Before You Do Anything...
Be Sure You Understand the Definitions of Royalty Publishing, Subsidy Publishing, Co-Publishing, Publish-On-Demand, Self-Publishing, Print-On-Demand and E-Books

So you've written a book. Now what? Maybe you have already sent your manuscript to several publishers only to be rejected. Or perhaps you have answered one of those advertisements from the subsidy publishers seeking manuscripts. In order to understand your publishing options you need to define and understand the many ways of getting your book printed or made available and on the market for sale.

Although they all have the same end result, (getting a book into print and then into the hands of the public), there are many differences, especially in the cost and your potential for success.



Publishing as it applies to the book industry simply means to prepare and offer or "release" a book for sale or distribution. The publisher is, by definition, the person, company or organization that puts up the money for the production and marketing of the book. The publisher takes all the risk of investing in the book, and in return keeps the largest percentage of the profit from the sale of the book. The publisher can either be a traditional royalty publisher or the author (self-publishing).
Royalty Publishing
Royalty publishing is an arrangement where the publisher buys the rights to publish a book by paying the author an advance or royalty for each book sold. The royalty payment is usually about 5% to 15% of the publisher's selling price (wholesale price).

The publisher pays all the cost to edit, design, typeset, print, bind, advertise and market the book. The author pays nothing.

If you think your manuscript is destined to be a million-copy best seller you should try get it published by a royalty publisher . An excellent resource for anyone trying to get published is the book, Writer's Market. It is an annual listing of the large publishers, magazines, and small presses who are seeking manuscripts. It also details how to approach publishers with query letters, sample chapters and manuscripts.

As with most other types of publishing you as the author will give up all rights to your book, all editorial control, all design control, etc. and you may have to fight to get those rights back once the contract as ended.

If you have to pay any fee for anything, you are not dealing with a true royalty publisher.


(This is what we do, that's why you're here)

Self-publishing is a do-it-yourself approach to getting your book printed, bound, in the stores and sold. As the author, you contract with a book printer to make it all happen. Once the books are printed, all copies are delivered to you. There are no promises regarding sales and the printer does not retain any copies.

The advantages as a self- publisher are many. You have complete editorial, design, production and marketing control as well as retaining all rights to your material. You have to take the risk of investing your money and time in your book but you also get to keep all the profit.

Once your book is printed and bound you as the author/publisher will be responsible for marketing and sales.  A true book manufacturing company working with self-publishers will make no phony promises about the potential sales of your book. At Maverick, our goal is to produce an attractive book with the appropriate specifications for your genre that will make your job of selling as easy as possible and we will strive to give you all the information you need to make that happen.

As a self-publisher you will be most successful with a non-fiction title. Poetry and novels are harder to sell, but not impossible. The type of book, the area where you live and your personality are a few of the many factors in determining how you will sell your book. You can sell your books mail-order, direct to customers at conventions and speaking engagements, or to bookstores and book distributors. You can also sell books online from your own website or with your own account at online booksellers like

As a book producer for self-publishers, Maverick Publications can print from your print-ready PDF files, or do all the design work from your manuscript on file or paper. Design the cover and print and bind using our high-speed digital printers and traditional offline book binding. Books can be perfect bound, spiral bound or hard bound.


Any arrangement other than the two described above should be scrutinized before you sign any agreement. Below are some of the other creative ways companies have devised to get the author to "pay them" to "publish" their book.
Subsidy Publishing
Subsidy publishing, or vanity publishing as it is also known, involves paying a publishing house to "publish" your book. The subsidy publisher's use of the word "publish" has been challenged in court many times by class-action law suits. As we said above, by definition the publisher is the person who pays for the production of the book, most people in the legitimate publishing world believe the vanity publishers use of the word "publish" is misleading.

The subsidy publisher receives manuscripts from authors who are seeking publication. A new trend now seems to be charging a fee to read your book to see if it is acceptable. Of course, it is accepted and a glowing review is always returned to the author. A contract is also included, the exact details of the transaction are muddled in a sea of small print. The one clear item is the price that they are going to charge you to "publish" your book.

The cost for subsidy publishing can be as much as 5 times the cost to have your book printed, even then you might only end up with a few copies of your book printed and bound.

The subsidy publishers claim that they will market your book, and pay you a royalty for each book sold. The truth is they usually sell less than 100 copies. There is not a lot of incentive on their part to spend time and money promoting a book since they have already been paid a fee by the author. In fact, the author's fee is where they make their money, not on book sales. On average the subsidy published author will rarely see a return of even 25% of his initial investment. 

Please be careful. Don't sign any contract without reading it first and fully understanding it. Since these contracts are typically lengthy and full of legalese it would be in your best interest to consult with an attorney. But honestly, we don't think there is any reason for any author to ever consider subsidy publishing.

Again, as with most other types of publishing you as the author will give up all rights to your book, all editorial control, all design control, etc. and you may have to fight to get those rights back once the contract as ended.



Co-publishing is a creative way to disguise Subsidy Publishing as Royalty Publishing. Depending on the contract, usually the author is asked to pay a portion of the costs, or to share the up-front cost to produce the books. The publisher pays the remaining phantom production costs and the marketing and promotion costs, then pays the author a royalty on books sold. As with subsidy publishing these costs are always higher than contracting with a printer to self-publish your book.

Usually the upfront fees with co-publishing are not as high as subsidy publishing so there is a remote chance that the publisher might sell enough books to pay the author a royalty that will cover the author's up-front fee.

But, just like subsidy publishing, once you have paid a fee to be "published" there is less pressure on the publisher to produce and try to sell your books. He has reduced his risk with your co-publishing fee and will not have the same incentives he would have had if he was assuming all the risk.

The exception here is if you find a successful publisher that specializes in books of the same subject as yours and has a track record of sales they can show you. Most likely these will be non-fiction titles. A good example would be some of the better known University Presses. Lately, they have been offering co-publishing as opposed to full royalty publishing, because of budget constraints. If your book is of a subject that is a good fit with the university press catalog, a co-publishing arrangement might be considered for the right title. These university presses usually will only accept a title that is a good fit for them and has the opportunity for success.

And again, as with most other types of publishing you as the author will give up all rights to your book, all editorial control, all design control, etc. You may have to fight to get those rights back once the contract as ended.



There are companies on the internet that will "publish" your book for a fee based on printing them one at a time (print-on-demand) as they sell, usually from their website, and pay the author a royalty. This is known as Publish-On-Demand and can be confused with Print-On-Demand as easily as self-publishing and subsidy publishing are sometimes confused with each other.  

There are potential drawbacks to these arrangements. First and most importantly, you can lose your rights and ownership of your book while the publishing contract is in force. If later you are not satisfied and want to try other options such as self-publishing or royalty publishing you will have to fight to get back your book rights. Read carefully any contract before you sign it! 

Publish-On-Demand can seem very attractive to the novice or first-time author because of the lower costs to the author than subsidy, co-publishing or even self-publishing. The author is usually charged a modest initial fee for cover design and printing set-up costs. Then as books are sold the author is paid a royalty. The publisher will pay for all the costs to print and market your book. The publisher makes a profit by selling the book for more than his costs for printing, marketing and royalties, just like with royalty publishing. Sounds pretty good so far. However, therein lies the problem with Publish-On-Demand. The only reason the publisher can take what appears to be a risk on your book is because it will be printed only when an order for it is received. The publisher has no risk to his investment, since you paid for his design and printing set-up costs, which in-turn provides little incentive for him to sell your book.  In short, he doesn't risk keeping an inventory on a book that may or may not sell. It is often a half-hearted way to publish a book that takes advantage of eager writers.

In addition, books that are printed one-at-a-time (POD) usually cost more to produce than books that are printed in larger quantities, so in the end, the book buyer must pay a higher than normal bookstore price and then wait for the book to be printed and shipped. These factors will most likely affect sales.

As with subsidy and co-publishing, there is little or no risk to the publisher. Where there is no risk, there is little or no incentive for the publisher to try to sell your book, he has already made his money on your upfront fee.



Print on Demand (not "Publish on Demand)

The difference between Print-on-Demand and Publish-on-Demand is in the contract. If there are any promises regarding sales, royalties, marketing etc. and fees associated with those services, that would indicate "Publish-on-Demand, (see above).

Print-on-Demand is suitable for any book but is particularly suited for first time fiction authors. For most non-fiction titles, authors have a defined audience to whom they are planning to sell their book, usually in quantities that would be more cost-effective for traditional printing than POD printing. However, fiction authors don't have that built in audience and must market their book to the general public, competing with well-known authors and big publishers. Print-on-Demand can be used to get a novel on the market with a minimum of expense in order to  test the market. This will give the novelist a chance to see if their title and sales skills can compete with the big New York publishers.

Print-On-Demand is really just a method for printing books with high speed digital printers at small to medium quantities or even one book at a time. The books are bound either in-line or off-line as with traditional offset  production. This can be as good a method to manufacture books as traditional printing methods. As with all printing projects the most economical printing method is determined by the specifications of materials used; number of colors or ink, page size, number of pages and quantity. Today's new high speed digital printers are quickly advancing to the point of replacing traditional offset printing in certain markets. Once the quality and price becomes the same or better for a given market, digital printers will replace offset printing presses.

As with Self-Publishing, Print-On-Demand authors maintain all rights and control.



E-Books are simply just electronic versions of books. The title can and usually does have a printed version also, but some books only exist as E-books. E-Books are much less expensive to produce, obviously, than printed books. There are still up-front design and conversion costs that require, in most cases, a professional service well versed in E-book creation. The file created can be a PDF file for download, or a specific file format to use on an E-book reader, like the Kindle. All the same cautions and definitions of publishing above apply, but making an E-book from your printed book or creating only an E-book and selling through your own website or on Amazon, where you retain all your rights is a good option for some books.

Because of limitations with the hardware (E-book readers) most E-books are text only. Non-fiction books with photos, tables, charts, graphs and any other type of graphics do not present the information to the human reader in a usable form. Until E-book readers advance to a point of being able to present graphics, most E-books will remain fiction novels of text only.

E-Book publishing also has one problem that will never change. There is no paper, no book smell, no tactile satisfaction of holding a book in your hands.  People want to have a book printed on paper. They want to be able to take it with them to the park or the beach to read it.  They want to flip through the pages at a bookstore while drinking lattes.



I hope this information is helpful to the first-time author or self-publisher. The industry is rapidly changing, and with those changes come great opportunities for authors as well as opportunities for unscrupulous businesses to take advantage of the uninformed. Arm yourself with knowledge and proceed with caution.