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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Publishing Myths, Part 2: Definitions

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Before I get into the meat of the series, I want to lay down a few definitions. While I'm at it, I'll probably bust another myth or two. Please leave a comment if you have questions or see something that needs clarification. You might want to read Part 1 if you haven't already done so.

I'm going to start with just a few, and I expect the list will grow:

Commercial Publisher - Often confused with "traditional" publisher, a commercial publisher pays advances and royalties and gets your books into bookstores. Some small presses only pay royalties, but don't let that deter you.

POD - It's a printing method. It's a business model! Thank the stars it isn't a furniture polish. POD stands for Print on Demand. POD is typically used for small print runs, but due to economies of scale, they cost more per copy. Some smaller publishers are using POD with success. Still, a publisher that uses POD needs a little extra scrutiny. A good business will stand up to it.

Self-Publishing - A self publisher does it all. They write the book, edit it, design the layout and cover (or contract some of those things out) and pay for the printing. The self-publisher also handles (or contracts out) publicity, marketing, distribution, everything. Successful self-publishers approach the process like a business, and can make money at it. The publisher name on the copyright page is the author or the name of the company he or she sets up.

Subsidy Publisher - Also called "partnership" publishing. The author picks up some of the costs of publishing. Approach this type of arrangement with caution.

Traditional Publisher - Used by some "reverse" vanity publishers (see below), but also used by commercial publishers. The theory is that a "traditional" publisher pays advances and royalties, but some who use this term offer low advances and royalties, and bookstore placement can be problematic.

Vanity Publisher - The author pays to be published. Typically, the publishing company is the name that shows up on the copyright page. Distribution is often minimal. A twist on this is called "reverse vanity." The author doesn't pay to get published, but the publisher makes money off of book sales to the author.

Yog's Law - "Money flows towards the writer." Much more on this as we continue.

Filed under: Publishing Myths            
1/27/2009 8:55:01 AM
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