Thursday, April 22, 2004

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing vs. Hybrids

The term "Publisher" is getting more and more confused. In the traditional sense, the publisher is the business entity that owns the rights to a book and gets it into circulation by editing it, typesetting it, getting it printed, storing it in inventory, marketing it, taking orders for it, and getting it shipped to the customer. If the publisher is the same as the author, it is called "self-publishing," which is a rather new and growing phenomenon. Until recently, it was more common for someone else (a publisher) to buy rights from an author (in return for some payment, often a royalty against sales) and pay the costs of getting the book manufactured and to market. Now, with the popularity of self-publishing, businesses have developed that are hybrids, bearing trappings of both fee-for-service businesses and publishers. These hybrids may charge you (as author) a fee for certain services (copyediting, book design, page makeup, and publicity services are common) but provide a publishing infrastructure common to publishers (getting an ISBN number, manufacturing books, taking orders, and shipping) and then pay you with what amounts to a royalty on sales. The result is that these hybrids are (publishing) service businesses dressed up to look like publishers. They are not necessarily a bad deal, as long as you remember that you really are the publisher and are the only one that is going to make your book work. Email your comments. More info at Graphics West.

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