A three frame cartoon. Cartoon character with a blank sheet of paper. Suddenly he is inspired. Next he is leaned over the paper writing away.

Choose Carefully: 4 Definitions of Self-Publishing

Four types of self-publishing.


  1. Self-publishing where the writer does all the work
  2. Self-publishing with a custom publisher
  3. Self-publishing with a vanity publisher
  4. Self-publishing with a ghost writer
The writer does all the work

In self-publishing where the writer performs all the work, the writer performs all the work. The idea generation, the writing, the selling, and the publishing, he is communication, and the marketing.  If the writer chooses to and has the funds to do so, she can contract with others for these services.  This is the system I used for my book. “NEVER A $7 Whore,” live on Amazon on August 05.  I was lucky enough to rope my spouse into helping me with some of these tasks. Getting to the point of being able to publish was still very hard.  It took tremendous energy, lots of time, and tremendous determination. All the risk is on the writer.

Custom Publisher

The second way that the writer can choose to self-publish is to work with a custom publisher. In this scenario, the publishing company takes on the traditional role except the writer pays all the costs. The custom publisher assumes no risk. The writer, as in the above scenario, assumes all the risk. The difference is that with the custom publisher behaving as the general contractor the writers time commitment is less than doing it themselves, but the financial commitment is higher.

Vanity Publisher

The third option to self-publish is to work with a vanity publisher. Vanity publishers look exactly like custom publishers except at the end of the process there is no published book. They are scammers. How do you tell a vanity publisher from a custom publisher? Do your research. There will be plenty of complaints. This option is a complete waste of time, energy and money.

Ghost Writer

Lastly, the self-publisher can use a ghost writer. Some ghost writers simply write the book based on input from the writer. Others will work with the writer one on one to guide them through every step of self-publishing. Quality ghost writers are very expensive. This option requires a big pocketbook, some determination, and a bit of time. The risk remains with the writer.



In summary, each writer must balance their passion for the book against both their energy and determination and pocketbook. If  the writer chooses to venture down one of the self-publish paths, “choose the method of your destruction” carefully to match your current life circumstances. Do not take self -publishing lightly. It is a major commitment no matter which path is chosen.

When choosing to self-publish, the writer incurs all risk.

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