Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Clearing up Publishing Confusion

This is some excellent information I learned from Lynn Price of Behler Publications at the Florida Writing Conference in Orlando on 19/22/10. I've added some of my own editorial comments.

Publishing terms defined:

Digital printing: Sometimes mistaken for Print on Demand; digital printing is used by all publishers to create low print runs of less than 100 units. Even Trade publishers who use large print runs (see definition below) use digital printing for ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) and backlist titles.

Print on Demand (POD): Books are printed only when ordered (usually low order runs) to avoid warehouses overflowing with unsold books; prices may be slightly higer than average. POD is often offered by small presses. The publisher pays up-front production fees but offers no distribution services. In other words, books are not usually on store shelves because they can't be returned and bookstores only carry copies they can return if they don't sell. Many POD presses provide assistance with editing and cover art. Most POD books are available online through Amazon or other Ingram and Baker & Taylor dealers such aas or

Vanity/Subsidy: The author pays all printing costs or the fees may be subsidized by the publisher (who pays partial fees). The author has little say in production or retail price, which is usually higher than average. The publisher offers various package fees and often charges extra for editing, cover design, and a host of other things that in my humble opinion should be considered basics. BEWARE of hidden fees that can add up fast.

Trade publishing: also called independent trade or commercial publihers. These are "real" publishing companies who provide their own editors, cover designers, distribution systems to bookstores, libraries and outlets, print ARCs for reviewers, and have standard return policies. They have distribution teams and sales teams who actually get out and pitch their titles to vendors. They have a vested interest in your book because their success depends on your success.

Self-publishing: The author is the publisher and provides his own editing, marketing, distribution, design and layout. He directs and funds the entire publishing process. He is responsible for purchasing his own ISBN number and with sufficient funds, may hire professionals to pitch his book to vendors. Some highly successful authors with readerships already in place choose to self-publish so that they may be in control of every detail of the publishing process.


Kat Heckenbach said...

Lovely, Deb! This is a great summary. I've noticed a lot of confusion about this among writers. So many I know consider POD and self-publishing to be synonymous, and one really has nothing to with the other except that self-publishers tend to use the POD method.