Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good question: who is the publisher?


This question was recently posted on the forum of the Independent Self-Publishers Alliance:

If I were to write my own book and assemble it to a POD company to print and send it out, who is considered the publisher? Am I considered the publisher because I have written, edited, produced graphics, and located the customers to sell it to? Or, is the POD company considered the publisher because they are the one printing the book and physically mailing it out to the customer? And, if I am considered the publisher, then should I make up my own publishing company name and have it listed on the copyright page? Or, can the POD company end up being considered the publisher and I would therefore get in trouble for doing this because I should be putting their name as the publisher instead?


My response: The answer depends on the POD company you use, and there are different kinds of POD companies. Some are publishers, some are printers, and some function as both, or either.

The official "publisher of record" is the person or business who owns the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) associated with the book.

If you use a vanity publisher such as Outskirts Press to POD, they supply the ISBN, their logo is on the book, their name is in the book, and they are the publisher. You are a customer.

If you use a publisher such as Lulu or CreateSpace, you have the option of supplying your own ISBN, using your own business name and being the publisher...OR they can supply the ISBN and will be considered to be the publisher.

If you deal directly with a POD printer such as Lightning Source, YOU are the publisher.

Books that carry the names of vanity presses have little credibility in the publishing business, and are usually shunned by bookstores and book reviewers. It's much better to establish a business, register a name, get ISBNs, have a logo designed... AND produce very good books.

If you want to be your own publisher, I recommend my book (of course): Become a Real Self-Publisher. Don't be a Victim of a Vanity Press.

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