A Closer Look At The Publishing Service Index For March

TIPM released the latest Publishing Service Index for March late last week and it featured some recently reviewed companies for the first time. I also want to take the opportunity in this post to share some additional data derived from the Publishing Index I’ve never shared before.
But first let’s take a look and the March index.
One of the big omissions in the index was the absence of a full review of Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing) and when I crunched the full statistical data for KDP across all the rating criteria required to float a new company onto the index, it came as no surprise to see it come straight in at the number one spot. Certainly for DIY e-book self-publishers, it’s become the primary platform. Significantly it’s also the very first time a company other than CreateSpace or Lightning Source has featured at the top of the index since we released the very first one in June 2010. It also means that two companies now dominate the market choices for all self-published authors when it comes to choosing a self-publishing provider—Amazon (owners of CreateSpace and KDP) and Ingram (owners of Lightning Source and IngramSpark). Throw Smashwords into the mix and what links all of these publishing platforms is that they are either free, or relatively low-cost entry points for authors. The DIY model for self-publishers, whether for e-books or print, seems to be the path of choice for authors, certainly in the USA.
What I’d like to do is isolate out some companies by category and service.
Looking at DIY self-publishing platforms, and excluding assisted publishing services and printers, the top five looks like this in the March index:

You can expect Blurb to be soon pushing the platforms ahead of it in the index because very soon it will announce further expansion in print and e-book distribution.
Now let’s take a look at the top ten printers and fulfilment service providers according to the latest index.

The steady rise from Thomson-Shore is clear and this reflects the recent news TIPM reported on a few weeks ago when the company acquired PublishNext to expand its offering to self-published authors. Thomson-Shore will now offer everything from editing, design, production, marketing and distribution in both print and e-book formats.
Removing e-book and DIY focussed companies from the overall index allows us to see more clearly the top ten assisted publishing services:

What’s surprising here is that UK companies outnumber US companies 6/4 and I think this reflects the fact that the preference for UK authors is far more print-centric and they are more likely to opt for a full service provider than attempt to go it alone with a DIY book project. Four of the above companies (or service imprint owners) also operate traditional-styled publishing arms. Indeed, John Hunt Publishing and Troubador in the UK began life solely as traditional publishers. The trend in the USA is for traditional publishers to enter the service provider field via partnerships with the goliath, Author Solutions Inc.
The next three charts are reasonably self-explanatory, listing publishing services by territory or at least the company’s primary operational market.

I didn’t list CreateSpace under global publishing services (some will argue that I should), but I still think CS works better for authors in the USA and it presents print and distribution limitations for authors outside the USA.
Authors may find the next data chart the most interest of all. It rates the transparency and quality of customer service feedback of publishing service providers. The survey was carried out by TIPM last summer and the data was then added to the other criteria rated for the TIPM Publishing Service Index. It does not measure the quality of books or the value of publishing services offered by the companies. I also want to stress—like all the data provided above—that the companies listed are only those 83 companies included in the TIPM index, not all companies operating in the publishing service industry.

Again, UK companies faired particularly well in the results holding four of the top six positions.
The following two charts represent the top five and the bottom five companies rated on positive and negative feedback to TIPM from authors using or attempting to use the publishing services offered by the companies. Feedback to TIPM from authors comes through many different mediums; comments directly posted to the magazine here and through our social media pages, emails sent to the magazine, and author reviews gathered through the TIPM Media Consultancy. Every effort is made to check and validate both positive and negative feedback from authors. Please note that anonymous comments and feedback from authors cannot be taken into account for any of the TIPM ratings.

The final two charts to complete this post show a combined breakdown of the 83 companies rated in the index.
This one shows the percentage split of DIY and assisted publishing services. While DIY companies dominated the top end of the index, 75% of the companies TIPM has carried out reviews on were assisted services.

The final chart again takes DIY and assisted companies but instead shows the average ratings score from the index.

Rating any publishing service is a labour-intensive and tricky task. It’s why author feedback plays an important part in the Publishing Service Index. Equally it is difficult to compare one DIY company with another, when one might only offer a gamut of e-book services and the other a gamut of print publication services. Trickier still to compare a DIY company with an assisted service provider. I’ve had fair criticism that you can’t compare or rate any company without paying and using every service offered by that company. If TIPM was to do that, we’d probably need a few million dollars tucked away in our bank account to fully test-drive every one of the 83 companies we’ve reviewed over the last six years. It’s just not feasible or practical! It’s why feedback on companies and holding all companies to some kind of ideal self-publishing charter is important. The way I see it is that saying you can’t independently rate any company without practically using its services is like telling a reader that they can’t claim X or Y book is the best book ever because they haven’t read every book ever published in that genre.
I hope crunching and extracting some of the data in the charts above casts some further light into the world of self-publishing services for authors. 


Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant

If you found this review or article helpful, but you’re still looking for a suitable self-publishing provider to fit your needs as an author, then I’m sure I can help. As a publishing consultant and editor of this magazine, I’ve reviewed and examined in detail more than 150 providers throughout the world like the one above. As a self-published and traditionally published author of nine books, I understand your needs on the path to publication and beyond. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands, and a great deal of your time, why not book one of my personally tailored and affordable consultation sessions today? Click here for more details.
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