These services do the design and formatting for you. Some may also provide e-book aggregation and print book distribution.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
Author Solutions Companies
WARNING: iUniverse, Author House, Trafford, Xlibris, BookTango, Balboa for HayHouse, LifeRich for Reader’s Digest, Archway for Simon & Schuster, and Westbow for Thomas Nelson
All of the above companies are run by Author Solutions, Inc. and are overpriced vanity presses that do not let you assign your own ISBN, charge too much for printing, set unrealistic expectations, and upsell you at every opportunity. Do your research before you choose vanity or subsidy publishing. Victoria Strauss maintains the Writer Beware site, where she lists predatory vanity presses, unethical agents, contest and award fakes, and other alerts for writers. Check it before you publish!
BAM!Publish is a “complete authoring and publishing solution” powered by FastPencil (see below) for the Books A Million bookstores across the United States. Their “packages” are $699, $1799, and $2799. I can’t recommend this service for professional independent authors and publishers. However, if you have one book and dream of seeing it in a bookstore, and you have the money, who am I to deny you this personal but probably unprofitable satisfaction?
BookBaby offers full-service book creation and distribution as well as a la carte services like editing and cover design. They also have reliable (telephone and email) customer support. Instead of taking a percentage of sales, they charge a flat fee and you keep 100% of net sales (after the sales channels have taken their percentage). Your book will be available a very wide network of online retailers including the Big 5 retailers.
Disc Makers, the company that owns BookBaby, also serves indie musicians and filmmakers with CDBaby. Their HostBaby website builder is an easy-to-use content management system for building your author or musician website. You also get a BookShop page, where you can earn more royalty by selling direct, which is a handy link for your website.
I recommend BookBaby a lot. They offer very wide print and ebook distribution including wholesale book networks Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Their book printing service is the best in the business. They do color books, complex books, and hardback books, too.
Bookstores Near You
I offer a description of Bookshop Santa Cruz’s publishing service because it’s indicative of services that are popping up all over the world. I used to live in Santa Cruz and this independent bookshop is well loved by locals and tourists. There is a large writing community there and I expect they started the service at the suggestion of more than one author-customer. If you don’t live in Santa Cruz check around at your most loved independent bookstore to see if they offer a service like this.
FastPencil offers an online ebook and print book creation tool with templates and a cover creator in the cloud with version control, writing, editing, and collaboration tools. Despite its impressive suite of tools and services, I can only recommend it for professional independent authors if you pay $599 for a Small Publisher Custom Imprint Setup, in addition to the other costs. Why? Because otherwise, you do not get to apply your own ISBN and therefore your publisher is FastPencil.
It’s free to create and print your book privately. It costs $249 to distribute your book to Amazon, BAM!, Ingram, Kobo and more. They charge $999 to add project setup, review, and cover design, and $1999 for a premium version of the same.
If you are a prolific blogger who wants to turn your blog posts into books, you may want to consider FastPencil, but Pressbooks offers an easy alternative for $99.
They also provide book marketing services, which I don’t recommend because you should do your own and outsourcing book marketing is the number one worst investment a self-published author can make.
The bottom line: If you are a multi-book author looking for a cloud-based book creation tool that allows multiple people to contribute to the book, along with a distribution service, and you are selling enough to recoup the fees, you may be tempted. But print your book elsewhere because their inflated printing costs make your books more than twice as expensive as other services.
FastPencil is the technology behind BAM!Publish, which guarantees your printed book in their stores across the US. (See above.)
Gatekeeper Press is a full-service company that offers design, formatting, and distribution to the major online retailers. You can also use them for a la carte services like editing and cover design. Small but growing, they have great customer service (email and telephone) and great prices on services and among the lowest prices I’ve seen on print books. (See my Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 4th Edition, for a full price comparison.)
They’ll handle your ebook and print book creation and distribution, editing, and cover design for about $600.00 plus 99¢/page beyond 200 pages. They distribute to all the major ebook and print book retailers. Gatekeeper makes its money by charging you up front for services. You keep 100% of royalties.
You’ll get 10% off with an IBPA membership. (See more about IBPA in the Organizations chapter.)