This discussion deals with the true subsidy publishing format. It does not deal with hybrid publishers blending various formats claiming to
be subsidy publishers.
The simplest definition of subsidy publishing is "a partnership between a publisher and an author, with each providing an investment in
the successful development and sale of a book, with each sharing the profits."
Subsidy publishing is not a popular model for some professionals in the publishing industry. These professionals aggressively speak out
against it and the reasons are simple and obvious. In spite of the continual negative campaign waged by many in the industry by blending
subsidy publishing with vanity and self publishing and painting them all together with a broad brush, the differences are distinct and
Subsidy publishing, in spite of some negative publicity, is experiencing incredible growth, with some of the largest publishing houses
entering the arena with their own offerings of subsidy publishing. The houses of Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, Lifeway, Hayhouse, Penguin
Random now own all or portions of subsidy imprints. With subsidy publishing gaining a greater foothold in the industry every year,
traditional publishers are becoming more risk adverse and losing ground. Despite the misinformation and negative campaigns, subsidy
publishing shows no signs of slowing down and most likely, along with self-publishing and e-publishing formats, may dominate the
publishing industry in a few years.
Subsidy publishing, to the benefit of aspiring authors, allows publishers to accept more writers, have more titles in print, with less overall
risk. This provides those who have not had the prospect of publishing with a traditional only publisher, or lack the expertise, time or
money to self-publish and market their own work, an opportunity to get their work into the market and available for sale. Few books
with dubious content regardless of how fabulous the covers are, have much of a chance at success regardless of who publishes them.
In subsidy publishing, with the author subsidizing a portion of the costs in partnership with the publisher, the publisher no longer has to
fund the entire project and has a partner with a vested financial interest in the success of the book. The authors generally have more say-
so in the production of the book than with traditional publishers, and more involvement in promotion and marketing. Both parties invest
in the work expecting the success of the book will provide a return on their investment. This is not to say that subsidy publishing or any
other type of publishing is best for all authors, as one size doesn't fit all in the publishing industry.
There are many reasons why some in the industry malign subsidy publishing . . . and those reasons are obvious. Subsidy publishing
allows writers direct access to the publisher. Many of those making a living by providing services to aspiring authors, are now left with
fewer writers utilizing their services, and subsequently fewer profits.
Some literary agents who derive their income from selling an author’s work only to traditional publishing houses for typically 15% of the
profits, are literally cut out of the loop entirely. Aspiring authors can go directly to subsidy publishers without the necessity of an agent.
Graphic and interior layout designers, editors, printers, advertising and marketing specialists, book publicists and the numerous other
individuals providing workshops on how to get published and authoring books on how to find an agent, write a synopsis, get a publisher
and so on, are all experiencing diminishing profits from aspiring authors as a result of subsidy publishing. True subsidy publishers
generally provide all of these services in the production of the author’s work, making it available for sale to the public, thus eliminating
the need for most of these services.
Some writer’s forums, rally against anything except traditional publishing. The more controversy they create, the more notoriety they
achieve, and the more they can charge for advertising on their sites, which interestingly is generally from the very publishers they rally
against. Some of the mainstays on these sites actually make a portion of their living providing workshops, seminars, books on how to be
successful and other services to aspiring authors. Direct access to subsidy publishers eliminates the need for many of these services.
Many new to the industry, fail to realize that some of these sites, in spite of their self promotion as beacons of light protecting writers,
generate tremendous profits from their advertisers and are, in fact, money making enterprises no different than other businesses. There
are however, many other writers’ sites providing well reasoned advice without the advertising.
Legitimate subsidy publishers do not make their profits from their authors; they make their profits from book sales to the public. The
amount of an author’s subsidy doesn't come close to covering the costs in producing a marketable book. For example, not even going into
detail regarding the services provided by a subsidy publisher such as editing, cover and interior design and layout for both eBook and
print, plagiarism checking, conversions into multiple eBook formats, registrations, advertising, marketing and administrative costs in
producing a work, how much time and money would an author spend in just establishing printing and distribution contracts, in addition to
handling the accounting involved in invoicing with printers, distributors, retailers and others?
If for example, a book did well in sales, selling five thousand copies a month, who funds the production, warehousing, returns, shipping
and distribution of those books? The subsidy publisher is the one who funds those costs. Imagine waiting the 120 days net that retailers
have to pay for those books that they sell. If a book costs four dollars to produce and distribute, that's twenty thousand dollars a month in
direct costs, totaling eighty thousand dollars before the first nickel is received by the publisher. Then, consider that the eighty thousand
dollars has to be continually floated by the publisher, always waiting for the revolving 120 days net payment. Not even considering other
costs in accounting and administrative staff needed to keep tract of the numbers and the cost of actually producing the work for sale, this
alone should stagger the imagination of those unfamiliar with the publishing industry. This example is for one book, and if you multiply
these amounts by multiple authors and books, it becomes clear the publisher’s risk and investment can be substantial.
Those who claim that in subsidy publishing the author is paying to have their book published, clearly misunderstand the subsidy
publishing format or are misinformed. Those knowing the truth but choosing to malign subsidy publishing, most likely have other
motives or agendas. I can assure you, when electricity was first introduced for street lighting, lamp lighters rallied against the evils of
this unsafe electricity. How would you feel being a horse drawn coach builder during the introduction of the motor driven automobile? I
doubt they were supportive of the innovations that spelled the reduction of their industry. The unfortunate reality of life is, in every
business endeavor, motives are generally profit driven. If it were not so, we'd all be commuting in our horse drawn carriages down streets
illuminated by gas lamps.
Simply stated, the reason subsidy publishing is flourishing is because it's a better publishing format. It's good for the author and the
publisher. It restores the opportunity for authors to go directly to the publisher, bypassing all the middlemen in the process. It restores
the author-publisher relationship that existed in the industry years ago. It allows the author more participation in the publishing process,
with both sides having a vested financial interest in the success of the book.
At Brighton Publishing, we publish in traditional and subsidy formats. Books produced in either format are handled the same. Subsidy is
not a lesser format. Many authors elect to publish in subsidy format because of the benefits of substantially higher royalties, maintaining
full ownership of their work, retaining more rights (especially subsidiary rights), and having more control over the production of their
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