What are the differences between print-on-demand, self-subsidy, and conventional publishers?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,941
    Publisher James Frey discusses the differences between print-on-demand, self-subsidy, and conventional book publishers.

    Host: What are the differences between print-on-demand, self/subsidy and conventional publishers?

    Jim Frey: As we have discussed, your book publishing options for professional publishing companies outside of using a local printer to print your book, there are quite a few differences in what these companies do. I am going to try to elucidate point by point what their differences are. In terms of manuscript acceptance, print-on-demand has a high acceptance rate of manuscript submitted by authors. Self/subsidy publishers have a medium to high acceptance. For example, we don't publish everything that is sent to us in a manuscript form. Conventional publishers, very low acceptance of manuscripts and that's why they require literary agents to bring the manuscript to them. Copyright, registering your copyright with the Library of Congress, print-on-demand publishers charge a fee. Conventional, self/subsidy publishers include that as a service. Providing or procuring an ISBN Number is provided by all three publishing company types. They will also register the copyright with the Library of Congress, no matter what kind of publication, publishing company it is. Print-on-demand publishers vary by company in terms of the editorial services, but they provide -- some insist on Cam-Ready meaning that how the computer file submitted by the author; how it looks is how the book is going to look exactly in terms of layout and formatting. For layout and formatting for self publishing companies and conventional publishers, it's all done by the company itself on the author's behalf. Editing services are provided by some print-on-demand companies on a contractual or fee based basis. In the self and conventional publishers, self publishers typically will edit for syntax, grammar, spelling and things like that or as a conventional publisher, will get into some very heavy editing in terms of rewrites. The author sometimes can lose control on the content of a book in certain areas with the conventional publisher.

    Typesetting, preparing that manuscript to go to a printing facility to be prepared is rarely provided by print-on-demand companies. Self publishers and conventional publishers provide that typesetting capability. We talked of back cover design and illustrations earlier in this in terms of cover design, print-on-demand companies typically charge a fee for that and do it in-house or provide contractors to the author to accomplish that. Self Publishers and conventional publishers provide cover design services and illustration services for the author. Now, when you get into some of the marketing and promotional services they would effectively be oriented to major book wholesalers. There is four or five major book wholesale companies in the United States and bookstores, be they independent or chain bookstores.

    Print-on-demand companies rarely have relationships, although some of the major print-on-demand companies do. Self publishers and conventional publishers have relationships with the wholesalers as well as the booksellers. Major internet retailers for print-on-demand companies, it varies. There a lot of print-on-demand companies that can consist of one or two people in a small office doing this or some major print-on-demand companies. The major ones typically have relationships with the major internet booksellers like amazon.com. Self publishers, conventional publishers have those relationships as well with the amazons of the world. Almost every publishers, be they print-on-demand through the conventional publisher have their own websites, where books can be purchased by consumers.

    Print-on-demand means the books are printed as copies of the book are ordered. So that's how they fulfill orders for consumers to purchase a book. Most self-subsidy publishers or conventional publishers provide warehousing and fulfillment services, meaning that orders are processed, invoices are prepared, amounts to for the sales of those books are collected and obviously because they are fulfilling orders for each title, they have significant warehouse and storage capabilities on the author's behalf. The invoicing collections and storage, the print-on-demands companies will vary dependent on which company it is. The major differentiator between conventional publishers and print-on-demand and self publishers would be in terms of the royalties paid. Most print-on-demand and self publishers will pay a percentage of book sales based on a commission rate if you will or a royalty 6:27 50%, that is much higher than conventional publishers. It will be in the area of 40-50% typically or as a conventional publisher has invested the money to publish the book, they probably provided an advance to the author for the rights to publish that book, so the royalties maybe in the 8 to 10% area.