Factors to consider in selecting a self-publisher

Now that you’ve decided to self-publish your book, you need to find a print on demand printing house. Also known as a self-publishing company, this business only prints a copy of your book “on demand” – that is, when someone orders it. Most such companies are online.

Before selecting a self-publishing company, do your research. Simply type “self-publishing companies” into a search engine. In addition to reading through each company’s website pitch, check out postings by bloggers and the news media that review and compare these companies, grading them on varying criteria.

Remember, however, that there are quite a number of self-publishing companies out there, and the names of the players in this young industry are constantly changing. In addition, to remain competitive and find a business model that works, these companies frequently adjust their policies, procedures and services. Last year’s review listing “The 10 Best On-Demand Printing Companies” probably is already out of date.

Some key factors to consider when selecting a publishing house include:
• What services do they provide? If you need help anytime during the process, do they have staff who can format your book, create a cover, or proofread the book? Most importantly, do they have timely and useful customer service?
• What is the range of their distribution efforts? Do you merely get to post a description of your book and its cover on your website or do they ensure your title can purchased through book store websites?
• How much do they charge? Is there a membership fee? What are the hidden costs of printing with them? What will be the total cost of publishing with that company?
• What royalties do they offer? How much will you earn for each book sold?
• Is there a contract? If there isn’t, you can bet you’re dealing with a snake-oil salesman. If there is a contract, read it. You will have to decide if you will agree to it, after all.

Most authors simply look at the royalties question, but all of these factors must be taken into consideration and balanced against one another. If a self-publishing company offers high royalties but requires a large membership fee, those two dollar amounts ultimately may cancel one another out, leading to zero profit. If a self-publishing company has no membership fees but limited distribution channels, you may never be able to get your book in front of enough potential readers to make much of a profit.

Rather than go to an on-demand printing company to print your book, you may want to consider having a printing company (say one in your hometown) do the book for you. You almost certainly will find the per unit cost of printing a book less expensive at a local printing company than you will from a self-publishing company. The downside is a local printing company will make you buy in bulk, and you may find selling that many books is difficult at best. In addition, most on-demand companies allow you to keep correcting typos in your book for a small fee. Since you bought in bulk from the local printing company, you now have lots of books with unfixable typos in them.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.