When you’re first starting out as a new author, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to get your first book published. Even once you tackle the hurdle of choosing self-publishing over the traditional route, you still have to decide where you’re going to publish. With the heap of self-publishing websites out there, this can seem like an impossible task—especially for a beginner.
I have been in your shoes. When I set out to publish my first book, I had to do a ton of research to figure out which self-publishing website would best suit my needs. I ultimately ended up publishing one of my books on more than one website, which we’ll discuss more below. I hope I can use my experience to help other beginners find the right fiction platform. Here are 5 of the best self-publishing websites for new authors.
Amazon KDP is the platform I used to self-publish my first book. The process is extremely straightforward and only takes a few minutes, provided you already have all your ducks in a row (meaning you’ve written your description, chosen your genres and keywords, and had your book professionally formatted and cover designed). Amazon also provides a handy guide in case you run into any roadblocks along the way.
While Amazon KDP has been a good fit for me personally, it’s not ideal for writers who don’t already have a completed, polished manuscript. If you can’t afford professional formatting and cover design, this also may not be the platform for you. You can try to handle these things yourself, but it’s going to be awfully difficult to stand out in such a huge pool of talented authors without professional help.
Kobo has been a thriving self-publishing platform since 2009, and while Amazon only added KDP later down the line, Kobo has always had the feel of a publishing platform geared toward building a community for readers and authors. It has an easy-to-use interface and the publishing process is about on the same level of complexity as KDP. With KDP, you have to sign up for KDP Select to have access to special promotion opportunities, which means your book can only be published on Amazon and nowhere else. Kobo, conversely, has no such restrictions and you can publish your book on as many sites as you want.
Of course, you can’t beat the exposure you will get with an e-commerce giant like Amazon. If you’re planning to write a series, it’s worth it to commit to Amazon KDP Select to take advantage of being able to run promotions on the site. That way, you can do things like offer the first book for free when the second comes out, and so on. (This is why I have never published my book Viable, the first in an intended trilogy, on any other site.) So Kobo may not be a good fit in that case. Like KDP, it is also not a good avenue for publishing your book chapter by chapter.
Even if you are brand new to the self-publishing game, you have probably heard of Wattpad. It is, after all, one of the most popular online writing platforms there is. If you’re looking to post your story online as you write it, this is a great place for that. It is extremely simple to set up your story and you won’t have to worry about professional formatting or cover design—Wattpad even provides access to Canva’s free book cover maker so you can easily design your cover yourself. Readers can comment on not just your overall story and each chapter, but on each paragraph as well, providing you with a ton of useful feedback.
However, Wattpad is not the best when it comes to making money off of your work. It is notoriously difficult to make a profit on the site, considering all the hoops you have to jump through in order to be able to post Paid Stories. You will have much better luck earning cash on platforms like KDP and Kobo, where you can set your book’s price and earn royalties.
The new kid on the block, Fictionate.Me offers the opportunity for first-time authors to get in on the ground floor of an exciting fiction platform. Here you have the choice to publish your book all at once or chapter by chapter (posting chapter by chapter tends to be the more popular choice). You can also set your price for access to your books and, unlike with KDP and Kobo, you get to keep 100% of your profits. Readers can heart and comment on your stories, which creates a real sense of community. You also have the option to include AI Narration, so readers can listen to your stories on the go. This blog post will help to guide you through the publishing process.
Lacking the name recognition of sites like Amazon KDP and Wattpad, you’re not going to have exposure to huge audiences on Fictionate. This can actually be good, since being in a smaller pool of authors can give you more of a chance to shine. But if you want a shot at building a big audience of readers right off the bat, this platform might not be the best fit.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the work involved in self-publishing your first book, Inkshares could be a great platform for you to consider. Unlike the other options on this list, Inkshares will handle the editing, design, and marketing of your book for you. They will also distribute your book at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and hundreds of independent bookstores. All you have to do is pitch your novel on the site. Based on that pitch, readers will pre-order copies of your book. If you reach 750 preorders, Inkshares will take over from there and publish your book. So you get the support of a traditional publisher without having to answer to the gatekeepers.
Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest thing to reach that threshold of 750 preorders. If you don’t hit 750, all that money gets refunded to the readers. And while it’s still a much better deal than you would get from a traditional publisher, Inkshares only offers 35% of net receivables. This is also not the platform for you if you’re looking for a quick publishing turnaround—once you meet your preorders goal, the publishing process is still going to take 9-12 months.
As a beginner, it can be incredibly tough trying to figure out which self-publishing website will work for you. Hopefully, this list will help you to narrow things down and find the perfect home for your story.
Author’s Bio:- Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jillian has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jillian has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.