The ABCs of Publishing Terminology Today

Are you confused in which way to publish today? And for that matter, what are the publishing options? Join the club! Traditional publishing, self-publishing and independent publishing are tossed in the air with the flick of the tongue. Just what are they? Authors feel like they are going bonkers with the choices, that unfortunately, lead to plenty of disillusionment.

Traditional publishing is the easiest to get … and digest. The biggies in the field today are: Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House and Macmillian. They acquire authors and manuscripts. They promise to publish your book, do some editing, cover and interior design, print it and maybe, maybe some publicity and marketing. In return, you may get an advance—which means they give you up-front money that is an advance payment against/toward future royalties. The good news is that if the book doesn’t do so well, you keep the money. The bad news, it’s not usually a lot and the process takes many, many months-sometimes years to see additional moneys.

The real confusion and culprit is in the “self-publishing” terminology. It’s misused and bastardized on a daily basis.

Self-publishing is well, self-publishing—the DIY model. And, it has lots of modes you can take. It gets interchanged with Independent publishing (or Indie publishing as many call it). One of the key differences between the two is that “self” is usually on a smaller production scale—the “indies” think nothing of print 1,000 plus copies and selling all of them … and back to print. The self-publishing author is thinking that 100 is a BIG step.

Independent publishing  You, the author, handle all the details under your own name/company—your imprint. You hire designers, illustrators, editors, printers and anyone else to create your masterpiece. Yes, all costs are yours, but you also get the difference between cost and selling point (If the cost of printing a book is $3.25 and you resell it for $15, you put $11.75 in your bank account). Authors who transitioned into the Independent publishing model are serious authors, understanding the business side of publishing. AND … this is a must … you need to understand, embrace, that this is a business. It you go down the “hobby” path, your results will be mediocre at best. End of my sermon.

Pay-to-publish is when YOU pay a company to do the publishing process. You can pay them to get editing done, the cover, the layout, the publicity and the marketing. You have much more control than with traditional, but all costs are out of pocket. YOU PAY ALL. Even though you are footing the bill, you still get royalties (a percent of the cover price–some gloat that they pay the best rates, like 20 percent). Not much here … and the quality is well, questionable. Many of the “pay to publish”—which includes Author Solutions, Author House, LuLu, Red Dog, Tate (I’m working on getting two authors out of a very messy situation/disaster with Tate as I write this), Balboa, Westbow, iUniverse, XLibris—the author sells an average of 100 book—100!!!! Ugh to that. The pay to publish crowd routinely say “self-publish” … it is not. It is a business that takes just about any author who has got a checkbook or credit card, fills in the necessary paperwork, submits the necessary Word documents to their process … and voila  … a book is created.

My advice … if you are going to do all the intellectual work, need to save money, find resources that don’t suck you in for the $297 or $397 or $577 or whatever their “cheap” lure is and then you get hit with all the “up-selling.” Always Google the name of the company—add “complaints,” “scams,” “ripoffs,” “con,” “lawsuits” and or “problems” behind it and read … dig down. READ EVERYTHING — don’t stop on the first page.

It’s Easy to Get Lost in Publishing Terminology

Dear, Dear Authors… if you are going to do the work of writing a book … you are going to market you book—NO ONE else is—thinking that another publisher—traditional or the pay-to-publish crowd will–it is today’s author fantasy land … if you don’t land a deal with a traditional publisher .. bypass “pay to publish” …you are going to end up coughing up several thousand dollars by the time you are done; end up with a so-so product (as one of the members said about Tate, “A 5-year-old could have made a better cover.”; and then you fumble with what to do next. If you are going to end up spending several thousand dollars, invest in learning about publishing and “buy” what you need to create your vision.

If money is a challenge—at least get your book edited; have a professional cover designer create your cover; get the interior layed-out by someone who does interiors—you will spend a few thousand dollars if you do it RIGHT and it will be money well spent … then you can go the cheap route: have your interior designer load up to Create Space—at least you’ve get the visuals of a solid book on your side and the content solid—you’ve got mammoth Amazon there ready to do the POD print and you can buy the book for most likely less than $3 a copy (less than the pay-to-publish model—trust me here). Amazon can then create the eBook in a nano-second for mini-costs.

Now, you can do the Create Space option and bypass your own designer … and you get what you get—it will look “self” published—I have yet to see a Create Space that the author has just down the “dump” process—used their templates, picked a plain vanilla type of cover they created and see the results as stellar. My thing is to work with authors to create a book that they don’t regret. If you want a Book that you don’t have to apologize for, get some professional input. Please.

Then, then … you start social media marketing like crazy.

If you decide to pull it from Amazon and choose another option—like creating your own imprint or even selling it to a traditional publishing house, you can easily—you’ve got all the design done already and you own it.

OK… that’s my two-bits for now … remember: your motto is: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me …” and keep my two favorites that I will include in my next book–a book that has won six national book awards, including a coveted Book of the Year from the Indie/Fab awards announced at the 2014  American Library Association annual meeting in Las Vegas … Author YOU-Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms …

If you never say “no” your “yeses” are worthless … 

                      Don’t do well what you have no business doing … Nuff said.


Get the book if you don’t have … and start your GamePlan today.

2014_JBriles-1Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord Indie/Fab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences.

Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Unplugged, a two and 1/2 day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2015, the dates are August 27-29th.  Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at . Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at