Are you searching for “best book publisher in South Africa”?
Perhaps you’re looking for something more local like “best book publisher Johannesburg”?
Your search results more than likely contained a confusing textual tangle of choices. Making things more complicated, many results are actually paid-for adverts, not necessarily shown to you based on merit but rather the depth of the advertiser’s budget with Google.
So how should your search for the best publishing company start? 🤔
Here’s my advice. Cherry-picked from 100’s of conversations with authors over the last 12 years. Why should my advice helping you find the top book publisher in South Africa matter? Well, to date I have helped guide more than 400 authors through some kind of publishing process. Most of them loved it.
What Does “Best” Book Publisher Actually Mean?
Here are the ingredients that I think go into the mix when an author is looking to “swipe right” on a book publisher.
1. Are you the right type of publisher?
This is the biggest question you never knew you needed to ask. If your first question to a book publishing business is:
“Will you publish my book for free?” OR
“Will you publish my book and share the profits/ royalties with me?”
Then dear reader you’re looking for a traditional publishing company. These are the guys with looooong waiting periods before considering your emailed plea for a publishing partnership. They’re also likely to reject most new authors.
The alternative? Why, that’s the role of a self-publishing business like us. Self-publishing is also known as assisted publishing. This publishing model entails (mostly) the same book process as the traditional publishers above however, the publishing process is self-funded by the author upfront.
Both traditional and self-publishing models have their upsides and downsides. I’ll try my best to exclude my bias in this article, pinky-promise.
If you know you’re here looking for a traditional book publishing company in South Africa then I suggest starting your search here. (Let me know in the comments if the link to the Publishers’ Association of South Africa website doesn’t work.)
Side-note 🛑 Avoid partnering with a publishing company in South Africa OR outside South Africa that charges an upfront fee for their publishing services AND takes commission from sales of your book. Wondering why you should avoid a vanity or hybrid publisher? 👉 Read this.
2. What are the costs of your book publishing services?
Self-publishing is a term lumping together several book-related processes. Your specific book publishing journey may include editing, cover design, layout of the pages and crafting of your digital eBook edition before being listed on Amazon. These steps are normally quoted for upfront by the publishing company.
Costs for self-publishing your book can easily range from R5000 to R55 000. This largely depends on the amount of help you may need.
Authors choosing to self-publish are often publishing on a tight budget. Please remember, when comparing quotes from different publishers -> cheaper doesn’t = better.
3. Do you have a proven track record?
As South Africans, it feels like we’re the victims of scams almost every damn day. 🏴☠️
- Spam callers sounding like they are employed right out of high-school, using a sales-script written by a drunk uncle.
- Emails flooding our inbox asking if you’d like to win the lottery.
- Politicians spending our taxes like that relative with a gambling problem.
We’re gatvol of being ripped off. Authors understandably run the risk of choosing to work with a publishing company that charges too much and delivers far too little. Wondering how to protect yourself?
👉 Search for Social Proof
One method used by smart authors to help navigate the risk of being disappointed is searching for reviews & testimonials from past customers before partnering with a publisher. Social proof is a mixture of reviews or testimonials found through an online search. These reviews (good or bad) could be written on platforms such as Google, Facebook or even HelloPeter.
👉 Relevant Publishing Industry Associations
A legitimate publishing company might also be linked to an associated South African industry body.
- This could be Publishers’ Association of South Africa. (PASA website.)
- For editors, this could be Professional Editors Guild or The Southern African Freelancers’ Association. (PEG Website, SAFREA website.)
- The more serious self-publishing companies in South Africa might even be linked to The Alliance of Independent Authors. (ALLI Website.)
4. Do you speak my language?
This is a tough one to quantify. Perhaps the publisher is from your old hometown. Perhaps they speak with the same accent you do. Whatever makes you feel comfortable with a person or business can be a very unique thing, HOWEVER, I always recommend partnering with a publisher that is able to explain how they’ll help you in the simplest way possible.
- Never allow yourself to be rushed. Self-publishing can be a large an investment of both time and money. Be wary of any book business looking to seal the deal uncomfortably fast.
- If you leave a conversation with a prospective publisher confused as to exactly what work will be done, be wary. This is especially true for any book marketing activities.
5. Are your offices nearby?
Authors often first start the search for a business within travelling distance from where they live or work. For example, “Best publishing companies in Johannesburg or Cape Town.”
A benefit of being based near the publisher is the ability to pop for a coffee catchup when needed. Just please arrange this with them first. Nothing scares me more than when a strange face peers at me through our misted glass door. Give this introvert a warning 🙏
Also remember that as more businesses migrate online, many book publishers prefer interacting with authors over email and phone. That’s why this reason is ranked last. Not many publishers will be able to entertain impromptu visits from curious writers.
Your Best Book Publisher – My Equation
Are you the right type of publisher? (Traditional vs self-publishing)
+ Is your publishing quote within my budget?
+ Do you have an obvious track record of happy authors?
+ Do you make me feel comfortable? (Do they understand your needs.)
+ Are you nearby? (This may not matter to everyone.)
= Your Best Possible Publishing Team aka Your Publisher BFF. 🏆
Who is The Best Book Publisher in South Africa?
The best book publisher is the company that’s able to help you professionally publish your book exactly as you need. Within your budget. Within your timeframes. The entire process made enjoyable by regular & professional communication. 💪
I know that you might’ve been looking for a literal list of South African book publishers however I hope you agree that using the equation above helps empower you to find the right team to hold your hand through the publishing process.
Action Plan: Before Meeting a Publisher
Here’s my suggested action plan to help you select the right publishing team 📚⭐
1. Scan Their Business Website
Scour the website of the business to better understand if the publisher is a match for your needs.
- Are they a traditional or self-publishing business?
- Do they have a price list of their publishing services?
- Do they give submission criteria for new authors?
- Prospective publishers enjoy chatting with an author who has done their research.
2. Scan for Social Proof
- Search Google for complaints or articles relating to the publishing business. (Both good and bad.)
- Googling “Is Company X a scam?” is a good idea.
- Search for reviews on their Google business listing or within Facebook, LinkedIn or HelloPeter.
- Do they appear on this Writers Beware Scammers list?
3. Prepare Questions for the Publisher
I always enjoy conversations with an author that has prepared. If you’re unsure on what questions to ask upfront, I recommend watching this video on the most important questions to ask before choosing your publishing company. Or reading this list of common mistakes I see new authors make.
4. Reach Out, Make Contact
- Be upfront with the publisher about your budget for the publishing process. Please do not leave this until too late. Waaay too many authors will spend an hour with me on the phone before admitting they had zero budget 😭
- Have your manuscript ready to share with them. (If you have a draft ready.)
- If you feel you have found the right publisher, but their prices seem out of reach. Let them know this. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know 😊
Red Flag List
Here are red flags to be aware of in your search for the right book team.
- Having no website (or a very poorly designed website.)
- Your initial searches reveal (multiple) unhappy author-reviews on Google, Facebook or other platforms.
- If their sales-process feels rushed/ pressured or impersonal.
- They cannot explain their quoted services in a way that a 10-year-old would understand.
I really hope this advice helps you find the best publishing company. Obviously, if you needed more advice or clarity on any of the points, I would love to have a chat. Pop me a comment down below or if you’re needing our professional publishing services, submit our contact form directly. 👌