Publishing Unchained—Introduction

Over the course of the next few weeks I will post sections of my book about publishing entitled Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide to Independent Publishing. The first snippet is the introduction below. Designed as an eBook for Kindle, Publishing Unchained is also available for sale in paperback. Here is the link if you’re interested in either:



For the past several years the publishing industry has been in an ever-changing state of flux. With all the uncertainty in the industry, Self-Publishing and Independent Publishing are booming. Between the years of 2006 and 2012, the number of print and e-titles grew by 287% with a total of 235,625 titles released in the year 2011 alone. Bowker research attributed this growth to an explosion of self-published titles. There were 148,424 self-published titles, or 43% of that year’s total output.

Also on the rise are independent publishers. Small independent publishers, those with less than 10 published International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) yearly, have grown from 12,430 in 2008 to over 21,000 by the end of 2011. What is the difference between self-publishing and independent publishing, you ask? There has been a lot of debate lately on whether self-published authors can be considered independent publishers. Although the line blurs in many instances, it boils down to who officially published your book. In the publishing industry, whoever owns the ISBN assigned to the book is considered the official publisher. Whether you choose Create Space, Outskirts Press, Tate Publishing, or any one of the many publishing sources available, your title will be considered a self-published venture and they, not you, will be considered the publisher of record because they own the ISBN. Nothing wrong with that if it works for you.

However, if you start your own imprint, register it with Bowker, buy your own ISBNs, do the leg work yourself, i.e. cover and interior (or hire it out), then you are one of the growing segment of independent publishers. Many independent publishers have also chosen to publish other authors’ works when, of course, the author foots the bill or pays a fee for a package deal. That author is then considered self-published. If you publish your own book under your own imprint, then you are both an independent publisher by virtue of your imprint AND a self-published author under that imprint. Clear as mud? Never fear…it only gets worse!

There are many facets of publishing, many options available, and many decisions you must make. Publishing has never been easier, which brings with it the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are thousands of worthy books, self and/or independently published, hitting the market every year that traditional publishers miss out on because they have made the path to a traditional publishing contract too painful and, with the average advance now coming in between $5000-$10,000, not worth giving up the rights to your book. Especially if you’re good at marketing your work. Today’s options for publishing are abundant and, unfortunately for the industry, more and more authors are publishing their books without vigilantly editing their work. Because publishing has become so easy, there are a lot of books hitting the market that are just…well, bad.

I wrote this short guide because I wanted to share what I have learned through the school of hard knocks. My goal is to simplify the publishing process for you while stressing the importance of publisher responsibility. I struggled to learn the process, but managed to find a way to successfully publish my books and make money doing it. And you can too. I’m not saying I have all the answers, I don’t. I am saying I found a way to be my own publisher and produce top-quality books, inside and out. I found a way to do it at a reasonable cost…because I was willing to put forth the effort. By the time you finish this short guide, you’ll know whether you want to take that same path, one similar to it, or choose an entirely different one.

What this book won’t do is teach you how to write a good book, how to format your manuscript, or how to convert it to an e-book. I will explain what I did, how I did it, and why I chose my particular path. Writing your book, editing your book, designing your cover, and having the interior of your book designed are things you will need to accomplish on your own. There are plenty of books out there that address all of these critical elements.

So…onward we go. Let’s start with your bare bones toolkit—


Stay tuned for more…..

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