2020 Self-Publishing Price Comparison!

2020 Self-Publishing Price Comparison!

UPDATED: 03/05/2020

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


SUMMARY (see details about each firm below)

  • BookLocker: Only $875!! (D.I.Y. program only $78, which includes an ISBN and initial file verification by a real human! Deduct $200 from the full-service, $875 package if submitting your own cover. Allows unlimited cover images and up to 50 interior images in the print book at no additional charge.)  IMPORTANT: WritersWeekly readers get a $150 discount off this price! You can sign up with BookLocker RIGHT HERE, and use this discount code when checking out to get your $150 discount: WritersWeeklyReader

  • Balboa Press: $1,299
  • Lulu: $1,738
  • Breezeway Books (previously Llumina Press): $1,946
  • Trafford: $1,948
  • AuthorHouse: $1,953
  • iUniverse: $2,018
  • Xlibris: $2,097
  • Dog Ear Publishing: $2,099
  • Westbow Press: $2,195
  • Fast Pencil / Infinity Publishing: $2,247
  • Bookbaby: $2,290
  • Wheatmark: $2,500
  • Xulon Press: $3,495
  • Mill City Press: $3,690
  • Outskirts Press: $3,695
  • Amazon KDP/CreateSpace: N/A – No longer offers formatting/design/editing services to authors. See numerous recent complaints RIGHT HERE. Amazon KDP/CreateSpace also does not offer hardcovers!

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 Amazon KDP/CreateSpace, may limit where they sell ebooks.

Prices include:

  • Print publication services and distribution, as well as basic ebook formatting and distribution.
  • The cost of production files for those publishers who offer that, but many do not. (BookLocker DOES NOT CHARGE EXTRA for production files! BookLocker authors own all rights to their manuscripts AND their production files.) Some don’t give or even sell production files to authors when those authors leave their service, even if the author has paid them thousands to produce those files. We call this a forced marriage and it’s a ridiculous and extremely greedy practice! BookLocker.com gives production files to authors on request at no extra charge.

BUT, WHAT ABOUT EDITING?

Editing costs are excluded from the numbers above. WARNING: Do NOT pay your publisher to edit your book. They will very likely claim ownership of that edited file! You can find an affordable freelance editor who won’t claim all rights to your edited manuscript RIGHT HERE.


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


BookLocker: Only $875!!

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+

NOTE: Also offers a D.I.Y. program for only $78, which includes assignment of an ISBN. Deduct $200 from the full service program if submitting your own cover. Booklocker allows unlimited cover images and up to 50 interior images in print books at no extra charge!

IMPORTANT: WritersWeekly readers get a $150 discount off this price! You can sign up with BookLocker RIGHT HERE, and use this discount code when checking out to get your $150 discount: WritersWeeklyReader

  • 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! BookLocker gets black-and-white-interior books on the market in only a month at no extra charge.
  • Also offers an expedited 2-week package for an additional fee, as well as a Payment Plan Program, and a D.I.Y. program.
  • No hidden fees.
  • Ebook formatting/conversion/distribution includes mobi (for Amazon’s Kindle) and epub (for Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iPad, iPod and iPhone, Kobo – Canada’s popular ebook retailer, and Overdrive, which sells ebooks to more than 40K libraries and schools in 70 countries).
  • No extra charge to include graphics (up to 50), tables, footnotes, etc. in print books.
  • Returning authors are only charged $267 for print setup fees on their second and subsequent books (cover design is extra).
  • No extra charge for production files!  The 2-week rush publishing service is only $1199 (which is still less than all 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 is recommended by the Alliance of Independent Authors.
  • 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.
  • According to Attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: “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.”

Read unsolicited testimonials from numerous BookLocker authors RIGHT HERE.


Balboa Press: $1,299.00 

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ … but read the complaints at the links below. 

Victoria Strauss writes: “I generally advise authors to avoid the Author Solutions self-publishing services (iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, AuthorHouse, BookTango, and the self-pub services Author Solutions runs for major publishers, including Thomas Nelson’s WestBow Press and Hay House’s Balboa Press), since I’ve received many complaints about quality, price, and high-pressure sales tactics.”

NOTE: Balbao Press is in partnership with 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, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past. You can read complaints about Balboa Press HERE and HERE. There’s even a “Balboa Press Survivors” Facebook page HERE. And, there are 204 complaints about their parent company, Author Solutions, HERE and DOZENS MORE HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about Balboa Press.

One author was so upset with an Author Solutions company that she wrote a book about it.

Other firms in partnership with Author Solutions, but not mentioned on this list, include: Archway Publishing, Palibrio, PatridgeIndia, Abbott Press, Inspiring Voices, Booktango, CrossBooks, and DellArte Press.


Lulu: $1,738.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ … but read the complaints at the links below. 

Lulu is in partnership with Author Solutions. (See the listing above for more about that firm.)

Lulu has been given a “mixed rating” by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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 and HERE. No expedite/rush publishing option is mentioned on their website.


Breezeway Books (previously Llumina Press): $1,946.00

Breezeway Books was previously Llumina Press, which had numerous complaints posted about it online. The publisher then canned that name, and started a “new” company. In a press release, they called it “rebranding.”

Breezeway Books has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Read an eye-opening review of this publisher HERE. Read several more complaints about this publisher HERE and HERE.


Trafford: $1,948.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ despite having received hundreds of customer complaints for their parent company, Author Solutions! Look at the additional complaints in the links below.  

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). Expedited service (“rapid release”) is $349 (included above).

NOTE: Trafford is is owned by Author Solutions. Read more about that in the Balboa Press listing above.

See several complaints about Trafford HERE and HERE. And, there are hundreds complaints about their parent company, Author Solutions, HERE and DOZENS MORE HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory”  about Trafford. 


AuthorHouse: $1,953.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ despite having received 201 customer complaints for their parent company, Author Solutions! Look at the additional complaints in the links below.  

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 is owned by Author Solutions. Read more about that in the Balboa Press listing above.

Numerous complaints about AuthorHouse are published HEREHERE, and HERE. And, there are hundreds of complaints about their parent company, Author Solutions, HERE and DOZENS MORE HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory”  about AuthorHouse.


iUniverse: $2,018.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ despite having received 201 customer complaints for their parent company, Author Solutions! Look at the additional complaints in the links below.  

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 is owned by Author Solutions. Read more about that in the Balboa Press listing above.

Read several complaints about iUniverse HEREHERE, and HERE. And, there are hundreds of complaints about their parent company, Author Solutions, HERE and DOZENS MORE HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory”  about iUniverse.


Xlibris: $2,097.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ despite having received 201 customer complaints for their parent company, Author Solutions! Look at the additional complaints in the links below.  

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) and $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 is owned by Author Solutions. Read more about that in the Balboa Press listing above.

See several complaints about Xlibris HERE, HERE, and hundreds of complaints about their parent company, Author Solutions, HERE and DOZENS MORE HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory”  about Xlibris.


Dog Ear Publishing: $2,099.00 

Better Business Bureau Rating: F

Over the past year, several authors have posted disturbing complaints about this firm and, quite frankly, we are surprised they are still soliciting authors on their website.

Read complaints about Dog Ear publishing HEREHERE, HERE, and at the Better Business Bureau HERE. Those contain numerous allegations of late/missing royalty payments, and a variety of excuses by the publisher reported by authors on that site – from blaming the retailers/distributor, to having a computer system that can’t handle their growth, to switching bank accounts and not having new checks yet, to running out of stamps, and even a broken stamp machine.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory”  about Dog Ear Publishing.


Westbow Press: $2,195.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ despite having received hundreds of customer complaints for their parent company, Author Solutions! Look at the additional complaints in the links below.  

If the high price at Westbow Press doesn’t scare you, the complaints HERE, and HERE, and HERE might.

NOTE: Trafford is is owned by Author Solutions. Read more about that in the Balboa Press listing above. And, there are hundreds of complaints about their parent company, Author Solutions, HERE and DOZENS MORE HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory”  about Westbow Press.


FastPencil.com / Infinity Publishing: $2,247.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: F

Infinity Publishing merged with Fast Pencil. There are several complaints listed HEREHEREHEREHERE, 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.

Fast Pencil and Infinity Publishing have been issued a “caution” ratings by the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Bookbaby: $2,290.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: D+

There are complaints about Bookbaby HEREHERE 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 out of 10.

BookBaby is the only publisher on this list that requires authors to sign an exclusive contract, which is ridiculous for self-publishing. Authors should NOT give exclusive rights to their book to a firm that THE AUTHOR PAID to publish their book!


Wheatmark: $2,500.00

You might get upsold for more because their website states that a realistic budget for properly publishing most books is between $4,000 and $6,000! That’s ridiculous!!

If you want them to simply talk to you about your book, you’ll need to first purchase a Book Publishing Blueprint for $97, a Book Marketing Blueprint for $97, or both for $147. Again, RIDICULOUS! We call that a submission fee.

We had an author go undercover to get their prices from them via email. For paperback and ebook, it’s an astounding $2,500. They specifically stated that does not include editing.

You have to fill out a long form online so they can then contact you with their sales pitch. According to the Independent Publishing Magazine, “authors must pay for initial consultation and they don’t publish their prices on their website.” Also: “Royalties are low when compared to some self-publishing services.”


Xulon Press: $3,495.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ … However, read complaints at the links below, as well as those at the Better Business Bureau website RIGHT 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.

Xulon Press has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

There are some pretty scathing comments about Xulon Press HERE. Read another complaint HERE.


Mill City Press: $3,690.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: N/A (Says they are out of business but that’s not exactly true.) Read complaints at the link below. 

Mill City Press has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

This firm was sold to the owners of Xulon Press (Salem Authors Press), which also appears on this list. They also own MCP Books and XP Books. Read complaints about Mill City Press HERE.


Outskirts Press: $3,695.00

Better Business Bureau Rating: A+ … but read the complaints at the links below. 

Outskirts Press has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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! What?! 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 HEREHERE, and HERE.


AMAZON KDP/CREATESPACE: N/A

No longer offers publishing services to authors. Also, does not print hardcover books at all. See complaints about Amazon KDP (previously called CreateSpace, and other names as well) HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, 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 50 interior photos/graphics (BookLocker allows up to 50 graphics in print books at no extra charge), original color cover design (some firms above only offer template covers with these packages while all BookLocker covers are original and unique) with up to 5 images on those covers (BookLocker does not have a cover image limit). Prices also include a print proof, basic ebook formatting and distribution to the top four ebook retailers (some 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, the largest book distributor, 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. Some firms above offer “free copies” in their packages but, if you look at the high prices of those packages, you’ll see that handful of “free” copies are anything but free. Authors would do better signing up for a less expensive service, and then purchasing copies at their author discount.

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 all of the other firms’ “regular” packages above. The 2-week program is also eligible for the $150 Discount Code offered to WritersWeekly readers. You can sign up RIGHT HERE, and use this discount code when checking out to get your $150 discount: WritersWeeklyReader

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.

To see additional complaints about print on demand/publishing service firms, click HERE.

IMPORTANT: WritersWeekly readers get a $150 discount off when publishing with BookLocker! You can sign up with BookLocker RIGHT HERE, and use this discount code when checking out to get your $150 discount: WritersWeeklyReader





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8 Responses to "2020 Self-Publishing Price Comparison!"

  1. Pamela Allegretto  March 6, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Another excellent, informative article. I always look forward to Fridays with WritersWeekly. Cheers to the entire staff at BookLocker.

  2. Fatima Caruthers  April 22, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    First of all I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question in whichI’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your headprior to writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting myideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems likethe first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out howto begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thank you!

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  April 23, 2019 at 10:21 am

      I always stop writing in the middle of a chapter, not at the end of a chapter. The next day, I re-read what I wrote the previous day and am able to easily get into the groove since I don’t have to “start anew” on a new chapter. If I stop at the end of a chapter, it’s much more difficult for me to pick up the writing again the next day. 🙂

      Angela

  3. By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  May 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    The list above is sorted by price. I’d love to make a list of bad ones but doing that would inevitably result in a bunch of phony lawsuit threats. Instead, authors should research any publisher they’re considering doing business with. It’s not difficult to find real complaints about such firms. While there are false negative reviews about firms (likely posted by their competitors), it’s not difficult to find patterns in legitimate complaints that indicate red flags.

    -Angela

  4. Deborah Midkiff  February 22, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I highly recommend Booklocker, and have from my first book to my fifth now headed to publishing. They are the best!

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  February 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      We love you, too, Deborah! Can’t wait to see your latest!! 🙂

  5. pamelaallegretto  February 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    I recommend BookLocker whenever I can.

  6. perleyjthibodeau  February 3, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I got my files back (all 13 manuscripts of them) from CreateSpace because I have a Chase Business Card and it must have been considered merchandise paid for but not received. Don’t deal with CreateSpace at all!