[Self Publishing Guide] What is Self Publishing?

This post is second in a series of articles which are excerpts from our Self Publishing Guide for Indian Market. If you have not already, please read the first article of the series before proceeding with this one

What is Self Publishing

Self publishing in strict sense is a special case of publishing where author herself is the publisher. The author takes the complete control and responsibility of all the aspects of publishing – preparing the book, printing and marketing the book. In fact, anyone – be it an individual or an organization – can self publish. In our discussion of self-publishing we include publishing carried out by any individual or organization whose main business is not publishing, even if it is not self-publishing in the literal sense of the word (that is the author is not the publisher).

Self Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages


No need to spend time convincing publishers/agents.

  • The author is the boss and has complete control over content, design, pricing.
  • Faster way to get your book published.
  • Easy to publish books for a niche audience.


  • Needs financial investment for the publishing process – editing, designing, printing, marketing.
  • Lack of sales and marketing expertise. No pre-launch publicity, no launch hype with celebrities and media.
  • Chances of lower credibility because the book is not validated by an independent/traditional publisher.

When to self publish

Given the pros and cons of self publishing, there are certain cases where it work well. Some of them are listed below

  • Experts: If you are some sort of expert in anything, you could self publish a book targeted towards that audience. Expertise need not mean global fame. You could be a blogger on environmental issues with a following, for example.
  • Niche publications: The way the economics of traditional publishing works, if your audience is niche and small, publishers may not be interested in your book. If you have a way to access this niche audience and market your book, self publishing is the way to go.
  • Publishing as gift: A book can be published for gifting purposes or for distribution to friends and family. For example, you may want your book just for your family, or may want to surprise a friend by publishing his/her writings as a birthday gift.
  • Support to profession and brand building: A book can be published to establish your credibility and thought leadership in your profession. Coaches, training institutes and other professionals/organisations can publish a book themselves and distribute or sell them. It will help brand building.
  • Complete control over the book: If you do not like to succumb to the demands of the editors on how the book should start, read and end, self publishing is the option for you.

[Self Publishing Guide] What is Publishing?

We have recently prepared a self publishing guide to help people understand the idea and process of publishing and self publishing, especially in Indian context.

This post is the first of a series of articles, which are excerpts from the guide (these articles may be modified a bit to suit the form of blogs better). This article explains in simple words what publishing is and what tasks it involves. Content may seem obvious to some readers. But before we start discussing self publishing and its nuances, it is important to be on the same page regarding what publishing itself means.

Of course, publishing is a word used in a large number of different contexts. Our discussion here is in the context of publishing books – that too in print.

With more of prologue than actual content, here is the article


Publishing is the process by which books, magazines and other reading material are produced and distributed among the readers. The aim is to make information, ideas, thoughts, stories available for public viewing and, maybe, make some money too.

Publishing Process and Tasks

The process of publishing a book can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Selection of manuscript – This is the step where the struggling writer goes from pillar to post, hoping to draw the attention of some editor or publishing house. This is the step where publishers have to take the crucial decision of making an investment in particular manuscripts in the hope that readers pick them up as books in enough numbers and they get good return on their investment.
  • Editing the book – Once a manuscript is selected, an editor starts cutting the flab — doing away with what is unnecessary. Also under the scanner are language, syntax and readability.
  • Designing the book – Once the basic text is ready, it needs to be packaged the right way to appeal to the target audience. The designer’s job is to ensure, for example, that an Economics textbook does not have Katrina Kaif on the cover.
  • Printing – This crucial process can be handled in different ways, depending on the requirement. We shall discuss this in detail in one of the articles later.
  • Sales and marketing – Thousands of writers get their books printed every year. You need to let the readers know that your book is unique, luring them to buy it. You can have a great book but if the reader does not know about it, it will never get bought! The book needs to be distributed so that every reader – or even a possible reader – gets to buy a copy at the nearest book shop.


Publisher is a person or an organisation which takes the manuscript from the author and handles the tasks outlined above. A typical publisher brings in the editorial and design expertise, distribution contacts, marketing muscles and financial investment needed for the entire process, which are important in making a book a success or a failure.