If you choose to self-publish your work, one of the most important things you have to look at is book distribution. This is what I have found with my own research. Feel free to drop a comment if you have more information!
Kindle Direct Publishing
KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) gives you access to e-Book formatting and paperback printing. However, people can mostly only buy your book from Amazon. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is on Amazon, but it can be difficult to get your book on the first page of search results. If you’re GREAT at marketing, KDP has a lot of easy-to-use features that help you get your book ready for Expanded Distribution, which is what you need in order for bookstores to have access to your book. Bookstores can carry your book that is done through KDP by going through their Ingram account, but it takes A LOT of marketing and sales to get the bookstores interested in carrying your book.
Other Self-Publishing Book Distribution Options
CreateSpace only gives your book access to Amazon. LuLu uses Author Solutions which is known for vanity publishing and shouldn’t be trusted. DiggyPOD can help you print on demand but doesn’t actually help with distribution. Christian Faith Publishing is known for subsidy publishing, which means your work is owned by THEM which means your book can’t be picked up by a traditional publisher at any time after that. Outskirts Press has some good options for book distribution and so does IngramSpark. But let’s look at one other option.
I, personally, am looking into BookBaby. They are not only a publishing company, but they offer personalized help with formatting, editing, conversion, cover designs, and metadata optimization. They may seem pricey up front, but with everything they offer it could be worth it. BookBaby offers your book access to 60+ retail stores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Walmart. Any book store can use Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Christian Book Distributors to carry your book in stock but you face the same marketing challenges as if you were going with KDP. BookBaby also offer a custom e-commerce website where people can buy your book from and most importantly they have the highest payout rate for self-published authors.
Of course, there is always traditional publishing, and just because you choose to self-publish first doesn’t mean traditional agencies are off the table. BookBaby, along with other companies, have Query Letter writing services that help you create what you need to get your book in front of literary agents.
KDP with Expanded Distribution or BookBaby are what I’m leaning towards for my paperback books. Traditional publishing is always on my mind but I love the fact that I can still do that after self-publishing.