Online self-publishing services have given users the tools they need to create, publish and promote their work. These sites allow authors to bypass the process of finding an agent and pitching to publishing houses, a venture that can take months, if not years.
Here are six great sites that will help you publish your work, guaranteeing you a published book that can be sold via different outlets, such as Amazon.
Have another service to suggest? Tell us about it in the comments.
Lulu allows you to create a variety of books, but also lets you develop digital media. These range from music and ringtones to videos and e-books. With Lulu, you can also scan and digitize your old books, albums, and photos. You are given the option of leaving the book in private view or releasing it to the public.
Before finalizing the book, you are able to download and print a proof of the book, and when your book is ready, you are able to sell it in your customized storefront. Users are able to use Google Book Search (Beta), which puts your book content in Google’s search results. When viewers click on the link, they are taken to a Google-hosted web page that links to Lulu. Lulu also provides groups that allow you to sell your book with similar books in a group storefront. Group members share a group blog, forum, and find like-minded individuals for future collaboration efforts.
What makes it unique: Lulu provides an FTP site for uploading files larger than 300MB. In addition, you are able to distribute to third-party sites, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, by purchasing a distribution package.
What it’s missing: You are not able to build your own templates or layouts.
Pricing: Softcovers start at $7.60 and hardcovers at $17.48
Blurb allows anyone to create any kind of book, from nonfiction to photo, recipe, and more. You can use one of their templates and layouts or import your own design. Once you’ve created your book, you can choose between making the book open to the public or keeping it private. If you choose to make your book public, it can be sold on the Blurb website. Additionally, you can opt to offer readers a preview of the first 15 pages of your book to help them decide if they want to make a purchase.
To increase your search ranking, you are able to add subtitles, tags, categories, and descriptions. If you are in need of assistance, you can contact a “Custom Bookmaker,” an independent provider who can help you in your book development.
What makes it unique: Blurb offers BookSmart, free software that assists you in developing your book. If you use Typepad or LiveJournal, you are able to import blog entries to create your book. Additionally, Blurb allows you to import images from Flickr, Picasa, and SmugMug. If you are using a Mac, it also integrates with your iPhoto library.
What it’s missing: You are not able to build your own templates or layouts, though you are able to import your own design. Also, the BookSmart software drastically slows down your computer, and there is no online writing collaboration, only photos.
Pricing: Softcovers start at $12.95 and hardcovers at $22.95
(Disclosure: Mashable is partnering with Blurb for our event at SXSW)
CreateSpace was acquired by Amazon in 2005, and similar to Lulu, it provides book publishing and digital media development. Because CreateSpace is a subsidiary of Amazon, it’s easier and quicker to sell your book through Amazon. Like the other sites, you are able to choose between making your book open to the public or private. The only format accepted during the submission process is PDF, which is for both text and images.
What makes it unique: CreateSpace is the only one of the self publishing services that provides you the ability to create your book in Kindle format. Additionally, you are able to immediately assign an ISBN or use an existing one.
What it’s missing: There is no option to create hardcover books. Also, while users can participate in the CreateSpace message boards, it’s lacking some of the social media tools, groups, and messaging that other self-publishing services provide.
Pricing: Standard B&W starts at $3.66 per book; Standard Color starts at $6.55. You can also upgrade to their Pro Plan, which is $39.00 per book. The Pro Plan allows you to keep more from each sale, and pay less when ordering copies.
CafePress provides a way for people to sell their creations in “shops.” It is a marketplace with over 150 million products (i.e. clothing, gifts, books, etc.). They also provide you with the ability of self publishing your books. Like the others, CafePress also has private and public options. While you are able to upload your book in PDF format, it has to be less than 100 MB. There are different templates you can use based on the type of book you are trying to publish, and you can tailor it the way you see fit.
What makes it unique: CafePress sells a variety of items, such as books, cds, clothing, art, etc. You do not have to be a member to use their self-publishing service.
What it’s missing: There is no option to create hardcover books and it doesn’t have the ease of site navigation like the other services.
Pricing: Prices start at $0.045 per page and a $4 binding fee.
WeBook combines the joys of self publishing with social media. You are able to write a book alone or collaborate with other writers. The site provides an online text editor for you to write, and you are able to add images from image-hosting sites like Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, etc.
There are two levels of privacy: You can choose who is able to view your writing, and who is able to write the story. Throughout the year, WeBook has submission periods in which you are able to submit your book for consideration for publishing. You can choose to share your royalties with people who have given you helpful feedback and assisted in the development of your book.
What makes it unique: You are able to collaborate with different writers, and be part of various groups. Writers rate and review submitted books, and the ones with the highest ratings are published by WeBook. Additionally, you can share your royalties with selected reviewers who have provided you with helpful feedback.
What it’s missing: There is no option for you to publish your book, if you desire. It is all dependent on the rating you receive. Also, you are not able to import from another word processor or PDF.
Xlibris was founded in 1997 and is one of the first self publishing services in the industry. You start the process by having a consultation with one of their consultants about your needs and the correct package to fit those needs. They create the full design of the book and send it to you for feedback and approval. After that, the book is yours and you are able to sell it wherever and to whomever you want.
What makes it unique: You get a free consultation to ensure that you are on the right path. Additionally, they offer leather-bound editions of your book.
What it’s missing: Competitive prices and private/public options.
Pricing: Prices start at $299
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