The most economical strategy for publishing your book is to print on demand (POD). This means printing only the books you need when you need them.
In the current self-publishing market, there are four POD services that stand out:
Ingram spark, KDP Print (Amazon’s publishing platforms Kindle + Create Space have merged), Book Baby, and Blurb.
Reedsy, a British marketplace for editing, marketing and publishing talent, did a very helpful survey of these four POD services.
So, which publisher should you choose? Let’s consider your priorities.
Amazon’s KDP Print
Do you want to print in softcover and ebook formats, with a relatively easy upload process, low-cost preview books, and Amazon’s mighty marketplace? Then choose KDP Print. This is Amazon’s hybrid publishing platform which combines their former Createspace with Kindle Direct Publishing. KDP does not charge for uploading your book. There are no fees until you press “print.” As with all PODs, you decide how many to print at one time.
If you want the widest possible distribution of your book, when clicking on distribution options, opt for Amazon but opt out of Amazon’s expanded distributions services; instead, select IngramSpark’s distribution network (see below).
Downsides to KDP books are: bookstores usually do not stock them, there is no option for hardcover, and there is a significant fee to send your books to sell at other stores besides Amazon.
Ingram Content Group is currently the largest book distributor and wholesaler in the U.S. IngramSpark is their publishing arm for indie publishers. They excel at distribution – and they have global partnerships that can expand the distribution of your book significantly. Ingram also has the largest variety of retailers and wholesale networks, so if you’re planning to sell in bookstores, this a good choice. There is a $49 set-up fee.
The downside to IngramSpark is that this is not a user-friendly experience. There is a thick set of instructions and minimal customer support. They will flag formatting issues and leave it to you to fix them. Other POD services will indicate format problems and try to help you correct them. With IngramSpark, it’s best if your PDF and cover are perfectly formatted before you submit. This could mean hiring a designer, adding to your expenses.
People like BookBaby because they offer a lot of support to self-publishing authors. New authors need advice regarding POD, ebook production, book editing, design, marketing, and distribution.
Their platform is easier than most; there is little to no learning curve. There is a set-up fee of $299, though, which covers their services.
The downside is that it’s expensive to distribute your book via BookBaby. Their distribution options utilize Ingram Content Group, so you’re charged extra for that service.
Blurb is a moderately easy, versatile publisher that allows you to print books on demand as well as image-rich works like magazines or photography books. So if your book is heavily illustrated, Blurb’s software is far more agile than most. There is no set-up fee, but their production fees are higher than others. If you need to order in bulk, Blurb offers good volume discounts. They will also list your book in Ingram’s book catalog for free.
The downside to Blurb is that you can’t send trade books directly to Amazon for sale; you can send them through Ingram.
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