Why write this article?  

Since I have been writing books, people who are unfamiliar with today’s publishing industry seem to think that if an author is not published through a large publishing company, the book or the author is probably not very good.  Not true!  Check out the online bookstores, and you will find a gazillion books that are either self-published or written by an Indie Author. 

I am a self-publisher of my own books.  1)  create a story on my computer  2)  edit it for content, grammar and errors  3) format it for printing the novel EXACTLY as it shows up in a book  4)  upload it to online bookstores who offers software to aid in the process  5)  preview to assure it is ready to be offered for sale  6)  correct the formatting if not right  7)  make and upload a cover for the book  8)  Finally, approve the entire process.  It is then offered it as ebooks or paperback books for sale.  As a self-publisher, the author is a one-man operation. 

There are basically four types of publishers: 

  • Traditional Publishing Houses – They publish manuscripts they are certain will sell.
  • Vanity Publishers – They charge a fee for their services which varies with each house
  • Indie Authors – Authors use Vanity Publishers and pay a fee to have a book published
  • Self-Publishers – Author does all the work and uses software offered by bookstores to upload their books for sale as e-books or paperback.  Self-publishers can upload their book to Ingram Spark and they can be ordered or stocked in brick/mortar stores.

 In the “old” days, if a person had a manuscript and wanted to turn it into a book, they needed a traditional publishing company who provided such services.  These companies owned and operated printing presses to create a book.  Later, they added other services such as editing and marketing.  Of course, there was no such thing as an eBook.  

Time has moved on and so have publishers.  Some publishers that started out small have now grown into mammoth publishing houses.  They can afford to be selective and will not accept a manuscript unless they accept it through a literary agent or rarely a query letter.  One reason is that they cannot handle all the submissions they receive.  The large publishers only accept manuscripts they are confident will sell in large numbers; therefore, they can offer an advance on the sale of the book.  

Since the older and larger publishing houses cannot handle all the authors who have manuscripts to be published, even though they may be potential best-sellers, hundreds of smaller houses have sprung up.  These houses do not offer an advance on a book but charge a fee for printing the book.  They offer different packages for different prices.  Many authors whose manuscript is not accepted by a large publishing house, will turn to one of these smaller houses. 

Today, in this digital world, if an author is computer savvy, software is available for an author to publish a book themselves.  Most online bookstores offer software that can be used by an author to publish a book, both in ebook or paperback form and make it available for sale on their site.  You are charged a small fee for electronically selling/sending an eBook or printing and mailing a paperback book to a buyer. 

However, the catch is that using this type of software, a person must know how to format a manuscript before uploading it so that it will look EXACTLY as it will in either ebook or paperback form.  It is not rocket science, but it is not easy either.  I personally find that “formatting” a book is the hardest part of publishing a book. 

Interesting Trivia: J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books.  After many rejection slips, it spent a long time in the “slush” pile with other rejected manuscripts.  One day, as someone was going to lunch, they reached in the pile and picked up her manuscript to read at lunch.  It was just a stroke of luck that it was picked up out of a slush pile by someone who recognized the potential of the book.  As a literary agent, he sold it to a large publishing company.  The rest is history.  

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mocking Bird.  When it was submitted to be considered for publication, it is said that it was just a series of events without a strong central plot to hold it together. It needed a lot of work before it would be ready for publication. Tay Hohoff, one of the Lippincott editors, became her mentor, and guided her through a year of rewrites, molding Nelle’s novel into the literary masterpiece.