Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Different Kinds of Self-Publishing
With the emergence of modern copiers and sophisticated printing technology, many authors are now opting to get into self-publishing rather than to stick to conventional third-party printing. The reason could be quite obvious. Authors like the prospect of having to stick to their own creativity and style, without the need to please and fill the standards of publishers and editors. In terms of revenues, self-publishing is also promising greener pastures compared to the conventional kind of publishing.
Not known to many, self-publishing has been around even during the start of the industry’s long and winding history. The practice has taken several forms through the years. These days, there are three major kinds of self-publishing that are adapted by authors, namely, vanity publishing, subsidy publishing, and true self-publishing.
In reality, vanity publishing is pejorative. The practice is that a publisher contracts with an author without giving much regard to the quality as well as marketability of content. The term is called such because in this arrangement, publishers are basically appealing to an author’s vanity, which mainly is the desire to become a full-pledged published author. This kind of self-publishing is usually most attractive among new writers.
Vanity presses exist under the guise of subsidy or joint venture presses. However, in this arrangement, the author agrees to shoulder every cost of publication. He also agrees to take all the existing risks. Publishers have nothing to lose in vanity press deals. They would earn money from the fees they would collect from the authors (yes, the authors pay publishers fees for publishing their work). Many experts are advising writers to stay away from such presses.
In reality, many writers/authors are willingly and knowingly entering such deals because they are in principle putting more importance on having their work commercially published rather than on gaining profit from it. To some, vanity press is a stepping stone, more of a springboard into the tight publishing industry. Experts believe most published materials through vanity presses fail commercially because content is criticized by skeptics, distributors, and even readers. This could be because the quality is not judged by an independent body prior to massive printing.
Subsidy publishing is almost like vanity publishing only that in this arrangement, the publisher agrees to contribute some to costs, specifically in adjunct services like editing, warehousing, distribution, and in part, marketing. However, such adjunct services are most of the time minimal. In the long run, the commercial publisher possesses and owns the book, but the author gets royalties for every copy sold in the market. It is also a standard practice that subsidy publishers keep some rights in the book. Lastly, authors are given minimal say and control over other production aspects like cover design.
True self-publishing is the best option among all three. This is real self-publishing. In this setup, the author takes care of everything, from writing content, marketing, storage, distribution, and all other publishing aspects. Every right to the book is owned by the author. The books are registered as the author’s intellectual property, with the author getting all the right to enjoy the proceeds from sales.
In the long run, true self-publishing is deemed most cost effective because the author could have control over variable publishing factors. He could also enjoy more freedom in terms of style and earning.