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Indie Author's Guide to the Top 10 Self-Publishing Companies for 2019


If you're a writer who wants to become a published author, chances are, you've done some research on the topic. Or, perhaps you're a seasoned pro at the writing and querying process. If that's the case, you've more than likely met that terrible foe all authors hate: rejection.

Rejection is a part of life in general, and, unfortunately, a big part of the publishing world. Authors have described amassing hundreds of rejection letters from agents and publishers alike. Famously, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was rejected (a mere) twelve times before finding mind-blowing success with her series.

J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel was rejected twelve times before finding mind-blowing success with her series
J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel was rejected twelve times before finding mind-blowing success with her series. Photo by Rae Tian on Unsplash.

Writers once sought traditional publishing for the hopes of big advances, wide distribution, and generous marketing dollars. And while a number of writers have had tremendous success in this arena, many going on to become household names and best-sellers tens of times over, many other writers find themselves facing rejection over and over, until giving up on the book they're querying becomes the next step.

However, what many writers don't realize is that rejection oftentimes has little to do with the quality of the author's work. Rejection can happen simply because the project is no longer a hot trend, or it's not yet a trend. Additionally, agents may reject a project they might have otherwise accepted simply because they've already signed a similar book. After so many rejection letters and emails, it's often advised the writer move onto a different project.

But Instead of tucking away those hard-wrought stories, these days, authors are finding ways to bring them to light by self-publishing. Self-publishing is a fantastic avenue for writers who are natural entrepreneurs and/or want to retain sole control over their projects. At traditional houses, authors may be asked to make significant changes to their work. They receive little say in the cover, and can often be asked to change the title to suit marketing trends. On top of that, only a select few authors receive generous marketing budgets. Most traditionally published authors are still expected to the heavy lifting where marketing is concerned, exactly as self-published, or indie, authors do.

Writers may have many different reasons for wanting to self-publish, but it all comes down to this: self-publishing is for everyone! And those authors who are particularly savvy can find great success with self-publishing and turn them into extremely lucrative careers.

Whether you want to be in control of your book from inception to publication, or you simply want to gift the world with a story the traditional publishing world rejected, consider self-publishing as a viable path for your dreams.

Here, we've detailed ten of the best self-publishing companies for you to research and choose from as you take the next step in your writing career.

Happy writing!


Let's start with the king of self-publishing companies. Amazon's platform, Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, is the world's largest seller of eBooks. In 2015, around 74% of of all eBooks purchased in the U.S. were from Amazon, with an estimated 3.4 million books available. It's only increased since then. Authors can create digital books (eBooks) as well as paperbacks, and it's free to upload. The royalty percentages depend on the book's pricing, but if an eBook is priced at $2.99 or above, the author receives a 70% royalty (it goes down to 35% if the book is priced under $2.99). The royalty split is different for paperbacks. There are also a number of user-friendly how-to guides on the KDP site itself. Once learned, the process is quick and easy.

Barnes & Noble Press

Longtime brick-and-mortar bookstore chain Barnes and Noble jumped on the digital bandwagon, and created its own indie publishing platform, Barnes & Noble Press (formerly known as NOOK Press). Like Amazon, it is free to upload, and offers many of the same features. The royalty split is, also like Amazon, based on book pricing. For an eBook with a price of $2.99 and up, the royalty is 65%. For eBooks below $2.99, the royalty is 40%.


While KDP is the titan of eBook/digital book publishing, IngramSpark, owned by Ingram Book Group, is the largest book distributor and wholesaler in the United States. It distributes digital books and hardcopy books to Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Nobel, Follett, and Booktopia, to name just a few. However, while publishers like KDP and B&N Press are free to upload, there is a cost associated with IngramSpark—$49 to set up, $25 to make changes to an already published book, and then authors have to purchase an ISBN if they wish to make print copies. The upside? IngramSpark distributes to libraries, and you have the option to make a supercool hardcover book, something KDP does not offer at this time.

Apple Books

It seems like Apple is everywhere, and most people own at least one Apple product, from iPhones to iTunes. It makes sense it founded a self-publishing platform called iBooks back in 2010. While it has remained eclipsed by Amazon giant KDP, Apple books still get hundreds of millions of downloads per year.

Kobo Books

Kobo, a Canadian company owned by Rakuten, sells digital books, audiobooks, and e-readers. Its self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, launched in July of 2012. Due to its Canadian headquarters and affiliation with the Japan-based Rakuten, Kobo has a major international audience. Similar to the above/under $2.99 eBook price point of other self-publishing companies, Kobo offers royalties of 70% and 45%, which are better than KDP and B&N Press.


For authors who are only focused in self-publishing digital books, Draft2Digital is a powerhouse. This platform is considered an aggregator, meaning it pushes your book to multiple retailers, rather than you having to upload it to multiple places and keep track of multiple reports. All your information is one place. Additionally, the royalty is a whopping 90% of your book's retail price, so no worries about managing your royalty percentage if you decide to put your book on sale, or take it off sale. D2D retains just 10% of each copy sold.


Smashwords is another aggregator, like Draft2Digital. The major thing to note about Smashwords is that it does not distribute to Amazon. So if you decide to use Smashwords but also want your book sold on Amazon, you will have to also upload it to KDP. That said, Smashwords does have an even large distribution pool than Draft2Digital. Smashwords retains 15% of the retail price of your book on its own platform, and then takes 10% on other platforms, per copy sold. Stuck between Smashwords and Draft2Digital? Check out this article that discusses the differences between the two aggregators to better help your decision.


Based in Italy, StreetLib is the only aggregator with a multi-language dashboard, including English, Italian, Hindi, and Spanish—to name a few! It distributes to all major Western stores, and has a strong presence in European stores, which include Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Indigo, and many, many more. The pricing structure is such that StreetLib retains 10% of your book's retail price per copy sold. Interested in publishing a print edition of your book? There's an up-front cost of $49 and you get a free ISBN.


Similar to IngramSpark, BookBaby is a print-on-demand self-publishing company that's excellent for first-time self-publishers, because it's a full-service, one-stop shop that offers editing services, cover design, book formatting for digital and print books, and marketing plans to help indie authors be as successful as possible. Prices vary depending on the services the author is looking for, but their most popular package, "The Complete Self-Publishing Package," costs $1,699, which includes cover design and formatting, eBook conversion, 25 print books, international distribution, a Facebook ad campaign, and several other things (note: it does not include editing services).


A relatively new aggregator, PublishDrive is on the rise, distributing to over 400 stores and 240,000 digital libraries, offering four tiered subscription pricing options to fit authors and publishers at every level. Their plans range from free (with limited distribution) to $99.99 a month (for the priced options available). They also offer a full distribution package but authors must submit a more detailed inquiry for pricing.

Screenshot of PublishDrive, one of the newer self-publishing websites now available for indie authors
Screenshot of PublishDrive, one of the newer self-publishing websites now available for indie authors.

If you're a newer author, or new to the indie world, self-publishing can seem like an insurmountable beast. But there are so many resources available to help you through the process of uploading your book, and many self-publishing companies who serve as one-stop shops, like BookBaby, where you can get editing, formatting, and cover design services all in one place. There's a lot to learn about indie publishing, but getting your story out there is the most important first step! And remember, even though traditional publishers might have passed on your work, that in no way determines its quality. The world needs your story. So use our guide today to get started!

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