Options for the Self Publisher

You have finished writing your book. Now you want to figure out how to get it published. The traditional way is to approach established publishing companies and get them interested in the project. But times are changing and you may want to publish the book yourself. Well, it’s the right time to do that! Publishing has never been easier to do or less expensive.

There are two options in “self publishing”.

Subsidy publishers/printers. The terms subsidy publisher and subsidy printer are essentially interchangeable. A search for self publishing resources on the Internet will yield subsidy printers. Subsidy printers offer more services than the usual commercial printer. The services may include transforming the manuscript into book format, creating a book cover, registering the book with various book databases, possibly some distribution, editing, and, perhaps, limited marketing. You pay the subsidy printer for each service selected. Almost all of these printers put one of their International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) on the book. To members of the book trade, the owner of the ISBN is considered the publisher. While this option works well in some circumstances, for general book trade purposes, these books are not usually well regarded. This is because they tend to have been poorly designed and edited. Also, book traders know that they rarely come with an intensive marketing campaign which is what it takes to sell large numbers of books (thereby making a profit!).

Self publish. The second option might be called the true self publishing option. In this case, the author takes on all the roles of the publisher. This includes having the book edited, designed, printed, registered, marketed, distributed, and sold. Writing a book can be a tough, time-consuming experience. Publishing a book can be even more challenging.

This option works well if you are willing to learn how to do each of the steps required to publish a book and understand that publishing is, first and foremost, a business.

Technologies introduced in the last ten years have put book publishing within the reach of more people than before. There are desktop publishing programs which supply the tools needed to design a book and its cover so the commercial printer can produce your book.

The other big game changer in publishing is print-on-demand. Print-on-demand is a printing method in which new copies of books are printed only when an order is received. This is done using digital printing. While the unit price is higher than with offset printing, there are several advantages.

  • The setup is quicker and set up costs are lower than offset printing.
  • Large inventories do not have to be kept, reducing warehousing, handling, and inventory accounting costs.
  • There is little or no waste due to unsold product.
Digital or print on demand printing is frequently used by subsidy printers, self publishers, and by traditional and academic publishers looking to manage the costs of their backlist or to do test marketing.

You can, of course, still choose to use what is called a “short run” with a commercial offset book printer. A typical short run is 1,000 books. The lowest “short run” I have found with an offset printer is 500 copies. Offset printing is relatively inexpensive per book ordered and the price per book drops with increases in the ordering quantity. “Offset” printing is a mass production method of transferring images from a plate to a rubber blanket and finally to the printing surface. It is the most common method of printing in use today.

As a self publisher, you can use a mixed strategy. Employ print-on-demand as the standard way of having your book available in small quantities. An example would be a single order of up to 1000 books. Opt for the offset print run to fulfill single orders over 1000 books.

Self publishing can be very rewarding. Effort and research on your part is required, but is well worth it. The information in this article will help you add to your resume – published author!

Learn How to Publish Your Book

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Publish Today! A Helpful Guide to Book Publishing for Authors and Self Publishers

Learn how to publish your book. Publish Today! fills the voids we encountered when we wanted to publish our first book. Publish Today! is fluff-free. It will answer your questions, help you avoid pitfalls, and save you a lot of leg-work and frustration.
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