Wednesday, April 21, 2010

L. Diane Wolfe Speaks Gives Us the Publishing Word(s)

When I talk to audiences of new authors I try to get the vocabulary straight so that we're all on the same page. What sometimes surprises me is how many veteran authors misuse publishing terms. We really do need to understand the terms to communicate well. Soooo, my friend Diane Wolfe is guest blogging for me today with a little rundown on that subject:

Publishing Industry Defined

By L. Diane Wolfe "Spunk On A Stick"

The road to publishing is often confusing.

There are numerous publishing paths and e-books have added some loops. However, everything comes down to three basic models.

Traditional publishing

Manuscript is accepted by publisher (directly or with an agent’s help) and author is paid royalties on the sale of the book. Publisher often retains many of the rights to the book, such as foreign, paperback, or movie rights. Publisher does some marketing and author is also expected to market his or her book. Publisher owns the ISBN.

Self Publishing

Author owns the ISBN, the publishing company, and controls all rights. Author occasionally farms out individual aspects of book production such as book designing and formatting. Author selects printer and acquires distributor. Author does all marketing.

Subsidy or Vanity Publishing

Author pays a servicing company to package, print, and distribute his or her book. Company owns the ISBN. Author pays a fee for marketing or does it all. Subsidy publishers are not true publishing companies. Examples - Lulu, BookSurge, Trafford, IUniverse, AuthorHouse, Taft, etc.
For more information on subsidy publishing, visit:

If you’re still confused, here’s an easy checklist:

Do I own my book’s ISBN?
Yes - I am self-published
No - go to next question

Did I pay to have my book published?
Yes - I am subsidy published
No - I am traditionally published

There are always variables. I know one traditional publisher who does require her authors to foot part of the bill and they receive 100% in royalties until they recoup their investment. (She also screens her submissions like any other traditional publisher.) Is that still traditional publishing? One can also self publish with the help of another small publisher by accessing that company’s printer and distributor. Where exactly does that fall?

The publishing industry is such a fascinating place!

It’s pretty darned screwy, too.

- L. Diane Wolfe, Professional Speaker & Author

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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