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Self-publishing is for an author to take himself in charge of the edition of his works, without going through a publishing house.

It accurately distinguishes from publishing on publisher‘s account or author‘s account. In the first case, in fact, the publisher is responsible for the costs of producing and distributing the book by paying the author’s sales, and in the second the editor is in charge at the author’s expense.

Self-publishing, moreover often confused with self-published edition on author‘s account, often negative image or vehicle an idea of amateurism and small ways, corresponding to a certain reality, but it can also to be an option selected and to be a full professional activity, with the author himself fully competent, or he speaks in the same way that “official” publisher to professionals to each sector of its business. Self-publisher is an editor like the others, with the difference that offers a “catalog” necessarily limited to its own production, and he needs to know the specifics of “their” market.

Stages of publication

Self-publisher must know all the stages of the publication of the book:

  • capture and layout: a simple word processor may suffice. For a layout with illustrations, more sophisticated software allow a more dynamic result.
  • correction: spelling, grammar, style, typographic rules … can prove to be difficult to meet the constraints for self-editor. This is why the use of third parties is important either professional correction or other competent good wishes arranged for this work.
  • printing: it can possibly be made with a personal printer for a small project; However, the binding is a sore point because the results are not always satisfactory (binding spiral type). However, printing is usually left to a professional. The use of a printer is best when the number of copies becomes important. Technically, for a draw below 500 copies, digital copy is preferred and today provides good quality results. In addition, it becomes economically attractive to use offset technology. The binding proposed by a printer is in general  more satisfying.
  • administrative and legal formalities: are very limited. Legal deposit is limited to sending copies after filling out a simple form. Legal deposit allows in particular to establish the presumption that it is the author of the book. Lack of legal deposit, one can, if desired, to protect copyright in an online repository. It is also possible, but not mandatory, to obtain an ISBN that remains imperative for obtaining legal deposit (under some laws, ISBN numbers must appear on all copies of the same work submitted to the legal deposit, as well as the statements of deposit of the printer and publisher.)
  • advertising: many ways exist, but self-publisher, usually having few resources to devote to it, has every reason to specifically target those potentially interested.
  • diffusion: the most delicate phase probably for self-publishing. There are different ways: choosing a distributor (with involved constraints), direct contact with booksellers accepting the book, direct sales as a result of public events, personal website with mail, use commercial sites selling on the internet …

Some websites, commonly called self-publishing platforms, offer to authors print on demand services, for the sale of books on their online store and sometimes associated services to support the self-published author promoting his book.

The issue of pricing arises for self-publisher. It may be recalled for guidance that, on average in the classic publishing environment, 55% of the price of a book is used to pay its distribution, printing 20%, 18% publisher, and the rest at around 7%, corresponding to the rights of author. Self-publisher, according to his choice, has mailing costs and more limited edition, but against the often higher printing costs (small number of copies). He remains as it may establish generally a price below the market price.

Self-publishing allows to deliver texts that are difficult to be accepted as a normal part of the publishing industry. It is a suitable way for smaller projects in highly specialized fields (regional history, technical field …) and a self-publishing in the field of general literature seems challenging. In contrast, some authors having succeeded in the field of traditional publishing can choose to become their own publisher, with the same means and methods as a traditional publisher.

Self-publishing can also be an option in the field of theatrical edition as in comics. Indeed, regarding the theater, the author not only receives income from the sale of his books, but especially the right to represent his works collected by the specific authority. It may therefore be more appropriate for a playwright to offer its free downloadable texts on his own website to facilitate access and circulation. Renouncing collect fees on the sale of his texts, a playwright can hope to generate more montages of its parts and thus collect more revenue in the form of representation rights.


In 2009, self-publishing exceeds the traditional publishing of books in the United States. According to an Ifop poll for Le Figaro littéraire, 6% of the French have a script and want to publish, or 2.5 million people. Three self/published books were ranked among the top 10 Amazon Bestsellers from October to February 2012.

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