Basic Types of Publishing

*Special Note: If you post an unpublished story on the web and it isn’t password-protected, most publishers consider that work to have been freely available to the public and having been previously published.

Traditional Publisher
• Also referred to as “large press” or “major publishing house.”
• They take on all the risk for publishing a book, acquire the exclusive rights to sell the book, usually pay an advance, and pay the author royalties on sales of the contracted work.
• In order to make a profit, they must print a large quantity of books to get the per unit price down to a reasonable level. To be profitable to the publisher, the author’s book must sell most of what is printed.
• Major publishing houses include: AOL Time Warner, Baen Books, Hachette Filipacchi Media, Harlequin Mills & Boon, Harper Collins, Hearst Corporation, McGraw-Hill, Penguin Group USA, Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

Small Press Publisher
• Also referred to as “indie publisher” or “independent press.”
• They make up half of the market share of the book publishing industry, with their numbers growing every year. They tend to fill niches in the publishing world and can focus on regional titles, narrow specializations and niche genres. In the United States, a small press publisher commonly has annual sales below $50 million, after returns and discounts.
• Originally small press books were designed to not look like mainstream books from the traditional publishing houses. Today they are almost identical, from the design, execution, and to the content.
• Like the larger publishers, they enter into a contract with the author, pay royalties, and are involved in the book publishing process from editing to marketing to distribution. They usually do not pay advances. Also, like the larger publishers, they make their profits by selling books to consumers rather than to the authors, in opposition to vanity publishers.
• They own the copies they have printed, but usually do not own the copyright to the book itself.

Vanity Publisher
• Also referred to as “vanity press” or “subsidy press.”
• Unlike with the traditional publishers (larger or small), the author takes the risk for publication. The author pays for the production of the book, which may include paying for editing, copyediting, cover design, and printing.
• The publisher licenses the rights for sales and distribution and pays the author royalties on sales of the book. They do very little to market and promote the book. Usually the author gets a fixed number of copies and can’t verify inventory numbers with the publisher.
• The publisher makes their money during the book’s production and then by selling copies of the book to the author at a good rate. Also, the publisher sets the price for the book

Self-Publishing
• Like with vanity publishing, the author takes all aspects of the book, from layout and cover design to marketing and sales. Additionally, the author chooses the printer.
• Unlike with small presses or vanity publishers, the author controls all the unsold printed copies of their books. They are not limited as to how many gift and review copies they can distribute.
• Unlike with vanity or traditional publishers (large or small), the author acquires his own block of ISBNs from a registered agency. And the author sets the retail price for the book.

Author Service Companies
• These don’t really fall into any of the above types of publishing, but are closest to self-publishing.
• As with vanity and self-publishing, these companies charge for the services they provide like editing, copyediting, printing, etc.
• Like self-publishing, the author retains all rights to the work, the printed books belong to the author, and the author gets all of the profits from the sales.
• With Print-on-Demand now available, the author has a good chance of making back his initial investment because the copies can be printed when needed.

eBook
• By definition an eBook is an online version of a book. Also referred to as an “electronic book.”
• They can contain bookmarks to jump to specific sections in the work and can contain active links to websites. Most eBooks are published in PDF format.
• Because they can be published for a fraction of the cost of publishing a traditional book, they are far less expensive to buy.

ePublishers
• Most are very similar to small press publishers, but publish many more books and works of various sizes.
• Like the large and small publishers, they enter into a contract with the author and pay royalties. Most are involved in the book publishing process from editing to marketing to distribution. They usually do not pay advances. Also, like the larger publishers, they make their profits by selling books to consumers rather than to the authors, in opposition to vanity publishers.
• Many of these publishers do both eBooks and print books, depending on the word length of the work, and paying different levels of royalties for eBooks and print books.
• As with the small press publishers, they fill more niches in the writing world than the large presses.

6 comments:

Joan Vincent said...

You've done a very thorough and superb job, Starla.
The only thing I can add from personal experience is that Avalon Books which published my last two books never print enough copies to get an author to the royalty paying stage. I imagine all are different. What I should have asked them is how large a print run they did.

Pat Davids said...

Excellent article, Starla.
I'd like to use this information in some of the talks I give. It's much more through that what I'm currently using. Would you mind?
I'll give you credit.

Starla Kaye said...

Sure, Pat, you're more than welcome to use the information.

I knew a lot of this stuff, but the research I did fine-tuned what I understood. One of the reasons I like doing these blogs it that it encourages me to do research and expand my knowledge base.

Roxann Delaney said...

Wow! Seeing it broken down certainly shows the many types of publishing that are available to writers. I've never seen it explained so well. Great job, Starla!

snwriter52 said...

Excellent information.
Thank you for sharing Starla.
Sharon

Jeannie said...

This piece was concise and to the point, Starla. It's highly informative, and it breaks down the differences between publishers in an easy to understand way. I know I find it a very useful piece to refer back to. Thanks for the good work.