Publishing chatter today is very confusing. Self publishing, vanity press, subsidy press, independent publishing, traditional publishing, print on demand, epublishing, … whuuut?
And it doesn’t help that almost all of the companies who come up under a google search of Self Publishing are offering to help authors by handling the publishing for them. Which is not always self publishing…
It’s all about the ISBN number.
If the author owns the ISBN number, then the book is self published.
Even if the author hired out portions of producing the book.
And in order for the author to own the ISBN number, the author had to establish a publishing business. This can be as simple as getting a business license and giving the business a name. So the author is now a publisher.
If the author accepted the free ISBN number offered through the print on demand company, then the author is not self published. The print on demand company is the publisher. That’s not always bad, but it isn’t self publishing.
The companies that offer help with self publishing must require you to get your own ISBN number, otherwise they are actually the publisher for your book. Many of them state this upfront, but I am frustrated with the ones that don’t explain it well enough and offer the ISBN number for “free” as “part of the service”.
It is free… but if you want to take your book and publish it somewhere else, you discover that they are the publisher and you can’t easily do that. (You can get your own ISBN number and go on your merry way… but my point is the confusion involved.)
Authors can buy a single ISBN number for @ $125 (as of 2012) or a pack of 10 for @ $300 from Bowker. Self publishing authors should buy the 10, because having gone to the effort of publishing one book, it’s a good idea to put out another one. You will need the ten.
Own the ISBN and you own the rights.