Book Publishing Options (part two)

Last week I outlined the steps required to get your manuscript commercially published. If that lengthy, difficult process isn’t your cup of tea, there are alternatives. Here’s one of them.

Subsidy Publishing

In the past, writers who couldn’t get their books commercially published paid companies to print their manuscripts. These printers came to be known as “vanity presses.” Because they did little if any screening of manuscripts, much less editing or proofreading, these companies (and the books they printed) garnered a reputation for a severe lack of quality.

In recent years, however, many authors—especially those with speaking platforms or a strong media presence—have realized that printing their own books has some advantages over commercial publishing. In response, legitimate subsidy publishers have helped these authors get their books in print.

There are still a lot of scams out there. But if you’re cautious, you can get your book published in a format that looks just like what a commercial publisher would put out (or at least close) . . . for a fee.

There are pros and cons to subsidy publishing:


1.  You make more money per book than with royalties.

2.  You have more control over the final manuscript than with a commercial publisher.

3.  You don’t have to convince an acquisitions editor and two or three publishing committees to accept your book.

4.  You can get the book published in three to six months instead of two or three years.


1.  You have to bear the up-front costs.

2.  You probably won’t get the same level of editing/proofing as with a royalty house.

3.  Most magazine editors won’t review subsidy-published books.

4.  Few bookstores will stock subsidy-published books.

5.  You’re totally responsible for marketing and distribution. (Some subsidy publishers offer these services, but you have to pay for them.)

Some subsidy publishers offer editing and/or proofreading, professional cover design, a few options for interior layouts, and a variety of marketing plans to choose from . . . all for various fees. Others will simply print whatever you send them, and you can design a cover yourself or choose from a standard template.

Some subsidy publishers require that you purchase a minimum number of copies. Many, however, now offer “print-on-demand publishing,” which means the publisher keeps your manuscript in an electronic file, and you can order as few or as many copies as you wish and have them shipped wherever you want.

Books printed by a subsidy publisher become the property of the publishing house. The publisher will purchase for your book an International Standard Book Number. This ISBN and the associated barcode will be printed on the back cover along with the publishing house’s imprint.

Some subsidy publishers allow the author to set the retail price; others will set the price based on page count.

The publisher pays you royalties on books sold (other than books you purchase yourself).

For a flyer with more details on self-publishing, including a list of reputable subsidy publishers, e-mail me.

Next week, I’ll discuss another book-publishing alternative.