Publishing as an industry took root in Europe in the mid 1500s, wherein, a publishing house took the responsibility of the distribution of a manuscript. Here, the publishing house would obtain copyrights to the work of the author, and then they would print and distribute the book to the masses. In the recent past this process has changed a lot with innovations which made self publishing easy and affordable.
Initially publishing house taking the responsibility was a great idea, because publishers would take care of everything – the author merely had to hone his or her craft. This was a great symbiotic relationship, but there was one problem. Since publishers held the reigns of publication, only the books they liked made it into the market. Hence, no matter how good a person’s book was, or how much the public would like it, its selection depended on the whims of the publishers. This was a considerable restriction on creative liberties. This restrictions have disappeared with innovations which made self publishing easy and affordable.
With the the digital revolution, new possibilities began to emerge. Where oral narratives spoke to those within hearing distance, and traditionally published books spoke to culturally relevant people, the digital revolution promised the possibility of a global readership. In a book called ‘The Self-Publishing Manual’ in 1979, Dan Poynter introduced the concepts of Desktop Printing (DTP) and Print on Demand (POD). This made it possible to do away with the heavy Gutenberg Press and instead print books on a smaller scale – a great boon for self publishers.
Then with further advancements in technology, e-books began coming out in the 1900s, but the public wasn’t too happy with this idea. Then came an invention in 2007, which changed the face of readership and authorship across the world – the Amazon kindle. This was the world’s first e-gadget that Amazon designed specially for books, a kind of e-reader. And with this came Amazon’s e-book self-publishing platform. Here, authors can publish books without the intervention of publishers in e-book format. Which means, they write the story, design a cover, and upload the book in a variety of formats.
In addition, they can sell their works for any amount in the range of one to ten dollars. In 2016, the app also added a paperback option, in order to incorporate to book formats for the self-publishers. This has been a huge hit among readers and writers alike – Amazon reported that its sales of the e-book Fifty Shades of Grey were double those of the paperback version.
The next step in the self publishing industry came with Google Play Books Partner Center. This gave another platform for authors to publish their works. On this portal, authors can submit their works, whose samples can be read in countries across the world, and which can be bought on Google Play. In this, you first set up your bank account on Google Play so that all royalties can be transferred to you. Then you add your tax information, and then submit your work. Next, you have to fill in information about the book, such as its length, description, title, genre etc. Then you add the length of your preview, upload the cover page and then post the book in whichever format you want eg pdf, epub, zip or more.
Apart from this, there are several self publishing companies available, such as Lulu, Notion Press or White Falcon Publishing. These companies will guide you in your process of self publishing. Self publishing is a worthwhile endeavour, especially for debut authors – because you can cut down on costs (on, say, design) without compromising on your content. However, it also has a drawback – the ball is in your court entirely, and you have to shoulder the whole responsibility. In addition, you will not have a team of experts in marketing, designing or editing to help you – you are on your own. Regardless, with Amazon and Google, the costs for these have whittled down considerably.