Self-Publishing Primer: Part 4 – What is subsidy publishing?

You will find links to the other posts in the series at Self-Publishing Primer.

We’ve talked about traditional publishing and vanity publishing. In the middle of these extremes are subsidy publishing and self-publishing.

We’ll talk more about do-it-yourself publishing in a future post, but here we’ll address subsidy publishing:

  • A vanity publisher can look deceptively like a subsidy publisher; in fact, all vanity publishers ARE subsidy publishers – the author pays a company to publish the book – but in my mind, at least, not all subsidy publishers are vanity publishers.
  • The two primary differences between a legitimate subsidy company that is a viable option for an author and a vanity publisher to avoid are these: 1) while the subsidy publisher will make a profit on all the services it provides, the author will receive value for the money spent; and 2) while a subsidy publisher will not be as selective as a traditional publisher, a legitimate one will screen and edit the manuscript rather than printing anything that the customer pays for.
  • Many subsidy publishers use POD technology and may call themselves POD publishers. You will find good information and advice about POD from The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,, and The Publishing Game.
  • Authors who choose to use a subsidy publisher need to compare the prices, services, and reputations of various companies. You can find a price comparison chart of POD publishers at Publishing Basics. Order copies of a few of the titles published by the company to judge the quality for yourself. Research online, and ask authors who have used the company about their experiences.
  • Subsidy publishing will be more expensive than self-publishing, but you will not have to spend the time or learn what is needed to publish a book.
  • Subsidy publishing may be a good choice for an author who is publishing a single book for a limited audience – a family history, for example – especially if the author has neither the time nor the interest in production.
  • Subsidy publishing is probably not a good choice if you want your book in bookstores or if you expect a large volume of sales to a wide audience.

Next, after all this background, we’ll talk about self-publishing.

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