Four essential thoughts on self-publishing your book

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Do you know the difference between various self-publishing options available to authors? The following specific definitions of publishing options is attributed to the Writer Beware section of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It bears repeating.

A commercial publisher purchases the right to publish a manuscript (usually together with other rights, known as subsidiary rights), and pays the author a royalty on sales. Most also pay an advance on royalties. Commercial publishers are highly selective, publishing only a tiny percentage of manuscripts submitted. They handle every aspect of editing, publication, distribution, and marketing. There are no costs to the author.

A vanity publisher prints and binds a book at the author’s sole expense. Costs include the publisher’s profit and overhead, so vanity publishing is usually a good deal more expensive than self-publishing. The completed books are the property of the author, and the author retains all proceeds from sales. Vanity publishers may exclude objectionable content such as pornography, but otherwise do not screen for quality.

A subsidy publisher also takes payment from the author to print and bind a book, but contributes a portion of the cost and/or adjunct services such as editing, distribution, warehousing, and marketing. Theoretically, subsidy publishers are selective. The completed books are the property of the publisher, and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold. Income to the writer comes in the form of a royalty.

Self-publishing, like vanity publishing, requires the author to bear the entire cost of publication, and also to handle all marketing, distribution, storage, etc. However, rather than paying for a pre-set package of services, the author puts those services together himself. Because every aspect of the process can be out to bid, self-publishing can be much more cost effective than vanity publishing; it can also result in a higher-quality product. Completed books are owned by the author, who keeps all proceeds from sales. –Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers

I listened to an 82 year-old woman author tell a horror story at a writers’ group meeting a few months back. She got talked into publishing her World War II memoir, a very good one, in fact, with a company that charged her various fees for a ton of services. She ended up spending big bucks per book, even though her book sold well through the marketing she did with it.

Pay attention to what you are signing when you sign an agreement. Consider hiring a certified ghost writer if your book can truly become agentable. Take care of yourself, your intellectual properties, and your pocketbook. NO one else will.

Read more about publishing your work:

A contest for books self published

Strange publishing trends (vampires and little women??)

Advice from book agent Chip MacGregor

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