I've seen many self-publishing authors post questions on social media that go something like this:
"How do I pick a self-publishing service? Do you have any recommendations?"
Usually I answer by providing this link: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/best-self-publishing-services/
The Alliance of Independent Authors maintains this list of author-services providers. Of course, not every provider is on that list (I'm not), but it's a useful thing to check if you're considering working with a specific company or individual. It's particularly helpful for avoiding bad apples, such as Author Solutions.
Personally, I chose Smashwords as the service to publish my own book. So far, it's been a great experience. Here's what I've discovered over the last several weeks of working with this platform:
Free to publish
Distributes to many popular ebook retailers (such as iBooks, OverDrive, Barnes and Noble, and others)
Generates multiple types of ebook files for you at no cost
Straightforward to set up your profile and royalty payments
Lots of great ideas for marketing in the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and Smart Author Podcast (both free)
Only publishes ebooks, not hard copies
Doesn't distribute to Amazon—you have to publish there separately
Takes a lot of work to format your MS correctly so the automated ebook formatter doesn't have any problems (which is why I offer formatting as one of my services if you decide to publish with Smashwords)
Even if you follow all the formatting guidelines, weird things might still happen. For example, Smashwords and I are still trying to figure out why certain headings in my book display correctly in some file types but not in others.
Overall, I highly recommend Smashwords for when you're ready to publish.
In the meantime, how can I help you along the way? Email me at storyengineer7 AT gmail.com and let me know.
(Thanks to Frank Holleman for sharing their work on Unsplash.)