The newly-discovered Independent Self-Publishers Alliance looks promising:
The Independent Self-Publishers Alliance is an organization for writers who publish their own books. There is no charge to use the website or forum or to join the Alliance.
This website exists to encourage and help writers to become truly independent self-publishers, so they can avoid using vanity publishers. We’d also like to help self-publishers produce better books, get more respect and sell more books.
Many vanity publishers call themselves “self-publishing companies.” They’re not. Just as no one can eat lunch for you, no other person or company can self-publish for you. The words just don’t make sense.
There is a fundamental difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing.
♦An independent self-publisher tries to make money by selling books to readers.
♦Vanity publishers make most of their money by selling services to naive writers, not by selling books to readers.
Vanity publishers’ books are often ugly, error-filled and overpriced, and very few copies are sold. A “real” or “independent” self-publisher establishes a business but usually doesn’t do everything necessary to produce and sell the books. The author/publisher usually hires editors and designers, purchases photography, owns ISBNS, obtains LCCNs and copyrights, chooses a printer and promotes the books.
That’s very different from buying a “publishing package’ from a vanity publisher. Writers who use such companies as iUniverse, AuthorHouse, DellArte Press, OutskirtsPress, Westbow Press, PublishAmerica or Xlibris are not self-published authors. They are customers (or victims) of a vanity publisher.
Independent self-publishing is not for everyone. It requires more work, and may even cost more money than using a vanity publisher. But it should lead to better books, higher income, more satisfaction and even more fun.
Other publishing paths may be better choices for some people.
This website will help you sort out your options. The people behind this site merely want writers to produce better books so readers can read better books, and so self-publishers will receive more respect.
I do take issue with the self-publishing vs. vanity publishing distinction. Self-publishing is primarily about the decision to release a book yourself, not about the royalty percentages, or if you own your ISBN – it’s about putting out your own work. However you do that, it’s all self-publishing. That those services can be a rip-off is another issue. Plenty of decent books come out on iUniverse and others and they shouldn’t be stigmatized any more than self-publishing on the whole should be stigmatized.