Updated January 2019 to include Draft2Digital's POD service.
This post is for you if you want a one stop shop, single service to handle every aspect of your self-publishing project: editing, design, formatting, eBook conversion, distribution, and payment processing. Here are five companies that can do that, reviewed in alphabetical order.
- Gatekeeper Press
Don't forget to purchase your own set of 10 or 100 ISBNs so that your book is portable among services. That's self-publishing freedom!
Blurb is a one stop shop (DIY) book creation and distribution service for authors of trade books, magazines, and complex full-color books in paperback and hardback and digital formats. Their print quality is high and so is their pricing. Like the other services, Blurb offers free book creation and distribution and takes a fee when you make a sale.
Blurb has all the DIY creation tools and distribution you need, but with their high print and ship costs, I don't recommend it for trade books like novels. But I like Blurb for complex, full-color books and marketing projects.
Blurb for Complex Books
If you've got complex, full-color book in mind (cookbook, travel photography, textbook), use Blurb's tools to tinker with your design before presenting it to a professional book designer. The more direction you give your designer the less time it will take to create it.
Blurb for Marketing Projects
You can also use it for marketing. I was at a boat show and one of the yacht rental companies had created a Blurb book as a glossy, expensive brochure to give away to clients who pay the equivalent of my yearly income for a ten-day vacation. Wedding photographers use Blurb to print and sell albums. I’ve also recommended using Blurb as a marketing tool—an easy way to create small color books that advertise your other work.
Even if you're writing a novel and don't need full-color book services, don't discount them entirely. Keep Blurb in mind for creating full-color booklets for marketing purposes or to test your formatting ideas.
BookBaby is the giant in one stop shop/do-it-for-you book creation and distribution services. They also offer a la carte services like editing and cover design. They are also known for their reliable (telephone and email) customer support.
Instead of taking a percentage of sales, BookBaby charges a flat fee in advance of the work and you keep 100% of net sales (after the sales channels have taken their percentage). Your book will be available a wide network of online stores.
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 you can use on your website.
BookBaby offers wide print and ebook distribution including wholesale book networks Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Their book printing service is among the best in the business. Pricing is a bit higher to match. They'll produce and distribute your color books, complex books, and casebound books, too.
Draft2Digital has long been known for their easy-to-use ebook creation and distribution service and in late 2018 they added a POD service. You can upload your PDF to their platform or use the PDF they generate when you use their automated book conversion service that includes widow and orphan control.
For authors who have an ebook cover but no print book cover, they'll generate one for you automatically. They provide templates, offer all the POD industry-standard trim sizes, and a choice of matte or glossy finish for the cover. Choose from white or creme for the interior, too.
Gatekeeper Press is a another one stop shop, 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 Gatekeeper's services with a membership in the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). You'll also find discounts on ISBNs, printing, and many other services with your membership, including a robust author-publisher community.
Lulu is a popular book distribution service that has been around a long time. If you have your own files ready to upload and distribute, by all means, consider them (along with IngramSpark, which can also print hardback books). Lulu makes good books and offers wide distribution and I used to recommend them.
Unfortunately, Lulu partnered with Author Solutions, a predatory vanity press, to provide pre-publishing packages (do-it-for-you formatting and design). They also push expensive and largely non-effective marketing services. I recommend avoiding Lulu's do-it-for-you services until they find another solution.
StreetLib is a DIY eBook and print book creation with a robust distribution service based in Italy and the USA. Distribution reaches into online stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Turkey, and Latin America, too. It's free to use and when you sell a book they keep 7%-10% of the cover price.
Their print book service is new and offers paperback only. StreetLib services include a la carte formatting, editing, cover design, plus EPUB correction and validation. So StreetLib can handle all your needs but in a more DIY manner.
[If you want to build your own team, use the StreetLib Market where you can find professional editors, book cover designers, and marketing pros, (or sign up as one).]
You can compose or simply paste your book text into StreetLib's free cloud-based book creation tool, where you can format comics, cookbooks, and poetry. When you're done, export to EPUB, MOBI, fixed layout, and PDF for print and upload it to their distribution system.
Playing with their printing cost and royalty calculator, I couldn't get a favorable profit margin on my 280-page 6x9 book at $14.95 retail. (My profit would be only $1.64 per book at Amazon.) So I'm still recommending StreetLib for ebook only and suggesting print distribution elsewhere. (I like IngramSpark in combination with Amazon KDP Print. See this post.)
As an author on StreetLib, you can claim your own book page, edit the content, and earn 15% of sales revenues. You can add other books from their extensive catalog to sell for a 15% commission. This is a great way to offer a curated bookstore on your website to make additional income.
Embed their sales widget on your website so you can ask your fans to purchase directly from Streetlib at a higher profit.
StreetLib offers book translation services via a partnership with Babelcube. Babelcube does not charge for translation but takes a percentage of your translated book’s sales revenue.
They have also partnered with Perlego, a subscription service that gives readers access to over 90,000 professional and academic books. You get paid depending on the number of pages read based on 55% of the membership revenues. (Streetlib keeps 65%.)
Last year, StreetLib became Bowker USA's book publishing partner. So when you purchase ISBNs you'll see an ad for StreetLib on the site.
Which One-Stop Shop is for You?
So, which one to choose? All of these services get your book to customers by distributing to both the print book and eBook retailers.
Eliminating Lulu / Author Solutions, you're left with four solutions.
Keep Blurb in mind for marketing materials, small runs of promotional books, and design tests to give to your designer.
So that leaves three serious contenders for centralized book creation and distribution:
If you're comfortable with using DIY tools inside a service or you're on a budget, consider StreetLib. Self-publishers sell eBooks at a far greater rate than print, so I wouldn't worry too much about their print book pricing. (You could always go direct to Amazon, too.) If you want your book translated, this is a no-brainer. (Though you can translate directly with Babelcube.) Ditto if you're an academic or professional book author.
BookBaby or Gatekeeper Press
If you don't want to do anything but throw your manuscript to somebody and make it come out looking good, consider BookBaby or Gatekeeper Press. They both offer the total one stop shop solution: editing, formatting, design, and distribution for an upfront cost, and they provide a la carte services, too.
Differences? Big company vs small company. Also, printing. BookBaby's standard printing is of high quality with higher printing prices that reflect those costs. You can also pay for higher-quality paper at Gatekeeper Press.
Pricing is similar. Check out both of them to see which one you prefer.
Who Will You Choose?
Have I got you covered? Which service will you choose? Do you know of another company that should be included in this list? I'd love to know in the comments below.
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