from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Friedrich Gotthold Kunze : Wall picture primer (1847), "self-published by the author"

Self-published (also: self-publishing , self-publishing ) refers to the publication of a reproducible work by an author himself, becoming the self-publisher (also: self-publisher ) is. Usually related to works in book form , works on sound carriers can also be self-published, for example .

The term “self-published” is not clearly defined. There is evidence that this exclusively means the justification of a commercially registered company for the publication of its own publications and others, according to which in the broader sense it can mean the “self-financing” of a self-publication at all.


While the origin of the word “publisher” comes from “present”, which is what book publishers u. a. The advance payment of author's fees also counts, a “self-publisher” has to submit the costs himself if he uses the services for the creation of a book, e.g. B. takes from a printing company .

In the section “Technical Dictionary” of a technical book from 1998 on “Professional Knowledge for Businesspeople in Newspaper, Magazine and Book Publishers” it says on the subject of self-publishing: “Production and distribution of a work by the author in his own name and for his own account”. “In his own name” means that the author uses his own name or no name or “self-published” instead of a publisher's information in the imprint and / or on the cover page of the book - a practice that is still common today, especially if it is exclusively based on the services of a printing company are used to create a self-published book. Some self-publishers sometimes create publisher names that are unprotected under trademark law and not yet used.

According to a dissertation by Jong-Rak Shin in 2007, the term self-publishing is “not firmly defined.” According to him, the term can be broadly defined as “publishing by oneself” according to the meaning of the word. And Shin again cites the Lexicon of the entire book system, Vol. 3 (Leipzig 1937, p. 271) in which it says "In self-publishing, the reproduction and distribution of a work is not done by a publisher, but by the author himself." referring to Kurt Hiller: "Self-publication attempts by writers to make themselves independent of professional publishers are basically self-publishers."

Title page of the first print by Johann Heinrich Voss : Homers Odüßee (1781) with
subheading : "At the expense of the author"

The publishing dictionary of the Autorhaus Verlag narrowly defines self-publishing as a publishing house founded by the author in which his works appear and which in turn can be the starting point for a "mini-publishing house". , a branch-related website cooperation between BuchMarkt and Uni-Online , can also be understood in this sense : “When self-publishing, the author publishes his work himself, pays the costs for production and distribution and bears the entire risk himself. “Such a self-publishing again appears nominally as a“ publisher ”and not as a“ self-publishing ”, e.g. As the Linden publishing house of Erich Loest , predominantly Loests published their own works, and since 1989 has its headquarters in Leipzig.

The Hamburger Akademie für Fernstudien (HAF) also refers in its “5 steps to self-publishing” to founding a publishing company, but also means elsewhere: “With Book-on-Demand you are self-publisher”. Since the book-on-demand printing process is usually only used in conjunction with service providers for self-publications such as B. a self -publishing company or a self-publishing platform is used, it would not be necessary to set up a publishing house. This in turn follows definitions, according to which the term self-publishing is to be understood more generally in the sense that a book is published at its own expense for production and distribution and a self-publisher bears the risk of publishing a work himself. For the Association of German Writers as well as for the Friedrich Bödecker Circle, a self -publisher is someone who has “self-financed” his work. And in the dtv lexicon (edition from 1980) it says analogously: " Self-publishing , distribution of a work of literature, music or visual arts by the author himself."

Self-publishers must therefore roughly differentiate whether they only commission a printing company and / or a service provider for self-publications for a self-publication or literally set up a self- publishing company or register their own publisher as a company and thus award a publisher orders for services for the creation of their publications .


Authors or institutions as self-publishers have to control and take responsibility for the entire process of a book publication. In addition to writing or selecting content, they have to do the editing , the choice of equipment ( font , type of paper, cover, etc.) as well as costing , effective public relations and marketing or commission service providers to do so.


To publish something in-house or in-house is in contrast to publication within a publisher or a general- interest publisher , which usually has the work of an author looked after from the editor to the sale in accordance with a contract concluded with one another . Important services of a publisher are correction suggestions , layout , production (printing, binding), distribution and advertising. The author is granted a percentage of the retail price ( royalties ), and often an advance payment. To what extent this can also apply to the grant publisher , which is sometimes assigned to a type of publisher , cannot be clearly clarified, since grant publishers, on the one hand, appear as printing cost , production cost and cost publishers or so-called " printing cost subsidy publishers " and their respective delimitation from the business model of a publisher to the one Service provider for self-publications are in parts fluent and not clearly documented.

Even though self-publications are also created and in some cases reported as a service for “self-publishing” ( see section: Definitions as well as 2nd paragraph in the introduction) the use of service providers such as e. For example, the self-publishing platforms that have appeared since around 2010 are not unanimously viewed as a further form of self-publishing.

Justification connections

The information provided by the publishers on the number of manuscripts submitted to them for review varies and does not need to be substantiated, but it is unanimous that only a tiny fraction of these manuscripts is included in the publisher's program. Publishing a publication yourself is often the only way to publish anything at all. There are many reasons for self-publishing a work and are not always based on the previous rejection of a manuscript by a publisher. In addition, they not only affect individual authors, but also institutions such as B. Universities and Libraries .

In Shin's dissertation, it says: “Normally, self-publishers and self-publishers do not aim for earnings, but for special purposes. The purposes are different depending on the author and the time. ”This is based, in turn, as an example on an assessment by Herbert Wirkner from 1981, quoted by him, with regard to artistically experimental self-publishers:“ Experiments, simple printing and typewriting can be used not sell. For the majority of book buyers, the appearance of a book is more decisive than its content is capable of. ”Shin's main topic of his dissertation is political self-publishers, especially with regard to exile literature in the years 1933–1945, and he explains:“ The political self-publishers arise as a counterpoint to the ruling, dictatorial government and play an important role as the production site of resistance literature. Many political papers - books, booklets, brochures and leaflets - are published there. After all, self-publishing is politically active, and the exiled authors find a firm place with their political opinion. "


An author who is a self-publication presents, looking in personal union like a publisher (s) a book project on the way to bring and must therefore calculations do, the cost to what extent it also through the sales and possibly rewarded readings exceeded it - what if applicable again in relation to the willingness to pay of an optional readership or buyer of a self-published book. The Hamburger Akademie für Fernstudien (HAF) assumes that start-up capital for self-publishing is "rather low at 10,000 euros" in order to be able to print, produce, distribute and advertise an exemplary calculated paperback with 256 pages in a print run of 1 , 000 copies to finance.

Excluded from a profit-oriented calculation are: a. the autobiographers who only want to put their life stories in book form for private use and those who z. B. - see the section on reasoning - experimentally pursue artistic or political goals.

Shin's dissertation also states: "One can see that the self-publishing companies are not generating any commercial income, rather they reject the marketing of the books in large-scale business, since the majority of small publishers [must] fail to achieve greater economic success. '"

marketing & Distribution

As with economically managed publishers, sales of a self-published publication depend not least on the marketing opportunities of the self-publisher, the willingness to invest financially as well as its networking with potential buyers and / or bookstores.

If a book about the retail book trade and the " online store " the bookseller or via Internet bookstores should be available, including self-publishers can use it for a fee with a ISBN equip and "in Lieferbarer directory books " (VLB) to register. Without an ISBN and entry in the VLB, internal university publications or purely private books are usually self-published for a fixed group of customers.

Reception of products in self-publishing

Literary publications

The appreciation of self-published literary publications is currently subject to the same criteria as publications by publishers, i. H. their success is measured by copies sold and perception by literary criticism . By these standards, there have also been very successful self-published publications over the centuries.

However, the lack of “selection” by a regular publisher and the associated lack of a qualified editing department encourages the majority of “ vanity publishers ” or “hobby authors” to try their hand at self-publishing. Most of the self-published titles are therefore - but also because of the often very limited marketing and advertising opportunities of their authors - neither a literary criticism nor are they even held in stock in bookshops as a single copy. The Friedrich Bödecker Circle excludes anyone who can only refer to self-financed book publications from being accepted as a new member. The Association of German Writers has now fundamentally changed its position on this: Although its admission requirements still state, among other things, that a “certificate of professional ability” must be adequately identified, such as B. by “publishing a book that cannot be bought through the use of own funds”, but since February 16, 2019, several publications “also as a self-publisher or self-marketer” are sufficient.

scientific publications

Self-published scientific publications are of little importance among scientists, especially if the peer review usual for scientific publications is missing. In the case of institutional self-publishers, renowned editorial groups and / or advisory boards are sometimes involved in the publication.


The Austrian Chamber of Commerce states on self- publishing and self-publishing as publication and sale by the author (author): “The practice of self-publishing by authors, like literary activity and the practice of the fine arts, is excluded from the scope of the trade regulations. According to Section 2 (1), these activities therefore require. Section 7 GewO 1994 no business registration. "

See also


Individual evidence

  1. a b Publishing Dictionary - S of the Authors House Publishing House : “Self- publishing : publishing house founded by the author in which his works appear; Starting point of some ^ mini-publishers ” , available online at
  2. a b c Association's own information on: " Become a member of VS"
  3. Duden : Origin of the verb “to lay” , available online at
  4. Definition of terms (under “Pseudo- publishing ”) ( Memento from March 30, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) in the alliance for fair publishers
  5. See p. 591 in Reinhard Mundhenke: Der Verlagskaufmann. Professional expertise for business people in newspaper, magazine and book publishers. 8th completely revised edition. Societäts-Verlag , Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-7973-0676-8 .
  6. Frank Demant : Tips for self-publishing ( memento from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) with reference "2.) If you want, come up with an imaginary name ..."
  7. a b c See page 22 in: Jong-Rak Shin: Self-published in the literary life of exile in the years 1933-1945 ; Dissertation , June 2007, PDF file with 220 pages (793 kB)
  8. ^ Kurt Hiller: On the social history of book and book trade , Bonn 1966, p. 169; Footnote 31 in Jong-Rak Shin: Self-published in the literary life of exile in the years 1933-1945
  9. See page 18 in: Jong-Rak Shin: Self-published in the literary life of exile in the years 1933-1945 ; Dissertation , June 2007, PDF file with 220 pages (793 kB)
  10. self-published ( Memento from February 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  11. a b c d e f Hamburger Akademie für Fernstudien (HAF) : 5 steps to self-publishing ; with the headings: 1. baptism of the publisher, 2. registration, 3. book design and office equipment, 4. calculation, 5. advertising and sales as well as successful self-publishers - do they exist? available online at
  12. Hamburger Akademie für Fernstudien (HAF): What does Book-on-Demand bring you? ; "Book-on-demand companies offer you as an author and self-publisher advantages, but also disadvantages compared to other publishing models ." Available online at
  13. Applications for inclusion in the FBK author database , online on the Friedrich-Bödecker-Kreis website
  14. See p. 312 in: dtv-Lexikon - Ein Konversationslexikon in 20 volumes , Volume 16, Sac-Seml. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag , Munich 1966, edition from 1980
  15. Hamburg Academy for Distance Learning (HAF): Book-on-Demand: Publisher or printer? ; see section “With Book-on-Demand you are self-publisher”; available online at
  16. Definition of terms (under “Publisher”) ( Memento from March 30, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) in the alliance for fair publishers
  17. ^ Publishing dictionary - D of the authors house publishing house : "Druckkostenzuschussverlag: Incorrectly used term for companies that allow themselves to be paid by the author to print his work, but usually take far more than a subsidy towards the printing costs. ^ Service provider publisher ^ Pseudo-publishing ^ Vanity Press. ” , Available online at
  18. Ronit Wolf: Swap savings book for book ( memento from June 13, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), Die Zeit , February 20, 2009
  19. See the homepage of with the description : SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS SINCE 2002 , online on the website
  20. "" , online on the website and at the same time forwarding to its home page, accessed on May 1, 2014.
  21. See page 20 in: Jong-Rak Shin: Self-published in the literary life of exile in the years 1933-1945 ; Dissertation , June 2007, PDF file with 220 pages (793 kB)
  22. a b See p. 28 and 29 in: Herbert Wirkner: Literary alternatives, Wemding 1981; Quoted on page 23 in: Jong-Rak Shin: Self-published in the literary life of exile in the years 1933-1945 ; Dissertation , June 2007, PDF file with 220 pages (793 kB)
  23. Applications for inclusion in the FBK author database , online on the Friedrich-Bödecker-Kreis website
  24. Helma Nehrlich: Contribute to the narrative of society , article from February 18, 2019 in kunst + kultur (online magazine of the VS ) on the 5th Federal Expert Group Conference on Literature, which met on February 16, 2019 as part of the four-day VS Congress, online at
  25. Austrian Chamber of Commerce : self-published