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AW Admin
08-07-2014, 12:00 AM
This is a work-in-progress FAQ; its purpose is to help those new to self-publishing educate themselves about their options, best practices, tools and resources. It is inspired by the newly revised SFWA's Writer Beware Self Publishing resource page (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/pod/).

It is currently difficult to define self-publishing for several reasons. For one thing, many authors are self-publishing the ebook version, and trade publishing the print, or they are self-publishing their backlist in small POD runs, and as ebooks. Many self-published authors are taking advantage of single services from companies that offer publishing packages; they may, for instance, purchase production services, but not editing or distribution or marketing. They are merely purchasing professional services from a company rather than an individual; this is not vanity publishing.

As Writer Beware's Victoria Strauss notes (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2014/08/blue-ash-publishing-new-self-publishing.html):


Many in the self-publishing community believe that any fee-based self-publishing service is "vanity" and should be avoided. I believe that fee-based services have their place, as long as they're transparent, reliable, reasonably priced, and don't send writers to Spam Solicitation Hell.

For the purposes of this FAQ we are distinguishing self-publishing from the vanity publishing model, when the author pays a single company to prepare the author's ms. for production, including editing, cover design, book layout and design, and printing. The author is usualy responsible for distribution and sales, and often, marketing.

We are also distinguishing self-publishing from trade publishing, wherein an author is paid an advance and offered royalties (this may vary with smaller publishers and epublishers), and the publisher is responsible for editing, production, design (including cover and interior layout and typography), printing and/or ebook file creation, and distribution/sales.

Self-publishing for the purposes of this FAQ refers to authors who write, produce, market, and distribute the book themselves or act on their own behalf to locate appropriate professionals and service providers to perform these functions for them.

Keep in mind that many authors are both self-published and trade published, and that quite often an established trade author will elect to self-publish their back list as ebooks.

We have an entire sub-forum on AW devoted to self-publishing; see Self-Publishing: Print, Digital, Papyrus or Clay (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=47).

You should also visit AW's Book Promotion Ideas and Advice (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=48) sub-forum.

In particular read SFWA/Writer Beware's page of resources on Self-Publishing (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/pod/).

See the various related FAQs in this section of AW:


[Book Production] Typography (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=274846)


[Ebook Production] Formatting for Amazon KDP/Kindle (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=245850)


[Ebook Production] Formatting for Smashwords (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=244863)


[Ebook Production] Useful Software (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=245866)


[Ebook Production] Basic HTML (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=279004)


[Publishing Services] What should I ask a prospective copy editor? (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=271090)


[Publishing Services] Service Providers (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=246884)



Be familiar with some of the less professional attempts to exploit self-publishers by visiting the Bewares, Recommendations and Background Check sub-forum on AW. Start with the Index to Agents, Publishers, and Others (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=792).

Even if you're not currently interested in self-publishing, you should be aware of all your options and keep them in mind when signing contracts.