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Self-Publishing - 3 Ways to Look at It

Self-Publishing - 3 Ways to Look at It
By Amber Starfire

You've spent a good deal of your time and energy writing a book, and now you'd like to get it published. You've been thinking about this for a long time. Maybe you've even sent queries to agents and publishers, with negative responses. Now, you're leaning towards publishing on your own, but aren't sure where to begin.

To help you get started, this article compares the benefits and drawbacks of three self-publishing options.

1) Doing it all on your own

In this form of "true" self-publishing, you, the author, take control of the entire process, from hiring an editor to overseeing the typesetting. You work with the various contractors and price each part of the process individually, rather than working with an all-in-one publisher. Think of publishing like buying a house: you can pay for a contractor to handle all the details, hire the workers, and manage the workflow, or you can be the contractor. In this example, you are the contractor.

The author owns all rights and makes full profit from sales of the book, which, if successful, can be significant. In addition, some larger publishers will pick up a book that has had a successful small-press run, giving it a larger audience. If you are knowledgeable and have a good aesthetic sense, controlling the process yourself can also result in a higher quality product.

The initial investment can be large. You'll have to assume the entire financial risk, which can be substantial depending on how many books you decide to publish. In addition, you would have responsibility for all publicity, sales, distribution, and storage. With this method, you can expect publishing to cost you money, rather than make a profit. However, the benefits that come with complete control over your book may outweigh the the drawbacks.

2) Vanity or Subsidy Publishers

You may have heard the terms "Vanity Publisher" and "Subsidy Publisher. Subsidy publishers generally require a financial investment of the author, but will provide services such as editing and book design. Vanity publishers, on the other hand, require the author to take all of the financial risk and have a bad reputation of being willing to publish anything, regardless of quality. This article address the pros and cons of Subsidy Publishers.

You will have experienced help with the publication of your book. While you do need to make an investment, you are partners with the publishing agency and receive royalties based on book sales. (Vanity houses usually charge author fees.)

Generally, subsidy publishing houses require ownership of at least some of the copyrights and pay royalties to the author. You may not have much control over the book and cover designs. As noted above, the bulk of publicity effort is also yours.


3) Print on Demand (POD)

Print on demand uses digital printing technologies to print books as they are ordered. Books can be ordered one at a time, or in mass quantities.

POD requires a minimal investment. Depending on the POD company you use, they may offer editorial and design services, or you can farm those services out to a third party. You have a good deal of control over design and print quality. There is no commitment to a particular number of sales, and it does not require acceptance by an agent or publishing company.

The cost of each book is generally the most expensive of the three methods. Sales may be low. Larger publishing houses might not be willing to consider taking on your book if it's been published POD.

All self publishing
requires the author to handle publicity and marketing. If you're good at marketing and have created a strong reader base, self-publishing in one of these forms is a viable option. If you do decide to self-publish, I highly recommend hiring a professional editor. The end result will be worth the investment.

Amber Lea Starfire is publisher and editor of The Writer's Eye Magazine freelance writer, photographer, bicyclist and mother. "Life is all about finding joy in the journey and is too short to do anything other than live our dreams." Her personal website is To contact Amber Lea Starfire, email

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