The Self-Publishing Industry
A Rocky Start

It wasn’t until the 1990s, when online vanity presses came into being, that the self-publishing trend became more mainstream. But
because anyone can self-publish a book—there is no quality control beyond what the author imposes upon himself—the market started
to get flooded with poorly designed, poorly written books. Consequently, the general perception of self-published authors was that they
turned to self-publishing because they weren’t good enough to get a traditional publisher interested in their work.

Growing Acceptance

But things have changed, and thanks to many successful authors who got their foot in the door, that negative stigma is being shed. Two
contemporary highly successful self-published authors stand way out in front.

  • J. K. RowlingMy Blood Approves series, 2010
  • E. L. James –Fifty Shades of Grey, 2011

It’s an evolving industry. Traditional publishers are now losing a percentage of the industry business having to compete with indie
authors. As a result, many of them have scaled back services previously offered to their authors, such as book promotion and
marketing. Consequently, some previously traditionally published authors have swung over to the self-publishing side where the
royalties are greater and they have total control over content and time lines.

I believe self-publishing is here to stay.


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First some very basic stripped-down definitions.

In traditional publishing, the author creates a manuscript and submits it to a publisher (or through a literary
agent to a publisher) for consideration. If the publishing house decides to publish the book (they accept just a
tiny percentage of books submitted) , a contract is drawn, they buy the rights to the book from the author, and
pay him an advance against future royalties. The publisher assumes all responsibility and costs for preparing
the book for market in exchange for a percentage of the royalties. This includes editing, cover design,
formatting, printing, promotion, marketing, and distribution.

Someone who self-publishes takes on the role of a traditional publisher and is responsible for all aspects of
publishing the book. The self-publisher may do the work himself or farm it out to freelance service providers.
The author owns all rights to the book, bears all the up-front costs, and provided he has done all the work
himself, enjoys 100% of the royalties.


Self-Publishing Is Not New

Most people don’t realize that self-publishing has been around for a long time. Consider these authors who
self-published their work:

  • Ben Franklin – The Way to Wealth, 1758
  • Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol, 1843
  • Virginia Woolf – The Voyage Out, 1915
  • Irma S. Rombauer – The Joy of Cooking, 1931


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