by Jill Ronsley

Interior Book Design and Typesetting

Book Cover Design

Inside Scoop on Copyediting

Self-publishing Helpful Hints

11 Steps of Book Production

Setting Up Your Title on Bowkerlink

Brief Description of Self-Publishing

How to Maximize Book Expo America
by Jerry D. Simmons

How Can I Get an Agent?
by Rick Walton

Good Picture Books
by Rick Walton

Writing Tip for Children’s Books
by Eileen Spinelli

Tough Love: An Open Letter to Kids' Book Publishers
by Diantha McBride

In the 21st century, both traditional publishing and self-publishing have a place. Neither is going away anytime soon.

Countless articles have been written on the pros and cons of both methods. Arguments and debates rage over the merits and demerits of self-publishing. The truth is that neither method is going to disappear soon, and with the ease of publishing offered by new technologies and the Internet, more publishing information and options exist for writers than ever before. Writers have enjoyed successes and suffered failures using both methods. They have been happy and unhappy with both.

The aim of this article is to point out several points that a person who wishes to self-publish should be aware of. It mentions some of the advantages of self-publishing and some of the pitfalls to avoid in order to have a positive self-publishing experience. It is essential that anyone who chooses to self-publish be aware of the steps he or she needs to take in order to be successful.

One of the advantages of self-publishing is that the writer is in control of his or her own time frame within the constraints of the time required to write, edit, design and print his book. For novices who do not take the time to educate themselves, this always takes much longer than they expect. On the other hand, a writer who chooses the traditional publishing route may have a long wait after submitting his manuscript before he receives an acceptance—or a rejection. If a writer submits to a traditional publisher that does not accept multiple submissions, his road to getting published may be a very long one.

An advantage of self-publishing is that all rights to the work remain with the author, provided that he or she does not relinquish them, whereas traditional publishers buy the rights to a manuscript. But they buy them because they pay for all the expenses of printing, publishing and marketing. A traditional publisher invests only in a manuscript that it thinks it can sell. The advantages of traditional publishing are not only that all the expenses associated with publishing are borne by the publisher, but that royalties (perhaps 5-15%) and advances are paid to the author. On the other hand, the self-publisher bears all the expenses of publishing, but also takes 100% of sales. In order to have sales, however, he must make those sales himself, and for that, he has to understand the industry and develop a marketing plan before his book is produced. To do this successfully, he must educate himself before going to print. A writer who decides to self-publish holds the full responsibility for every aspect of writing and publishing his book.

Using either publishing method—traditional publishing or self-publishing—an author must contribute to the promotion of his or her book. Today, acquisition editors often want to know what the author's marketing plans are before they accept a book they are interested in.

Not all forms of publishing that are not traditional publishing are the same,
but many people think they are.

Several categories of publishing or printing are different from traditional publishing, and contrary to common belief, they do not all fall under an all-encompassing umbrella called self-publishing. This is because the options for publishing today continue to diversify in the changing, developing industry of publishing. Two terms that you may have heard are subsidy publishing and vanity publishing.

When you self-publish, you can set up your own company and hire your own service providers individually, such as a professional editor, interior book designer, book cover designer, book printer and illustrator if you need one. You can obtain your own ISBN, making you or your company the publisher. You may use a fulfillment company to handle sales and distribution, or you may do this yourself. You might hire a publicist to market your book, or you may do this yourself.

The type of publishing that I recommend that you avoid is vanity publishing. If you choose a vanity publisher, you will pay that company to have your book produced and then receive only a fraction of the returns from the sales. Moreover, the ISBN for your publication will belong to the company you buy it from, rather than to you or a publisher who you know and trust. A writer should not pay to have his or her book printed and then receive only a fraction of the return while the vanity publisher keeps the bulk of income from sales. Also, the writer should retain the right to sell his book wherever he chooses; some vanity printers allow sales only through them.

Vanity publishing is not true self-publishing, and many self-publishers strive to make the public understand the differences.

Subsidy publishing companies provide all or some of the services that are needed in order to produce a book. Some require you to use their ISBN, book design or printing services. Others allow you to use only the services you need, such as editing, typesetting or printing, ISBN and Library of Congress control number registration, marketing and fulfillment.

The bottom line: Educate yourself before you choose.

If you decide not to take the route of traditional publishing, you must decide what your needs are and how much you can do on your own. You must think about how much money, time and energy you have to devote to book production and marketing. That will enable you to set up your own company and be a self-publisher or to choose a subsidy publisher that meets your needs.

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If you have any questions, please contact us.

Click here to read 11 Steps of Book Production.

Copyright © 2006 Jill Ronsley. All rights reserved.
This article was first published in "The Blue Review." This is the revised version.

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