Accessible advertising window
  • Their books sell above a $.99 price point which means you aren’t giving them away
  • Escalated pay for authors
  • Better royalty earning potential
  • New, improved author features


  • Smaller market share at 25%
  • Not foremost in the minds of would-be self-publishing authors
  • It’s not the big one
kindle self publishing platform
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

#3 Amazon Kindle or Kindle Direct Publishing

This one needs no introduction. Despite believing in the underdog, we are researching ideal self-publishing options, and it would be silly to overlook this giant. Several of my author friends have found their success on Amazon self-publishing. Excuse me for combining the two sides of their business. Every reader looking for something to read knows and trusts Amazon.

Amazon is undoubtedly the market leader. It’s an excellent venue for debut authors as they break genre fiction into classifications that give your novel a better shot in rankings. Amazon has the potential to make you into a best-selling author. The downside is that the competition on Amazon is fierce. Regardless of where you list your book, you still need to promote yourself.

Benefits to you: (different bonus alternatives pending on which program you select)

  • Easy to and free to upload
  • 70% of ebooks sold are in the $2.99-9.99 price bracket, which means more money
  • Offers several programs Amazon KDP and Amazon KDP Select 90 day exclusive
  • Select is an exclusivity contract that offers kindle countdown deals, free promos
  • Permits discount periods or a predetermined timeframe (per 90-day window)
  • Select includes enrollment in Kindle Unlimited, a successful reader subscription service
  • Kindle countdown deals
  • Free book promos 5-1day windows
  • Subscription pays a per page read fee
  • 70% royalty for books sold in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, India
  • Kindle owner lending library, KDP informational page


  • KDP Select means you locked yourself into Amazon only
  • Must comply with rules
  • Advertising on Amazon is costly
  • Competitive
  • Nickel and dimes your royalty payments; read the small print

#4 Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Kobo. But don’t discount this Canadian ebook and e-reader conglomerate as in 2018, they partnered with Walmart. They are a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. Although their market share is still in its infancy, if Walmart sees their potential … they may be in trouble.

Benefits to you:

  • User-friendly upload
  • Many books sell above the $2.99 price point, which means more money for you
  • Millions of readers in over 200 countries
  • Their Kobo Writing Life exclusive opportunity allows promo ops you don’t get with other venues
  • Exclusive promotion opportunities


  • No Kindle application
  • Must have a bank account (no PayPal option)
  • No other author service options

#5 Draft2Digital

Remember this is a middle-man aggregator option and may be perfect for you as they convert any word readable file into a book for you at a very reasonable fee. They distribute to the big booksellers like Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Scribd, Kobo, Barnes & Noble while you are busy cranking out your next bestseller. Draft2Digital gets rave reviews from users and should perhaps go into the top file for sources to investigate further.

Benefits to you:

  • Fee is only 10% of retail book price sold
  • Do the conversion for you with super automated tools
  • Distribute widely to the most popular platforms
  • Have excellent customer service
  • If they publish your book, that means they believe in you because they only get paid when your book sells.
  • You don’t stare at big-name author competition (Grisham, Penny, King) on their webpage
  • Easy to maneuver website
  • Innovative tool that links your new publication to previous “also by this author” feature


  • Not as branded perhaps as Smashwords or Amazon

#6 Smashwords

Smashwords is perhaps the father of self-publishing vehicles, and they started something good. We should thank them for that. With a huge 135k author base, they still claim to be the world’s largest indie book distributor. They understand the business and offer many free tools to ensure your books’ success.

Benefits to you:

  • 15% fee if sold through Smashword or 10% through their distribution channel
  • Experience in the industry
  • Free marketing tools
  • Creative control
  • Wide distribution
  • Brand recognition
  • Sales reports


  • Must format your own book
  • Formatting process may not be easy for everyone to maneuver
  • Cost to distribute to Amazon is higher and must meet the $2000 sellers club

#7 PublishDrive

This hip vibe aggregator has a unique subscription opportunity and has a great reach. An astonishing 18K+ authors have published over 100k books since 2015. For a monthly fee of $100, you keep all the royalties. It’s an excellent option for established authors with a brand. Broad international reach and distribution to Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Scribd, B&N, etc.

Benefits to you:

  • Updated and easy to use interface
  • Successful
  • International market
  • Respected Indie market supporter
  • 10% fee on retail price or subscription package


#8 StreetLib

StreetLib is another international distribution player that charges a standard 10% fee per book sold. Listing includes transmission to Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, B&N, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Indigo.

If you’re looking to find success in the European and Latin American market, this might just be the way to go.

Their dashboard has Italian, Spanish, and Hindi options and recently added Egyptian authors to their client list.

Benefits to you:

  • International market
  • 10% royalty fee
  • Great distribution channels


  • Hard to say if this will work for your individual needs

Yes, all this information is overwhelming. Trust me, I hear you. I’ve been there. But as a writer, you already love discovering and have a work ethic that will get you through this.

#9 Reedsy

You’ve heard of Reedsy because they’re everywhere. They provide services for authors so that they can concentrate on writing. Many authors use Reedsy as a trusted source for editing, formatting, cover design to take your ideas and make them shine, and even marketing.

If you click here, you’ll see their pricing at a glance. Who knew that after all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into your book, you still had to pay to launch it.

Benefits to you:

  • Know the indie market
  • Offer cost matching service packages to fit your needs
  • Prices are reasonable
  • Happy clients
  • Established author support services
  • Free book formatting tool
  • Professional grade print and ebook


  • Cost prohibitive (What newbie author isn’t sick of everything having a price tag)
  • From personal experience, too many emails in my inbox

#10 KDP Print Direct Publishing

Here we are again. Once upon a time, this was called CreateSpace. With Amazon’s KDP Print, ebook authors can quickly upload their PDF versions and, before you can say, “print,” have a book shipped to a potential client. KDP is recognized by libraries and booksellers worldwide.

Benefits to you:

  • Instant access to a worldwide market
  • Competitive rates
  • It’s Amazon
  • Superfast
  • No inventory costs
  • No upfront cost
  • Read this for distribution information


  • You may become a best-selling author, and that solitary lifestyle goes out the window

About ISBN numbers: You need an ISBN to sell a print book but not eBooks. I heard the last price for a number was $125, but you may want to purchase in bulk.

#11 IngramSpark

IngramSpark is the self-publishing child of Ingram, who is the most significant book wholesaler in the world. Ingram is home to 7.5 million book titles, so it’s safe to assume they are reliable. Ingram’s business evolved around their POD business, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t an excellent self-publishing venue for you to consider. No one builds an empire like this and does not have the tools to back it up.

IngramSpark is a perfect match for your KDP print as it will allow you access to 40,000 outlets to sell your book in. They produce highly professional books in various book sizes, use quality paper, soft or hardcover—an excellent choice for novels, memoirs, and non-fiction.

There are perhaps better solutions to investigate for children’s books, illustrated, image-dense, or artsy books.

If you are going this route, there are discount options to take advantage of.

For best cost options, consider doing both print and ebook value pack price of $49 or pay $49 for print alone or $25 for ebook.

Benefits to you:

  • Endless—IngramSpark is a mega distribution house
  • Worldwide bookseller
  • Book world reputation
  • Easy upload
  • Distribution to all the big houses like Amazon, Kobo, Apple, B&N
  • Affordable
  • Quality product
  • IngramSpark get started tool chest


  • You have to format, provide a cover,
  • It’s not free

#12 Lulu Publishing

Lulu Press has been in the publishing business since 2002 and prints everything from calendars to journals to novels. They are a POD and self-publishing distribution platform. Always educate yourself about the company you entrust with your project and check your client satisfaction windows. One disgruntled client is one thing; several destroy a reputation.

Benefits to you:

  • Easy PDF upload
  • Similar process to KDP
  • Wide distribution network
  • Linked to Shopify
  • Expanded author services like cover design, illustration, marketing
  • Free publishing service


#13 Self-Publishing School

This is a newer player on the scene, and they offer tailor-made publishing programs to suit your needs. Be prepared to spend money. They offer author courses and one-on-one coaching. Their approach to self-publishing is unique and may just be what you’re looking for in an industry that churns out so much convoluted information.

Benefits to you:

  • Tailor-made programs
  • Smaller, therefore more personal
  • Author building programs
  • Marketing developing platform
  • Similar to Amazon platform
  • Works with authors on projects
  • One price plans
  • You keep all the royalties


  • New and small (which might also be a benefit)
  • Pricy

Self-Publishing School sounds interesting. They might just be what you need to get your book completed and to market.

#14 BookBaby

BookBaby is an all-in author self-publishing service that assists authors during every step of the writing, design, publishing, and marketing stages. However, there is a price attached to their services, and customer satisfaction tells its own saga.

Benefits to you:

  • Do it all
  • Conversion specialists
  • Large distribution network
  • Pays 100% on net ebooks sales
  • Super easy dashboard
  • Author service


  • Cost prohibitive ( sample price: ebook fiction 346 pages with distribution costs $338)
  • See satisfaction

#15 Xin Xii

Considered Europe’s leading indie publishing and distribution, they have a strong presence in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. For every author, there is a platform. Although they are perhaps smaller and have a not-so user-friendly dashboard, their website is gorgeous.

Benefits to you:

  • Strong European distribution
  • Free global distribution
  • Power Package is free for fiction
  • Services unique European book vendors: Hugendubel, Witcoulls, Angus & Robertson
  • Perfect for the German market


  • Client outreach
  • Dashboard
  • Lost in translation service

Indie/Self Publishing Platforms Reminder:

A word to the wise. Competition in the self-publishing industry is a good thing. When Apple decided to go into the book market, it forced Amazon to give indie authors a raise from a mere 35% royalty base to the current 70% amount. If you want to really understand how Amazon keeps your earned royalties, read this informative article.

Now What?

The answer is simple—one step at a time. Don’t let information overwhelm you. It’s just a tool.

Writing is a long, tedious, all-consuming process. Once you commit to writing and publishing, you learn to master so many complex tasks. Writing isn’t just about putting poetic words on a page.

We’ve discussed popular self-publishing venues, but consider reaching out to your writing circle if that makes you more comfortable. Many writers taught themselves how to publish and how to create professional covers and interiors. Over time they became expert editors.

Perhaps trusting a fellow author with experience is an excellent investment to get your book on the market. Most, despite being published authors, still need to earn money. Those lucrative contracts you keep hearing about are not always made to every great author.

On this journey, I’ve met many talented, kind-hearted authors. Why not invest in one of them to help you get your book formatted, listed, and into the hands of readers?

Although we create fantasies, we must remain realistic. Despite all the conflicting information on hundreds of websites promising the moon, believe in your talent. Write and be authentic. The moon isn’t for sale. It belongs to all of us.

One More Thing:

Author Watchdog List provides authors with crucial information on how to protect themselves from shady opportunists that have done a grave disservice to self-publishing. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some self publishing platforms that are what they promise.

Related post: How to Write an eBook in 9 Easy Steps

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