UPDATED Print on Demand (POD) Price Comparison!

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UPDATED: 10/10/2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please also see “SELF-PUBLISHING? – How Many Book Sales Needed to Recoup Your Investment?” HERE.

SUMMARY (see details about each firm below)

  • BookLocker: $875 (Deduct $200 if submitting your own cover. Allows unlimited cover and interior images! DIY program available for less.)
  • Infinity Publishing: $1,097 (includes 5 “free” copies)
  • CreateSpace: $1,288 (Price only allows 3 images on the cover. Deduct $399 if submitting your own cover. D.I.Y. program available for less.)
  • Trafford: $1,474
  • Xlibris: $1,523
  • Bookbaby: $1,643
  • Lulu: $1,688 (D.I.Y. program available for less.)
  • iUniverse: $1,899 (includes 3 “free” copies)
  • Llumina Publishing (a.k.a. BreezeWay): $1,946 (includes 10 “free” copies)
  • Dog Ear Publishing: $1,998 (includes 5 “free” copies)
  • Westbow Press: $2,070 (includes 10 “free” copies)
  • Outskirts Press: $2,296 (includes 10 “free” copies)
  • Mill City Press: $2,744
  • Xulon Press: $2,845 (includes 5 “free” copies)
  • AuthorHouse: $2,874 (includes 3 “free” copies)

NOTE: All publishers listed offer distribution through Ingram (the world’s largest book distributor), as well as inclusion of their titles in the major online (Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc.) and physical bookstore systems. However, some of these publishers, like CreateSpace, may limit where they sell ebooks. CreateSpace has the worst ebook distribution (only one store), which means their authors lose out on ebook sales through BarnesandNoble.com, Apple and Kobo. Lulu does not offer ebook distribution through Amazon.

**Prices include print publication services and distribution (editing costs are excluded), as well as basic ebook formatting and distribution. Prices also include the cost of production files for those publishers who offer that, but many now don’t. Some don’t give or even sell production files to authors when those authors leave their service. For example, CreateSpace does not give production files to authors under any circumstances, even if the author has paid them thousands to produce those files. Other POD publishers do the same, or charge authors extra for copies of files they already PAID the publisher to produce! This is a ridiculous and extremely greedy practice! In the list below,BookLocker.com and Dog Ear give production files to authors on request at no extra charge. Other publishers either charge hundreds for them, or flat refuse to give or sell them to authors at all. This essentially forces the author to stay with that publisher unless they want to pay publishing/formatting/design fees all over again to someone else if they are unhappy with their publisher. We call this a forced marriage.

SEE THE END OF THIS LIST FOR DETAILS ON THE PRICING FEATURED BELOW.


BookLocker: Only $875

NOTE: Deduct $200 if submitting your own cover. Booklocker allows unlimited cover and interior images! Also offers a D.I.Y. program for less, as well as a Payment Plan Program. 

BookLocker is rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. This is the fastest publisher on this page! Most books are on the market in only a month. Also offers an expedited 2-week package for an additional fee. BookLocker offers an alternative Payment Plan Program, as well as a D.I.Y. program. No hidden fees or upselling. Ebook formatting/conversion/distribution includes mobi (for Amazon’s Kindle) and epub (for Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iPad, iPod and iPhone, and Kobo – Canada’s popular ebook retailer). No extra charge to include graphics, tables, footnotes, etc. in print books. ADDED BONUSES: 1. Returning authors are only charged $267 for print setup fees on their second and subsequent books (cover design is extra). 2. No extra charge for production files!  The 2-week rush publishing service is only $1199 (which is still less than most of the firms below charge for publication in several weeks to several months). BookLocker offers a paperback/hardcover/ebook combo as well. Read more HERE.

BOOKLOCKER REVIEWS:

According to The Independent Publishing Magazine, “Overall, BookLocker offers a very particular kind of POD publishing service, honest, upfront, a quality product, but no unnecessary frills. This model may not suit all authors, but their personalized approach and focus on book sales is worth all the value alone.

“As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and has put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”
Attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing


Infinity Publishing: $1,097.00 (includes 5 “free” copies)

Rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Unfortunately, there are several complaints listed about Infinity HERE and HERE. No mention of an expedited or rush option on their website. Their contract does not specify who owns the rights to production files.


CreateSpace: $1,288.00 (Deduct $399 if submitting your own cover. Price only allows 3 cover images. Add $79 for each additional cover image.)

Rated “Pretty Good” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Limit of 10 interior images – charges $25 more for 11-30 interior images. LIMITATIONS: Claims ownership of production files (that you already paid them to create!), including the ebook production file, and will not give or sell those to the author under any circumstances whatsoever, making it very costly and difficult to move to another publisher. Only offers mobi ebook conversion (only works on Amazon/Kindle). Does NOT offer epub (which everyone else uses). Only lists/sells ebooks on Amazon. Does not sell ebooks on Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, or anywhere else. Does NOT publish hardcover books (most others here do). IMPORTANT: CreateSpace was previously called BookSurge. Read more about BookSurge’s problems HERE. We ordered some BookSurge books and one looked so bad they inserted an apology note inside, saying it was the best they could get from their supplier. They ARE their own supplier! Another one arrived with the interior pages appearing upside-down. Read numerous complaints about CreateSpace, posted to their own forum, HERE and HERE and HERE. Pictures from one angry author are HERE. Other complaints are HERE and HERE and HERE. No expedite/rush service is mentioned on their website.


Trafford: $1,474.00

Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Warning: Has a variety of “extra” charges like $2 per page (included in price above) if your manuscript is submitted with incorrect headers/footers, page breaks, line and paragraph formatting, etc. Charges $5 extra per image (included in price above). Expedite service (“rapid release”) is only available for the $7,999.00 (!!) “Folio” and more expensive packages. NOTE: Trafford is is owned by Author Solutions, which owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse (all featured here), WordClay, Palibrio, Booktango, and others, and is in partnership with Archway Publishing, Balboa Press, LifeRich Publishing, GABAL, Partridge, Booktango, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past. See several complaints about Trafford HERE.


Xlibris: $1,573.00

Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Charges expedite fee of $349 (included above) for publication in 2 months instead of 3-4 months. Charges $10 per image (included above); $20 per table. LIMITATIONS: Limit of 1 cover image. Claims ownership of files you paid them to create. You have to pay them $150 more for those. NOTE: Xlibris is owned by Author Solutions, which owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford (all featured here) WordClay, Palibrio, Booktango, and others, and is in partnership with Archway Publishing, Balboa Press, LifeRich Publishing, GABAL, Partridge, Booktango, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past. See several complaints about Xlibris HERE.


Bookbaby: $1,643.00

Prices, at first glance, appear low on their website. However, you later learn the “complete publishing package” does not include interior formatting, nor cover design. You need to pay more for those services. The interior formatting price looks fair until you realize it’s only good for a book up to 50 pages. Read the fine print to determine the real costs. There are complaints about Bookbaby HERE and HERE. Bookbaby’s ebook program was rated 7.4 out of 10 by The Independent Publishing Magazine. Their print program was only rated 6.9-7.0.


Lulu: $1,688.00

Rated “Just Okay” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. LIMITATIONS: Lulu has had customer service and quality problems. Lulu does not mention production files on their site, and never responded to our email about that so it appears they don’t give or sell those to authors. We will post an update if we ever hear from them. Read THIS and THIS to learn more about Lulu’s ongoing problems from unhappy authors. More complaints are HERE. No expedite/rush publishing option is mentioned on their website.


iUniverse: $1,899.00 (includes 3 “free” copies)

Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Has a variety of “extra” charges like $2 per page if your manuscript is submitted with incorrect headers/footers, page breaks, line and paragraph formatting (included in price above), more than 25 photos/graphics, more than 2 images on your cover, tables, etc. LIMITATIONS: They claim ownership of files you already paid them to create and they will NOT GIVE YOU COPIES. $500 “express service.” Otherwise, turnaround is 3-4 months. NOTE: iUniverse is owned by Author Solutions, which owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford (all featured here), WordClay, Palibrio, Booktango, and others, and is in partnership with Archway Publishing, Balboa Press, LifeRich Publishing, GABAL, Partridge, Booktango, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past. Read several complaints about iUniverse HERE.


Llumina Publishing (a.k.a. Breezeway Books / Aeon Publishing): $1,946.00 – (includes 10 “free” copies)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Llumina recently announced they were “shutting down” because it “got too big” for her but the owner then confirmed to WritersWeekly that she will continue to do business under the name Breezeway Books. As of this writing, some of the Llumina website pages are still active. Authors should be aware that just because a person starts doing business under a different name doesn’t necessarily mean that person is going to improve their business processes. There are several complaints about Llumina online. Links are below.

According to Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, “I know that you can find a better option for the money. Complaints about Llumina are posted HERE and HERE.


Dog Ear Publishing: $1,998.00 – (includes 3 “free” copies)

Rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Their website says “Dog Ear is $300 LESS EXPENSIVE than the Nearest ‘Discount Publisher’.” But, they, of course, didn’t include BookLocker on their website. And, they’re one of the most expensive services on this list. For print publishing within a month + ebook publishing, they do NOT have the lowest price. Not even close. Without the expedited option, their price is still too high. Dog Ear DOES give production files to authors. Some complaints are HERE.


Westbow Press: $2,070 (includes 10 “free” copies)

If the high price at Westbow Press doesn’t scare you, the complaints HERE, and HERE, and HERE might. Westbow is in partnership with Author Solutions, which owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford (all featured here), WordClay, Palibrio, Booktango, and others, and is in partnership with Archway Publishing, Balboa Press, LifeRich Publishing, GABAL, Partridge, Booktango, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past.


Outskirts Press: $2,296.00 – (includes 10 “free” copies)

Rated “Pretty Good” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Outskirts used to charge authors an additional $998 for their production files but we can no longer find that option on their website. Their rush service costs $99 extra and takes 7-10 weeks instead of 13-17 weeks. BookLocker can get your book on the market in only 2 weeks for a LOT less! You can read detailed Better Business Bureau complaints about Outskirts Press HERE. Author Michael Marcus wrote a book about Outskirts Press called: Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy: The Strange Story of Vanity Publisher Outskirts Press. How Do They Stay in Business? You can see that HERE. More complaints about Outskirts Press are HERE and HERE.

Outskirts is yet another firm that claims to pay “100% royalties” but you are NOT getting 100% of the list price, which is what some authors assume when they read that type of marketing verbiage…not even close. The author simply gets what’s left over after everybody else takes their cut, which is what everybody does! Read more about those silly “100% royalty” claims HERE.


Mill City Press: $2,744

This firm was previously owned by attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. He recently sold it to the owners of Xulon, which appears next on this list.


Xulon Press: $2,845.00 – (includes 5 “free” copies)

This publisher just keeps getting more and more expensive! Publishes Christian materials only. Rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. We found no mention of rush / expedited publishing options on their website. There are some pretty scathing comments about Xulon HERE.

Xulon is yet another firm that claims to pay “100% royalties” but you are NOT getting 100% of the list price, which is what some authors assume when they read that type of marketing verbiage…not even close. The author simply gets what’s left over after everybody else takes their cut, which is what everybody does! Read more about those silly “100% royalty” claims HERE.


AuthorHouse: $2,974.00 – (includes 10 “free” copies)

Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Charges extra for photos/graphics ($5 per image after the first 25. Expedite fee ($500) is for publication in 45 days instead of 4-6 months (included above). LIMITATIONS: Claims ownership of files you already paid them to create. You have to pay them extra for copies – $250 for interior and $250 for cover (included above). NOTE: AuthorHouse is owned by Author Solutions, which owns iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford (all featured here), WordClay, Palibrio, Booktango, and others, and is in partnership with Archway Publishing, Balboa Press, LifeRich Publishing, GABAL, Partridge, Booktango, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past. Numerous complaints about AuthorHouse are published HERE and HERE.


***Prices above are based on the least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include black-and-white-interior print formatting (based on a 200-page book) with up to 25 interior photos/graphics (BookLocker offers unlimited graphics), original color cover design (some firms above only offer template covers with these packages) with up to 5 images (BookLocker offers unlimited cover images while the price for CreateSpace above only allows 3 cover images). Prices also include a print proof, basic ebook formatting and distribution to the top four ebook retailers (some above, like CreateSpace, have distribution limitations, and some may charge more for ebooks with complex formatting), Espresso edition (not all above offer this), an ISBN for all editions, barcode, a listing on the publisher’s website, distribution by Ingram, and feedback on your cover if submitting your own (some above don’t offer this, or won’t give you a discount if you are submitting your own cover), all within 6 weeks. IMPORTANT: Many of the firms above don’t offer rush/expedited publishing services. BookLocker usually publishes within a month – at no additional charge. BookLocker also offers a rush 2-week print publishing program for only $1199, which is still less than most of the other firms’ “regular” packages above.

NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don’t and some try to upsell authors on extraneous services during the publishing process. Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.

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Complaints about AuthorHouse, Complaints about Xlibris, Complaints about iUniverse, Complaints about Trafford, etc., etc.