This is the last PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for 2018. Our previous one was released earlier this year in April and I am switching to releasing it just twice a year (generally, Spring and Winter). The index continues to reflect closures of publishing service providers and our latest release sees the departure of one of the stalwarts of the self-publishing service industry – Createspace. I’m pragmatic by nature and I have – several times – first by intimation, and then later announced that this was coming as far back as 2016. The time has arrived. In recent months authors have been dealing with the imminent closure of CreateSpace. It is what it is. From 2016, it was clear Amazon was progressing with plans to shutter CreateSpace and merge it with their digital platform KDP. Essentially, KDP is now Amazon’s combined ebook and print publishing platform.
Over the years the index has reflected the rise and dominance of DIY-styled publishing platforms. Indeed, at one stage the top ten featured seven such platforms (five now). However, this index, like the previous one, continues to reflect something of a mini resurgence for some of the top-rated FSPs (Full Service Providers) and I must say it did surprise me a little, suggesting the upturn may be no one-off anomaly. While IngramSpark maintains third position, KDP has now slipped to second and Matador for the first time hits the top spot. I actually can’t remember the last time an FSP held this position, certainly not in recent years.
With CreateSpace shuttering and Amazon continuing with its longer term strategy to merge and streamline its print and ebook platforms, I have dropped CreateSpace to the bottom of the index ahead of its imminent closure (NOTE: you can no longer load new titles to CS). Authors have reported mixed experiences with the CS-to-KDP transition and this is likely one of the main reasons that it has slipped from the top position. It may take a few months before the index settles down again. But there is still some encouraging signs for established DIY platforms. Lightning Source (Ingram’s original print division) and Draft2Digital both show significant moves within the top ten and I’m sure that also has to do with the closure of CreateSpace.
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.
To repeat what I said in April when the index was last released; I rarely now review new companies in the full service provider arena and even updating existing provider reviews takes a significant amount of time and effort. I continue to have a backlog of reviews that need updating or a complete rewrite. 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. Also, bear in mind that TIPM is no longer a full time occupation for me and I’m very grateful to our many guest posters.
Remember, too, new startups come along 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 writers) 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 doesn’t suffer fools or those in it for a quick buck. All that said, I think the author/publisher landscape has been pretty much mapped out for the coming years. There will always be new players, new technology, but the principles of good, quality book publication remain the same.
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 2019, 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 2019. Our next index is scheduled next April. I also hope to have the final email newsletter out for subscribers within the next week or so.
|NOV POS||APRIL POS||COMPANY/SERVICE PROVIDER||PRIMARY COMPANY BASEMARKET||SERVICE CLASS||VALUE||INDEX POS MOVE|
|2||1||Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)||GLOBAL||DIY||774.83||DOWN|
|5||5||Kobo Writing Life||GLOBAL||DIY||730.60||SAME|
|13||13||Epigraph Publishing Service||USA||FSP||479.68||SAME|
|14||15||Dog Ear Publishing||USA||FSP||447.56||UP|
|17||19||CPI UK Antony Rowe||EUROPE||PRT||434.46||UP|
|20||22||John Hunt Publishing||GLOBAL||PUB/FSP||417.26||UP|
|21||23||York Publishing Services||UK||PRT/FULL||414.98||UP|
|23||21||Mill City Press||USA||FSP||405.78||DOWN|
|24||24||Google Play Books||GLOBAL||DIY||398.10||SAME|
|26||27||Grosvenor House Publishing||UK||FSP||394.08||UP|
|28||28||Book Guild Publishing||UK||FSP||378.95||UP|
|30||29||Barnes & Noble Press (Nook)||USA||DIY||376.77||DOWN|
|31||34||The Choir Press||UK/USA||FSP||376.73||UP|
|34||35||Cold River Studio||USA||FSP||369.02||UP|
|49||48||Kazoo Publishing Services||USA||FSP||333.63||DOWN|
|62||62||Chandler Book Design||UK||PRT||314.12||SAME|
|63||63||Turning Stone Press||USA||FSP||313.44||SAME|
|66||66||Dolman Scott/Oak Press||UK||FSP||301.29||SAME|
|77||78||Better Book Company||UK||FSP||209.59||UP|
|79||79||Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie||UK||PUB/FSP||185.60||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.