Publishing Service Index: October 2019 [with notes]

news_3This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for 2019. Our previous one was released last year in November 2018.

So we have seen almost a full year past by. I am switching to releasing it just once a year.  The index takes a great deal of work, and while there are some moderate changes, even a full year has seen few core changes beyond companies going bust, taken over, or simply pulling out of the self-publishing service market. I’ve now removed those companies. From the heyday of 100+… we are now down to 75.

The index continues to reflect closures of publishing service providers and our latest release sees the departure of several companies in the UK along with some stalwarts of the self-publishing service industry – Createspace. Several companies operating in the UK market, who began as traditional publishers and expanded into the self-publishing space, have now withdrawn from it. Epic, Apex and Stockwell, among others, have now got out of the service market after many years.

There are several companies I continue to watch on the list. I’ve reason to believe that at least another three will not be around by early 2020.

The core players remain dominant in DIY-styled publishing platforms but the better full service providers have proven that there is a place for them and authors who want that kind of service.

Matador still tops the list. KDP and Ingram seem to be in an endless cycle of transition and improvement.

Overall, I think the index has settled down and Lightning Source (Ingram’s original print division) and Draft2Digital have both found their place after the demise of CreateSpace.

I am no longer reviewing new companies because the time required is far beyond what I can expend on TIPM. If reviews seem outdated, then the index should be your go-to point of reference. In truth, I simply no longer have the time to spend updating old reviews or exploring new service providers with over 5000 word reviews.  I’ve always felt the 100+ reviews I have carried out should be sufficient for any author to make up their mind as to what is a good publishing service and what their requirements are. If not, I probably can’t help them. And this index is something they will just ignore anyway and make all the mistakes I warn against!

I’ve long gone beyond a stage of being a filter for those impetuous and lacking basic understanding of self-publishing. TIPM was at the forefront of leading the way for indie authors for more than ten years… it’s all here (try the search button)… but I can’t lead the horse to water if it doesn’t think itself thirsty.

To be clear, I do not do author consultancies anymore. I stopped that about a year ago. I simply felt that if I was involved in other work fields and not as up-to-date in the publishing and author market as I once was, I was in no position to dish out advice as a service.

Now… 2020. I have no idea when my next index will be. Probably very late in the year. Unless the service and self-publishing market dramatically changes. And I don’t foresee that happening.

TIPM and Radio Espial has conducted audio and video interviews with the former CEO of Hillcrest Media, Mark Levine, indie author Linda Riesenberg Fisler, Kevin Spall of Thomson-Shore, and Jeremy Thompson of Troubador. We will have more interviews with authors and publishers in 2020, when my normal work time allows it. If you haven’t seen the interviews, you can view or listen to them by visiting the Radio Espial website for all the links (iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube etc.).

TIPM continues to receive regular feedback on services through comments under our reviews, via our The Independent Publishing Magazine Facebook page, and directly to us. We want to thank all of those who took the time to share their publishing experiences. Your comments are always welcome and every comment and experience of a publishing service — positive or negative — is always read and reflected in the latest index published.

I’ll catch up with you all in 2020. I will have an email newsletter out for subscribers within the next couple of weeks.


1 1 Matador UK FSP 805.53 SAME
2 2 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) GLOBAL DIY 802.88 SAME
3 3 IngramSpark GLOBAL PRT/FULL 799.457 SAME
4 4 Smashwords USA DIY 762.50 SAME
5 5 Kobo Writing Life GLOBAL DIY 738.77 SAME
6 7 Draft2Digital UK/USA DIY 624.30 UP
7 6 Lightning Source GLOBAL FULL/PRT 600.06 DOWN
8 6 Silverwood Books UK FSP 574.63 SAME
9 10 Blurb GLOBAL DIY 573.97 UP
10 9 Thomson-Shore USA PRT 548.48 DOWN
11 11 BookLocker USA FSP 518.81 SAME
12 12 Pressbooks USA DIY 508.22 SAME
13 13 Epigraph Publishing Service USA FSP 487.68 SAME
14 24 Google Play Books GLOBAL DIY 452.04 UP
15 17 CPI UK Antony Rowe EUROPE PRT 450.83 UP
16 15 Mijn Bestseller EUROPE PRT 448.80 DOWN
17 14 Dog Ear Publishing USA FSP 437.60 DOWN
18 16 USA PRT/FULL 436.69 DOWN
19 18 Lulu GLOBAL DIY/FSP 434.20 DOWN
20 22 Bookbaby USA DIY/FSP 426.40 UP
21 20 John Hunt Publishing GLOBAL PUB/FULL 424.65 DOWN
22 19 Unbound UK PUB/CRW 423.48 DOWN
23 21 York Publishing Services UK PRT/FULL 414.99 DOWN
24 26 Grosvenor House Publishing UK FSP 410.09 UP
25 23 Mill City Press USA PUB/FSP 401.78 DOWN
26 25 Publish Green GLOBAL FSP 395.34 DOWN
27 28 Book Guild Publishing UK FSP 388.96 UP
28 28 Wingspan Press USA FSP 388.90 DOWN
29 31 The Choir Press UK/USA FSP 376.73 UP
30 32 eBookIT GLOBAL DIY/FSP 373.90 UP
31 34 Cold River Studio USA FSP 369.02 UP
32 35 SelfPublishBooks/Lettertec IRELAND FSP 368.55 UP
33 30 Barnes & Noble Press (Nook) USA DIY 368.20 DOWN
34 36 Wheatmark Publishing USA FSP 365.37 UP
35 37 Wasteland Press USA FSP 362.75 UP
36 33 Aventine USA FSP 361.40 DOWN
37 38 Infinity Publishing USA FSP 358.65 UP
38 39 Virtualbookworm USA FSP 356.43 UP
39 40 Americas Press USA FSP 354.67 UP
40 42 Pumbo EUROPE DIY 348.56 UP
41 43 Authoright UK/USA FSP 347.03 UP
42 44 Telemachus Press USA FSP 346.66 UP
43 45 Janus Publishing UK FSP 342.31 UP
44 62 Chandler Book Design UK PRT 340.11 UP
45 46 Outskirts Press USA FSP 339.75 UP
46 50 PubliBook EUROPE DIY 339.44 UP
47 47 Xulon Press USA DIY 334.20 SAME
48 49 Kazoo Publishing Services IRELAND FSP 333.63 UP
49 51 BreezeWayBooks (Ex-Lluminia) USA PUB/FSP 333.17 UP
50 52 Diadem Books UK/USA FSP 332.23 UP
51 53 Direct POD UK PRT 331.65 UP
52 54 Olympia Publishers UK PUB/FSP 331.63 UP
53 55 Eprint Ireland IRELAND PRT 331.43 UP
54 56 Kbuuk USA DIY 331.20 UP
55 57 Arima UK FSP 324.75 UP
56 58 Pomegranate Press UK/USA FSP 324.05 UP
57 60 iUniverse USA FSP 320.91 UP
58 78 Xlibris GLOBAL FSP 318.30 UP
59 61 Abbott Press USA PUB/FSP 318.08 UP
60 59 FastPencil USA FSP 317.03 DOWN
61 63 Turning Stone Press USA FSP 313.43 UP
62 64 Archway Publishing GLOBAL PUB/FSP 306.70 UP
63 65 Choice Publishing IRELAND FSP 302.09 UP
64 66 Dolman Scott/Oak Press UK FSP 301.29 UP
65 67 WestBow Press USA PUB/FSP 299.80 UP
66 69 CreateMyBook (ShopMyBook) GLOBAL PRT 294.99 UP
67 70 Trafford Publishing USA FSP 293.84 UP
68 71 Austin MacAuley UK FSP 283.34 UP
69 72 Spiderwize UK FSP 279.90 UP
70 74 Balboa Press GLOBAL PUB/FSP 268.70 UP
71 73 Dorrance Press USA FSP 267.06 UP
72 75 Melrose Books UK FSP 253.67 UP
73 76 AuthorHouse GLOBAL FSP 233.18 UP
74 77 Better Book Company UK FSP 209.59 UP
75 79  Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie UK PUB/FSP 185.59 UP
  • DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services and basic conversion and formatting services
  • FSP – Full Service Provider (Packages & Bespoke) – May also include Partnership publishing programs
  • PUB – Also offers Mainstream Contracts or is a service imprint of a traditional publishing house
  • PRT – Printer (primarily a printer with some additional but limited services)
  • FULL – Fulfilment Services provided for distribution logistics, warehousing of stock (including supply to wholesaler and retailers)
  • CRW – Crowdsource
  • CLOSED/OFB – Closed or out of publishing business

There is a much more detailed explanation of what the Publishing Service Index is and how authors can best use it in this post.

The most asked question we get at The Independent Publishing Magazine is often along the lines of; ‘What self-publishing service should I go with?‘; ‘Is so and so a good service to go with?‘; or ‘Is so and so a scam?‘

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company’s name, nor are we here to endorse a company’s services. If we were only to review companies according to every point on an ideal dream list of what an author wants/should get, we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10.

The reality is that some companies offering publishing services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable or better services. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.

We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day – good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.

So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?

We believe the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we present is a kind of stock exchange for companies supplying publisher services.

The PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX was first launched in June 2010.

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