Publishing is being redefined in this exciting new world of self-publishing. Today's writers can become tomorrow's published authors almost instantly. An enormous variety awaits every budget and level of experience. But what exactly are they? Though new venues open all the time, there is a basic classification to each from instant ebook publishing to "independent publishers".
Free online publishing
For the author who just wants to be seen and doesn't worry about financial reward, there are many ways to publish online instantly and reach a wide audience.
- Authors can publish their work online in any way they choose on a free website from sites such as Wordpress or Blogger.
- Online communities such as Wattpad or Writing.com offer a literary community with which to share your work and get feedback.
- Websites like Scribd and Bookyards provide a place for writers to post their work and for readers to find it easily.
Authors who want to earn money for their work online can create an account with ebook sellers, complete with author profile, and upload their content for sale at no cost up front. There are more formatting requirements for these ebooks, so authors should educate themselves on the platform's requirements. Authors share their profits with the distributors but keep the rights to their work.
- Kobo, Nook, and Kindle booksellers all have publishing sites to sell books for their devices and authors can sell exclusively through these sites.
- Sites like Smashwords offer an ebook selling experience with multiple ebook formats and the site distributes to other booksellers like Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.
Authors who want that experience of the paperback or hardbound book for themselves and their customers can start out with little or no money to start with a print-on-demand publisher such as Lulu, Lighning Source or Createspace. These vendors also have formatting requirements and all aspects of the book, such as cover design, are solely the author's responsibility, unless they wish to pay additional fees for services like cover design or editing. Authors pay more per book, but there is no requirement to purchase quantities of books, or any books. These vendors also distribute books to other sellers such as Barnes & Noble, but usually the books will only be made available online, not in the stores.
Another option for authors to print their books is a book printing company. Companies like Gorham Printing or ECPrinting offer volume book printing that can give an author who has some storage space a better price per book.
Independent publishing companies can be a great resource for authors who want to retain their rights and need a little more help. At vendors such as Self Publishing inc., Book Baby, or Outskirts Press, authors pay an up-front fee and the press does the cover design, editing, distribution, and sometimes marketing. Often these services can be purchased in packages to include services the author wants and forego services the author doesn't need or wishes to perform themselves. This makes for a very flexible experience that makes publishing possible for authors who aren't confident in their ability to perform all the publishing tasks. It can also provide a publisher name to go with the book, avoiding the prejudices that self-published authors often encounter.
Regardless of how authors wish to self-publish their books, there are myriad ways they can achieve this dream. The industry is still changing and growing, too, so it's a great time to take action.