An Comprehensive Introduction to Publishing

Written by SodaCoffee Staff |
Published on:

What is Publishing?

Publishing is the final result of a writer's or author's work in either digital format or print format. For instance, the printed result can be a "print run" of leaves or pages bound together to make a book. These sheets or pages are assembled into a book form for the enjoyment of the readers' audience. For a price to the readers (or buyers), a copy can be sold to them at an online bookstore or distributed to them at a brick-and-mortar store. 

When writers have their content ready for the world to read, publishing companies are where they go to have it printed, marketed, and sold. Therefore, without a publishing company, books, magazines, and web content wouldn't have broad exposure. Additionally, companies that publish an artists' work are considered literary agencies.

Literary agencies will create a marketing campaign for authors to sell the final product. Thus, if you have written a biography, a fiction novel, or another type of publication and want to produce it in the correct format and sell it for profit, a publishing agency can do all the work for you. Publishing can be dealt with managed a company, or by way of self-publishing. 

Self-Publishing & Print on Demand Service

The use of print-on-demand is a great way to publish your digital files for printing. This is also part of self-publishing industry. This method is recommended for writers who are just starting out in the industry. Print-on-demand companies are a good option for authors because of the flexibility in the quantity that can be printed.

Most authors will admit that reading a paperback or hardcover book is preferred to reading a digital format book or an eBook, but it's good to have options. Additionally, if you decide you want to self-publish your work, using a print-on-demand (or POD) company is a good option.

The main reason to order from a POD company, if you're a self-published author, is because of the quantity that you can print. Printing in minimal amounts, such as one book or ten books, is possible.

Today, digital technology has facilitated easier printing too. The technology and process of this type of printing are common for small printing companies since they're economical. On the other hand, some companies frown at this type of service. In fact, most vanity-agencies or publishers will turn a job order away because of the minimal amount being requested by an author.

POD developments

Print-on-demand started flourishing when the digital printing business became more available. Since it wasn't cheap to print only one book, laser printing (a.k.a. digital printing) became the fastest and more economical way to print out magazines and books. This method of printing takes your "saved" work or digital files and "sends the file" to the press or print department.

Traditional printing methods call for "negatives or plates" which are made into a "master plate or file." Because of the type of equipment and letterpress machines used, it is more expensive to print a magazine or book. It's cheaper to print 1000 POD books compared to 2 books with this traditional equipment. 

Software used by some

According to the Alliance of Independent Authors, using Createspace is a smart way to go for self-publishers. It has a more quality-driven type of software and is easy-to-use. With CreateSpace, you can easily access tools, quality printing, booksellers, eBook distribution, and marketing strategies. On the other hand, Ingram Spark is recommended by the 'Alliance' and self-publishers alike for extended distributions.

When you use POD with the Createspace, the software allows you to use your files with their online templates and more. For instance, the size of print you can use for a small paperback could be a 5x8 which is notably the standard. Using it for novellas will allow for about 28K words. 

In general, there are many free templates on both software from which to choose from these independent publishers. Therefore, if you have your book published or printed at either one of these companies, your customers can get a nice looking book for a low cost.

Sometimes, the shipping will be taken care of by the POD company, or at least "built-in" to the cost of the printing. The central element here is that you can print one book compared to printing a 'forced 10K.' Normally a standard publisher will have you print larger quantities because it's 'cheaper' for them to do so.

Here are some other reasons why you would go the route of self-publishing.

  1. One time print cost per order made by the reader
  2. No warehouse or inventory costs for the author
  3. There are no "print over-runs" (a.k.a. book piles, left-overs, waste...)
  4. Shipping and packaging costs are taken care of by POD company or embedded in book price

Identifying your book

The 'Alliance' suggests every author "own their own ISBN" if distribution out of a bookstore is sought. Your book will be established when the POD company stamps your book with their number. This 'stamp' will identify your book, with the title, author, cost,...etc. Hence, the International Standard Book Number or ISBN will locate it in their computer system.

Finally, the best thing about self-publishing and POD companies is that you can keep track of all your orders at a reasonably affordable price. This is true for both veteran writers and those who are starting out in the publishing industry. In fact, from the text input to the final cover artwork, you'll have your published book looking professional and ready for your readers to enjoy.

The Value of Professional (No money up front) Publishing Services

If a writer is skilled and well-established, some traditional publishers usually will give the writer a "paid-in-advance" check for their work.

The writer must meet their criteria (a.k.a. their standards) first. Taking chances is not what most agents want to do. But, before you begin searching for a professional publishing service, you need to have a "polished" piece of written work. Remember this though; it will cost you money up-front since most editors will charge you for proofreading, editing, restructuring, and all the other prewriting work that needs to be done.

Value of professionalism

The value in professional (no money up front) publishing services is that they benefit those who are starting out in the writing industry.

The small publishers are more likely to take your manuscript. If they need work, then you can end up with a POD agreement. The cost of print can be approximately $1.50 per copy for some POD. Prices vary from publishing company to publishing company depending on their service and their offerings.

Many think they will make thousands and thousands of dollars from writing. Don't be so surprised when you see what you'll make if you're not an established writer. You do have to be an excellent writer to make those types of figures. Don't give up.

Prepayments upfront by "vanity" presses

The publishers who ask for a prepayment fee upfront may not be a wise choice if you're starting out as a writer. The value of the "no money up front" publisher is that you embark on the professional publishing journey with the POD company at a third or quarter of the cost you may have to pay to the "vanity type" publisher. 

The thing to keep in mind if you decide to go with vanity press is that there are fees, prices, contracts and policies to which you must abide. Therefore picking out the right publisher is going to be paramount.

The two kinds of publishers

There are two types of publishers known to many authors as non-paid publishers and paid publishers. Non-paid publishers are publishers who will not charge authors to publish their books whereas paid publishers will require authors to "meet" the need of the 'total expense' to publish their book. The good thing about this type of publisher is the author can create their marketing guidelines.

Polish before print

For those who are skeptical about getting their works published, it's best to "polishing up" the manuscript first before showing it to an editor at a publishing house. You can also allow an editor you trust to go over it or "proofread" it for you.

Sometimes it's best to pay someone to edit and restructure your work beforehand and then print it out of it to see how it looks in book format. What works for some may not work for all. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with what you are about to print since it's going to be read by the "most critical" audience, your readers. Your readers will critique you as well as other publishing houses who may be scouting out the next Stephen King or Ernest Hemingway. So, before printing out your work, you must be confident about the quality of the content.

Vanity Press Pros and Cons

To begin, you're probably wondering what a vanity press company is. They are publishing companies which will do everything for you even if your book is horrible. In fact, they do everything for the writer except typing the words. They may "tweak" some words, but overall they do everything from marketing to campaigning to libraries, bookstores, online stores...etc.

Overall, a "vanity press" company will charge the writer to publish their work whether it is average or terrible. With any product that serves a client or customer, there are pros and cons to these types of publishing companies.


- A vanity press or publisher will tell how well your book can be even if it won't sell. Also, the agent or rep will also show you how to present it in the best possible way plus provide details for the ISBN and barcode.

- The publishing rep may sound very "salesy" so make sure you listen up and ask questions when this happens (such as what royalties or commission will you make for each book sold). 

- They'll suggest "review cuttings" for your book so they can send them out to the right people. This should happen in advance before the very important 'release' date. This is a good thing when they send out these cuttings to library suppliers and book buyers. They will send your work to a university as well.

- The quality and the professional "look" of the book is a direct result of having a vanity press publisher publish your work. This is the best part of this type of publishing service.


- The names that writers call vanity presses are considered less appealing to some clients.

- They'll tell you your work is accepted and good even though it may not be. 

- Remember vanity publishers will not be in the industry if it weren't for the money. One of the least appealing elements of a vanity press company is the type of service they'll offer you. This will fall under the category of "financial commitment" of your book.

Here are some of the least appealing cons of a press company like this.

  • Shared-responsibility publishing
  • Co-operative publishing
  • Joint-venture publishing
  • Subsidy publishing
  • Self-publishing incorrectly
  • More importantly is the fact that they'll admit to you there's a demand for "X" books. On the other hand, they'll only give you a few for yourself for free.

Finally, when you discover what kind of publishing or printing you want for your first book, or the "one of a multitude of books" you've printed already, decide how much you are going to invest in it. You may want to weigh-in on the pros and the cons to the type of publishing you need. In summary, it may depend whether you need one book or 10s of thousands of books published that will determine this for you.

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Author: SodaCoffee Staff is an ezine (online magazine) and community for writers, photographers, and communicators. It is a free resource that provides a forum for talented creatives to display their skills. By merely posting content you receive free perks such as blogs, a web page, and other resources to promote your work.
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