Thursday, February 22, 2007

What is Self-Publishing?

by Moira Allen
With the proliferation of inexpensive "pay-for-publication" options, this has become a confusing question. Many writers believe that "self-publication" refers to any mechanism by which the writer bears the cost of publication -- including subsidy electronic and print-on-demand publications. Many vendors encourage this belief, as "self-publishing" tends to sound more respectable than "subsidy publishing."

As a traditionalist, however, I intend to stick to long-accepted distinctions between self-publishing vs. subsidy publishing. The self-published author is responsible for a much greater range of tasks (and expenses) than a subsidy-published author -- and it is these additional tasks and challenges that will be addressed in this section (though subsidy-published authors will find much of value here as well).

To offer a quick and easy definition, therefore:

"Subsidy publishing" is a form of publication in which the author pays ANOTHER PUBLISHER to produce a book.
"Self-publishing" is a form of publication in which the author BECOMES the publisher of the book.

This distinction is important. When you subsidy-publish your book, "author" and "publisher" are two distinct entities. If, for example, you publish through Xlibris, Xlibris will be listed as the publisher of your book. When you self-publish, author and publisher are the SAME entity. Your name, or the name you've chosen for your "publishing house," will be listed as the publisher of the book.

Moira Allen, editor of, has published more than 350 articles and columns and seven books, including How to Write for Magazines, Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Creative Internet Strategies to Advance Your Writing Career.

Read the full article at

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