‘Publishing 3.0’ — what is is and why it matters

Over at TechCrunch, author James Altucher has written an excellent article about the process of self-publishing his book Choose Yourself.choose yourself

Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because self-publishing is the new business card. If you want to stand out in a world of content, you need to underline your expertise.—James Altucher

A while back I said there are two kinds of publishing: Author Pays and Someone Else pays. Altucher has a different take on it. What he sees is Professional Publishing and Unprofessional Publishing, and he argues that some of the latter is being done by the big houses. I can’t refute that. Continue reading

What’s traditional about publishing

Since the earliest days of mechanized publishing, when Herr Gutenberg was putting ink to paper in what for the time was a staggering pace, there have been printers and publishers and, as noted earlier, these were usually two different people. The publisher paid the printer to produce the book, and the publisher made his money on sales of the book. If the author was lucky, he got a cut, too, but for a long time, especially in the states, this was iffy. No one likes to admit it these days, but a big portion of the profits of publishers in the 19th century came from bootleg copies of books by British authors like Charles Dickens. Continue reading

Choosing your publishing model part 2

The other day, we looked at three of the factors that go into choosing your publishing model: Money, Skill, and Control. Today we’ll finish up.


Royalty publishing takes a looooooong time. It can take up to 18 months to get a book through the production process. At major houses, once you have a contract, you’ll usually get through the process within that time frame, sometimes faster. At small presses, timeframes vary widely. Because they are nimble, small presses can often get a book produced faster than a behemoth publisher where every decision has to go through three committees. But small presses are more subject to sudden workflow interruptions like funding shortfalls or a key player falling ill with no one to pick up their role.

But the biggest obstacle, timewise, is the length of time it takes to get the contract. Continue reading

How to decide which publishing model is right for you

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the different models for publishing—royalty, subsidy, and do it yourself—and you’ve probably noticed I haven’t come out and said which is best.

That’s because none of them are perfect for everyone.

There are four main factors to consider when choosing which model to use. Today we’ll look at the first three, and Thursday we’ll finish up. Continue reading

Why owning your ISBN is important—or not

When you hire a vendor to produce your book, the company usually provides one of its own ISBNs, which makes it your publisher of record. This is also true if you use the free ISBN provided by Create Space or Smashwords.

book publishing isbn

Photo by Ove Tøpfer

Bowker is the U.S. registrar for International Standard Book Numbers. Each book receives a unique ISBN, which goes into the Bowker database booksellers and libraries use for ordering. When a bookseller looks up the book in Bowker’s database, the “Publisher” field will say “Create Space” or the name of your vendor.

How can this be if, as I said, you’re the publisher because you’re paying the bill? Continue reading

Why what you call a ‘publisher’ matters

Last week, I wrote about the differences, slim though they are, between vanity presses and subsidy presses.

In the comments, Jennifer wrote, “What a publisher calls itself does not matter. What matters are the terms of the contract.”

True. A company can call itself whatever it chooses, but whether it’s a true publisher or a vendor providing services depends on what’s in the contract, not its name.

But what the rest of us call these companies does matter. It troubles me to hear authors who’ve hired an author services vendor to produce their book refer to that company as “my publisher.” Continue reading

Vanity press vs. subsidy: What’s the difference?

question answer

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Q: Earlier you talked about the difference between royalty publishing and a subsidy press. I’ve heard other writers complain about “vanity presses.” Is there a difference between a subsidy press and a vanity press?

A: Depends on who you ask.

Some people think so-called “traditional publishing” is the only true publishing, and that any author who pays to publish their book is getting ripped off. Those folks will tell you that subsidy publishing is just a new name for the ol’ vanity press scam.

I disagree. Continue reading

What having a publisher gets you

The self-publishing revolution has a lot of writers asking whether they even need a publisher. It’s a fair question. So let’s take a look at what a publisher does for an author.

First and foremost, as I’ve said before, the publisher pays the bill. That is, the publisher fronts all the money for the production of the book, thereby assuming the financial risk for the endeavor.

Self-publishing proponents argue that an e-book can be published at no up-front cost. Technically, this is true, but you get what you pay for. We looked earlier at what goes into book production. Continue reading