We know authors and publishers are always on the lookout for useful publishing resources, whether it’s a valuable industry site, distributor, content management platform, or any other service provider. So we decided to update our list of resources worth considering.
Note that this list is meant to provide a starting point for your research into service providers for a variety of projects, but it’s not a fully comprehensive list of every service available. We also haven’t personally used or worked with most of these providers, so it’s up to you to vet these (and any other) publishing services before investing money. We encourage you to read reviews, talk to fellow book marketers, see if you can do a test or sample project first, and learn as much as you can about a service provider before committing to a big spend. But hopefully the list below will point you in the right direction for whatever project you’re looking to launch next!
Book Development & Editing Services
If you’re looking for something more than beta readers or critical partners, you can hire professional editors to review a manuscript. Whether you need help with line edits or are seeking feedback on overarching plot and character development, these can help:
- Writer’s Digest Critique and Editing Services – a service providing a variety of editing options. Choose between developmental edits, line edits, proofreading, and more.
- Reedsy – a marketplace of editors (as well as designers and marketers). According to Reedsy, “So far only the top 3% of applications (from editors) have been accepted, ensuring that our professionals are a community of the best the industry has to offer.”
- Editcetera – an association of freelance publishing professionals — including proofreaders, copy editors, developmental editors, and more — that provides services to both publishers and indie authors.
- Editorial Freelancers Association – an association of freelance editors, writers, researchers, translators, and more. It provides a free member directory filled with editorial professionals who can help with “self-publishing projects; fiction and nonfiction trade books; website copy,” and more.
Cover Design Services
People do judge a book by its cover, and a good design can significantly impact a book’s success. Whether you’re an indie author just starting out or a publisher looking to update your backlist, consider recruiting a professional cover designer to provide an on-trend, eye-catching cover. If you’re on a tight budget, purchasing a premade book cover is a viable option as well. Here are a few options:
- GoOnWrite – has hundreds of covers available across dozens of genres/topics, with pricing starting at $50 per cover with discounts for multiples. James, the designer of all of these covers, offers custom design services as well.
- DIY Book Covers – at an $87 fee, access hundreds of book cover templates, plus some extras including interior layout templates, an ISBN Barcode Generator, and 3D renderings of the cover once it’s ready.
- Damonza – offers dozens of premade cover designs for $195 each, which includes minor changes to the font or colors. They also offer custom design services.
- Paper & Sage Design – offers dozens of designs across many different genres for only $50 per cover (or $100 for a print + ebook bundle).
- Littera Designs – has numerous covers available across many genres.
- Cover Shot Creations – offers premade covers in romance, YA, new adult, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller/mystery, and western categories.
Book Distribution Services
If you’re an indie author, navigating the logistics of self-publishing and distributing your work can be complicated. To make this complex process simpler, several services are available to help authors distribute their books:
- Smashwords – offers easy book distribution to most of the world’s largest ebook retailers (excluding Amazon) and thousands of libraries. They also provide free tools for marketing, metadata management, and sales reporting.
- Draft2Digital – another option for ebook distribution. They handle formatting, while the author can easily set the price of their books, get monthly payments, and see daily book sales reports.
- BookBaby – BookBaby offers book print on demand (POD), ebook distribution, and editing and design services for varying fees. They distribute to Amazon, although many authors prefer to work directly with Amazon instead.
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon KDP lets authors convert and distribute their ebooks for Kindle, and now offers POD. There are two options to publish directly on Amazon: KDP and KDP Select, which requires exclusive distribution through Amazon. CreateSpace has now merged with KDP.
- IngramSpark – a POD platform and online publishing tool that provides access to Ingram’s global distribution network for print and ebook content. It’s a one-stop shop for print and ebook distribution, but has upfront costs and fees in addition to royalties.
Website Building Tools
A well-designed website is important — not only is it one of the best ways to connect with readers and build an audience, but it also helps communicate an author’s brand. If you don’t have the time or skills to build a website from scratch, consider looking into some of these tools for help:
- WordPress – a scalable, free content management system. Although the out-of-the-box layout resembles a classic blog, you can create any sort of site with WordPress: add custom pages, galleries, contact forms, and sidebar widgets, and easily manage comments on posts and pages.
- Squarespace – a content management system with ready-to-go templates. You can drag-and-drop to reorder sections, and click-to-edit specific sections — no coding required. Squarespace does not offer a free version — pricing starts at $96 per year.
- Wix – a free website builder that offers more than 500 templates to choose from. The interface is easy to use, and entirely drag-and-drop. However, customization is limited because you can’t access the site’s HTML or CSS.
- Weebly – one of the easiest website builders available. It comes with unlimited pages for free, and it’s only $48 per year to remove Weebly branding and use a custom domain. Users can easily embed third-party tools like MailChimp sign-up forms using a drag-and-drop code block.
- Tumblr – a free blogging and social networking tool. It’s easy to reblog other authors’ and readers’ Tumblr posts, share images, follow other Tumblr blogs, and get followers from other Tumblr users. Many authors thrive on this networking capability.
- Pub Site – a DIY website building tool built specifically for authors. It offers customized design and layout tools, as well as templates to help authors get started.
Graphic Design Tools
To run eye-catching book marketing campaigns, you’ll need to create graphics for ads, email blasts, and more. In fact, social media posts with images are more likely to be shared — tweets with images get 150% more retweets, and Facebook posts with images account for 87% of total interactions. These tools can help you quickly spin up stunning graphics:
- Canva – a free design tool that lets users search from a library of images, backgrounds, layouts, and fun fonts to quickly drag-and-drop a unique design. They have templates for Facebook posts, Facebook cover photos, Pinterest graphics, Instagram posts, blog graphics, and more.
- Designfeed – a free tool that lets users quickly turn text and quotes into images, so you can easily create images for book teasers or inspirational quotes.
- GIMP – powerful graphic design software that’s essentially a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, with advanced tools like layers, masks, filters, transformations, and color adjustments.
- Book Brush – an easy-to-use image creation platform that’s especially useful for ad and social media images. They feature a free limited plan, as well as a paid plan with additional features and no limit to the amount of images you can create.
- Fiverr – an online marketplace of freelancers available to inexpensively hire for a variety of tasks and services, including graphics and design work. If you want more custom design help, this is a great way to hire a professional at a low cost.
- VistaCreate – a free online design tool that’s useful for creating images and graphics for social media, newsletters, and other online and print content. It features a variety of templates with an interface that reviewers have praised as easy to use.
- Stencil – a simple online design tool that’s especially useful for creating social media images. It offers access to over two million public domain stock photos, one million cartoon icons, as well as thousands of templates and fonts. Reviewers call it easy to use and great for quickly creating images for social media and other marketing efforts.
Book Marketing Agencies
If you’re looking for help running your advertising campaigns, there are agencies and freelancers that specialize in marketing books. Here are just a few:
- AuthorBuzz – a marketing service founded by author and marketer M.J. Rose, offering services to both independent writers and major publishers. They often run BookBub Ads campaigns for clients.
- OptiQly – a marketing service that helps improve the marketing and display of books and other products for online retail. OptiQly acquired the marketing agency Logical Marketing in 2016.
- FSB Associates – a digital marketing firm specializing in book marketing. They provide website design, branding, social media engagement, and online publicity services.
- Smith Publicity – an agency providing book promotion services, including running book tours, securing media placements, creating social media content, coordinating book donations, and more.
- Wildbound Literary PR – a publicity company that helps authors gain exposure for their work via traditional and digital media press campaigns, social media marketing, book tours, author websites, and promotional videos.
Learn more about the publishing process, find tips on book marketing, and read about craft tips from experienced authors, publishers, and other industry experts in these online courses.
- Self Publishing Formula – offers several marketing courses, including ones for Facebook Ads and self-publishing, led by author Mark Dawson. He also consults for traditional publishers and teaches authors how to use the marketing methods that led to his own success.
- Writer’s Digest University – offers a wide variety of workshops on every aspect of writing, from plotting and drafting to publishing and marketing.
- Manuscript Academy – founded by literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer and conference organizer Julie Kingsley, and offers classes like those you’d find at traditional publishing conferences. Classes cover topics like author branding, marketing 101, publishing law, and much more.
- Reedsy Learning – offers free courses in writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and more. Authors and publishing professionals teach its short – typically five-minute long – lessons.
- Authority Pub Academy – offers courses on a variety of self publishing topics, organized in six modules. The website also offers articles and podcasts on a wide range of topics, including writing, publishing, marketing, social media, and more.
Use fellow writers as a resource! These forums and organizations provide flourishing communities of writers where you can ask questions, share your ideas, and stumble upon great advice on everything from copy editor recommendations to promotional strategies:
- KBoards Writers’ Cafe – a very active forum where self-published and hybrid authors congregate to chat about writing, self-publishing and distribution, book marketing, and more.
- Absolute Write Water Cooler – a popular forum for writers, with subforums for just about every writing-related subject you can think of, including outwitting writer’s block, basic writing questions, genre-specific fiction, script-writing, “ask the agent,” “ask the editor,” and more.
- Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) – offers member-only benefits, including a closed online forum, seminars, and events, as well as other benefits like author guides and an advice center.
- Reddit Writing Group – a popular and active subreddit dedicating to writing. Also peruse Reddit for other genre-specific subreddits, including YA Writers, Fantasy Writers, and more!
Publishing Industry News
If you want to stay informed of the latest industry news and publishing trends, these sources offer a wide breadth of information, with in-depth coverage and expert insights:
- Publishers Weekly – a news website that covers all aspects of book publishing and bookselling, including the latest deals, book reviews, and industry trends and news.
- Publishers Lunch – a daily report on the publishing community, including trends, news, book deals, job changes, and more. It also gathers 5-10 stories from all over the web and print about the professional trade book community. There is a limited free version, and the premium service costs $25 per month.
- The Hot Sheet – a digestible publishing industry newsletter delivered via email every other Wednesday, reporting and analyzing the developments Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson deem most important for authors. This premium newsletter costs $59 per year.
- Publishing Perspectives – a trade magazine covering the trends, people, and companies shaping the international book business. They offer insight into the business of publishing and writing, from digital innovations to insights into global publishing markets.
- The Bookseller – a business magazine of the book industry providing business intelligence and analysis, and includes industry news, author profiles, and more. The print version has been published since 1858, and is one of the UK’s longest-standing magazines!
Still looking for more publishing tips and insights? Blogs written by authors and long-time industry professionals can also be great resources. These are the ones we regularly check for thought-provoking insights based on personal experience and comprehensive industry knowledge. We included their pitches below so you can see what each has to offer:
- Mike Shatzkin – “A widely-acknowledged thought leader about digital change in the book publishing industry.”
- Writer Unboxed – “About the craft and business of fiction.”
- Jane Friedman – “Information and resources for writers, from a 20-year veteran of the publishing industry.”
- The Creative Penn – “Helping you write, publish, and market your book.”
- Joe Konrath – “A newbie’s guide to publishing.”
- The Passive Voice – “A lawyer’s thoughts on authors, self-publishing, and traditional publishing.”
- David Gaughran – “has helped thousands of authors to self-publish their work via his workshops, blog, and books such as Let’s Get Digital, Let’s Get Visible, Amazon Decoded, and Strangers to Superfans.”
Is your favorite publishing resource missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below!
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This post was originally published on June 14, 2017.