Exactly what kinds of publishing are there? For some time now, I have been trying to learn about the types of publishing that exist.

With the advent of digital publishing, the world of traditional publishing has been turned upside down. Now maybe a guy like me has the opportunity to get a book published.

A commercial publisher distributes books under its own imprint. It purchases manuscripts from authors, and handles the cost of producing those manuscripts: Cover and interior design, typesetting, printing, marketing, distribution, etc. The author is not expected to pay any of these costs. The books are owned by the publisher and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold; the author receives a portion of sales in the form of royalties.

A subsidy publisher also distributes books under its own imprint. However, it does not purchase manuscripts; instead, it asks authors to pay for the cost of publication. With the exception of certain types of publishers such as university or scholarly presses, any publisher that requests a fee from the author is a subsidy publisher. As with commercial publishers, the books are owned by the publisher and remain in the publisher’s possession; authors receive royalties.

A self-publisher is an author who pays for the cost of designing, printing, and distributing his or her book. Frequently, the author invents and registers a publishing “imprint.” Self-published books are the property of the author and usually remain in the author’s possession; all sales proceeds belong to the author.

The terms “small press”, “indie publisher”, and “independent press” are often used interchangeably, with “independent press” defined as publishers that are not part of large conglomerates or multinational corporations. Defined this way, these presses make up approximately half of the market share of the book publishing industry. Many small presses rely on specialization in genre fiction, poetry, or limited-edition books or magazines, but there are also thousands that focus on niche non-fiction markets.