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The gimmick of Self-Publishing

Are you Self-Published or have you Paid to Publish?

Hi there; I love you guys, independent authors I mean, I really do; well truth be told I love all authors, I would not do what I do if I did not! This article is for independent authors and for any authors considering taking the independent route.

Look, first of all I want to clarify what I mean by the question above; are you self published or have you paid to publish? The difference is massive and is going to cut into your profits drastically as well as the true ownership of your book! Okay so what is the difference already? I will tell you, the main difference lies in the following, in one scenario you are working with a publisher (some are sneaky and do not call themselves that), in the other scenario you are dealing with a printing press! The term self-published is used incorrectly and misleadingly by many “self-publishing” companies eager to take your money! Read this well; A self published author is a publisher! logic would therefore follow that the author is not published by anyone else but himself! Wait, wait a minute there what are you on about? Ok let me clarify a bit more.

If you go out on a whim and walk up to a publishing house and tell the publisher, “hey I want to pay you to publish my book!” well in this case you are not the publisher, he is! If you go to a publisher that claims to offer self-publishing, check the fine print, probability is that you are not self-publishing, you are paying to publish!

On the other hand if you format your book or hire someone to do it for you and head down to a printing press, negotiate a price per book and an agreed print run, as an example 500 books at $4 each, then you are the publisher of your book; luckily even as a true self-publisher you do not need to print a large run you can use large companies like lightning source for example and they will print your book on demand! They have arrangements with companies like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles etc to supply books to them whenever an order comes in! They print it and send it off to them, then Amazon ships it out!

So lets cut to the chase, what is the real difference? Why are you telling me all this? I am telling you this because you need to know; you can then make your own decision based on accurate knowledge!

As an independent author you have the benefit of cutting out the middle men! The chain normally works like this.

Author -> Agent (15%) -> Publisher (25%) ->Printing Press (Fixed Cost)-> Reader

When you Pay-To-Publish(often called self-publish) it works something like this

Author -> Publisher (25%+) ->Printing Press(Fixed Cost) ->Retailer (15%) (eg. Amazon)-> Reader.
(Add to this an initial publishing fee and you are at negative numbers from day one!)

When you truly Self-Publish the process works like this:
Author -> Printing Press (Fixed Cost) ->Retailer (15%) (eg. Amazon) -> Reader

Also when you self publish you can always sell direct thus cutting out the retailer, however in most cases their will always be a retailer especially if your book is a success!

Paid to Publish

This scenario is when you go to a publisher, such as Xlibris, Dog Ear etc, the publisher agrees to publish your book; the publisher also charges you for the formatting of the book, offers other services such as cover art, editing, marketing etc, (stuff publishers normally do for free), then they give you a price per book, normally bundling a number of books with the package so you can feel the real thing! Now when they give you a price per book, they normally arrange with a printing press (some have their own, most use the big ones like lightning source). The printing press quotes them $4 per book as an example, they tell you that the price is $6 dollars per book and they continue to make a profit off each book you sell! Pretty cool huh? You pay for everything, then you continue to pay them a cut for every book you sell; even though you normally are unaware and think that you are retaining all the profit! Ouch!

This puts you at a disadvantage. Let us do some quick maths here.

$1,000 is normally the average self publishing fee. Some put a lower price and charge you a higher price per book to cover the costs over time.

So $1,000 + let us ignore this part for now!

Your retail price will be $20 (for simplicity) Worked on a 400 page book.

$20 less the $5 (paid to the “self publishing house” next we pay the printing press$10 Finally we pay the retailer 15% $3 – Left for the author $2 per book?  Ie 10%

(This is accurate – and the following is quoted from the Xlibris site)

What is the royalty that I will receive on sales of my book?

On all sales made directly through Xlibris, you will receive 25% of the retail price as your royalty. If the book is sold through one of the channels like, you will receive a 10% royalty based on the retail price. -

Real Self-Publishing!

Ok so let us go with the same book!

$20 Retail Price

Author -> Printing Press ($10) ->Retailer (15% = $3) (eg. Amazon) -> Reader Author is now left with $7 per book

 Okay so lets recap – Author sells 1 book Real Self-Publishing $7 – Paid to Publish $2 

Now let us use the data acquired above to do some further calculations.
self published or paid to publish losing money
Author Sells 10 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $70 Paid to Publish Author Makes $20

Author Sells 100 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $700 Paid to Publish Author Makes $200

Author sells 1,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $7,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $2,000

Author sells 10,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $70,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $20,000

Author Sells 100,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $700,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $200,000

Author Sells 1,000,000 books – Truly Self Published Author makes $7,000,000 Paid to Publish Author makes $2,000,000

I think you get the point! Do you see the difference now? Now let me show you what the difference looks like on Amazon.

self published or paid to publish

Aaron Shepard (Aiming at Amazon) is a truly self published author, the name he has given himself as a publisher is Shepard Publications. The author above, Mrs M Brown, is a Paid to Publish Author.


Self-Published and Paid to Publish ISBN Differences

Okay so what is the difference in the ISBN and why does it matter?

I have included a quick image below that basically identifies the different parts of an ISBN.

self published or paid to publish ISBN


So quickly translated, EAN = European Article Number (Basically just Identifies that it is a book; not for example a piece of meat); Next comes GROUP = This identifies, country of origin, language etc. Next comes the big one! PUBLISHER – This number basically means that every sale of this book goes through that Publisher! The next number TITLE is basically the identifier for your book – CHECK DIGIT is irrelevant to us, as it is used by the computer to do a cross check.

Well my problem lies with part three, once the publisher has you listed under their publishing house, you are effectively one of their authors and let us say at 1,000 book sales you realise the error of your ways ($5,000 Error) and want your cut to be a reasonable one, unless your publisher has tricked you into somehow signing over your rights, you are able to get up and leave the arrangement you are in and triple your profits immediately; however this is the real downfall, you will have to apply for a new ISBN!

Once you apply for the new ISBN sites like amazon will treat your book as a completely new title; this means no reviews on your book, it also means that your amazon rank starts from the entry point again, you have zero sales as far as Amazon is concerned and you are hidden away in the deep end of amazon.

Other Pitfalls of Paid to Publish

There are a number of other little hidden pitfalls to fake “self-publishing” through a publishing house however the two above are the biggest problems; an important difference I can also see is the difference in marketing budget you as an author can allocate towards marketing your work. If you make 10% of your book when it is sold on Amazon, you simply are not going to have enough left over to re-invest into marketing your book. Working with the 1,000 books we mentioned above if you sold this amount in a month for example, you made $2,000 whilst the other author that is truly self-published made $7,000 this allows the author to put 50% of his earning back into marketing his book. This means $3,500 into his pocket; still $1,500 more than you; and $3,500 into marketing which allows him to sell another couple of thousand books!

Feeling the difference yet?

Don’t read below this line if it will make you hate me for pitching my services :P  

At Author’s Promoter we assist authors with True Self-Publishing

I hope that you find this article useful, if you need any help with True Self Publishing, I am always available to help; it will cost you, but it will save you a lot of money! I hate ending the article like this but really if you need any help feel free to get in touch, via e-mail on cj (@) authorspromoter(dot)com alternatively you can use the form below or call us on one of the following numbers:

Portugal: +351 (913) 716 794

Malta: +356 3550 5509

USA: +1(727) 235 6321

About CJ Deguara

I see potential in you & want to unleash it. Entrepreneur, Author, Coach, TV Presenter, Online Marketing Specialist, Motivator and a million other things including a carbon based life form - I think. Ps "I think therefore I am" is over rated. "I think therefore I am puzzled" more accurately describes reality.
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  • Richard S. Hartmetz

    I hope this helps!

    Everyone has a story…

    Don’t spend the
    rest of your life trying to get published! Don’t tolerate
    rejection! Don’t succumb to vanity publishing and end up spending
    $10,000 to see your book in print, and still achieve no sales! Don’t
    do all the work and allow the publishing companies reap all the rewards!

    The publishing
    industry is evolving. The old publishing houses are becoming
    dinosaurs. E-books are everywhere. They are cheaper than
    old-fashioned print books, take up less space and can be read on any
    computer, e-reader and most smart phones. For the first time ever,
    Amazon is selling more e-books than hard covers! The future is

    Hundreds of
    thousand of “Indie” authors just like you, are making money
    publishing their stories now instead of waiting for publishers to
    acknowledge their hard work. Our technological know-how
    will take the headaches out of getting published. You simply
    send us your files and we do the rest.

    Let “”
    take care of the hard parts, so you can focus on writing, everyone else can
    enjoy your work, you can retain your rights and you can collect the royalties
    forever. It is as simple as that!

    Recently, in an
    article that I wrote, entitled “The Truth About Publishing,” I suggested that
    if the big publishing companies didn’t adapt to modern times and the e-book
    revolution, they would go the way of the dinosaurs. I don’t mean to boast, but
    less than three weeks later, one of the biggest publishing companies in the
    world, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., who publish authors from Mark
    Twain to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and book series from “Curious George” to the
    “Lord of the Rings” books, has filed for bankruptcy. They are more than $3
    billion in debt. Yes, that’s THREE BILLION DOLLARS!

    More than 20 of
    their affiliates have also entered bankruptcy, including Broderbund. The filing
    came as traditional print book sales continue to decline in light of new e-book
    technology. Sales of paperbacks and hard covers fell almost 20% in less than a
    year. Borders, the second largest U.S. bookstore chain filed for
    bankruptcy almost a year ago.

    The company
    began publishing in 1832, making it 181 years old this year. This just goes to
    prove what I wrote; that the big publisher’s resistance to e-books will be
    their downfall. They are reaping the results of their own inability to adapt
    and to put it simply, their elitist attitudes and laziness.

    They want to
    publish only “celebrity authors” and not the average book writer. It is almost
    impossible for debut authors to get published today. This has led many authors
    who have a desire to get published to go the self-publishing route. Until
    recently, this was considered “vanity publishing.”

    You spent large
    sums of your own money to get 20 copies of your book to give to relatives at
    Christmas, just so you could see your name on the cover.

    Now however,
    the self-publishing industry has lost its stigma. It allows authors to get
    published in a timely fashion (not in 2-3 years), retain the rights to your work
    and eliminate the middleman, keeping up to 70% of your royalties (instead of
    the traditional 10%).

    Many e-book
    publishers have opened up the gates, allowing you inside the world of
    publishing. Some of them are legitimately there to help you. Other companies are out there to take your
    money. Author House has been around as a “Vanity Publisher” for a while. They
    charge you as much as $10,000 for a publishing package and Friesen Press
    charges $2,500, none of which guarantee you any sales. While I am not suggesting
    that they don’t have a right to make a profit, you would have to sell about
    5,000 books to justify the cost, and while I don’t mean to be a pessimist, that
    is highly unlikely.

    Book Baby
    charges $599 for a publishing package, but then you end up paying a $19 annual
    fee, $59 for file conversion, $19 for an ISBN, $279 for a cover… Well, you get
    the idea. Primedia charges you $1 per page. That can add up quickly if your
    book is a long one.

    That is the
    primary reason that we decided to get into the business on our own. I have had
    multiple books published, but have always been at the mercy of the publisher to
    decide on the cover, decide on the price, provide only 10% royalties, which get
    shaved off even further if you have an agent, who would take 20% of your 10%.
    That leaves only 8% for you, which the government taxes as income!

    Do you really
    want to settle for a mere 2%? Do you really want the book done their way? Do
    you really want to spend $10,000 just to get 20 copies of your book? Do you
    really want to spend a lot of money on an e-book conversion program and then
    have to learn how it works? Do you really want to spend all your time
    formatting, proofreading, converting, designing a cover, learning how to use
    Photoshop, and then promoting your own book because no one else will?

    At Starry Night
    Publishing, we are offering to take your manuscript file, proofread it for
    spelling, punctuation and grammar, create a professional-looking cover, create
    an interactive table of contents for the e-readers, compile your text, images
    dedications, etc. into the appropriate format, convert your files into epub,
    mobi, etc. for the Kindle, Nook, Kobi, iPad, etc., take care of the copyright
    information, assign an ISBN, allow you to keep 100% of your rights, distribute
    your story worldwide on, Barnes and Noble .com, the Starry Night
    Book Store, etc., promote your work with your own author page on our site and
    Face Book and write you a check for your royalties for only $299. For $499 we
    will also publish your book in paperback format with the same deal as above.
    There are no other hidden fees involved!

    You don’t pay
    extra for a cover. You don’t pay extra for the Kindle format. You don’t pay
    extra for proofreading. Everything is included!

    In twelve short
    months, we have published more than 200 books, by more than 75 authors, 12 of
    whom, had never been published before. Compare those statistics to the major
    publishing houses which only add an average of 6 new titles per year.

    In September,
    we added a line of “Uncle Wiggily” books by Howard R. Garis, then in November,
    we expanded again, adding a line of classic books, the first of which was
    “Peter Pan” by J. M. Barrie. Later that same month, another expansion included
    a line of “Starry Night History” books, followed in January by a line of
    “Starry Night Biographies.” On August 31st, Eveline Sandy became our first
    paying customer.

    Also in August, we had one of our books climb to #1 on the Kindle Best Seller
    List and receive two 5-Star reviews. Modesty forbids me from telling you that
    it was “Secrets to Writing Well – Volume 1” by Richard S. Hartmetz. Okay, maybe
    not so modest after all…

    A few short
    months ago, we expanded yet again into the music, audio and video business,
    offering to put your work on CDs and DVDs, as well as MP3 and Video Downloads,
    available from Amazon. And just yesterday, we were able to announce a new venue
    for your eBooks by partnering with Kobo.

    We’ve received
    a great many comments from individuals about their apprehension when it comes
    to choosing a publisher for their work. After an entire year, we have not
    received a single complaint about the finished products.

    The two biggest
    fears that people have voiced, begin with the fact that our prices are so much
    lower than those of everyone else. Many people believe that since we don’t
    charge $10,000 like the big companies, there must be a catch, or some hidden
    costs. Let me assure you once again that is not the case. The price you pay is
    it, forever! You will never pay extra to keep your book in print, or to have a
    cover on your book, or to have Amazon or Barnes & Noble carry it. We

    People were
    nervous that, being such a new business we might not be around in a year.
    Again, a year later, we are still here, and here to stay. Even if the unthinkable
    were to happen twenty years from now, Amazon will still carry your work
    forever, or at least until you don’t want it there anymore. That is our

    I also want to
    state for the record, that business is good, and getting better each month. The
    economy may have taken a toll on other industries, but people will (hopefully)
    always need a good book to read. And book sales have been averaging more than
    200 per month at this point, and climbing steadily. The more we publish, the
    more we sell. In fact, we are nearly to the point where we sell 10 books per
    day. That translates into some very handsome royalties…

    As we begin our
    second full year of business, I sincerely hope that you will join the growing
    Starry Night Publishing family, become a published author, or musician, or
    videographer, gain the world-wide exposure that you deserve (it looks good on a
    resume also…) and receive a nice big royalty check.

    You just submit
    your manuscript file via e-mail, and we will take care of the rest. It really
    is that easy. We really are here to help you get published, quickly and
    painlessly. After all, becoming a published author is supposed to be a good,
    fun thing, not a hassle. Give us a shot, you won’t be sorry.

    We are not
    charging you to be published. We are charging for the proofreading, formatting,
    file conversion, cover design, distribution, etc. After all, we need to stay in
    business too. Our editors, graphic designers and published authors know what
    needs to be done to get your work ready to print and we do it all for you in
    the highest possible quality, at a fair price without holding you hostage.

    We really are
    here for you. It really is a simple as sending us your file and collecting your
    royalties. Please join us in our publishing journey. We would really appreciate
    an opportunity to serve you. Give us a chance to show you what we can do and
    show the big publishing companies that you can get published without kissing
    their you-know-what and spending a fortune. You won’t be disappointed or feel
    taken advantage of.

    We will prove
    to you that you are important to us while getting the most out of your
    publishing experience. And by all means, if you have any questions, please
    don’t hesitate to contact us and take advantage of our “Secrets to Writing
    Well” blog.

    Another aspect
    of the failure of the big publishers is corporate greed. With the economy in the shape it’s in, most
    people can’t afford to drop large sums of money to buy books, so they go
    unsold. Amazon has done a great job of
    making e-book content available for its Kindle e-reader devices at reasonable
    prices. There are many e-books that are available from 99 cents to $2.99 and
    some are even free.

    For years, the
    big publishers kept jumping up the prices of books to more than $30.00 claiming
    that the cost of ink, paper, printing and binding were driving up the prices.
    With e-books, there is no cost. It is an electronic file. Those that are unwilling to change, or adapt
    are being swept aside by newer, greener, less costly technologies.

    That is the
    primary reason that Starry Night Publishing offers e-publishing as the
    cornerstone of our business. We understand that the hardcover format is a
    sinking ship, weighted by the costs of printing, binding, etc. An e-book
    however, is merely a file, with little, or no cost involved, allowing the price
    to be set at a fraction of the cost, thereby getting it into the hands of more

    If your goal is
    to write, and to be read, then Starry Night Publishing can help you fulfill
    your goal. If your goal is to spend $10,000 to procure 20 copies of your work
    in hardcover, to pass out to your relatives this Christmas, then by all means,
    call Author House. They are always looking for gullible people…

    We charge only
    $299 for proofreading, formatting, cover design, file conversion and
    distribution. That’s it! There are no hidden costs, ever. And we don’t ever
    charge an annual fee to keep your book for sale. That is corrupt.

    The books we
    publish are for sale on sites like Amazon.Com, Barnes & Noble.Com, and many
    others. They will be for sale on there forever, or until you tell us to stop.
    Once the files are in the hands of Amazon and B&N, they will continue to
    market them forever.

    Earlier this
    month, one of our books: Secrets to Writing Well – Volume 1, reached #1 on the
    Amazon Kindle Bestseller list. As you might imagine, that was quite exciting.
    Another of our books: Murry Peterson: Spy Game reached #4, back in April. So
    you see, publishing with Starry Night Publishing does work, and it works well.

    What the big
    publishers are terrified of is the demise of the print format. Kodak went under
    because they couldn’t adapt to the changing market. They ignored digital
    photography and stuck with film even as the ship was sinking. Now they are
    bankrupt, a mere shell of the corporation they once were.

    The big
    publishers are scared of losing their power. For years they made all of the
    decision over who could see their work in print and have a place on the
    bookstore shelves. The average person would submit a manuscript and not even
    stand a chance of having it read.

    Many publishers
    forced you to get an agent, which was just as frustrating as trying to get
    published. The agents were receiving so many submissions that they could afford
    to be picky as well. They only want to represent big name authors who have
    their own library of written works. However, those big name authors already
    have publishers and agents. For the rest of us, it becomes a “Catch-22″ as they
    won’t publish us until we become a big name and we can’t become a big name
    until we become published.

    We are also at
    the mercy of a particular person’s tastes. If someone wants to feed the hunger
    for sparkly vampires, then they will read the manuscript that satisfies that
    need. Whether or not the book is a literary masterpiece has little bearing on
    their decisions.

    Amazon is
    giving the person who wants to write for the sake of writing a voice and a
    chance to be heard. And what may I ask is wrong with that?

    While I am not
    suggesting that print is dead, I will say that e-books are the way of the
    future. If the big publishing companies cannot see this, or will not admit it,
    then they will, and deserve to, go the way of the dinosaurs. Life is all about
    change and adaptation, it has been since the beginning of time and thank God
    for that, or we would all be living in caves and hunting with spears instead of
    reading this article on our PCs. And good for Amazon who had the foresight to
    ride the wave. They deserve to succeed.

    And you know
    who else deserves to succeed? You do. The person with the story to tell. You
    deserve to be successful.

    Let’s face
    facts, modern technology has given you opportunities to get published that you
    might not have had before. Many e-book publishers have opened up the gates,
    allowing you inside the world of publishing. Some of them are legitimately
    there to help you. Our goal is to help
    you get your story into print. It really is that simple.

    Gone are the
    days when an author would sit in front of an old manual typewriter, rubbing
    holes in the paper or filling their office garbage cans with unsalvageable
    scrap. The publishing industry is evolving. The old publishing houses are
    becoming dinosaurs. E-books are everywhere. They are cheaper than old-fashioned
    books, use less paper and ink, faster to produce, take up less space and can be
    read on any computer, e-reader or smartphone.

    Success comes
    to those who make opportunities happen, not those who wait for opportunities to
    happen. You can be successful too, you just have to try…

    More than 1 in
    5 of us owns an e-reading device and the number is climbing rapidly. For every
    100 hardcover books that Amazon sells, it sells 143 e-books. They also never go
    out of print!

    Hundreds of
    thousands of independent authors, just like you, are selling their profitable
    work as you read this. E-book sales have grown over 200% in the past year and
    account for more than $1 billion in annual sales.

    Chances are,
    you don’t even know the difference between a PDF, mobi, ePub, doc, azw, or the
    fifteen other competing formats struggling to coexist on the sixteen types of
    e-reader devices such as the Kindle or the Nook. Even if you are able to keep
    up with all the devices and their formats, do you want to spend the money for
    expensive software to convert your files, or the many hours it will take to
    figure out how it works? Will you be able to create an interactive table of

    Our editors are
    professionals with experience in computer science, graphic design and
    publishing. We can do the work or you, creating a top-notch book that you will
    be proud of. Of course, you still have to write it, but that’s the fun part…

    Reach your
    intended audience in the worldwide marketplace by distributing your work on
    Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major online booksellers. Earn royalties,
    get feedback, and meet other people in our community who share the same
    interests you do.

    We will publish
    your fiction or non-fiction books about just about anything, including poetry,
    education, gardening, health, history, humor, law, medicine, pets, philosophy,
    political science, psychology, music, science, self-help travel,
    science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, children and young adult, etc….

    We look forward
    to reading your stories and sharing them with the world, as well as sharing our
    writing expertise with our weekly online lessons and monthly newsletters.
    Thanks for joining us on our journey.

    We understand
    perfectly the “Too good to be true,” idea, and we think that’s why so
    many people are afraid to bite. We are for real though. I am
    actually a published author myself, having written 20 books. I found it
    nearly impossible to get published through one of the “big six”
    publishers, because, unless you are already a celebrity, or write books about
    sparkly vampires, they’re not interested.

    This is what we will do for you:

    #1: $299 – E-Book only.

    We will receive your manuscript file and:

    Do a
    thorough proofreading, to check for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    a professional looking cover for your e-book.

    an interactive table of contents to be used in the e-book.

    cover, text, TOC, graphics, dedications, author bio, etc. into a usable file.

    the documents to the appropriate formats for use on PC, Kindle, Nook and iPad

    your e-book with an ISBN number.

    care of the Copyright information.

    your new e-book on, Barnes and and other major online book

    your new e-book in our own online store.

    you with an Author Page on our website which will showcase both you and your

    your work through our online network, including FaceBook.

    your sales and provide you with a monthly royalty check for U.S. and foreign sales.


    #2: $299 – Paperback Book only.

    We will receive your manuscript file and:

    Do a
    thorough proofreading, to check for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    a professional looking cover for your paperback book.

    cover, text, graphics, dedications, author bio, etc. into a usable file.

    the documents to the appropriate formats for use in printing.

    your e-book with an ISBN number.

    care of the Copyright information.

    your new paperback book on, Barnes and and other major
    online book retailers.

    your new paperback book in our own online store.

    you with an Author Page on our website which will showcase both you and your

    your work through our online network, including FaceBook.

    your sales and provide you with a monthly royalty check for U.S. and foreign sales.


    #3: $499 – E-Book and Paperback Book – Save $100.

    We will receive your manuscript file and:

    every item in Package 1 and Package 2 for both E-Book and Paperback book






    on, Barnes and and other major online book retailers.

    in our own online store.

    Page on our website.

    of your work.

    most importantly: Providing you with a monthly royalty check
    for U.S. and foreign sales.


    You earn up to a
    70% royalty rate with us, instead of the typical 10% that the traditional
    publishing houses pay. Why should you do all the work and allow them to keep
    90% of your profit? And the best part is, you retain 100% of the rights to your
    work, so if you ever want to take it elsewhere, you are free to do so! We sincerely hope that you will take this
    opportunity to join our community as a published author and achieve a goal that
    until recently, most could only dream of.