Monday, March 01, 2010

Publishing Industry Defined... and an Award

The road to publishing is often confusing.

There are numerous publishing paths and eBooks 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.


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, Publish America, Trafford, IUniverse, AuthorHouse, Taft, etc.
For more information on subsidy publishing: Aeonix

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.

Okay, now on to the award!

I received the Creative Blogger Award from J. Aday Kennedy
- thanks so much!

First the rules:
1: Thank the person who gave you the award and link to them.
2: Add the award to your blog
3: Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and One Truth.
4: Nominate six creative liars... I mean writers and post links to them.
5: Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.

I'm gonna cheat and go with three lies and three nominees!
1 - I am an only child
2 - I've lived in all four time zones of the USA
3 - I've never tasted beef
4 - My guilty pleasure is Shania Twain
Now, I pass this on to:


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm going to say you've never tasted beef as your truth!

Great overview on the publishing industry, Diane.

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. Tried to keep is short and basic.

Mason Canyon said...

The publishing industry can be a scary place.

Congratulations on the award. I think I'll pick #3 as your lie.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mason, it can be scary!
And three lies, one truth!

Helen Ginger said...

Since #3 made me go, wow, really?, I'm going to say it's the one truth.

Straight From Hel

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm going for #1!

The Old Silly said...

Gal after my own heart. Breaking tag game rules. (wink)

I'm betting #4 is the true one. And if so, I share it with you, except I don't feel guilty about my passion for Shania (wink again)

Marvin D Wilson

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I liked the easy checklist for determining your publication method! I’m guessing that number 3 is the correct one, but I can’t wait to find out the ‘real’ truth.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Everyone will find out the truth tomorrow!!

Marvin, I live to break rules!

Kristi said...

First of all - THANKS for the award!!! I've been seeing this one around and I love reading everyone's lies and truths! Only fitting I come up with one of my own!

And as for your one truth - I'm going with #2. Can't wait to see which one is right!

Also love the explanation of the publishing biz!

Jai Joshi said...

Thanks for the award! How sweet, it's such a nice way to start work on Monday morning.

I'm guessing your truth is the Shania Twain guilty pleasure. I'd feel guilty about that too!


Jan Morrison said...

I think number 4 is true. And why not - except the guilty part - that shouldn't be true (not because I'm a fan but because we should embrace our fabulous differences!) me - I like Perry Como.

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane

Great overview, but there is another way to get published that leaves the writer more in control with little or no upfront expenses depending on what service packages are selected:

Print On Demand Publishing -
Publisher supplies the ISBN for free and book is listed on their website, "major national bibliographical databases" and Amazon. You own the rights, but must get new ISBN if decide to publish it elsewhere (unless you supply an ISBN you purchased). You set price. Publication purchased as a download or printed copy.

jdsanc said...

I love Shania, she is a top, down, wind in your hair, type singer. Even when you happen to be driving a station wagon full of kids she makes you feel free and owning the world!
Congrats on your award!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Nice post. Great way to look at the publishing world. Cheers~

joe doaks-Author said...

Gosh, guess are all over the place. You made a good list. Put me down for three as true.

Nice succinct rundown on publishers by the way...clearest I've seen.

Best Wishes, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

B. Miller said...

Great and simple definition of the three most common types of novel publishing - thanks for clearing it up! And congrats on your award!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Kristi and Jai, you are welcome, and tune in tomorrow for the truth!

Anonymous, that still falls under subsidy publishing - as you said, "Service packages." Amazon is supplying a service and you still don't own the ISBN.
Amazon does have plans to be a publisher as well though...

Thanks Galen and B. Miller. It really is rather basic. All comes down to who owns the ISBN!

Jemi Fraser said...

LOL :) I'm going with Shania (how could I pass up the Canadian???) :)

Love the simple question route - so sensible!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks, Jemi! Hey, life is complicated enough...

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I love your quick, easy test. And am glad to see you using the term "subsidy published." Yay! And, I'm wondering if you'd like me to use part of this in a blog in a few months. If so, please send me this section with a nice litle credit for yourself and I'll add an intro and put it on You can tell I'm passionate about getting our lingo straight! (-:

Tweeting writing tips and resources @frugalbookpromo

PS. Congrats on award. Yay, yay!!!

Natasha said...

I am pretty sure I haven't yet de-lurked on your blog, but I must tell you how much I enjoy every one of your posts.
If you visit my blog, there is an award which I am sure you have received before waiting for you.