There are many options when it comes to self-publishing a book. Which one you choose depends on your goals, needs, and available funds.
Vanity Press. This is an older term that’s meant derisively. They print and bind books at the author’s expense. Costs include the publisher’s profit and overhead, so vanity publishing is usually quite expensive. Vanity publishers don’t screen for quality. They provide no editing, marketing, warehousing, or promotional services.
Subsidy Publisher. The publisher takes payment from the author to cover part or all of the costs of printing and binding a book, often offering additional services such as editing, proofreading, typesetting, cover design, distribution, warehousing, and some marketing at added cost. The completed books are the property of the publisher and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold.
Many subsidy publishers don’t screen submissions (except perhaps to exclude pornography or hate literature) although Christian companies may only do books with a biblical worldview. The author is paid a royalty based on sales. The publisher may have an exclusive claim on the book for a set period.
Self-publishing. The author undertakes the entire cost of publication and all marketing, distribution, and storage. Since the author can put every aspect of the process out for bid to different companies, rather than accepting a preset package of services, self-publishing can be more cost effective than vanity or subsidy publishing and can result in a higher-quality product. The completed books are the writer’s sole property, and the writer keeps 100 percent of sales proceeds.
(See the next blog.)
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—Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series, is a full-time freelance editor/writing mentor and teacher. She is the founder and director of the Christian Editor Connection and The Christian PEN.