What is Self-Publishing?

Self-publishing will be defined differently depending on who you ask. According to people who work in traditional publishing houses, authors who pay for their editing, formatting, or cover design are self-publishing their work. The book is traditionally published only if the publishing expenses are paid by the publisher. However, this often excludes marketing services.

Self-Publishing Independently

In the purest sense, self-publishing occurs when an author handles the entire book publication process, including printing, distribution, and marketing. Author execution of all details during the self-publishing process is also commonly called independent publishing.

The author either has the skill set to carry out the book publishing step, such as book formatting, or employs professionals to complete the process for them. The author largely creates his or her own self-publishing experience, rather than purchasing a company’s services.

Independent publishing requires that authors have in-depth industry knowledge, cultivated management skills, and complete commitment to their entire publishing process.

Self-Publishing with a Company

Authors who publish with the help of a self-publishing company are also self-publishing. This is because the author is financing the majority of the publishing process. There are many different self-publishing companies available to authors who want to self-publish.

Some self-publishing companies offer publishing services to authors who are unable or would rather not deal with the details of the publishing process. In this instance the author pays the self-publishing company to handle the publishing process for them. Examples of services commonly provided include ISBN assignment, book cover design, interior layout, editing, distribution and marketing. Some self-publishers are designed only to get the book printed, while others mimic traditional publishing houses providing a full set of publishing and marketing services.

The key to choosing a self-publishing company is doing your research. Generally the self-publishing company that can offer all, or most, of your publishing and marketing services adds cohesion to your final product. Choose a self-publishing company (or a person in the business) you trust, and let them guide you.

Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing

Some kinds of self-publishers specialize in print-on-demand (POD) and commonly work specifically with authors who need very small quantities of printed books. POD publishers don’t screen submissions, and primarily offer printing and design services. POD is also used by larger companies occasionally to do test marketing or while reprinting out of print books.

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