Book-Publishing Terms in Turmoil

May 2008
by Dan Poynter

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Book-Publishing Terms in Turmoil

by Dan Poynter

Writers are confused, and it’s not their fault. In searching for the best way to break into print, they come across self-described “self-publishing companies.” I get emails asking if I can self-publish for writers. That is impossible—by definition.

The problem is that many POD vanity publishers are calling themselves “self-publishing companies.” They are trading on self-publishing’s good name to make their companies appear familiar and legitimate.

To help you tell the difference, here are some definitions.

Publisher: The person or company that puts up the money and manages all the steps in the publishing process from the idea stage through the stage that reaches readers.

Vanity publisher (also known as subsidy publisher): A company organized to sell book production services (and other services) to authors.

Conventional publisher: A company that produces books sells them to the public, usually through wholesalers and bookstores, paying each author an advance and royalties for the right to produce and sell the book in specified formats and markets.

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