Self-publishing is the publication of any book, album, or other media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher. Unlike the traditional publishing model in which control of the publication is shared with a publisher, the author controls the entire process in a self-publishing effort including the design of the cover and the interior, price, distribution, marketing, and public relations. The authors can do all of these activities by themselves or they may outsource these tasks. Self-publishing is not limited to physical books, but includes pamphlets and brochures, as well as digital media such as e-books and websites. In traditional publishing, the publisher bears the costs, such as editing, marketing, and paying advances, and reaps a substantial share of the profits; by comparison, in self-publishing, the author bears all of these costs but earns a higher share of the profits. In common parlance, the term usually refers to written content in book or magazine form, in physical media such as paper or in electronic form, but theoretically it could apply to the self-publishing of video content or zines or uploading of images to a website.
The self-publishing landscape has changed considerably in the past two decades with new technologies such as the Internet, and the $1 billion market continues to change at a rapid pace. Increasingly there are numerous alternatives to traditional publishing, and self-publishing is increasingly becoming the first choice for writers. With this growth in activity, the book world has become flooded with titles, much of it of low quality, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for self-publishers to differentiate one’s offerings from the stew of average offerings. Most self-published books sell very few copies, although there are approximately a dozen books that sell into the millions. The quality of self-published works varies considerably.