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A Self-Publisher’s How-To: Introducing the Models

A Self-Publisher’s How-To: Introducing the Models

The good news about self publishing is you get to do everything yourself. The bad news about self publishing is you get to do everything yourself.
- Lori Lesko

Being a writer, you probably value your independence above everything else. After all, it may well be possible that the publishers are wrong about your potential readers’ expectations.It’s always been that way. It’s always been that way. More than a hundred years ago, none other than Marcel Proust faced the rejection of three publishing houses. They would accept his work with open hands, had it been shorter and more engaging. What did he do? Instead of giving up, he decided to pay for the printing himself, and became an unofficial patron of all self-publishers out there. If not for his stubbornness, the history of literature would have been different.

However, if you decide to take a similar route, you have to be prepared for certain challenges along the way. It’s common knowledge that freedom comes with more responsibility – so you will have to think over every little choice. But keep in mind that the reward may be all the greater for the effort.

Don’t get lost! Three major strategies

Print on Demand

Start with looking into different models of self-publishing. If your primary goal is printing your book and at the same time you don’t expect a huge audience, the best option for you may be Print on Demand publishing.  Here’s what Guy Kawasaki, one of the authors of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, has to say about this one:

Don’t forget that many people still prefer a printed book, and ebooks account for approximately 10 percent of the US publishing business. (Ed. note: Remember though that the digital market is on the rise. Now ebooks make for between 20 and 30% of the profits.) However, you don’t want to end up with a garage full of unsold books, so find a printer that will print on demand like Lightning Source or CreateSpace.

What’s in it for the company? They take around 40% of every book sold. By the way, there’s a small catch: it’s only profitable if you sell up to six books a month. As well as this, you need to consciously choose a printer with additional author services (like Lulu) or one which doesn’t offer such options (like CreateSpace).

Upfront-Fee Model

There’s also a so-called upfront-fee model. An author has to pay a company like Matador between 1100 and 4000 dollars to prepare and publish their book. Sometimes other services – such as marketing – are included. If you want to lower the initial price, you should settle for releasing an e-book. As you probably already noticed, an upfront-fee model is a great choice for those who need a bit more assistance. Remember though there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to make back your investment. But if your only goal is to get your work out there, you should definitely consider this one.


Finally there are subscriptions. They’re generally associated with the music or movies industry, but they can also go well with publishing. An author pays a monthly fee for putting his titles on the platform which works like a virtual bookshop – and keeps book royalties all to himself. For this one to work, you have to be pretty self-sufficient, but it can also be very rewarding financially if you’re selling more than a few books a month. If you’re interested, check out Few years back, it was a really big deal on the start-up and publishing market. Beth Griffin of SmallBizPod wrote in her review that thanks to this site suddenly, the sky for would be writers seems the limit. Additionally, Henry Baum of Self Publishing Review pointed out that it’s a good combination of self-publishers and social networks (click to read the whole review).

 An intermediary option for the undecided ones

Still not convinced if self-publishing is right for you? Perhaps you should check out hybrid publishing, which is a mixture of traditional and self-publishing models, which is becoming more and more popular and growing rapidly on the market.

 Why is this option worth considering? What advantages does it have over more extreme options?

First of all, it’s important to stress that since the hybrid publishing world is very dynamic and always in search for new solutions, it’s difficult to grasp it in few short paragraphs. Still, just like with self-publishing, it’s possible to distinguish some crucial characteristics.

One of them is the lack of big advances for the authors (a few hundred is all you can count on). Instead you’ll get royalties which are considerably higher than with traditional publishers (although not as high as with self-publishing) and won’t be asked to pay any of the upfront costs. Keep in mind that pretty much everyone working on your book will be in the same situation – most hybrid publishers work with virtual employees who only get paid if people buy the book. And there’s another flipside! These companies are known for their incredible marketing skills. Here’s what Liz Pelletier from Entangled told Forbes:

We bring in branding and social media experts to train our authors. Bestselling authors are great storytellers. 80% of books are still sold by word of mouth. We did market research on “The Marriage Bargain” and more than 85% of respondents said that they bought the book because someone recommended it personally.
- David Vinjamuri, How Hybrid Publishers Innovate to Succeed

If we got you hooked, companies like Booktrope should be your next stop.

 Stay open-minded

We also have one final piece of advice for all of those seeking the perfect way to publish their work – don’t only look at the model that suits you. Thoroughly check out companies that represent each of them and get in touch with the people who are behind them. Sometimes the details can prove to be decisive. Also, you didn’t choose freedom for nothing – thankfully, you’re in the place to think for yourself and experiment.

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