This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for December 2017. Our last index was released in September 2017. The index continues to shrink and the latest index sees the final departure of five companies. Frankly, they were bottom of the pile service providers. So, I shed no tears. Originally I compiled the index, month-to-month, but I found the work involved was not being compensated by enough changes on the index over a short period of weeks. Over some months the changes were often very modest, and hardly noticeable. But I know many indie authors still value this index and I will continue to update it during 2018.
IngramSpark takes back the top spot from Amazon KDP and it has left me wondering if this has much to do with Amazon tinkering with their book review system and the almost inevitable and complete merging of their print division CreateSpace with KDP. CreateSpace has made the decision to park its online bookstore and I think we will see a total merging of both print and ebook platforms during 2018. CreateSpace slipped away this year on the index but it has steadily recovered in recent months and I suspect it will re-enter the top five positions. As I predicted in September this year, Lightning Source – once a dominant service provider for authors on the index – exits the top ten for the first time and Draft2Digital takes its place.
I expect more publishing service providers to fall by the wayside and close their doors in 2018, 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). I don’t believe Nook Press will be around much longer and the index never even included services like Pronoun – in its various iterations and ownerships – which came and went.
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.
I rarely now review new companies in the full service provider arena. I appreciate that companies keep me up to date on their development plans, but if I am brutally honest (and you know I often am!), I don’t see the innovation in publishing I experienced going back over the past five years. Often, new startups come with great plans and ideas, but they either come and go before ever finding their footing after a year or two or simply mimic the Author Solutions model of gouging and exploiting authors (often new) as a production mill to make money. I’m still excited by new digital publishing startups. The author-publisher market continues to be very competitive and no longer suffers fools or those in it for a quick buck.
TIPM and Radio Espial has conducted audio and video interviews with the former CEO of Hillcrest Media, Mark Levine, indie author Linda Riesenberg Fisler, and Kevin Spall of Thomson-Shore. We will have more interviews with authors and publishers in 2018. 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 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.
|DEC||SEPT||COMPANY/SERVICE PROVIDER||PRIMARY COMPANY BASEMARKET||SERVICE CLASS||SEPT VALUE||INDEX POS MOVE|
|2||1||Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)||GLOBAL||DIY||838.89||DOWN|
|5||5||Kobo Writing Life||GLOBAL||DIY||701.30||SAME|
|13||14||Epigraph Publishing Service||USA||FSP||461.28||UP|
|15||15||Dog Ear Publishing||USA||FSP||449.62||SAME|
|16||13||Hillcrest Media/Mill City Press||USA||PUB/FSP||448.09||DOWN|
|20||20||CPI UK Antony Rowe||EUROPE||PRT||430.42||SAME|
|22||21||York Publishing Services||UK||PRT/FULL||414.98||DOWN|
|23||26||John Hunt Publishing||UK||FSP/FSP||413.26||UP|
|26||24||Google Play Books||GLOBAL||DIY||396.74||DOWN|
|27||27||Grosvenor House Publishing||UK||FSP||392.07||SAME|
|30||28||Nook Press (B&N)||USA||DIY||376.83||DOWN|
|33||34||Book Guild Publishing||UK||FSP||370.95||UP|
|34||36||The Choir Press||UK/USA||FSP||369.83||UP|
|35||33||Cold River Studio||USA||FSP||369.02||DOWN|
|41||41||Acorn Independent Press||UK||FSP||355.57||SAME|
|50||50||Kazoo Publishing Services||IRELAND||FSP||338.62||SAME|
|56||59||BreezeWayBooks (Ex-Lluminia Press)||USA||PUB/FSP||333.18||UP|
|64||64||Turning Stone Press||USA||FSP||317.45||SAME|
|65||65||Chandler Book Design||UK||PRT||314.12||SAME|
|68||67||Dolman Scott/Oak Press||UK||FSP||301.32||DOWN|
|80||80||Better Book Company||UK||FSP||209.59||SAME|
|81||81||Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie||UK||PUB/FSP||191.59||SAME|
- 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.
Create Space is discontinuing its full service arm as of April 15, 2018. They won’t accept any changes to projects already in the works after March 15, 2018.