Publishing Service Index: September 2017 (Notes Included)

news_3This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for September 2017. Our last index was released in May 2017. Originally I compiled the index, month-to-month, but I found the work involved to update almost 90 companies and service providers (now 82) was not being compensated by enough changes on the index over a short period of weeks. Indeed, some months the changes were very modest, and sometimes hardly noticeable. The September index shows some moderate changes. The top five providers/platforms have all maintained their positions, with CreateSpace and Thomson-Shore making marginal gains. Lightning Source continues to slip down, and later this year or early 2018 (whenever we release the next index), I suspect it may exit the top ten for the first time ever over the history of the Publishing Service Index (since 2010).

Publishing service providers continue to fall by the wayside and close their doors, either because of a downturn in business from authors seeking full service providers or increased competition from freemium publishing platforms (online platforms that offer free basic services for file load up and formatting software, but charge for more advanced services like design, editing and marketing). There is one positive aspect of this. We lose some of the predatory companies from the publishing service landscape like Tate, Raider and America Star Books (formerly Publish America). However, authors should remain on their toes. Predatory companies may disappear, but the people running them don’t always despite the multiple warnings and legal cases. It looks like America Star Books is already trying to reinvent itself as ASB Promotions to sucker in a new wave of authors looking for marketing services.

As a publishing consultant, one additional point of note. I am finding it increasingly difficult to suggest a large and varied pool of reputable full publishing service providers to authors looking to go in that direction, particularly if an author wants both print and ebook editions of their book. More and more, we are moving to a publishing landscape where authors need to take greater control in the management of their book projects, and that means looking to publishing marketplaces to connect with professionals, whether an author is looking for a book designer, a skilled book formatter, an editor, or marketing and promotional assistance. While it is still possible to find all those services under one roof, so-to-speak, this area and the options available are shrinking, and when it comes to quality, efficient delivery of services contracted, and reputation; these are not the kind of things any serious independent author wants to compromise on.

The September Publishing Service Index sees the closure of five companies, either closing their doors for good or diversifying into other areas of business. Significantly, two are Irish companies, which is a far smaller landscape and market than the UK or USA. Nevertheless, it underlines the dominance KDP, IngramSpark, Kobo, Smashwords and CreateSpace (and the core freemium business model) now holds. But it is also a testament to full service providers like Matador, Silverwood and the recent expansion by Thomson-Shore that they have held or even strengthened their positions. I’ve always argued that dedicated and reputable full publishing service providers (FSP) have their places, even in a highly competitive self-publishing service market. But it is a gargantuan task for a new full service provider to establish itself in the current landscape of publishing. I think this is why the FSP area is shrinking. I rarely now review new companies in this area, because they either come and go before ever finding their footing after a year or two, or they simply mimic the Author Solutions model of gouging and exploiting authors (often new) as a production mill to make money.

Since we last released the index in May this year, TIPM and Radio Espial conducted audio and video interviews with the former CEO of Hillcrest Media, Mark Levine, and indie author Linda Riesenberg Fisler. 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.).

As always, TIPM continues to receive regular feedback on services through comments under our reviews, via our TIPM 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 every new index published through TIPM.


1 1 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) GLOBAL DIY 870.24 SAME
2 2 IngramSpark GLOBAL PRT/FSP 867.93 SAME
3 3 Matador UK FSP 730.14 SAME
4 4 Smashwords USA DIY 721.30 SAME
5 5 Kobo Writing Life GLOBAL DIY 709.73 SAME
6 7 Blurb GLOBAL DIY 573.30 UP
7 6 Silverwood Books UK DIY 572.79 DOWN
8 9 CreateSpace USA DIY/FSP 562.03 UP
9 10 Thomson-Shore GLOBAL FSP 547.22 UP
10 8 Lightning Source GLOBAL PRT/FULL 546.70 DOWN
11 12 Draft2Digital UK/USA DIY 502.30 UP
12 13 BookLocker USA FSP 500.51 UP
13 11 Hillcrest Media/Mill City Press USA PUB/FSP 499.82 DOWN
14 14 Epigraph Publishing Service USA FSP 448.98 SAME
15 15 Dog Ear Publishing USA FSP 445.71 SAME
16 20 Pressbooks USA DIY 444.60 UP
17 16 USA PRT/FULL 443.90 DOWN
18 17 Mijn Bestseller EUROPE DIY 439.60 DOWN
19 19 Lulu GLOBAL DIY/FSP 437.50 SAME
20 18 CPI UK Antony Rowe EUROPE PRT 430.42 DOWN
21 24 York Publishing Services UK PRT/FULL 414.98 UP
22 23 Unbound UK PUB/CRW 414.31 UP
23 22 Bookbaby USA FIY/FSP 409.00 DOWN
24 26 Google Play Books GLOBAL DIY 408.27 UP
25 21 Publish Green GLOBAL FSP 407.56 DOWN
26 25 John Hunt Publishing GLOBAL PUB/FSP 407.27 DOWN
27 29 Grosvenor House Publishing UK FSP 388.08 UP
28 28 Nook Press (B&N) USA DIY 387.50 SAME
29 27 Wingspan Press USA FSP 386.90 DOWN
30 30 Checkpoint Press IRELAND PUB/FSP 377.93 SAME
31 31 eBookIT GLOBAL DIY/FSP 374.44 SAME
32 32 Aventine USA FSP 371.40 SAME
33 36 Cold River Studio USA FSP 369.02 DOWN
34 37 Book Guild Publishing UK FSP 368.95 UP
35 33 SelfPublishBooks/Lettertec IRELAND FSP 368.54 DOWN
36 34 The Choir Press UK/USA FSP 367.83 DOWN
37 35 Wheatmark Publishing USA FSP 367.14 DOWN
38 38 Wasteland Press USA FSP 362.77 SAME
39 39 Infinity Publishing USA FSP 360.73 SAME
40 40 Virtualbookworm USA FSP 356.20 SAME
41 41 Acorn Independent Press UK FSP 355.57 SAME
42 42 Americas Press USA PRT 354.67 SAME
43 43 Apex Publishing UK PUB/FSP 348.61 SAME
44 44 Authoright UK/USA FSP 347.03 SAME
45 45 FastPencil USA DIY 346.98 SAME
46 47 Telemachus Press USA FSP 346.69 UP
47 46 Pumbo EUROPE DIY 346.58 DOWN
48 48 Janus Publishing UK FSP 342.31 SAME
49 49 Outskirts Press USA FSP 339.15 SAME
50 50 Kazoo Publishing Services IRELAND FSP 338.63 SAME
51 51 Diadem Books UK/USA FSP 338.23 SAME
52 52 Pyjama Press UK/EUROPE FSP 335.62 SAME
53 54 A.H. Stockwell UK FSP 335.20 UP
54 55 PubliBook EUROPE DIY 334.75 UP
55 53 Xulon Press USA FSP 333.38 DOWN
56 56 Direct POD UK PRT 331.80 SAME
57 59 Eprint Ireland IRELAND PRT 331.43 UP
58 57 Kbuuk USA DIY 331.43 DOWN
59 58 Lluminia Press USA PUB/FSP 331.19 DOWN
60 61 Arima UK FSP 324.76 UP
61 60 iUniverse USA FSP 324.07 DOWN
62 62 Pomegranate Press UK/USA FSP 324.05 SAME
63 64 Abbott Press USA PUB/FSP 318.08 UP
64 65 Turning Stone Press USA FSP 317.46 UP
65 68 Chandler Book Design UK PRT 314.13 UP
66 67 Archway Publishing GLOBAL PUB/FSP 306.73 UP
67 69 Dolman Scott/Oak Press UK FSP 303.36 UP
68 70 Choice Publishing IRELAND FSP 302.06 UP
69 71 WestBow Press USA PUB/FSP 300.63 UP
70 72 Epic Press UK FSP 297.92 UP
71 74 Trafford Publishing USA FSP 293.52 UP
72 73 Austin MacAuley UK FSP 293.33 UP
73 75 Balboa Press GLOBAL PUB/FSP 283.45 UP
74 77 ShopMyBook (Unibook) GLOBAL PRT 283.41 UP
75 78 Dorrance Press USA FSP 281.06 UP
76 75 Spiderwize UK FSP 279.94 SAME
77 79 AuthorHouse GLOBAL PRT 261.29 UP
78 81 Melrose Books UK FSP 253.66 UP
79 80 Xlibris GLOBAL FSP 239.45 UP
80 83 Better Book Company UK FSP 209.59 UP
81 84 Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie UK PUB/FSP 199.60 UP
82 86 Olympia Publishers UK PUB/FSP 155.75 UP
83 66 Gemini International IRELAND CLOSED/OFB 142.62 DOWN
84 87 Raider Int. Pub./Green Shore GLOBAL CLOSED/OFB 105.30 UP
85 63 The Book Producers IRELAND CLOSED/OFB 56.13 DOWN
86 82 America Star Books/PubAmerica USA CLOSED/OFB -8.95 DOWN
87 85 Tate Publishing USA CLOSED/OFB -14.60 DOWN
  • 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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