5 Things to Look for in a Self-Publishing Company

You’ve decided to self-publish your book but are confused about where to start. That’s a reasonable cause for confusion because there’s a lot of information out there to digest. To get you moving in the right direction, here are a few questions to consider while “shopping” for a publisher:

  1. What percentage of your royalties will you receive? As a self-publishing author, you are entitled to ALL of your money. After all, your sales are a direct reflection of all of your efforts. Your best bet is to work with a book publisher that pays you 100% of your royalties.
  2. What are you paying for as a part of your publishing package? Some publishers will charge you for “fluff”. Look at what you’re paying for with your package. If you are seeing things included in the price such as Copyright Registration or Library of Congress numbers, be sure these are things you feel you need. Your book is automatically protected under copyright law once written/published, and the Library of Congress number is no longer needed to get your book into most public libraries across the country.
  3. Are you able to set your own price without paying an extra fee? This one gives me the most pause. There are some self-publishing companies out there that charge you extra fees to set your own price. Be cautious when working with companies that charge such a fee (or worse yet — don’t allow you to set your own price at all), because you can be certain they will be inflexible with other things related to your book as well, such as royalties (see above).
  4. Will you be able to exercise full creative freedom when publishing your book? Why pay a company to publish your book if you will be as limited as authors who publish using “traditional” publishing houses? If you’re giving up your creative freedom, be sure you are getting paid for your book and not the other way around.
  5. What is the upfront cost of publishing your book? Different companies have different pricing structures. Prices can range from around $200 up to and over $10,000. There are two keys for making a decision on price — perceived value and budget (in that order). While I don’t recommend making decisions based on price, your budget is your budget. A phenomenal publishing package is no good if you can’t afford to purchase it. Keep in mind, the self-publishing industry is so dynamic that the cliché, “you get what you pay for”, isn’t always accurate. Some publishers may charge more for their services but offer a terrible result. Be very careful here.

There are many other things to look for when deciding on a publisher for your book, but these were the ones that top the list as far as importance. Your best bet for getting started is to enlist the services of a Publishing Consultant who can show you the ropes. Only then can you make an educated decision in choosing the “right” self-publishing company for you.

DISCUSSION: What are the top things you look for in a publisher?

More Copyright Information for the Self-Publishing Author

Copyright infringement is not a pleasant topic. Some self-publishing authors find themselves in trouble without even knowing it, by doing something as innocent as including the lyrics from their favorite songs in their book.

Music is one of the most protected copyrightable works; infringement of copyright can carry heavy fines for which the author is responsible. If you are going to use the lyrics from a song in your book, you will need to have permission from the original copyright holder. This includes cases where you are only using a stanza or two and sometimes even if you are using anything more than a single line.

Only song lyrics created and first published prior to 1923 are in the Public Domain in the United States. If the song was created after that, you will need permission to use it (or parts of it) in your work.

There are two great resources on the Internet for finding the rights holders for most music and song lyrics, from the two leading music entities, ASCAP and BMI, respectively:


4 Myths about Self-Publishing

There can be a lot of confusion about self publishing and print-on-demand. As you decide the best publishing path for you, I would like to clarify some misconceptions you may have heard.


1. MYTH: Whoever owns the ISBN owns the book.

FACT: This use to be true. Nowadays, not as much so. Most POD publishers assign an ISBN they own, and they do this for the authors’ convenience; in any case authors should ALWAYS keep all the rights to their book.


2. MYTH: Independent self-publishing is different from publishing with a POD publisher because the publisher owns the ISBN. 

FACT: It is true that the ISBN identifies the publisher of record. Look for a publisher that allows authors to supply their own ISBN at some level.


3.MYTH: New York publishers promote and market all their books.

FACT: New York publishers usually devote the lion’s share of their marketing budget to the top 1% (Harry Potter, for example) of the books they publish. The other books published during that season are victims of the sliced marketing budget. Most authors don’t get any support from their traditional publisher at all.


4.MYTH: Printing a book with an off-set printer is the same as publishing it.

FACT: Printing a book is one facet of publication. Before a book can be printed, it needs to be designed. Then it needs to be printed. Then it needs wholesale distribution through Ingram and availability online with retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Then it needs fulfillment of orders and invoicing.


Printing a book with an off-set printer accomplishes one of those steps. Publishing a book with a turn-key, custom self-publisher accomplishes all of them.  Some authors choose to do both; an on-demand edition complements an off-set print-run very nicely.


I hope you found this helpful.  Keep writing!



Karl Schroeder