There are generally three options to publishing. These are listed below with a fairly brief and simplified explanation.
Traditional publishing: the writer submits their finished typescript to a literary agent who may try to find a market for the story with a mainstream publishing company. If accepted, the writer will be given a contract (usually for a multiple book deal) and may receive an advance, which has to be paid back out of royalties earned from book sales. The publishing company are responsible for all aspects of the process: structural editing, copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading, cover design, printing, marketing, and distribution. A typescript can go back and forth between author and editor several times during the editing stages, and the whole publishing process can take up to a year. The writer is bound to the publisher for the duration of their contract. Many writers dream of landing a publishing contract, but it is difficult to achieve. In order for a typescript to be accepted for publication, the idea for the story has to be commercially viable.
Independent publishing: the writer pays to have their work published. The independent publisher may be a small company specifically set up for the purpose, or an offshoot of an existing traditional publishing company. Services offered will vary, and so will terms and conditions. Some may offer proofreading rather than full editing, whilst others may offer external marketing and distribution. Royalties are paid to the writer from sales of the book. Independent publishing, in this way, best represents what used to be known as ‘vanity publishing’. This tended not to have a very good reputation as published books were found to have little or no editing. This has improved, but finding an independent publisher can be a minefield; writers are advised to choose carefully and carry out some research as costs are not cheap.
Self-publishing: the writer takes full responsibility for publishing their own work. The writer carries out, or pays a freelance to carry out, the relevant pre-publishing stages: structural editing, copy-editing, formatting (typesetting), cover design, and proofreading. Publishing is carried out through an online self-publishing provider, and royalties are paid to the writer from sales of the book. There are several online self-publishing platforms available.
By adapting the traditional publishing method, I offer a full editing and proofreading service at the relevant stages. The terms ‘self-publishing’ and ‘independent publishing’ tend to be used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two.