What are the Advantages of Online Book Publishing?

Ken Black

Online book publishing may be a relatively easy way to get a book published when an author does not wish to, or has not been successful in, going through a traditional publishing avenue. While online book publishing is a relatively new thing, it has its roots in self publishing. However, there are distinct advantages to this type of publishing that may make it more viable, at least for some authors.

Online book publishing helps writers with tasks including marketing and selling their books.
Online book publishing helps writers with tasks including marketing and selling their books.

One of the most prohibitive things about self publishing, also known as vanity publishing, is that the start-up costs have always been very high. Most traditional publishing houses catering to self-published work demand the author buy a minimum number of copies. This is required to help the publisher recoup the costs of printing and are understandable. It costs a lot of money to publish a book. However, this requires a significant upfront investment from the writer, or a sponsor of the writer. Then, it is up to the writer to market and sell the book.

Online book publishing offers an author instant publishing access.
Online book publishing offers an author instant publishing access.

The major advantage of online book publishing is that this entire process is bypassed. The book goes online and can be bought by anyone and read in an electronic version. This type of online book publishing, known as e-book publishing, is very popular for a number of different reasons. The most obvious reason is there are fewer costs associated with the book because there is no expensive in printing it.

For authors who may feel their work needs exposure, some online book publishing sites allow the author to make a portion of the book available at no charge to the readers. This can include allowing the viewer to download the entire book for free, which may garner exposure but obviously will not make the author rich. There are fees associated with this type of publishing, but they are much less than those associated with traditional self publishing, sometimes by a factor of 100 or more.

In addition to the cost advantage, online book publishing also offers the author instant publishing access. The online publisher is interested in collecting fees from the authors. A secondary consideration is royalties from those coming to the site to purchase a book. Therefore, it is to the web site publisher's advantage to get the author's material up as quickly as possible.

Also, even though ebooks are very popular, it is important to remember that they are only one facet of the online book publishing industry. Another part of that industry is the print-on-demand products. This is where a purchaser may buy a book, which is then set, printed and sent out for delivery. While this is a more expensive way to buy a book for the end user, it saves the author the upfront costs.

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Discussion Comments


@Buster29, I self-published a cookbook a few years ago for a church fundraiser, and I really like the fact that I don't have a thousand copies collecting dust in my garage. If I had gone to one of those "vanity presses", I would have had to order at least 500 copies in order to justify a print run. They would have charged me for each copy, too. With the print-on-demand option, all I had to do was upload the formatted cookbook to an online publishing website and wait for their software to convert it into a PDF file. If someone wants to order a copy, that online publisher prints it out and mails it directly to the customer. I don't have to worry about shipping or keeping up with the money. Online publishing has been great for me.


I have published several books online myself, and I have to say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. To me, the best thing about online publishing is the nearly instantaneous publication time. A traditional publisher may accept a manuscript and offer the author a contract, but the book itself will go to the end of a very long line of projects. It could be years before a physical book ever appears on a store shelf. Authors can't earn royalties on books that don't exist.

One time I challenged myself to create a manuscript, design a cover and publish a book online in less than 24 hours. I didn't quite reach that lofty goal, but the finished book did appear on a major online store's website in 36 hours. If I had gone through an ebook-only publisher, I would have had that same book available for sale within 12 hours. I still have to promote the book myself, and it won't appear on any brick & mortar bookshelves, but at least I could produce it for free from my home computer.

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