Not self-published

You know, there are tons of publishers out there. And plenty of printers, too.

A lot of new writers don’t know the difference. A lot of old writers don’t know the difference between printing technology and a publisher. For example, many people sneer at POD, print on demand.

That’s because a lot of “mid-range” publishers are known as POD publishers. Some think that the label POD means self-published or vanity published and that is simply not true.

Let me spell out a few things here for you:

Self publish means you pay the expenses yourself. A self-published book CAN be edited by a professional but most people assume that a self-published book is not edited by a professional. There IS a stigma in the publishing industry against self-publishing. Whether you like it or not, a self-published book is not taken as seriously, and is often not considered a writing credit at all when you submit to “traditional publishing houses” and agents and editors.

You can self-publish without paying for expenses. Lulu.com, for example, does not charge a set-up fee. I wholly recommend them IF you are intent on self-publishing your work. Also, many new publishers are using Lulu for their printing process. So, you may find books that are not self-published among their listed titles.

Iuniverse is another one of those presses that has an unusual position in the publishing industry. You CAN self-publish with them, but you will pay for their services. However, you CAN be given a publishing contract by that company–I know two people who received these–and those do not cost you money out of pocket. So, some of their list is self-published, and others aren’t. One good thing about iuniverse is that they upload all their titles to the major bookstore chains and Amazon. So, your book will be in the system. That does not mean, however, that it will be in the bookstores.

Somewhere in the pits of publishing is a set of publishing houses known as VANITY or SUBSIDY publishers. Those are the ones that say you won a contest or a place in their fancy leatherbound tome, and then offer you copies at an outrageous price. A lot of POD publishers have been lumped into this “type of press.”

For example, my first publisher, Publish America, is technically a traditional publisher. They pay advances. Usually a dollar. But that is more than many POD publishers give, so don’t sneer. They pay for the publishing costs and they provide editors. So, technically, it is not a self-publisher. They do use POD technology, but make no mistake–very few publishers out there these days still use offset presses.

Many publishers, like Publish America, make most of their money off of the author, and what books the author purchases directly, or their friends and family order. That is where they get the flack. They don’t market much or at all. And a lot of time they are working at high quotas of pushing titles through and the editing suffers.

I recommend you go and check out any publisher you’re thinking of signing with. Look at Writer’s Beware, Preditors and Editors, and Piers Anthony’s column. They are known for weeding out the bad pubs and exposing the problems.

While I don’t really encourage writers to “settle” for self or vanity publishing, or publishers with poor reputations, I say…these publishing houses fill a need for writers, else they wouldn’t be in business.

Personally, I believe there are enough publishers out there that you don’t have to self publish. You simply have to be willing to go through the tedious process of submitting and waiting. There IS a publisher for everyone.

That said, if you are publishing poetry, there isn’t much of a stigma against poets who self-publish their collections. Although, I want to say…I was told there weren’t any publishers of poetry out there and I found that to be an absolute falsehood. I’ve heard it so many times that I almost believed it. But here I sit with three collections of poetry under contract and I’m here to tell you, there ARE publishers out there who will publish your work. You don’t have to be self-published. You really don’t.

You just have to do your homework.

The truth is, though, if you want “the big money” and the nationwide or worldwide recognition, you have to be published with a big house.

This post is mirrored from my xanga blog. You may want to tune in to that. I often cover different subjects on the same day–but that blog is also one that speaks to writing.

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