The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

Commercial, Non-Subsidy Publishing

In a non-subsidy relationship, professional editing, cover design, printing, binding, distribution, and promotion are provided to the author at no up-front cost. Authors may receive an advance on royalties and ongoing royalties will range from 5% to 10% of the book’s cover price.

– Market credibility
– No up-front expenses
– Professional design, editing, and production
– Distribution
– Marketing and promotion

– Time spent pitching agents and publishers
– Expectation for self-promotion
– Some loss of control and rights over the book

Subsidy Publishing

There are a variety of subsidy publishers such as pure subsidy, vanity presses, hybrid publishing, and POD (print on demand).

In a pure subsidy publishing relationship, the author shares upfront costs with the publisher for design, editing, printing, stocking, warehousing, and distribution. After the publisher’s costs are recovered, the author receives a percentage of the sale of the book.

A vanity publisher formats, prints, and binds the book completely at the author’s expense, offering no editing, marketing, or promotional services. The publisher’s revenue sources strictly from the author, not the book.

Hybrid publishing is a relatively new business model where the author pays the publisher to edit, cover-design, typeset, print, publish, distribute, and promote the book. Authors first recover their investment by receiving all the royalties off the sale of the book. Then the publisher and author share ongoing royalties.

In POD publishing, the author assumes the entire cost of printing, marketing, and distribution. Digital publishing enables print on demand and ebook formatting.

– Faster time to market
– Control of the book project and rights
– Some distribution (primarily through hybrids)
– In some cases, author retains all proceeds off book sales

– Stigma of being self-published
– Up front expenses
– Limited distribution
– Limited support in design and editing
– Limited promotion


The best outcome for any author is with a non-subsidy publisher. Even if unsuccessful in your pursuit, the discipline of developing a book proposal and pitching it to agents and publishers before writing the manuscript has great merit: It will help you sharpen your book concept, give you a structure to write against, and force you to develop a thorough marketing plan.

Visit for more information and support on developing your book concept, preparing your book proposal, and achieving your dream of becoming a published author.

John Fayad

Author: John Fayad
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