Publishing is basically the act of making written material, literature, software, music and other data available to the general public either for free or for sale. Traditionally, the word “publishing” denotes the production and distribution of printed materials, including books, periodicals, journals, and magazines. Today, publishing also encompasses other Internet-based activities, such as website publishing and e-book publishing. In addition to publishing traditional printed materials, modern publishing strategies emphasize the development of e-publications (e-books) in digital form. E-publishing has become a popular alternative to conventional book publication because of its accessibility, flexible terms of licensing, lower production costs and greater market reach.
Book publishing involves the steps that a publisher takes from submission of the manuscript to publishing. The book publisher is a middleman between the author and the reader. Although an author maintains complete control over the decision about the content of his or her book, the publisher ensures that the content conforms to accepted standards of literary and technical character. In addition, the publisher secures the rights to the published literary work and to the printing, publication, and sale of the book. In the United States, there are three basic types of book publishing: print publishing, digital printing and third-party printing.
With traditional publishing, authors submit their manuscripts to a printer. Once the publisher receives the manuscript for print, he or she submits the manuscript to book publishers. In most cases, print publishers require the author to undergo at least one editing process, to add material based upon recommendations by other editors, and to participate in a set number of marketing tests.
After the publisher receives the manuscript for print, he or she determines whether to proceed with the publication of the book or to return it to the author. The publisher may publish the book as is, or may decide to change some elements, make corrections, or make alternative changes. If the publisher does not respond in a timely manner to the author’s requests, or does not provide a means for the author to get in touch with him or her, author agrees to consider the manuscript “as is” and withdraw his or her rights from the publisher.
The next step in the publishing process is printing. In electronic printing, electronic files are produced as a result of compressing electronic pages into a small file. For traditional printing, the images are loaded into a press, and the pages are turned into paper. The disadvantage of electronic printing is that the time required to load the file into the printing equipment, clean the press, and set up the necessary paper for printing can take much longer than printing from a traditional printing press. In addition, print on demand services have been developed which use electronic imaging and a print on demand service in which the books are printed and shipped directly to a customer’s door.
The major advantage of self-publishing is that it allows the author and publisher to avoid all of the often costly overheads associated with traditional publishing. Because the author and publisher make all of the decisions regarding the publication of the work, there is little or no cost involved in negotiating contracts, researching titles, finding a printer, preparing the manuscript, and so on. Also, self-publishing can be more flexible, as the author and publisher do not have to worry about providing cover material, printing and binding the work, preparing the book for publication, distributing the work to bookstores, and waiting for payments from customers. However, potential disadvantages of self-publishing should be considered, especially if you do not have a reputation as an established writer or editor. You may need to invest time and money in promoting your book to increase its exposure.