Aviva Directory » Business & Industry » Printing & Publishing » Book Publishers » Subsidy Publishers

Traditional publishers pay authors upfront for the rights to publish their books, bearing all of the risks and costs. Because of this, traditional publishers are highly selective about which manuscripts they will accept, rejecting the vast majority of submitted works.

There are other options for aspiring authors who are unable to find a publisher through the traditional route.

Subsidy publishing can be a way for a writer to get his first book published, or for books in niche markets to find their way into print.

Traditional publishers are hesitant to take a chance on a new author, and they may also have limits on the number of new titles they will publish in any one genre. They are also reluctant to publish books on subjects that are unlikely to have wide appeal. With the author front all, or a portion of the costs associated with publishing, a subsidy publishing house is more likely to accept these titles.

Some subsidy publishing houses require authors to pay the entire cost of bringing a book to market, and these publishers are likely to accept pretty much anything that the author is able to pay for.

In the past, subsidy publishing houses earned a reputation as a scam, and even today, some of them could be accurately described as operating on a predatory business model, taking advantage of aspiring authors while offering little in return. These became known as vanity presses or vanity publishing houses.

Because many of these publishers charged exorbitant rates to authors in return for a substandard product that would be unlikely to sell, vanity presses earned a bad reputation.

Vanity presses still exist, targeting aspiring writers whose submissions have been rejected by traditional publishing houses. Hopeful that their book will be successful if only they could get it into print, authors often turned to vanity publishing houses, and many of them were disappointed.

However, not all subsidy publishers are malevolent vanity presses. Paying for publishing could be a viable option if the author's objective is to have a book published under his name to put on his shelf, to distribute to friends and family members, or to sell through his own efforts.

Several subsidy publishers do good work, and they might be able to provide services and product quality similar to that of a traditional publisher, the only difference being that the author will have to pay all or part of the costs associated with publishing.

Small publishing houses may lack the resources necessary to take a chance on a new author, footing the entire costs of publishing, or the book's perceived target audience may be too small to promise commercial success. In order to bring these books to market, they may require the author to pay the expenses. When the author is paying the entire expense, the publisher is likely to accept anything that is paid for.

Some subsidy publishing houses will agree to share the costs and profits with the author, and the ratio might be adjusted according to the publisher's estimate of the chances for success. When the publisher is sharing both the risks and the profits, there is a larger incentive to produce a commercially viable product, so the publisher is likely to provide professional proofreading, editing, book design, and promotion.

Subsidy publishers who share the costs and the profits with authors are a hybrid, somewhere between a vanity press and a traditional publishing house. A publisher willing to share in the cost of producing a book is likely to accept manuscripts that were rejected by traditional publishers but will be unlikely to publish those that have no chance of commercial success.

A significant difference between a subsidy publisher and self-publishing is in who controls the publishing process, including the editing, proofreading, layout, cover design, printing, distribution, marketing, and promotion. Authors who self-publish control every step of the process, although they may outsource these tasks. When a book is published through subsidy publishing, the publishing house controls the process. Importantly, when a book is self-published, the author retains rights to the book, while subsidy publishers will claim various rights to the books they publish.

Like traditional publishers, subsidy publishers will pay authors a royalty on the sales, usually a larger percentage of the sales, while self-published authors receive all of the proceeds from sales, which doesn't necessarily translate into profit.

Subsidy publishers differ from vanity publishers, but both are appropriate for this category. Both subsidy and vanity publishing houses are likely to describe their business model as self-publishing, but these claims are not necessarily accurate.

Since we cannot judge the quality or performance of a publishing house from their website, do your homework and choose your publisher wisely.



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