Publisher or Self-Publisher? The Boundaries Blur

These days, only folks who cling to old notions of what used to be turn their nose up at self-published books simply because they weren’t backed by a big house. Now the boundaries between the two kinds of publishing are dissolving even more rapidly as traditional publishers, including some of the biggest in the world, enter the self-publishing arena.

Confused? It’s easy to see why. But Simon & Schuster has Archway Publishing while Penguin Random has Author Solutions (and the much maligned AuthorHouse). So if it’s self-published through a company that is part of a big publisher, is it still self-published?

For now, yes. The manuscripts aren’t vetted by anyone; some authors don’t even bother with editing before hitting the print button. And for now, the publishers aren’t likely to look more kindly on any author who approaches them and admits to using the self-pub arm at their company (unless of course that author has managed to sell well on his or her own).

Remember that self-pub is still self-pub. The big publishing house is looking for the same thing as the other printers: a check. The ground is turning to liquid beneath their feet and they’re trying new things to keep afloat. There’s nothing wrong with that, and if it helps them continue on with the old methods, great. Just be aware of what you’re getting…and what you’re not.


3 thoughts on “Publisher or Self-Publisher? The Boundaries Blur

  1. purpleandrew

    Publishers in general need to wake up to the fact that people can now manage without them and if they want to find the next big thing, or a medium thing, they will need to expand their horizons and be both bold and take a chance. Otherwise, the self publishers will form some sort of collective that will make main steam publishers redundant.
    No one wants to fail and lose money, but sometimes you just need to be bold and forthright.
    Don’t get me I would love a mainstream book publisher to take on my work, but if they don’t I shall still publish anyway, rather than give up.


    1. Laine Cunningham Post author

      I love the spirit of this comment. You’re still in the game with a publishing team yet you’re also realistic. The most important thing is you’re ready to do whatever it takes to connect with your readers.



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