Why pay for publication?

As much as we’ve gone round and round about which came first–the chicken or the egg, we also go round and round about which is better–to be royalty published or to pay to be published.

The answer differs for every author.

When you write, you create intellectual property. That property has value, just as your home (real estate property) has value and your electronics or clothing (personal property) have value.

When you royalty publish (I’m talking about a publisher that you don’t pay, but instead pays you), you sell the rights to your writing. The publisher owns your writing and you don’t own it any more than you own your home after you sell it. This is the traditional model and what most people think of when they think of book publishing. Royalty publishing means the publisher puts up the money and gives you a minimal percent of the sales.

Royalty publishers have gone corporate over the past decade or so. That means the bottom line is paramount, so they publish authors with “platforms” who will sell lots of books and make lots of money for the publisher.

Since the traditional publishing method became more difficult to achieve and technology made publishing easier, many types of publishers emerged in the marketplace.

Paying for publication can take on any number of models. Self-publishing (according to the Independent Book Publishers Association) occurs when you own the publishing company–thus you publish yourself. You put up all the money and you reap all the reward (and risk).

It follows, then, that subsidy publishing is not self-publishing. Publishers purchase ISBNs. That means the authors do not own the ISBNs and are not self-published. Rather, they pay for publication.

There’s nothing wrong with that as long as the author gets what’s paid for–finished, published books.

I have an issue with publishers who hold inventory or files the author’s paid for, then claim to pay royalties on books sold. It doesn’t make sense to me that the publisher is paid twice–once for the technical creation of the book and again each time a copy is sold. If the author paid to be published, the author deserves to keep all the profits from the sale of the book rather than share them with the publisher who has already been paid.

Publishing is business and you want to do careful research before making a decision about paying for publication.

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1 Response to “Why pay for publication?”


  1. 1 Fay April 7, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I used Expert Publishing to publish my book and have referred people to them. I was very happy with the work they did. They care about your book and give excellent advice on how it can be better. They were able to answer the many, many questions I had about publishing.


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