Compare POD Publishers!
NOTE: All publishers below currently 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 and Lulu, limit where they sell ebooks. CreateSpace has the worst ebook distribution (only one store) while Lulu only offers ebook distribution through two stores (but not Amazon.com, the #1 ebook seller!).
**Prices below now include basic ebook formatting and distribution because most now offer that as part of their standard packages. Prices also now include the cost of production files...with the exception of CreateSpace, which does not give production files to authors under any circumstances, even if the author has paid them thousands to produce those files. Yes, most P.O.D. publishers (not BookLocker!) charge authors extra for copies of files they already PAID the publisher to produce! Ridiculous and extremely greedy! BookLocker.com gives production files to authors on request at no extra charge. Others either charge hundreds for them or, in the case of CreateSpace, 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 CreateSpace (and there are plenty of complaints about CreateSpace - see link below). We call this a forced marriage.
Prices are for black-and-white interior paperback (with full-color cover, of course) and basic ebook formatting, conversion, and publication. Most firms (not all) also offer hardcover formats as an add-on.
>> BookLocker: $675 (deduct $200 if submitting your own cover) <<< Rated "Outstanding" by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Offers alternative payment plan where fees are deducted from future royalties. 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 #1 ebook retailer). No extra charge to include graphics, tables, footnotes, etc. in print books. ADDED BONUSES: Returning authors are only charged $199 for print setup fees on their second and subsequent books. No extra charge for production files. Usually gets a print book to market in less than a month! Offers a paperback/hardcover combo option. Read more HERE.
>> Trafford: $1,424.00 << 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 only available for the $7749 "Folio" and more expensive packages. NOTE: Trafford is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns Xlibris, iUniverse, AuthorHouse (featured here) and others.A class-action lawsuit was recently filed against Author Solutions.
>> CreateSpace: $1486.00 (Deduct $599 if submitting your own cover) << Rated "Pretty Good" by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Add $450 to price above if you want more than one image featured on your cover; add $600 for more than 3 images. Limit of 1 interior image; charges $15 per image (included above) and $25 per chart/table/graph thereafter. 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). 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.
>> Lulu: $1536.00 (Deduct $599 if submitting your own cover) << Rated "Just Okay" by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. LIMITATIONS: Does not publish ebooks on Amazon (the #1 ebook seller!) or Kobo (Canada's most popular ebook retailer). Does not offer mobi conversion of ebooks (everyone else here does); only epub. Lulu has had customer service and quality problems. Lulu does not mention production files on their site, and has not responded to our email, 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 to learn more about Lulu's ongoing problems from unhappy authors.
>> iUniverse: $1599.00 (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 but you can have them...for a price - $150 for cover and $150 for interior (included above). However, if you terminate within the first 18 months, that price soars to $750 each. No expedite service. Turnaround is 3-4 months. NOTE: iUniverse is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Trafford (featured here) and others. A class-action lawsuit was recently filed against Author Solutions.
>> AuthorHouse: $1993.00 - (includes 3 "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 10 (included in cost above). 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 also owns Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford (featured here) and others. A class-action lawsuit was recently filed against Author Solutions.
>> Xlibris: $2621.00 << 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 extra for copies - $150 for interior, $150 for cover, and $50 for ebook (included above). NOTE: Xlibris is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford (featured here) and others. A class-action lawsuit was recently filed against Author Solutions.
***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, original color cover design with up to 5 images (some above charge extra for more than one image), print proof, basic ebook formatting and distribution to the top four ebook retailers (some have distribution limitations above, and may charge more for ebooks with complex formatting), 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 don't give you a discount if you are submitting your own cover), all within 6 weeks.
NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don't and some try to upsell authors on extraneous services. Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.
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Angela is Publisher of WritersWeekly.com and Co-owner of POD firm BookLocker.com.