Your publishing needs will depending largely on the type of project. An reunion or anniversary commemorative book will have very different requirements than a novel based on an ancestor. This page introduces the various types of publishing services with additional pages discussing the services and resources available for each type.
Print on Demand
This can range from photo-sharing platforms offering prints, photo books and gifts to services that print digitized art (original artwork or photographed copies) on canvas or fine art papers. These services can be used to share copies of family heirlooms, provide souvenirs for reunions or create a fun, history-inspired gift. Sources for print on demand services include:
- Cafe Press provides print-on-demand service for posters, tee shirts, stickers and much more. You provide the photos or graphic design and Cafe Press will print it on anything. It’s a great place to create custom memorabilia for reunions and other special family events. There’s no upfront layout fees here. You upload your graphics and choose the product you want it printed on. You can also set up your own storefront at Cafe Press if you wish.
- Imagekind is a print-on-demand service for art work and photographs. They provide high-quality printing on a number of art papers as well as canvas.
- Shutterfly and Snapfish are photo-sharing sites which offer print-on-demand photo gifts, calendars and prints.
Publish on Demand
Services in this category offer affordable print and binding services and many provide a storefront where you can offer your publication for sale. There are no minimum orders – you can just publish one copy if that’s all you want. Although many provide fee-based services for editing, layout and marketing, if you’re willing to do the work yourself, your up-front costs are minimal. Some will even provide both print and ebook versions of your publication.
- Lulu offers a broad range of services supporting the author/publisher. You can take advantage of free tools such as word-processing templates and user forums to write and lay out your book. There are no up-front costs to publish your own book and no purchase minimums. If you only want one copy, that’s all you need to purchase. Lulu offers a broad range of book sizes, binding options and cover styles and they can convert your manuscript into e-Pub format if you wish. In addition, there are a number of paid services ranging from editing to distribution to marketing that you can use.
- Blurb focuses on photo books but also offers publishing services for trade books, ebooks and even magazines. These can be created using their online Bookify app or by downloading the free BookWright app (Windows and Mac). There is also a mobile app for iPhone and iPad. You can publish with no up-front costs and Blurb provides a bookstore where your publications can be sold.
- My Canvas is a good choice for beginners with minimal word-processing experience. It provides formatted pages where you drop photos, text and charts to create your family history. They offer a number of beautiful binding options and you only purchase the number of books you want.
Online Publishing Platforms
Here you can upload your manuscript and make it available from your online library with the service. You can sell your publication there and/or have them convert it to ebook formats and make it available at the online booksellers.
- Scribd has two major components. First there is the subscription library (think Netflix for books) where you can check out ebooks, audio books, newspapers, magazines and even sheet music. It also provides an online platform to share your documents – large and small. There’s no cost to post documents there, but if you have publications you wish to sell, you can take advantage of both their store and their premium reader service. Publications can be uploaded in almost any size or shape and Scribd includes both social features – making it easy to connect with others – and the ability to embed your documents – YouTube style – in blog posts and other online platforms.
Become a Publisher Yourself
The major booksellers offer some great resources to help writers get published. You can “go it alone” and create your own author accounts with them. You will have to do most of the work yourself, but your costs are less and you control your publications. You become a publisher as well as an author.
- Create Space – print and digital. A subsidiary of Amazon, they are focused on publishing books for sale at Amazon although they will distribute to other booksellers and services too. While there is no cost to publish using Create Space, they also offer a broad range of fee-based services for editing, layout, cover design and marketing at very reasonable prices.
- Kindle Direct Publishing – digital only. The simplest way to get your book converted to Kindle format and set up for sale in the Kindle bookstore.
- NOOK Press – The Barnes & Noble publishing service offers both print and digital publishing for sale in their online NOOK store.
- iTunes Connect – digital only. Apple’s publishing service to make your book available in Apple’s iBooks store. NOTE: Mac users can take advantage of the photo publishing features in iPhoto to create photo books, calendars and cards for personal use. There is no storefront for this service.
- Smashwords – digital only. Upload your manuscript to Smashwords and it will be converted into just about every ebook format known to man. You book will be available at the Smashwords store and distributed to a broad range of booksellers. They also do all the bookkeeping for you – collecting revenue from each seller and sending it to you – minus their commission. They take 15% of your net sales. That’s after each bookseller takes their piece of the pie. Still, Smashwords is doing all the distribution and bookkeeping for you – and this deal is much better than what traditional publishing houses offer.
Package publishers provide various levels of editing, formatting and marketing support, but at a cost.