Just how published are you?

Very well published, thank you!

I spent Saturday at San Francisco’s Litquake #Digi.lit2014, and had the pleasure of meeting writers at all different spots in their careers. Like me, some had been New York published, as well as Small Press published. Some were pre-published, and many were very interested in the amazing array of self-publishing options out there. What stood out most was the confusion about what publishing options were indeed available. So I tried my hand at explaining.
I differentiate as follows:

Self Publishing is where the author pays a service provider to publish the book. There are ranges of services and costs available. The providers do not curate or select, beyond occasional basic libel, obscenity or plagiarism searches.
Small Press (sometimes called Independent or Indie Press– a greatly abused term ranging from self-published, assisted-published, to an imprint of Simon & Schuster!) is where the author does not pay the publisher and the publisher does not pay an advance, only royalties. It is a form of “traditional” press and where I would slot Booktrope, the publisher of The Duel for Consuelo.  Most Small Presses, including BT are curated, or selective.
New York or Big Five is, well, you know. They pay advances and have access to bookstores and reviewers. The book stays on a bookstore’s shelf, if the store accepts it, for about 6 weeks unless there’s a big demand. After that, they will order it if the customer requests. If the author doesn’t earn out the advance, the book will be remaindered and sold to warehouses. There, the books sold on, say, Amazon, through these warehouses (New and Used from $2.43!) do not count against the advance. E-books still do.
The difference between Booktrope and most other Small Presses is its compensation model. It doesn’t pay employee editors, book designers, etc. a salary and so those independent contractors only work on the projects they choose. (There are tax and benefit consequences of course.) NY publishers and most other small presses that provide these services employ their editors, designers and marketers. In self-publishing the author purchases the services.
So I will continue to say that I am “traditionally published” by one NY company (Josefina’s Sin, Simon & Schuster) and two Small Presses (The Duel for Consuelo, Booktrope; The Harlot’s Pen, Devine Destinies), and have one self-published book. And spend six paragraphs explaining!

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