Q: When you spoke at a conference recently, I heard you refer to self-publishing. Isn’t “independent publishing” the correct term now?
A: Yes and no. An independent publisher is a small publisher that may or may not publish the works of the owner, but it always publishes the works of other authors, as well. When you publish only your own books, you are self-publishing. I know the distinction is vague; in either case you have to set up a company and be a publisher, but an independent publishing house accepts the works of others, as well as the works of the owner.
Also, when you use a firm that helps you publish, so that you don’t have to set up your own company, you are a self-published author, as opposed to a traditionally published author.
In the end, we are simply talking semantics. If you spend any money at all toward the printing of your book, you are self-published. Being self-published used to carry a stigma, and perhaps that’s why some people don’t want to use the term, but the market has changed over the years, and people’s attitudes have changed with it. At a time when selling a book to a traditional publisher is almost impossible, yet printing your own book has become easier than ever, self-publishing has taken on a whole new character and lost much of its prior poor image. Nowadays the only stigma comes from a poorly written or unedited self-published book. If the book looks good, reads well, is thoroughly edited, and sells well, who cares who paid for the printing?
Bobbie Christmas is a book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, and she will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at http://www.zebraeditor.com.