Publish Your Own Way

A Fork in the Publishing Road: Get Support or Do It Yourself?

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If you’re considering self-publishing, you’re not alone. Recently Newsweek stated, "Now new writers and established authors alike are increasingly taking publishing into their own hands. ..."1 

In fact, The New York Times reported a 181 percent increase in self-published titles in 2009 (764,448 total), showing just how popular this option has become.2 But deciding between supported self-publishing (SSP) and do-it-yourself publishing (DIY) can be a daunting task that requires a careful evaluation of costs, time and quality.

While both methods have similarities, they are fundamentally different in how they involve the author.

  • SSP offers authors support for nearly all services and resources in the publishing process.
  • DIY makes the author fully responsible for all aspects of the publishing and marketing.

Deciding which method to choose may come down to what type of book you are writing, your publishing goals or simply which method best suits your personality. It's also important to assess your skill level and understanding of the publishing process, which, depending on the option you choose, can be vital to your book's success.

The following section analyzes both methods of self-publishing based on three main points of comparison: control, convenience and companion services – known here as The 3 C's of Self Publishing.

The 3 C's of Self-Publishing

Publishing Options

Supported Self-Publishing

Do-It-Yourself Publishing



   Control cover artwork Yes Yes
   Own the rights to your book Yes Yes
   One-stop (in house) service solutions Yes Maybe
   All inclusive publishing packages available Yes No
   One-on-one support Yes No
   Print on demand Yes Yes
   Custom-designed book cover Yes Author's responsibility
   ISBN assignment Yes Author's responsibility
Companion Services    
   Editing and proofreading services available Yes With separate provider
   Marketing and publicity services available Yes With separate provider
   Paperback, hardcover and e-book formatting and distribution Yes With separate provider

(Self-publishing at a glance – The overview above illustrates features of SSP and DIY. Continue reading for a deeper analysis of the 3 C's of Self-Publishing.)


Supported Self-Publishing  Do-It-Yourself Publishing

You retain majority control of your book but share some aspects with your SSP, who works to keep the publishing process moving forward. Your publisher offers advice, suggestions and a professional perspective, but you make the final call for most decisions regarding the book. You have the freedom to purchase or disregard editing and marketing services. Final manuscript and cover design approval rests with you, and you will retain the rights to your book. This means you are free to pursue a traditional publisher or change to DIY publishing at your discretion.

Every aspect of the publishing process is managed by you. You choose your service providers and what specific services you want to purchase or handle yourself. All costs associated with your publishing project are your responsibility. You will also retain the rights to your book. While this high level of involvement can take a great amount of time and work, it can also be extremely rewarding. But be aware that there is no safety net to catch mistakes, so you'll be fully accountable for all aspects of the editing, publishing, marketing and distribution processes.



Supported Self-Publishing  Do-It-Yourself Publishing

All publishing services are fulfilled in-house, including cover design, book design, production, printing logistics and distribution. These services are combined and sold as packages. Purchasing one of these all inclusive packages is usually more affordable than purchasing the same services individually from varying providers. The speed-to-market time can be as swift as 30-60 days, meaning your books can be ready to sell quickly.

Authors find all service providers independently. Often, this results in a separate provider for each service. This can become expensive and difficult to organize logistically, making knowledge of the publishing process extremely beneficial for DIY authors. Many service providers also have upfront costs in addition to the cost of each service. Speed to market can be equally as fast as SSP.


Companion Services


Supported Self-Publishing  Do-It-Yourself Publishing

From a quality standpoint, one of the most important services offered is editing. The editing providers used by SSPs are the same freelance editors used by traditional publishers; and the cost of editing is variable depending on which services you choose. This can provide your book with the same editorial quality as traditionally published books.

The author is individually responsible for finding an editor. Most charge an initial payment to get started and subsequent costs depend on what services are purchased. The author is also financially accountable for any proofreading services they use.


Supported Self-Publishing  Do-It-Yourself Publishing

If your goal is to publish a book that reaches beyond friends and family, you'll most likely want marketing assistance. A broad spectrum of marketing activities are offered by SSPs and the services are often included in packages. Marketing channels include social media, Web, video, publicity, event and radio. You choose which packages meet your needs and are responsible for their costs.

All marketing activities rest on your shoulders. You'll be accountable for generating book demand, finding avenues to advertise and scheduling book signings, public speaking arrangements and interviews. The cost of all marketing will be your responsibility.


You have several options when it comes to choosing a format for your book. Though technology is ushering in new ways to publish and distribute, printed books are still the staples of publishing, and paperback and hardcover formats are readily available at nearly all SSP and DIY publishers.

Electronic books (e-books) are one of the newest forms of book distribution. They give readers instant access to your book through computers and supporting handheld devices like smart phones and e-readers.

Supported Self-Publishing  Do-It-Yourself Publishing

Digital formatting is offered as part of most publishing packages. With your purchase, your e-book becomes available in thousands of online bookstores. While e-book formatting is a versatile form of distribution, there are some limitations with file sizes.

An e-book version is commonly available as an add-on service and are uploaded to a variety of online bookstores. This service is usually offered individually at various rates. As with SSP, check to see what e-book limitations your provider may have.

Whether you decide to publish through a supported self-publishing company or do it yourself, the most important thing is to be comfortable with your publishing process. Reaching your book's full potential is always the goal.

Find more helpful publishing and marketing resources for indie authors at or call 866.697.5310 today for a free publishing consultation.


1 Jasiewicz, Isia. (2010, August 9). Who needs a publisher?. Newsweek, 156(6), 47.
2 Heffernan, V. (2010, April 30). The rise of self-publishing. The New York Times.