Prepublishing, Traditional

Indie Publishing Companies? Improper Terminology

Indie Publishing Companies are not a thing. Before you argue, if you are indie/self-published, you are the company. I think many don’t know how the proper terms, and it tends to self-perpetuate a misunderstanding.

A publisher is a company that handles all the steps (traditional) or some of the steps (hybrid). If you’re indie, you’re looking at distribution channels—Amazon, Ingram-Spark, Kobo, Draft2Digital, Lulu.

If you are looking at publishers, you want either:

Traditional Publisher

Traditional publishers range from top tier to the small mom-and-pop operations. They cover the costs. You can see a more indepth post here:

Hybrid Publisher

Hybrid publishers get shit on. They are misunderstood and lumped in with vanity publishers. Some traditional publishers and agents have hybrid companies.

A hybrid publisher might be called “Assisted Publishing” and can be a lot like a traditional publisher—they don’t take everything thrown at them and only pick works they think have a chance of succeeding. The downside is you take the financial risk up front. Depending on what you need, you pay the company to acquire that part, and that’s the part that gets them lumped with vanity publishers. Their prices are closer to what a freelancer would charge for services and to maintain the level of attention, they will get a small percentage of the royalties.

As far as royalties go, you get a bigger piece of the pie compared to a traditional publisher because you’ve already taken the bulk of that up-front financial burden.

You maintain more creative control compared to traditional, and you get good services unlike with a vanity publisher. You might not need a hybrid for editing, cover, formatting, but maybe you want them to manage the after-publishing phase—the marketing.

What you pay them for, you could learn to do yourself as far as uploading to distributors go, hire freelancers for editing, cover, formatting, and then for the after publishing phase, hire a PA (personal assistant) to help you with marketing.

Vanity Publisher

STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM THEM. Seriously. A vanity publisher doesn’t care if your book is good or not. They charge WAY MORE than it would cost to publish the same book as an indie ($5000 or more vs $1000 if you did it yourself with freelancers).

They look like a traditional publisher. They have the fancy sites, and they say they’ll handle everything from editing to audio and beyond. Sounds good except:

  • They offer you a contract before even reading your work.
  • They want money to publish.
  • They harass you with phone calls and emails even after you’ve declined.
  • Everything is available for an “extra” fee that puts the prices higher than top-tier market prices.
  • The books they publish are outrageously priced.

Some vanity publishers won’t do your book unless it gets x-amount of preorders, but the eBook price is $7.99 and your paperback is $19.99 on a book that should be priced $2.99 – $4.99 and $9.99-$12.99. At that rate, you will be hard pressed to get your book done, and you’re still out of pocket for all the other “fees” that weren’t mentioned while they were selling you a Zonk.

Indie Publishing Company

Indie publishing companies don’t exist. Most of the time people use this phrase, they are looking for places to publish as an indie. What they are after is distribution companies—the companies used to put your book into readers hands with no hoops to jump through, no money to spend, etc.

Common distribution companies are:

  • Amazon
  • Kobo
  • Google Play
  • iBooks
  • Draft2Digital
  • PublishDrive
  • SmashWords
  • IngramSpark
  • Lulu

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This post was edited/proofed by Dennis Doty and ProWritingAid.


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