Two Models of Self Publishing

For an author looking to self-publish today, the choices are endless and varied – print book vs e-book, one company vs another, print-on-demand vs bulk. The information available can often be confusing to somebody not well versed with publishing industry nuances. While we have doled out a lot of gyan about various steps of self publishing, I think it is time to take a step back and have a look at the bigger picture.

Let us say you have decided to enroll some help in your endeavour of self-publishing. In general all the companies you will come across fall in two basic categories:

  1. Package Publishing
  2. Pick and Choose Publishing

Package Publishing

As is obvious from the name, companies offering package publishing will typically have one or more pre-defined packages. These packages will include all the service required to convert your raw manuscript into the final book. The extent to which the author is involved in the process will depend on the exact package chosen and also on the author’s willingness and interest. These companies are supposed to work just like traditional publishers, except that author pays for everything. Typically there is no choice of opting only for certain steps from the packages and doing the others yourself.

Pick and Choose publishing

Pick and Choose publishing, on the other hand, means that the author can decide which of the services she wants to avail from the self publishing company and which are the tasks she would do herself.  The author can, for example, decide that she wants to do editing herself or get it done by her friend, but will hire the self publishing company’s services for designing. She can combine the different services from different providers if she wants. Here the author has more control and choices, but she is also responsible for learning about various tasks and making the most suitable decision for each of them.

Both the models have their pros and cons and which particular model is fit for a particular author depends on the kind of book, author’s skills and knowledge of various publishing tasks, the time she can spare for her book, the amount of control she wants and her budget. Following may be useful if you are trying to make this decision for yourself.

Package Publishing Pick and Choose Publishing
  • Relatively Hassle free.
  • You can decide to not spend any time on making decisions about your book’s content, design etc. and leave it all up to the experts (provider).
  • You can be sure that most of the things required will be taken care of
  • You have more control over the content and design of your book.
  • Managing your budget is easier.
  • Pricier than individually picking up the services.
  • Not all the services from one company may turn out to be of same standard
  • You have to learn about various publishing tasks and take care that everything is covered
  • You make your own decisions and take the final responsibility of the book.


There is one thing authors should be aware of before choosing any self publishing model. Do not get carried off by the marketing and distribution support promised by any of the providers. Many Package Publishing companies offer what looks like a very good marketing and distribution support. But delve deeper into the exact arrangements. Having “your book available to retailers for order” and having“retailers actually ordering your book” are two very different things. Most of the times the promised distribution support is nothing more than an entry into the various books related databases. So, your book is available to be ordered by retailers, if they decide to. It’s a big “if”. Point is, irrespective of what kind of self publishing you go for, and irrespective of what any company seems to offer, in the self publishing world, you are on your own as far as marketing and distribution is concerned.

Anyway, coming back to the business models, a self publishing company may offer one or both of these models. For example, offers both kinds of models while Author House only offers package publishing.

What about

At we have focused on “Pick and Choose” model of self publishing. This model gives maximum freedom and choice to the authors. It also ties in nicely to the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) ethos that all of us at really cherish. The very essence of self in self-publishing is the control and flexibility that creators get on their creations. Packages also have their own advantages. They act as a representative set of publishing tasks that must be taken care of in order for successful publishing of a book. Authors without mush prior experience can use them as a starting point.

In the spirit of transparency and free choice, all the specifications of files to be submitted for publishing are available on the website. The authors can, therefore, decide not to spend even a single Rupee on the services offered and do it entirely on their own. Once they prepare the files according to the specifications, they can submit them and have it listed on’s online store for purchase.

There is an option of going for editing, designing and other services if they want to. There are no predefined packages. They can decide what they want to avail and what they would rather do on their own.

The Do it Yourself (DIY) way

Coming back to the DIY way, we feel that it is not enough to give the authors just one time choice. Since a lot of our users are doing it for the first time, the system should be quite tolerant and permissive of experimentation. Authors should be able to experiment around with their book, in terms of content, design, pricing, information etc. until they are satisfied.

Now this experimentation should be

  • Convenient for the authors
  • Cost effective – each experimentation should not cost the authors a fortune – preferably nothing at all where possible

We at believe that the way to achieve this is to offer the authors a technologically enabled “Do it Yourself” platform, where they can change and experiment with their books as much as they like. “Do it Yourself” also means that the company providing the platform does not have to put somebody on work from their side every time an author is trying to experiment. Hence, it is possible to keep the cost of experimentation very little or even zero. Yantra – our free cover designing tool and BookSmith – our blog2book tool are two such efforts from our side which make the cover designing and putting together of a simple book a very easy process and hence allow users to experiment and tinker around.

Also behind the scene, we have always tried to keep our publishing processes such that enabling DIY is possible. In the new year, we are now taking steps towards making our platform more and more open and DIY. Some of the things have already been enabled and others will come in time. We will write about them here as they come up. You can also sign up for our newsletter which apart from these updates, sends out information about coupon codes, featured books and more!

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Whats and Whys of BookSmith

We started the new year with Public Launch of Booknomics – the blog to book tool as you would have read in the previous post.

What does the tool do?

You can give your Blog’s URL to BookSmith (e.g. for this blog), it fetches the content from there and creates a print ready book out of it. Then you can order print copies using’s Print on Demand platform. There are no minimum number of copies to be bought, since Print on Demand can print even one copy at a time.

What’s the big deal about the converting blog to a book? I can print it as it is.

There are several design considerations that need to be applied to create a good print book. Printing content as it is would not make it a good book. Some examples of things that BookSmith does are

  • Create chapters out of posts and start each chapter on a new page to make them distinct
  • Paginate the content
  • Format the content with a font that looks good in print
  • Insert blank pages suitably so that the important sections start on the odd pages/right side of an open book (very important and a basic consideration when formatting content for a print book)
  • Automatically create a table of content from the posts/chapters
  • Clean up the post for HTML issues before formatting it so that unnecessary extra spaces, tracking codes, content generated by plugins etc. are gone and you get the content that is suitable for a print book
  • Reformat URLs to separate out the anchor text and URL. Clickable URLs mean nothing in the print book. So, URL needs to be extracted out.
  • Several other things like putting suitable margins, handling images, handling WordPress smileys etc. to make it a good looking book.

Anything else?

Some distinctive features of BookSmith are

  • Support for images in the post. Booksmith supports including images from your post and suitably resizes them so that they do not go out of frame when too big.
  • Option to include or exclude images. When you have a blog where images are not essential to the content, you may want to leave them out in the print book
  • Selection of covers. You can select from the pre-defined book covers while creating the book. If you want you can also order custom cover design service from to get a unique cover before printing copies.
  • Free e-book download. An e-book is made available for free download, which is useful if you want to circulate the book online. It is formatted differently from the print book to make is good for on-screen reading. Some major ways in which the e-book formatting is different from print book formatting are
    • Use of a different font, which is suitable for online reading
    • No blank pages as they do not make sense for e-books
    • Links remain clickable in e-books since they are meant for on-screen reading
  • Option to include or exclude post date from the book. For a blog of short stories or poems, putting post date on a print book won’t make sense. But for a blog covering opinions of current events, it is absolutely necessary. So, BookSmith gives you the control to choose whether or not you want the post dates to be mentioned.
  • Ability to select posts to include and reorder them.

Why BookSmith? wants to make publishing accessible to all. There are three major categories of expenses while publishing a book

  • Book preparation cost: This includes editing, designing and all the pre-press activities.
  • Printing and Operations Cost: Cost involved in printing the copies, maintaining the inventory, supplying them to buyers and managing the entire operation
  • Marketing Cost: Cost involved in promoting the book.

For making publishing accessible it is important to bring down the costs involved in all of these activities. For a casual writer/publisher, each of these costs in the prevailing set-up can be daunting. The only way to bring these costs down is to infuse technology in the process. There are some things for which humans can not be replaced. There is no replacement for a good editor or a designer who can do a super customized design for a book. But other things can be enabled technologically and hence the cost can be brought down. is on a mission to use and develop such technologies.

Internet as a technology and medium provides ample opportunities for an individual to market their book. Not with some overnight magic, but with persistence over time and by using suitable tools, an individual’s brand can be created with very little or no financial investment.

Printing and Operations costs are brought down by the Print on Demand platform provided by You can print one copy at a time; so there is no need to pay upfront for printing in bulk. Besides the effort and costs to maintain the inventory or manage the logistics are gone too. Just set up your book on and they will be printed and shipped as the orders come. There is no inventory to maintain and logistics is taken care of by us.

A tool like BookSmith aims to bring down the book preparation cost. It lets you design a good looking print book. It is not a replacement for a super-customized design by a good an trained designer. But it is pretty good for most individual publishers. And it will keep getting better. Yantra – the cover design tool on is another such tool, which bring down the cost of designing.

So, convert your blog today. Or, gift a loved one a copy of theirs. It will really make them jump with joy. Meanwhile, we are working hard for bringing more exciting stuff your way.