Choosing a Self-Publishing Company

I am literally one click away from choosing the publishing company of my first book.  With the help of several people, the research has led me to, what I believe, is a solid choice in a self-publishing company.  It has been a year since I began the journey of attempting to publish my first book.  When I finally  made the decision to self-publish I decided on five important features the publisher had to have to earn the right to publish my passion, hobby, and gift.  This endeavor of mine has proven to be challenging but extremely rewarding.

The spring and summer of 2009 I shopped my manuscript by sending query letters to nearly 100 major publishing houses across the country.  In August, the break I was looking for came when Ambassador Books invited me to send my manuscript.  Six weeks later I received a letter telling me ‘thanks, but no thanks.’  Never did I ever take these rejections personally.  I knew the challenge of publishing a book when there are thousands of authors out there trying to do the same thing in an economy that is effecting all business, including book publishing.  I also knew, being a first time no-name author, that I was at the bottom of a large mountain of books published by a group of highly trained mountain climbers: the already published authors who have survived the highest of elevations in their climb to the top.

Late in August I decided that the best possibility for this book to be published would be to find a smaller, more user friendly hill.  Furthermore, I had no idea how many copies of my book would even sell.  I know my mom and dad will buy a copy, but beyond that who knows.  That’s when I decided to investigate self-publishing.  There are hundreds of self-publishers vying to publish books.  The overwhelming amount of choices led me to The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine.  This book begins by giving great advice on how to find a great self-publisher.  Levine then outlines 45 different self-publishing, even categorizing them from best to worst.  The information he provides includes contracts, features, and services of each of these self-publishing companies.  A special bonus to buying Levine’s book is his free 30 minute personal consultation.  Through the research and reading of this extremely helpful book, I zeroed in on five features I was looking for in a great self-publishing company.

  1. Communication: I believed I need to feel comfortable with communicating with ‘real people’ rather than automated phone messages or quick-respond form emails.  I have found that.
  2. Professional Look: I want this book to look like a professionally published book.  I wanted several interior templates to choose from, quality paper stock being used, a cover that will catch the eye of the average book browser, and a perfect binding.  I have found that.
  3. Book Availability: I need this book available to people who are interested in reading it.  In this conceptual age that we are living in as consumers I needed to think outside of the box.  While I dream about having my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, I believe the book will sell and be the most available from online retailers like  The Print On Demand feature is extremely important for consumers to make purchases from the comfort of their  living room.  The website order fullfillment feature I was not something I was interested in undertaking.  The book must be available on all major online book retailers.  I have found that.
  4. Cost: We are always looking for a deal, right?  Self-publishing, for the author, costs money.  I needed to be sure that the money I would be willing to invest in this project would be worthwhile.  The aforementioned features needed to be available to me at a good price.  After all, I can’t make this hobby drain our bank account and chances are I won’t make megabucks on my first book.  I believe I have found this.
  5. A Reputable Company:  I have researched long and hard several companies.   The company I ready to sign with has had GREAT reviews and have answered, quite well I might add, the criticisms.

This endeavor of mine has been challenging but extremely rewarding and will make me proud.  I am excited to commence the publishing process.

And the winner is…..

Stay Tuned 🙂


About jpsteltz

Proud husband and father of four; Literacy Specialist; Reading Teacher; Literacy Coach; HS ELA Teacher; Published Author
This entry was posted in Authors, Books, Reading, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Choosing a Self-Publishing Company

  1. John Hewitt says:

    I picked Lulu for my first (very small) publishing venture. My father, for the past five years or so, has been working on our family’s genealogy as well as adding personal stories about long-gone family members. I had wanted to try Lulu out for a while and this seemed like the perfect project. They could handle my color requirements (lots of color pictures) and because I knew that there would be demand for well under a hundred books, print-on-demand made sense.

    There were some frustrations along the way as I went through the book publishing process. I don’t have an official Acrobat program, so my PDF did not meet their standards. They also didn’t accept .docx files, so I had to save in the old Word format to publish. Their cover design program was also a bit hard to get used to. Once I got past these little bumps though, I was pretty pleased with the results. I got the books in time for my Father’s 80th birthday party and everybody loved how they looked. Economically, I don’t know if I would use them for a book I wanted to sell thousands of copies of, but they are a good choice for small, personal projects.


  2. jsteltz says:

    Thank you so much for the insight. I have looked at Lulu as well. I have found, through my research, that Lulu just didn’t fit my needs at the current time. I have heard great things about Lulu as you mentioned in your post. I looked long and hard at Lulu and weighed their features against many others.

    I appreciate your thoughts. Your project sounds very interesting. I am sure that your father and family were extremely pleased!! Isn’t it cool to think that you actually put a project together that is bound with a cover? Awesome!! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Bill Quain says:

    Good thoughts, and a classy execution. You give the reader food for thought without recommending one menu item in particular! Well done.

    If your book is as well written, with a good story line and leaving the reader wanting more, you will do well. I started self-publishing before there were many self-publishing companies (late 1980’s). While the choices were less obvious, the questions were the same.

    Best of luck to you, and start writing that second book!


    • jsteltz says:

      Thank you so much for you thoughts and kind words. The passions I have make it cinch for me to write. It’s the polishing that takes hard work and perserverance. It’s messages like yours that keep me juiced to keep working and writing. Thanks for the inspiration today!!!


  4. Dan Poynter says:

    –Dan Poynter,

    Writers are confused and it’s not their fault. In searching for the best way to break into print, they come across self-described “self-publishing companies”. I get emails asking if I can self-publish for writers. That is impossible!

    The problem is that many vanity publishers are calling themselves “self-publishing companies” to make their companies appear legitimate.

    We have been building name recognition for self-publishing for more than 35 years; there are more than 85,000 of us in the U.S. Self-publishers, write, publish and promote their own books.

    According to Wikipedia, Self-Publishing is the publishing of books and other media by the authors of those works, rather than by established, third-party publishers.The only “self-publishing company” is you—by definition. If you contract with a publisher, your book is not SELF-published.

    Now that people know what self-publishing is, we find we have to re-educate the public to the fact that we are the real self-publishers and the other DotCom digital publishers are really just vanity publishers masquerading as us. They are trading on the good reputation we have built.

    On the other hand, there are digital printing companies. Most provide excellent prices, service and quality. They should refer to themselves as “book printers.”

    For information on the choices for breaking into print, get the f-r-e-e Information Kit #2 on Publishing at

    Let’s respect historical and common definitions. These publishers are “vanity” or “subsidy” presses.
    Let’s demand they stop confusing people new to the book trade.


  5. Dan Poynter says:

    –Dan Poynter,

    Authors and publishers have been contacted lately by organizations offering “self-publishing services.” They employ “boiler rooms” of sales people making relentless calls. They wear you down and are hard to resist.

    Be very careful.

    Some of these companies have tarnished records with a lot of unhappy customers. Several authors have complained to the Better Business Bureau and some companies have been sued.

    When people are victims of scams, they often report the incidents on the Internet. Before doing business with POD publishers or any other person or company that wants your money, make a Google search for:

    (That company name) + Scam
    (That company name) + Fraud
    (That company name) + Rip-off
    (That company name) + “Better Business Bureau”

    Read the reports and be advised.


  6. Trish Rogatzki says:

    Great information, John. If I ever squeeze my book out of my brain, I’ll follow your steps. But, you’re a jerk for not finishing the story! :o)


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