Recommended Services

Are you new to self-publishing and need a few pointers? Here are some resources I use, like, and trust.

E-Book Retailers, Distributors, and Delivery Services:

Draft2Digital (D2D): These guys are fantastic. They only make money if you make money. They help you distribute your books to various retailers and they keep a small cut in exchange for their services. They also offer LOTS of free services (even for authors who don’t go through their distribution services). Seriously. Free book formatting and lots more. There’s nothing to lose when you check them out. I HIGHLY recommend their Books2Read.com service. It’s an amazing way to share just one link and include all the retailers where your books are available. I use D2D for Apple Books and various retailers (but not Kobo and Amazon where I go direct). My D2D affiliate link: https://www.draft2digital.com/gocreate

Amazon: I go direct with these guys but I got out of their Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. Going “wide” or doing “KU” is a personal decision that is yours to make, based on your situation. Learn more at kdp.amazon.com

Kobo: I go direct with Kobo because I like their interface and having direct access to their “Promotions” tab. Learn more here: http://writinglife.kobobooks.com

StreetLib: I use them to publish books on Google Play. The interface is a bit tricky and takes some getting used to, but their customer service is great. I don’t sell many individual books on Google Play but my bundles do okay. Learn more here: http://streetlib.com

BookFunnel: Technically, they’re not an e-book retailer, but they take care of quite a few things that are incredibly valuable to authors. They deliver e-books directly to your readers (and take care of any technical support). No more complex instructions on how to side-load files onto whatever device. Depending on the pricing plan you choose, they also connect to your newsletter service(s), Patreon, and other things. They offer great promotion opportunities as well (great way to join other authors in your genre, offer a freebie, and then collect new email subscribers in exchange). I highly recommend their service. I pay for the mid-list author plan because I have two pen names. WELL WORTH THE PRICE! Learn more here: http://bookfunnel.com/pricing/

Domain Names:

NameCheap: I used to buy my domains through my old hosting company (GoDaddy), but they got greedy with their domain name renewal prices (among other things – I don’t recommend GoDaddy). I’ve since transferred all my domain names but one to NameCheap. It’s one of the cheapest places I’ve found to buy and renew domain names. I have several domain names registered through them for various personal projects. My affiliate link and cool discount: Less than $1 for .com. Get yours now!

Hosting:

FlyWheel: While there are less expensive options, FlyWheel includes features that are well worth their price, including a free security certificate, staging server (so you can test out stuff on a hidden copy of your website), free built-in security features (so you don’t have to install security plugins), and free daily backups and one-click restore. That last feature alone is amazing. Their update and support team are great (365/24/7), and they even offer free migration (from whatever company you’re with to their server). My affiliate link:  https://share.getf.ly/c00u9u

WordPress.com: I personally prefer to self-host (WordPress.org), but WordPress.com is a great option, especially when you’re getting started and don’t want to deal with technical things. They offer several levels of service. In order to upload custom themes and plugins (what I need to do to install my premium themes), you will need to use their business plan (the most expensive one). Their monthly prices are comparable to reliable hosting services. My affiliate link: https://wordpress.com/pricing/?aff=4019

bluehost.com: In all transparency, I don’t personally pay for any hosting through bluehost, but I have several clients who use it, so I’ve used bluehost’s interface to perform various website-related tasks for those clients. I think it’s one of the better ones when it comes to inexpensive shared hosting. If your budget is limited and your traffic doesn’t warrant more expensive hosting, bluehost would be the shared hosting company I would recommend. My affiliate link: https://www.bluehost.com/track/gocreate

Newsletters:

Mailchimp: I started out with Mailchimp. It’s pretty decent and it now comes with free landing pages and basic automations. If you’ve got no money, you can collect up to 2,000 subscribers for free! Yay! But I left Mailchimp because I had several “entry points” (i.e., reader magnets), and it was getting really hard to avoid onboarding new readers more than once… Since I hate introducing myself twice, I “upgraded” to a more powerful newsletter service (see next). I still think Mailchimp is an amazing service if you’re just getting started AND if you only have a single point of entry and simple on-boarding sequence. Learn more at Mailchimp.com.

ActiveCampaign: See for yourself here: ActiveCampaign has the best deliverability in the business. I’ve been using it for over a year (two pen names under one account) and I LOVE it. Its automations are fantastic and very powerful. I ONLY pay for the “Lite” plan. I know ActiveCampaign is a bit pricier than other services, but well worth the price (especially if you trim your list regularly and avoid paying for subscribers who aren’t opening your emails anyway). I’ve even set up an automation where subscribers who don’t open anything for three months are automatically sent a last-chance email (in case they DO open but their email provider doesn’t report the opens) and anyone who ignores my request to take action on that last-chance email gets deleted a week after that. My affiliate link: https://www.activecampaign.com/?_r=8R475Y1F

Newsletter Know-How: Do you need help with your newsletter? I highly recommend Tammi Labrecque’s course and book called Newsletter Ninja. Full disclosure: I am friends with Tammi, but I wouldn’t recommend her course or her book if I didn’t think they were both awesome. She knows her 💩. “A real ninja,” one might say…

Marketing Courses:

I’ve taken quite a few, but the only one I will vouch for is Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course. You have to be patient and wait until they open a new course, but it’s well worth the (expensive) price tag. It’s definitely an investment in your author business. I’ve met Mark Dawson, James Blatch, and John Dyer in person, and they are stellar individuals. Their courses are top-notch. They truly care about the quality and reliability of the information they provide. They constantly update their courses whenever platforms change their interfaces, and you can rely on them to tell you the truth about what’s what. Learn more about their courses here: https://selfpublishingformula.com/courses/

If you have an eye for design, I also recommend the Cover Design for Authors course (also offered by Mark Dawson and co.). Stuart Bache is a fantastic teacher, and I learned lots by taking his course. Very few authors should consider designing their own book covers, but if you want to learn more, see here for more information.