I remember when I started publishing my own books a few years ago, I kept everything nice and simple. I was writing fiction, had no images and wrote everything in Microsoft Word. I then got KD Publisher Pro software which took care of the document, formatting it and converting it to html and if I did my job right and opened the resulting document in Kindle Previewer and it looked okay, I had my Kindle book. You don’t need to buy this software if you follow all the guidelines given for publishing a Kindle book but I did find it helpful. Again it was another thing to learn! You can use a tool such as Canva.com for your ebook cover design if you want to keep costs low too.
Amazon are great for templates for publishing and so when I wanted a print book, I downloaded one of their no frills template. It is fine and gives a basic book with page numbers, a Table of Contents and Chapters and the text looks okay if it was okay to begin with! I also used their cover design template initially before outsourcing this part to make it look more professional.
Roll on a few years later and now that I am an Irish publisher, I have invested in Adobe InDesign for all my publishing needs. The only work I outsource now is the cover design as lets face it I am not a graphic artist and could not make a book cover look as good as the artists I hire.
What I like about Adobe Indesign for publishing a book, is that I can get a very structured, streamlined professional finish that Word lacks and it can handle complicated designs and layouts and exports to all the formats I need for publishing.
I am not even going to suggest subscribing to InDesign and I know others use Scrivener and have found this an excellent tool for publishing. It took me some time to become familiar with InDesign that I am happy not to have to learn something else that has a steep learning curve (as is the case with Scrivener).
If you want print books, print on demand books (POD) and have your book up on Kindle, then Amazon is great and you can use Expanded Distribution to have your book available in other book distribution sites. However your book cost will be higher using Expanded Distribution so see what the cost difference is having Expanded distribution on then off and make a decision.
Printing colour books can be expensive on Amazon too where as I found using services like Ingram Spark for publishing, I got a very professional book, with a lot more choices on paper colour, book type, shipping and printing and the cost of having a colour print book distributed globally through Ingram significantly cheaper for the buyer than through Amazon.
It was a bit tricky to get around Ingram initially but now I am fully familiar with their criteria for book uploading and have successfully uploaded ebooks, books for Print on Demand and books for print ordering in paperback and hardback and the good news is that Ingram also convert my book to Kindle and upload it there too.
I have also published to Smashwords for clients to supplement Amazon as Smashwords takes in other global book distribution sites outside of Amazon.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each and thankfully at this stage in my career I have become familiar with each.
The best news is that because of this, I feel better equipped to inform authors about the choices available to them so they can make a decision about publishing the book that best meets their needs, not mine!