Self Publishing versus Established Publisher?

by janbking on June 17, 2009

I am in the midst of preparing opening remarks for the upcoming publishing one-day, August 5, just before the eWomenNetwork Conference in Dallas.

In asking the participants what they most wanted to know about, this subject came up many times: “How do I know whether I should publish my non-fiction book myself or find a publisher? I hear so many conflicting views and get so much advice.”

This is a subject we will definitely do our best to provide clarity on at the conference. I think much of the confusion stems from another question that once was easy to answer, and now not so easy: “What is a publisher?”

Let me give you my answer – an answer many will not like or agree with.

An author is the one who comes up with the intellectual property in manuscript form. The publisher is the one who adds the money and expertise to leverage the intellectual property into a successful book by providing a great title, cover, interior and then cost-effectively printing the book and getting distribution for it into the bookstore market.

By this definition, so many of the entities calling themselves “publishers” are instead, “publishing services” or “author services” companies.

Here is the bottom line: IF A COMPANY ASKS YOU TO PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK, IT IS NOT A PUBLISHER.

Publishers make investments. If you are both making the investment and bringing in the intellectual property, that is not a publishing deal. What you are doing is buying publishing services.

There is nothing wrong with that if you know what you are paying for and what you are getting. I hear so many people tell me what their “publisher” said, only to find out they aren’t working with a publisher at all.

In my next blog, I will detail for you the eight contract provisions you want to have when you contract for publishing services. Don’t mistake this type of contract for a contract with an established commercial publisher which is an entirely different thing, with entirely different contract terms.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

http://rachelkovacs.wordpress.com July 1, 2009 at 9:06 am

That is a very interesting question. Thanks for the article, it was very helpful!

http://rachelkovacs.blogspot.com July 1, 2009 at 11:21 am

Very good question. Thanks for the interesting article.

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